Posted in Tips for Young Writers

Making Mistakes

I wanted this post to be about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and maybe even taking a risk. I was so excited about the work I had done for the dPICTUS unpublished picturebook showcase, that I wanted to share that with you and talk about how taking a risk can be incredibly empowering. And then, I discovered that I’d submitted my book dummy with a typo.

Submitting work, as a writer, with typos or grammatical errors is a bit like turning up for an interview as a hairdresser with a hideously bad haircut. Or going for a job as an accountant and disclosing that you hadn’t filed your tax statement for ten years. Basically, if you want to be ‘hired’ to write, you want to show you can write. And, in a highly competitive industry, where everything else is equal, that typo can be your downfall.

So I did what any other self-respecting adult would do, I berated myself, did some panic googling, berated myself some more and then I cried. And then, I took a deep breath, got perspective and reminded myself that even mistakes are blessings (note, I didn’t start with silver-linings and perspective. I had to implode and become emotional mush first).

If you’re currently beating yourself up over a mistake (and if you’re not right now, let’s face it, you will make a mistake eventually) let me offer you some positivity.

Very Few Mistakes are Fatal

True, we’re starting with a big one but sometimes you really need to latch on to something. All mistakes are where there’s an unwanted consequence of our actions, but for the most part these consequences do not result in death and permanent injury. Thank God.

If you have made a mistake that has resulted in death or something equally significant and final, then that can be very hard to reconcile, precisely because there seems to be no way to come back from them. For most mistakes though, although they might seem horrendous at the time (and have you laying awake and midnight saying, “why? Why?”), chances are there will be other opportunities or at least a way to make amends.

Mistakes are Learning Opportunities

Don’t shoot the messenger. It might seem trite, but it’s true. It’s true of even our biggest mistakes. In my case I learnt to read my work out loud a final time before hitting the send button. Did I need time to pass before I could be open to this lesson. Hell yeah! But once I settled down, I could take the lesson on. Now, if you keep making the same mistake and not paying attention to the lesson, that’s just being stupid.

It is Your Fault – Let that Empower You

Why did I send my work off with a typo? I was tired – I’d been working solidly on it for for two weeks. I was complacent – I thought I’d read through it enough. I was impatient – it wasn’t due in until the next day but I couldn’t wait. These may be reasons, but they’re not excuses. What I should have done is waited until the next day and looked at it with fresh eyes before sending it off. It was within my power to do that, but I didn’t.

That might not sound very positive but it is, because I can do things differently next time. It’s no one else’s fault but mine, and I alone have full control over my actions and behaviours. I don’t need to repeat my mistakes, because I recognise what I did wrong and I can change that in the future. I might sound like Dr. Phil Lite but that doesn’t make it less true.

All human beings make mistakes. Me, you, our parents, teachers, politicians and religious leaders. None of us are immune. Once you’ve stopped beating yourself up or crying (both of which are fine and natural) try and remember that there is a positive spin to making mistakes. That you aren’t alone. And that you can do better next time.

Posted in Blog

Election Love and Hate

On Saturday Australia held it’s federal elections. If you’re not Australian you might not be familiar with how this works. Voting is compulsory – if you are 18 or older you are expected to enroll to vote (most people do) and if you are enrolled to vote you are required to attend the voting place, have your name checked off the list, and post your voting papers into the appropriate cardboard box (we have a bicameral system, so we vote for members of a lower and upper house). If, in between having your name checked off and putting the sheets of paper into the box, you also want to step into a private booth and vote, you can do that. You don’t have to. But, while you’re there, why not.

Voting is anonymous. Voting is also based on preference rather than first-past-the-post. Therefore, you don’t just vote for who you most want to win, you also say who your second, third, fourth (and so on) choice would be, if you first choice doesn’t get enough votes.

Indonesia is the worlds biggest democracy. America is, perhaps, the most famous, but personally (and with obvious bias) I think Australia is the best.

That said, I was a lot more excited about voting when I was in my 20s. Now, I’m much more disillusioned, not just by the politicians who speak in rhetoric and tell lies and half-truths, but also by the vitriol and recriminations that appear around election time. The idea that, if someone doesn’t vote the way you would vote they must be an idiot, is offensive to me. My parents, for example, are intelligent, well read and engaged people. So am I. We didn’t vote the same way. That doesn’t make either of us less intelligent. It makes us human.

My husband and I hardly ever vote the same way. So far, we’ve avoided a divorce.

I think the thing I like least is the labeling. All political parties have numerous policies on numerous issues. Some of those policies even conflict (they think we don’t notice). Unless you are a rusted on supporter of a party, it’s unlikely that you won’t have to weigh up priorities and make compromises when you vote. But, when we label people Left or Right, liberal (small ‘l’ liberal) or conservative, or anything else, we ignore this.

I think labeling works well for objects. I don’t think it works well for people. People are like tomatoes. Are they a fruit? A vegetable? Both?

All that said, being able to vote – a right and a duty that people died for me to have – fills me with pride. And, with each election, I am refilled with hope that the people elected will take all Australia’s people towards a brighter future. It remains to be seen, of course.

If all else fails – we’ll have another crack at it in four years.

Posted in Blog

Good Morning

I’m a morning person. Morning, in my opinion, is the best time of the day. It’s also my most productive part of the day. I achieve more between eight and ten in the morning than I can in the whole of the afternoon.

That said, before I had kids my mornings were much more restful. When I was in my last years of high school I was up at 5 to study and complete homework. I would turn my tiny heater on, pop my ear-buds in, and work away. This continued until I started to share my bed full time, then I found the other person under the doona wasn’t keen on loosing his living hot water bottle. And besides, it’s nicer to sleep-in when someone’s giving you a cuddle.

Now, when I drag myself out of bed at 6, there’s already two little people up. They seem to start the day like horses start a race. There’s no time for a gentle cup of tea and a perusal of the paper. They have questions, demands, they’re hungry and simultaneously too sick to go to school.

And on the weekend, they watch people play Minecraft. I miss watching actual cartoons, with characters and a storyline. Now I get to watch (usually) young men explain how to make a portal to the Nether (did I spell that right? If you’re interested, you need lots of obsidian blocks and a steel and flint). I know you-tubers like Poet and MC Naveed. Theoretically I could go sit somewhere else but I like to be with my kids (especially on the weekends) and I like to know what they’re watching, because not everything on the internet is suitable (I know. I was shocked too).

But, it does make mornings much louder and prone to zombie attack then they were when I was younger.

I suppose, though, the day will come when they’ll want stay in bed until lunch and I’ll have my mornings back to myself.

I’m not sure I’m actually looking forward to that.

Posted in Blog

The Unsociablity of Social Media

Apparently ‘unsociablity’ isn’t a word. But ‘unsociable’ is and ‘sociability’ is so I’m just combining them. It’s probably an unfair thing to say, anyway. I find social media unsociable but clearly millions of people don’t.

It is overwhelming. I can’t be the only one who feels that. This year I’m trying to get on top of my use of social media. I visited a social media consultant, Media Tribe, who were brilliant, because I know that social media is a key tool in any author’s toolbox. This is my job, not my hobby, and thus I need to make use of means of marketing that other authors use.

Continue reading “The Unsociablity of Social Media”
Posted in Blog

Home, Away, Home Again

We’ve been away. The thing about going away is, no matter how wonderful the trip, it’s always such a relief to get home. I don’t know if it’s the journey, or the strange bed or the rich food but being away is always more draining to be at home and it certainly makes me appreciate my own little corner of the world.

Our trip this time was to South Australia, a state I’d never visited before. We spent time with my younger brother, visited Hahndorf (which apparently was the first settlement set up for non-English settlers) and saw the pandas at the zoo. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen pandas in real life so I was thrilled. The place we stayed was very close to the water, so we had a lot of long walks on the beach.

And despite all that, I am so glad to be home again.

Posted in Blog

11 Years

I once read that one of the most important career related decisions a woman can make is who she chooses as a partner – someone who values her career as much as his or her own and is willing to do things to support it, or someone who sees their career as most important and can only take what they need to sustain it, not give what their partner needs. What this comes down to is mutual respect. Seeing each other as equal partners where, when one person succeeds, they both succeed.

11 years ago today I made one of the best decisions of my life and married my husband. We’d been together for four years before that and, to be honest, if he had’t proposed when he did we wouldn’t be where we are today. But he did, and here we are.

We’ve weathered our fair share of storms. We are incompatible in every way but the important ones. We’ve embarked on the journey of parenting and eight years in have managed to produce two beautiful little boys without killing each other (or them. Some days it’s a close run thing though). He lifts me up, makes me laugh, holds me when I cry, forgives my weaknesses, leads when he must and follows when he must. Apart, we are still whole but together we are so, so much more than the sum of our parts.

Truly and as trite as it sounds, everyday I love him more.

Allot 2007 171

Posted in Blog

I Love Kid’s TV

I love television aimed at kids and teens.

The Next Step

Miraculous Ladybug

Little Lunch (an awesome Aussie show)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (I loved it in the 80s, I love it now. I had a crush on Raphael in the 80s, I have a crush on him now).

The list goes on. The problem is, I’m 34. That’s right, I’m a grown woman in her thirties with two kids hoping that Adrien and Marinette will get together (Australian free-to-air TV can be a bit behind, so if you know something I don’t, keep it to yourself).

While my friends are binging Game of Thrones and the Walking Dead, I’m giggling over Mickey’s jokes like a six-year-old.

So what’s the deal?

Some of the appeal for me is that watching shows for a younger audience keeps me up to date with what kids and teens are interested in, and that’s good for my business (writing for young people). Some of it is that it’s nice to enjoy things with my kids. And some of it is that shows for kids and teenagers tend to be optimistic and clever. Kids have a finely tuned bullshit meter, so their shows tend to be spot-on. Kids are also idealistic, so their shows tend towards an open, optimistic view of the world and I have to say, the older I get, the more I need that view in my life.

 

What about you? What TV do you watch that people would say is too young (or too old) for you?

Everyone has an opinion

 

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Do You Lie?

I like to think of myself as an honest person. I was brought up to know that cheating and lying were bad and this is what I teach my children but the truth is, I lie all the time.

lying homer simpson GIF-downsized

In my family as a child, as in my family now, there was a special place for white lies. Those not-honest-but-not-quite-a-lie things we say. In explaining the concept of white lies to my kids I’ve gone with the definition of, ‘…they’re lies we tell so we don’t hurt someone else…’, but on closer inspection, that’s a pretty dodgy definition. After all, a cheating spouse could make the same claim about their lies (I didn’t tell you I was having it off with the butcher, because I didn’t want to hurt you), but that’s definitely not a white lie.

Unfortunately though, when you think about it, a white lie is often as self-serving as any other lie. They’re the lies we tell to avoid confrontation or guilt. We lie to our friend about her clothes and say it’s to spare her feelings, but in reality it’s to avoid a tricky conversation. We lie to acquaintances and say we’re busy, when really we’re not interested in spending time with them. We lie to ourselves.

More and more, I see white lies like strands of spider’s silk. It seems light and insubstantial but it’s sticky and difficult to rid yourself of and when it clumps together it becomes dusty and unsightly. And you know what they say, what a tangled web we weave, when we practise to my deceive.

On the other hand, how would we get through the day without a few white lies? Would it be an endless wave of conflict and confrontation or would we be freed by our honesty? What do you think?

Everyone has an opinion

Posted in Blog

Cheater, Cheater

If you follow the cricket or are from a cricketing nation you will know by now that the Aussie cricket team are a bunch of big fat cheaters. And bad ones at that, because they got caught and Lance Armstrong got away with if for years.

Even I, one of the un-sportiest people you could meet, felt winded by shame and disbelief when events came to light. After all, whether you follow a national team or not, they still represent your nation. It was worse for my husband, someone who follows cricket passionately, and he cut a dejected figure on the couch last night as more details were revealed.

It does raise the question though, what is worth your integrity? Is there something that you could say is so important to you, you would knowingly do the wrong thing? The only thing I could think of is my family, mainly my children. Even then, it would probably have to be a matter of life and death.

So what about you, do you have a price on your honesty and, if so, what is it?

Everyone has an opinion