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Farewell for Now

Oh dear! On Wednesday my darling children will again be learning at home. For me this is something of a mixed blessing – on the one hand they’re disappointed that they won’t be at school with their friends and teachers, and I’m sorry that my writing and creating time will be curtailed. But on the other hand, at least when they’re home I know that they are absolutely safe and sound.

In regards to my writing in general, and this blog in particular, it’s time for me to take an indefinite break. I was hopeful when the kids went back to school a few weeks ago things were beginning to return to normal and I’d be able to devote more time to Pieces of String. Clearly, in my part of the world anyway, that’s not the case. Eventually things will settle down, but right now I need to devote the time to my family.

So, there may be the occasional Two Sentence Tuesday but, in the short term, know that there won’t be any new posts. I haven’t dropped off the map, I’m just taking a break. Don’t give up on me. And above all, don’t give up on your own writing endeavours. More than ever, the world needs writers and creators.

Talks soon. Take Care. Stay Safe.

Love, Wendy

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For the Love of Learning

I’m excited. This week I’m starting an online workshop with Writers Victoria – Writing Children’s Stories with Jane Godwin. Jane is a prolific Australian author and I’m looking forward to getting her, and the other participants, opinion on my work (and, I’ll admit, a little nervous).

Getting feedback is always a little bit confronting. Writing is so a often a solitary pursuit, but eventually you get to a place where you have to share your work with others. I’m a big believer that art, all art whether it’s in the written work, or visual or performance, is only meaningful when an audience can interact with it.

Sometimes, your audience might not interact with it in the way that you hope. Even so, if you want to grow in any artistic medium, you have to be open to that.

I’d love to know, how do you handle feedback of your work? And, how are you at giving it to others?

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So, How Are You Really?

No, really. Coz I’ve got to say, I’m on edge. I am scanning the news for information, hanging on the words of politicians and medical specialists and generally wondering, “Do I have this?”

Since March the message I’ve been giving my kids is, “Remember the three Cs – calm, cautious, common sense.” Buuuuuuut, sometimes is hard to stay calm, not spiral into full blown paranoia and not to start hoarding toilet paper and spaghetti sauce. And I think I’m probably not alone.

So, not for the first time and probably not for the last time I’m going to say…

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Why I Support Publishers Who Support Authors From Marginalised Communities

If you’ve reached a stage in your writing career where you submitting your work to publishers you’ve probably noticed that many of them say they welcome or encourage submissions by authors from marginalised communities. Usually it’s only a sentence at the end of the submission instructions. It’s an important sentence.

I am a straight, white, cis woman. While I have experienced racial prejudice I don’t know what it’s like to be judged by the colour of my skin, to not have dolls that look like me, to only see my people represented by stereotypes or in tokenism. I have never had to explain my sexuality to anyone. I’ve never had to argue that my feelings and experiences of my body are real, and that my genitals do not match the person I feel like inside. I’ve never had people from outside of my community take my experiences and, no matter how well intentioned, use them as their own and profit from them.

Publishing is a competitive world. Honestly, getting published is a struggle. But in my mind, letting authors from marginalised groups know that their stories, their experiences and their unique points of view, are not only welcome, they’re desired, is a good thing for everybody. It’s wonderful for readers but it’s also good for writers regardless of their background because it means the playing field is becoming more even, that we are getting closer to equity of opportunity. That if you are a good writer, with a compelling story to tell, regardless of your race or religion or gender or sexuality, there are people out there who want to bring your stories to the world.

And that’s the world I want my children to grow up in.

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Hello Again!

My goodness, I feel like I’ve been gone for years! Although, to be fair, every day at the moment has the feeling of coming out of cryostasis and finding that world is not as you knew it.

Anyway, I’m back. The kids are on holidays (here in beautiful Victoria) so my teaching duties are done and who knows, I may actually be able to get back to the task of WRITING.

I hope you writing endeavors are going better than mine, that you’re part of the world is as safe as it can be, and that you and the people you love are healthy.

Posted in Blog

One of Those People

I am one of those people. One of those people who doesn’t really know what they’re doing, who’s always looking for the thumbs-up or the gold star to tell me I’m on the right track. It’s not that I don’t have internal motivation to follow certain paths, it’s more that I don’t trust that internal pull and therefore look to others to validate that I’m doing the right thing.

This works well when you’re a kid in school because extrinsic motivators are a big part of schooling. It works less well as an adult when so much of life doesn’t have anyone watching over you and telling you you’ve done well or, conversely, you can find just as many people telling you you’re doing wrong as telling you you’re doing right.

For someone like me, that leads to a life lived in doubt and guilt.

Um…yes!

Are there really people out there that know what they’re doing? They’re adulting and getting it right? REALLY!?

Are you one of those people. And if so, can you give me some tips?

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Happy Easter…Passover…Ramadan

I was looking at my calendar this morning and I realised that April is a really busy month for God. Easter, Orthodox Easter, Passover and Ramadan are all celebrated in April this year. Perhaps God thought we would need a boost during our Covid-19 isolation?

I personally was brought up Christian, although my faith is…mmm…ever evolving. But I have had the opportunity to join in Ramadan celebrations in the past. And a good friend of mine is converting to Judaism before she marries her fiance, so maybe I’ll get to experience some Jewish celebrations in the future.

Many (many) people have told me that Easter isn’t really happening this year because of the corona virus and the isolation measures we’re all taking. Perhaps, if you’re Jewish or Muslim, you’ve been hearing the same thing about your respective religious celebrations. I totally understand. Things are different this year. Perhaps you’re used to visiting with family or going camping or having a friends around. Perhaps, usually, your faith calls for you to get together with family to cook or make special decorations, or break fast. And this year, we can’t do these things.

If you’re feeling down that things are different this year and you can’t celebrate your faith or traditions the way you usually would, remember that there are things you can do. Make use of digital technology to connect with friends and family. Stay in touch with your church, synagogue or mosque through Facebook. Go old school and ring older friends and family members who may not be comfortable with the internet or social media (try not to find this frustrating).

For many of us religious celebrations are more about tradition than faith. But, for those of us who are believers, take a moment to remember why it is we celebrate during this time. That reason doesn’t change, even if the world circumstances does.

Throughout history people have had to celebrate their faith in difficult circumstances. In fact, around the world there are still many people who can’t practise their faith freely and without fear of persecution. And yet, they find away.

And so can you.

So, enjoy your Easter, Passover or Ramadan. Stay safe.

Posted in Blog

Turn the Pressure Down

Feeling anxious?

Me too.

Anxiety for me is not something new. I’ve mentioned before that I have an anxiety and depression disorder, which I control with cognitive behaviour therapy and medication (I love my medication. For me it has made the world of difference). But in circumstances like we’re in now, anxiety is a pretty universal feeling.

Right now, all I want to do is take everyone I love and put us all in a bubble where nothing can get to us. Possibly a little unrealistic. I said to my (long suffering) husband last night, “We just need to take care of ourselves, and our little boys…and mum and dad, and your mum. And my brothers and sister and their partners. And T1. And your sisters and their families. And Adrienne. And then we’ll be OK.” And he laughed. Because what can you say to that?

Swimming in this anxiety, let’s take a breath. Let’s all try to be our own therapist. You feel anxious, but what are the thoughts that are driving that anxiety. Are those thoughts justified? If so, can you fix the problem right now? If not, let it float for a while. If you can, go do it.

I feel anxious. I’m worried about my children getting sick. Is this justified. Yes and no. Yes, because they have a compromised immune system. No, because children are less likely to develop Covid-19, even if they do contract the virus. So what can I do? I can keep them in isolation for the time being.

I still feel anxious. But, honestly, less so.

And remember, you are not alone. We are all feeling the same way. So try to be calm, be courteous, be compassionate and have courage.

Courage, dear heart.

C.S. Lewis

We’re all in this together.

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Interesting Times

In one of his books Terry Pratchett says a curse for your enemies is ‘May you live in interesting times’. I’m currently away from my beloved bookcase (and my computer) so I can’t tell you which book right now, but we are certainly living in interesting times right now.

In the words of another amazing author, Douglas Adams, DON’T PANIC.

Right now, panic is our enemy and common sense and compassion are our friends. In Australia right now fear and panic buying has put everyone in a more tenuous position. Panic, not Covid-19, will be our undoing.

Here are three things that I’m trying to keep top of mind in these ‘interesting times’. Perhaps they can be of use to you.

  1. This is not unprecedented. Within my lifetime there has been zika, swine flu and bird flu. In history there has been Spanish flu and, yes, bubonic plague. We are a long way off painting red Xs on our doors.
  2. Compassion and generousity will not only help others, it will make you feel better. At this stage those in the know are saying that it is the elderly and immune-compromised people who are most at risk. The rest of us may get ill, but we’ll most likely be fine. With that in mind, as you scour the near empty shelves for dinner, remember your elderly neighbour or your friend who’s child has astmah or the homeless person on the corner, and ask if there is anything you can get them, so they can avoid going out and meeting with risk.
  3. You are in control. Of how you think, what you say and how you behave. Fear can make us do and say things we otherwise wouldn’t but while fear may be a reason, it’s not an excuse. Treat those around you, your fellow shoppers, the busy checkout person, the harried medical staff, with care and respect.

We are all in this together.

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The Little Grey Whale

I’ve been doing some research on grey whales for a picture book I’m working on. In the book the Little Grey Whale is separated from her pod and ultimately has to find a new family. I don’t know heaps about whales, and even less about grey whales so Google was (as always) my go to.

One of the things I learnt is that, like many whales, grey whales faced extinction due to commercial hunting. However, once they were protected their numbers recovered and are now considered stable. Which shows that we can take action and effect positive change.

There is hope for our world, if we take the actions necessary. They may be small changes in our own lives, or they may be changes put in place by governments and corporations. As long as there are things we can do, it’s not too late to improve our world.

Just look at the grey whale.

If you’re interested in more information, here’s a link:

Click to access resourcepaper_graywhales.pdf