Wednesday, 23 July 2014

28. Feeling (over) ambitious

Things change in the publishing world all the time and unfortunately, my local paper is no longer running the page to which my column belonged. However, it still appears in other papers in the area so I get to brag I am a columnist for a little while longer. I’ll just need to add another newspaper to the morning coffee and paper routine. Anyway, I thought I’d share last month’s column and catch up with this month’s contribution next time. Queensland was preparing for school holidays at the time I wrote this.

‘I’m bored!’ Two simple words, yet they strike dread through a parent’s mind.

The school holidays are almost here. We’ll have the usual battle over the last of the breakfast cereal, squabbles as to who should hold the television remote, and then the all-out epic assault over which channel to watch.

That’s what will greet me on day one within the first half an hour upon waking. By day four, they’ll make the mistake of asking me how to relieve said boredom when playing outside or reading their books just doesn’t cut it.

‘You could clean your room, sort your toys or do your chores’ will be met with howls of protest. Yep, the fun police are alive and well in this house. One summer holiday I had the bright idea of suggesting they write a letter to their grandparents. Then I had to explain that’s what happened in the ‘olden days’ before email, texting and Skype.

Since the kids normally veto my suggestions, these holidays I’m trying something different. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner. From now on, the solution to any new ‘boredom’ matters is to ‘ask your father.’ Think it will catch on?

Of course, not every family dynamic is like mine, but I hope there was an opportunity for everyone to have a timeout somewhere over the holidays. Or does that happen when we joyously click our heels together as school resumes? I swear I didn’t say that last part aloud.

This month, instead of my regular writers’ group get-together, we had the pleasure of meeting and workshopping with ABC-Open Capricornia’s Lisa Clarke. ABC-Open is an Australia wide forum where individuals can share their stories, culture and lifestyle. Five hundred precious words convey our innermost thoughts and feelings as relevant to the ever-changing topics available. This month’s online topic was ‘the odd one out’. Our group produced some brilliant ideas (yes, I may be biased) and many of us entered our stories on the forum. The lovely Lisa showed the way with her hints, tips and suggestions. We needed a catchy title or heading, an image that would immediately attract the eye and was relevant to our story and then she guided us through the process of posting those stories. It was an excellent workshop and we enjoyed it.

It was fun to learn a little more about my fellow writers, but there was no guessing my topic. Many people share the fear of public speaking, so I’m not the odd one out where that's concerned. But on this particular night when everyone else had the crowd eating out of their hands, my fear of standing up and saying a few words went into overdrive. Still, it was fun to write and remember the occasion even if I don’t want to remember the morning after. ;)

And here is where you’ll learn more about ABC Open

On my reading list this time around was Ms Margaret Sutherland’s latest release – Saving Shelby Summers. This tale starts with a bang, and then meanders at a gentle pace to the final crescendo. This is a contemporary story that will not only tug at the heartstrings and make you feel for the characters but also remind you of a time when romance was a more subtle affair. The main protagonists, Shelby Summers, a shy young woman marred from a horrifying incident in her past, and Dr Nathan Monroe, a widow who lost his wife in the Queensland floods and is raising their young child alone, tentatively build a relationship despite their misconstrued ideas. I liked how they worked out their differences, pushed through their preconceptions and worked together to mend their broken lives. This is a beautiful story about family values and the way Ms Sutherland weaves her love of animals into the tale will bring a smile to your face.

As for me, I’m happy to report the dreaded lurgi is nearly gone. My cough wants to hang around and make a general nuisance of itself, (usually when I’m trying to have a conversation) but I’m almost myself again. The kids are back at school (re clicking heels from Mother of the Year candidate) and I’m finally in the right headspace to indulge in my passion. I’ve started a new novella and if it works out the way I hope, it will lead into another tale. I’ve never written a story that crosses into another before so fingers crossed I’m not being overly ambitious at this stage and it all works out. Regardless, it’s a story I’m keen to write, especially now that one of the more stubborn characters finally decided to share her name. One can’t refer to a character as ‘hey you’ so I’m glad she’s clued me in – although she’s not too happy with the nickname her romantic interest has given her, but I’ve no doubt he’ll bring her around to his way of thinking. J

Just to prove I’m completely mad, and definitely over ambitious, I’m revising a story I wrote a few years ago. Like most beginner writers, I wrote from a first person point of view. It was a proper novel in length and when I ‘finished’ I thought I’d done a great job. And while I am proud that I achieved something I’d always want to do and write said novel, when I reread it, I cringed. I’d known something was wrong when I came to write the second book of my proposed grand trilogy. Everything I wrote for the second book was in third person point of view. And revisiting the first story confirmed how deluded I was. My naivety and inexperience shone through as bright as any beacon. So now, I am rewriting this first novel, still with my ‘L’ plates on, but with fresh eyes, in third person point of view and with renewed vision of how I want this story to work. If you’ll pardon the analogy, the story has a great foundation – I just need to rebuild it from the ground up.

In other words, I have a lot on my mind, old and new characters to please and a hectic schedule to cover. Yes, definitely mad and overly ambitious, but possibly too far-gone to care.

Until next time. :)


  1. First up, commiserations on losing the column in your local paper. The one for the "boring" school holidays just made me smile, Mother of the Year candidate :)

    Second, how long is that cough hanging around? **** winter is all I can say!

    You sound so busy. I'm just going to pop across and read your OpenABC article. Your writers' group sounds fabulous.

    1. Thanks, Jenny. I still have a column, just not in my local paper, which is a shame but I guess that's the way things go sometimes. Maybe they will bring it back at a later date.:)

      The cough has been hanging around for far too long, but I''m getting better. Yes, we can blame Winter. I'd rather it was Autumn or Spring all year round. lol

      Hope you enjoy the article and yes, the group is loads of fun. Some very lovely people there. :)

  2. Do you know it took me till last night to wrap my head around the fact your local paper isn't running your column? So weird. But glad your column is alive and well -- just venturing further afield :)

    1. I guess they have their reasons, but my waffling lives on elsewhere for a little longer. :)