Aspiring Author Blog

Just get on with it.

I can’t believe it is three weeks since my last post! How time flies. I’ve had a couple of lots of visitors, and the end of the academic year busyness to help meld one day into another. I’ve also had some sad news that I think I have put into the ‘too hard’ basket for now, and will no doubt have to deal with sooner or later.

Well, that’s my excuses. Now it’s time to get tough (and honest) with myself. While I have done some writing, I need to do more in the next few days if I am going to start writing proper on December 1. I’ve got some work writing to do after this, as I am presenting at a conference on Tuesday, but if I get it done tonight and sent off for uploading, I can get up early in the morning and do some of my writing as planned. The sooner I start making this a habit, the better.

I have been doing lots of reading. I am rereading a couple of favourites (Flight of the Old Dog by Dale Brown and Scarecrow by Matthew Reilly, as well as a craft book – Dialogue by Robert McKee). I have always been one to have at least two, and often three, books on the go at once. I read according to mood and my level of tiredness. While I pick up Dialogue in the mornings and early evenings, I cannot wade through the mire (valuable and brilliant mire that it is), once I begin to feel tired. In case you are wondering – no I don’t have any problem keeping up with the storyline, even if I work through all of them on the same night. This might account for my need to read, even at the expense of less sleep… and you know how much I love my sleep!

I don’t know if you have read Chicken Soup for the Soul by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. I am sure that is where I read about life putting lessons in front of you until you learn them… repeatedly. I have always believed in this. If you need to learn patience, life keeps requiring you to be patient until you can indeed be patient with relative ease. Well, at the moment I need to just get on with it. Everywhere I turn I see and hear people talking about it – podcasts, tv shows, people at work and on the bus… everywhere!

Every day I delay my writing journey, is another day further away from my goal of being an author. If I fail to achieve what I want to this coming week, I won’t be able to start writing on December 1, and I will need more time prepping before I can begin and be that bit further away from my goal.

Do you ever delay, and then weeks, months, and even years, later wish you had started then you would be finished now? We hear messages everywhere such as – if you fail to plan, you plan to fail; break larger goals down into easily achievable small ones, that will gradually add up to the larger one; one small step at a time; just do it; no time like the present; and many, many more. All great advice, yet here we are, weeks, months, or years later, still waiting to start.

Time to get real people! Don’t worry; I am writing this more for myself here. I have all of this head knowledge; now I need to put it into practice and get real with myself. I have the accountability buddies, I have the goal, and the skills to do this. Now time to just get on with it and do it!!

Snoopy

Let’s see what happens over the next week (and months, and years).

I am looking forward to checking in with you next time.

Take care.

Susanne.x

 

Aspiring Author Blog

Who are you accountable to?

I like to think I am pretty driven and motivated to do the best work I can, as soon as I can, and as much as I can.

The truth is, I am lying to myself, and probably many others!

I love my bed, and I love to sleep. I never used to be so attached and would bounce out as soon as my eyes even thought about opening in the morning. Now, I reach for the blankets, snuggle down deep and try for more sleep. If that doesn’t work, and it often doesn’t, I reach for my phone. I check my work and personal emails and then hop onto Facebook and Slack (more about this another time).

Emails are fine! I then convince myself and try to convince you, that Facebook is a good way to spend more time. I don’t do a lot of personal social Facebook, but I am a member of several, busy writing and author groups. Lots of learning to be had at all hours of the day and night!!

Guilt to get going is what often gets me out of bed. Mind you; this is still between 0530 – 0700, depending on the day, but this can be up to two hours (or more) later than previously. I tell myself it is a form of work. Even now, writing this, I sound convincing to myself, haha.

Now I have committed to writing a novel, time is going to be my biggest challenge. Every minute of every single day has to be spent wisely, or I’ll never finish. But here’s the thing. I am not very wise.

But, there is hope. I have to be accountable to several people now. As much as this scares the bejeezes out of me, it also reassures me, that I will get this book finished. The sooner I finish the first book; I can get onto the second, and then the third. This is the only way I will become successful and earn the money I need to work from home and enjoy my cave with a view.

My husband wants me to be happy. You know, happy wife, happy life! Actually, this is far from his reality. He is one of the good guys. One who really, REALLY, wants me to be happy, because he genuinely does want me to be happy. I’m a lucky girl. My daughter wants me to write… well her actual words were “Mum, stop reading and just write,” so I will need real words on a page to satisfy her!

A few of my writer friends (mostly Sean and Juliet), want me to succeed too. And of course, I am sure many of my family and friends would want me to be happy and successful too. One day, I will get around to telling them all about it. No hurry though. A little bit of imposter syndrome going on in this corner, so we (meaning I!), will wait a little while until I have written something to tell them about!

So, being accountable to myself, my husband, my daughter, Sean and Juliet, family and friends (though less so I suppose, as they aren’t aware they should be holding me accountable), means I am starting to write. Woohoo. My outline is taking shape, and I am about to get serious.

There is a worldwide phenomenon called NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writers Month) being held currently. However, as I am not quite finished my prep work, I have decided to have my own little WriDec in December, with the aim of having my first novel completed by the end of summer. Although I would love to leave this open, and in March say “I meant the northern summer”, as I live in Oz, I suppose that means our southern summer.

So, roughly 80,000 words between now and the 1st March 2018. I know students who have written up the PhD in less time, so I am confident that my accountability buddies will help keep me on track.

By my next post, I will have declared my intent to my husband, daughter, Sean, and Juliet, and perhaps I should even get it printed onto my pillow too!

No doubt there will be peaks and troughs, but I am glad I have you to act as accountability buddies too.

Fun in the sun,

Susanne.x

I love Robert Irwin’s photos (son of the legendary Steve Irwin)

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Aspiring Author Blog

Moving Forward with a New Vision

There is nothing like talking a problem through with a trusted counsel to help you see the forest for the trees. After a couple of months of angst and ‘can I do this?’, a half-hour discussion has provided the soundboard I needed to make my decision.

My advice to anyone at a similar point in their life is to reach out and make contact with someone you trust.  I reached out to someone, somewhat tentatively, who is an established and successful author who I have enormous respect for. Thankfully, he had been in the same position once and was only too happy to help me clarify my thinking and encourage me in my decision.

We all need to surround ourselves with people who support and encourage us, and it is even better if some members of your group are doing whatever is you aspire to do. Most people, especially creatives, are only too willing to share their experiences – both the good and the bad – and help you on your journey.

For many of us, family and close friends are a big part of this, but you need to find your supporters wherever you can. Facebook groups that are formed around your interest (writing for me) are a great place to start. You will soon begin to appreciate that others experience the ups and downs, just like you and me (well, I think the ‘good’ groups will/should share both sides).

Local groups might also help. I know! That means leaving the safety of your cave (eek!), but it might be worth it. You only really need a handful of really close supporters on your cheer squad. There may be many more in the general stadium, but knowing who to hone in on in your time of need to really get that sage advice, owl-like wisdom, act as your sounding board, who will listen to every word (even if they don’t understand half of them), or just provide a quick huddle to recharge your confidence – will work wonders and clarify your vision or direction, and allow you to power on through.

So, if like me you are ever sitting there at the fork in the road I discussed last week, reach out to the people who can help you. It’s your time to move forward and do those things that make your day, and ultimately your life, better.

Cheers to a clearer vision,

Susanne.x

Aspiring Author Blog

What do you do when you get to a fork in the road?

Previous posts can be found below.

Well, it’s been a good week here, and now it is the weekend, and a sunny, spring day (I’m in Australia, remember), the lawnmowers are flat out, and the cut grass smell on the sea breeze is pretty special.

I should be writing a paper for work, but thought it best to do something for me first, and then I won’t feel so bad working inside on such a beautiful day. It is too breezy to work on the balcony with the dozens of papers I will have around me, trying to find the right thing to discuss next.

Another month and I should be done and dusted with the academic year, and have the headspace to get cracking on my book over summer. Uni shuts for ten days between Christmas and New Year, so I will have to be organised to make the most of those precious days.

A couple of weeks ago, I was presented with a fork in my road. This fork was all of my own doing, mind you. I saw a book cover that I fell in love with. It was not in my anticipated genre, and as much as I tried to move on from it, I couldn’t, and I kept returning to it again and again.

The cover suggests a sci-fi/space opera story. Although I like both, I have to admit I have read few, compared to books I devour such as thriller/military themes (Dale Brown and Tom Clancy rock my world) and super-fast action/thriller (Matthew Reilly is a legend). I have also read a lot of romance, or at least lots of books with romantic elements in them. While my Kindle has widened my reading to new authors across multiple genres this past year, they say you should write what you know or read most of.

I have two book series in my head, and the beginnings of, on paper. Covers such as this (examples only) are what I thought I would be doing:


Hmmm. Then I fall in love with this:

Scarlett and Rory (3)

I can’t show you the whole cover, but I think it was the dinosaur that drew my eye and then my heart. You see, I live with dinosaurs every single day. My grandson is dinosaur crazy and has been for about 4 years now, and shows no sign of slowing down. How many times have I watched Jurassic Park (all of them)? I’d like to say 20, but it is probably more like 50 times. We watch Dinotrux, Power Ranger Dino Charge… you get the picture. Dinosaur books, toys, cushions, t-shirts, jumpers – I am surrounded by dinos!

Meanwhile, my granddaughter is a little powerhouse. Does she like princesses? Definitely not (and any suggestion is met with a frown and stamping foot), barbies? (ditto, but both feet join in the stamping). She loves the outdoors, dinos (did she ever have a chance!), is climbing mad, and loves pink, but try buying little girl clothes that don’t have something such as a princess, barbie, or such, on them. Nothing wrong with them at all, but it limits our choices big time!

So, a dinosaur and a female lead on the cover… apparently, I had to have it – at least according to my heart, which was followed quickly by my head.

My fork in the road? One fork and what I probably know better and read most of – adventure with romantic elements, or maybe even steamy romance. The other fork? A dinosaur with a female lead.

As I said last week. The choices we make! Wish me luck, because I am choosing the path that I suspect will be more challenging. Time will tell.

Cheers for now.

Susanne.x

 

 

Aspiring Author Blog, Uncategorized

The Truth! Or as much of it as I can share

Once again it has been a while since my last post. A myriad of reasons why, of course. I would love to say that I have just been too busy. While this might have some truth to it, if I am being honest to myself it is because I have been battling some inner demons. Those demons that tell me that not only can I not do this, but that I can’t do a number of things. I have been feeling overwhelmed in my work life, which has trickled… poured… into my personal life, and all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball. The demons were winning, but thanks to the support around me, I beat those demons, and in the end, blew them away with my demon seeking rocket launcher.

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It is not easy having high expectations of yourself. It is not easy moving from an executive level position to an entry level position, despite all the self-talk that it would be a piece of cake. It turns out I have an ego! I sometimes suspected I did, but I was never really sure about it. I have much to learn, not least about myself. It is hard to get beyond middle-age and find this out about yourself.

To add to my professional-related demons, I decide I need to become a writer. While the woman is down, let’s remind her of a goal she has always aspired to but that time is running out for. Guess what? She needs to start at the beginning with that too. Maybe the universe is throwing life lessons at me… better late than never. Right!

The choices we make! I could go on, but I won’t. I know how lucky I really am.

So! The solution is to get on and do it, whatever ‘it’ might be. It turns out that a couple of minor accomplishments at work was enough to allow me to see the bigger picture and bring the passion to the fore again.

A major opportunity to collaborate with a respected and sought-after author was just around the corner. The moon and stars aligned and with hubby’s support I am going for it. Nothing like putting yourself under pressure to really test your inner strength. I will share more of this in coming months as it all unfolds.

So how do you stare your inner demons down and come out the other side smiling? You listen to those who love and care for you. You cut yourself some slack and give yourself permission to fall off the radar for a little while. Meanwhile you get all those little ducks in a row, although they don’t even have to be in a row… but being in the same paddock or pond, would probably be helpful. You acknowledge that what you are feeling is your inner negative talk and things are not as helpless as they seem. Of course, it is not really as easy as this sometimes, but you do what you can do.

Fight those inner demons. I can assure you that the person you most admire is also fighting their own inner demons. So this is as much of the truth that I can share, but hey, it is some truth, and that is a really big step in the right direction.

Time to get writing – whether it is for professional or personal goals, it is writing, and therefore another step forward in my writing career.

Cheers for now.

Susanne.x

Aspiring Author Blog

Not as easy as it sounds

Writing a book is not as easy as it sounds. I know –  it probably doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work that out. However, when I say it isn’t easy, it’s not quite that straight forward.

I did manage to sit down and start writing about a month ago, but I kept getting side tracked with my new Facebook friends – author groups, writers I am following, etc. I have bought some books and listened to many, many podcasts while commuting to and from work. I have read a lot, and when I say a lot, I do mean a lot! This was somewhat fortuitous, as I came across a new virtual mentor, Jeff Goins. Now, in one of our first discussions (well, I was talking to him while listening to his podcast, so from my perspective, it was a discussion) and he asked me how did my story end.

I moved my lips, but nothing came out. I tried moving them again, and still nothing.

Oh, my goodness. I had NO idea how my story ended. Even with a few hours of thinking, I still had no idea. Jeff told me I couldn’t start writing (too late :-P) until I had my ending clear, so I was clear on my story arc. The brakes came on and I have spent a few weeks of going back to basics to sort out an important aspect that I hadn’t given much thought.

Being clear on the story’s ending is much like having clear goals in life. Without a clear goal, and as it turns out a clear ending, the chances of reaching that goal, or ending, in good time, is slim. Good decisions and plans are likely to come unstuck. The chances of meandering off track, losing sight of the end point and mindlessly fluffing around with minimal forward progress, were high.

Thanks to Jeff, I was still in the first chapter, so I was able to stop, and start further reading and researching more about story structure, plot points, climaxes and denouements. Other authors such as J.A Huss and K.M Weiland and John Truby have become my new mentors. Each is a master of story structure and in crafting the perfect story.

My main characters, Myndi and Drew, are patiently waiting for me to return and tell their story, but for now, I am immersed in structure, arcs and plot points, and I will not return to their story until the ending and plot points are crystal clear. As I have always envisioned a series for Myndi and Drew, I still have some work to do on having at least, some idea of the next book or books, to make the arcs within arcs and the structures within structures, flow.

So, when I say that writing is not easy, the writing bit could be quite easy, it is just that not having the other elements in place would ensure that it would make hard reading for you. I want it to be easy for you to read, so it has to be a lot harder for me to write in order to achieve that. I found this quote that sums it all up perfectly.

Writing-easy-hard

Cheers for now,

Susanne.x

Aspiring Author Blog

Should I start this journey at my age?

While I have always wanted to be an author, life was full on in… well, life! I have had all-consuming careers that did not confine themselves to 8, or even 10 hours a day. Even now, I am unsure whether they were full-time, and then some, jobs, or I just allowed them to be that way. Either way, here I am approaching 55 years old and still with the dream of being an author.

In my new job, I sit on the bus for almost five hours a day. This is not good. I am a thinker, and this was way too much time to think. One of these days I was thinking, ‘what else is there in life’. Do I really want to sit on the bus for four hours every day for the next 10 or so years? No, I don’t. I should be writing, so at the very least I could work part time (as in all honesty, I do love my work). I grabbed my phone on that day last October and typed in something like, ‘how to write that novel’.

The very first link was to The Creative Penn. Wow. The first page was about how to write a book and change your life. Just what this doctor ordered. I spent the next couple of weeks devouring back episodes of her podcast and was hooked. This was the start of a new chapter for me. Joanna, and shortly thereafter, the boys from Sterling and Stone, soon became a part of my daily life and made my daily commute, bearable.

It wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns though. In between this time of blissful escape into this world that has always been waiting for me, I began to doubt I could really do this… at my age. What I wouldn’t have given to come across this 10 or 20 years ago. I had days filled with despair. This was a nice little escape to while away time on the bus, but it wasn’t really feasible. Was it? For someone who spends a lot of my day cheerleading others to accomplish their goals, I was fast losing sight of my own. I needed a boost.

Enter the likes of Micheal Hyatt and Jon Morrow. If you need some inspiration in life, for any reason, regardless of what is going on around you, you can’t really do worse than visit these two sites. Both of these men are a balm for the soul and spirit, but they’re also not afraid to give you a bit of a kick from behind to help move you along.

I have just won a promotion and a three-year contract. I love my work, and I have much to contribute, both to my student’s journey through the course, and in the dementia care space. But, I also have to follow my own dream of writing books. I have something to offer here too. I figure I have three years to get my ducks in a row – writing and publishing and getting myself out there as an author. In three years, I will have new decisions to make. Do I continue my academic career, even if only part-time, or do I have the platform that allows me to make writing a new career move? Time will tell.

A former student recently (generously, the kind-hearted soul she is) gave me Leonie Dawson’s, 2017 My Shining Year, workbook. It is a few months in now, but maybe this year is my shining year. I am definitely well into middle-age-hood, but I have new goals to consider and develop as there is still much to achieve. I want to share my stories with you. I want to share my journey with you. I hope you stick around and see which way my mop flops.

I am really keen to hear about your journey. Have you reached a point in your life where the time-is-now? Or maybe even the time-should-be-now?

Talk again soon.

Susanne.x

Aspiring Author Blog

Hello

This is my first post on my first blog… woohoo… so here goes.

I have to admit that this is a nerve-wracking experience, and while on the one hand, I can’t wait to get started, on the other I would be quite happy to curl up in bed.

A few things about me. I am quickly approaching my mid-50’s, happily married to a farmer of 30+ years, which has gone on to include one daughter, one son-in-law, and two beautiful grandchildren. I started life in England, and after a crossing-the-line ceremony dressed as a hula girl, I have lived in Australia for 50 years. I lived in South Australia for 49 of those but now call Tasmania home.

I started going to TAFE when I was 15 and in year 10, and this is the first year I have never been enrolled at TAFE or University since. I gained my Ph.D. last year and currently lecture in dementia care. So you can see I have a bit of a passion for learning!

I’ve changed career paths several times now, but have always wanted to be a writer. Some of the jobs I have held include; vet nurse, jillaroo, timber mill floor hand, shop assistant, waitress, riding instructor, nurse, Director of Nursing, lecturer in horse husbandry, nursing and now dementia care.

As an introvert, but with extrovert skills when I have to, I am comfortable with my own company and less comfortable when in others’ company. A lot of my life has been spent ensuring the people around me feel comfortable and working hard to support them to achieve their dreams. I do a lot of cheerleading from the sidelines, encouraging others to do what makes them happy, or just being there if they need me.

However, I can also swear like many a good farm girl, call the horses in from the back paddock and wear my cranky pants when I want to.

I want to write stories that have a bit of a message in them, and I have plans for two book series at the moment. One that involves a strong young woman standing up for what she believes in for our environment, and another that will star strong woman of different ages, traversing their relationships with a bit of steam and whistle. I believe we need more strong woman role models for our daughters and granddaughters. I do not mean the traditional fierce/aggressive definition, but more like… accepting that anything that tugs at you deeply is valuable enough to pursue.  It’s not about the size of the impact you may have, or your fame or your budget, or society’s view of the worthiness of your purpose. It’s about pursuing your call to be involved in the world in a specific and meaningful way that’s unique to you, regardless of measurements. (Katherine Stone)

Well, I think this is enough for now. I look forward to sharing more of my journey, and little sideways sojourns no doubt, as I dare to follow my dream before it is too late. I hope you can see my growth as I plod my way towards my goal. I will also look forward to seeing yours, and help wherever I can along the way.

Happy days,

Susanne.x

Aspiring Author Blog

First blog post

Officially, the post titled ‘Hello’ was my first blog post, but like many noobs, I must have missed the instruction to put it here. Never mind, another opportunity to say hello!

At the moment I am taking a quick break from my day job (coffee time) and thought I would see what was happening over here. Nothing it turns out, as another rookie error in being technologically challenged is not understanding the words used, in this case, re domain names, so my two ‘wow I did it’ moments on the weekend, turned out to be more like ‘well, at least I tried to do it’ moments. Hopefully, I have fixed it now… though I doubt it!

I will get there, so for now, it’s back to work.

Have fun,

Susanne.x