Create & Delineate

Rediscovering my creative soul

Archive for the tag “postaday2011”

Muse Juice | C.B. Wentworth (via The Daily Post at WordPress.com)

I’m trying to get my muse to listen to some of these cues to write. While I’m working out what works for me, have a read of this list of “muse juice”

A recent post on writenotright got me thinking about what fuels my muse. Whenever I sit down to write, a number of elements are needed to please my fickle muse. She’s a little more cooperative when the Top Ten List is in play: 1. A clean computer. Most of my writing is done on a white MacBook, which gets dirty easily and often. If there’s even one small smudge of dirt, I’m so consumed by the need to clean it I can’t write a thing. Before heading … Read More

via The Daily Post at WordPress.com

Taking a big bite of things!

Readers, I fear I have bitten off more than I can chew.

Last night was night #2 of school and my second subject – luckily, the second of two. It’s a class called Writing and Editing for Digital Media and I think it will be very useful and interesting. While I’ve been blogging for a few years, I definitely think there’s an art to writing and editing online and while you can adapt what you know from print media, it’s great to learn the skills for digital.

The class is a bit smaller than the Structural Editing class but overall, I think there are about the same number of students, just spread out differently. There were a few familiar faces from Monday night, which made me feel less of a misfit and I made a friend while I waiting for class to start. Emma is really lucky in that her work is paying for her to study and also allowing her time off to attend classes, so I’m a little jealous! The way my week has been turning out, any time off would be lovely!

Our tutor is lovely – very confident and prepared and also easy to listen to. That’s important when you’re listening to someone for 2 hours straight. The class actually went by really quickly and I enjoyed the exercises. I was super impressed with the uni – there are tons of laptops in a cupboard at the back of the class and they’re all MacBook Pros, albeit 13-inch ones. Apple has done well from Melbourne Uni, that’s for sure.

As our tutor started going through the assignments and expectations, my stomach knotted up a bit. There’s an ongoing assignment of updating a class blog and wiki and there are 3 other bigger assignments. One of the assignments is due 3 days after I get back from my trip to Canada in September/October so I’ll have to be a super conscientious and start it as soon as I possibly can. Additionally, both subjects have stressed that over and above the 2 hours in class, we’re expected to put in about 8 hours outside of class. With two subjects, that’s 20 hours and then my 40 hours of work and suddenly, I have very little time to myself and to write and read and do all those things I love to do. And combine with the stress I’m under at work, I’m quite panicked.

I know, I know, I brought this onto myself. The only way I’ll manage it is by planning and being organized and work ahead of time. So readers, any tips for me on how to do this and stay semi-sane?

A brand new school year

Today was my first day of school. My first day of being back at my alma mater, Melbourne University, as a postgraduate student. I was a bit nervous that I’d be an old fogie in the course, especially since everyone I met last week at the orientation was really young. I consoled myself with the thoughts that everyone I met was studying full-time and therefore not taking the evening classes and surely everyone in the evening class would be older? And yes, I was right, they were.

There are some cool people in the course class. I say class and not course because not everyone is doing the Masters. In fact, the range of experience and interest is really varied. Tonight’s class was Structural Editing and it’s a compulsory subject for my course and, I assume, some of the others too. There were people there wanting to change careers and doing Postgrad diplomas, like Georgia, the lawyer at my table. There were other people there doing the course for some reason that wasn’t entirely clear to me, like Ben, who left early and I’m not sure will be back. And there were still others who professed a love of editing but I’m not sure they’re not insane :P

Our tutor seemed … inexperienced, no, unprepared. The class notes and slides have been prepared by the course coordinator and it seemed as if our tutor hadn’t actually looked at them before the class. She read the class notes to us verbatim and barely used the slides, which made it hard to take notes. That said, I don’t see the point in taking notes when I can print the notes off from the website. In future, I’ll print them off before class and be able to follow instead of trying to take useless semi-notes from someone reading to us. Although I am hoping that she won’t read to us for 2 hours straight every week. There’s tons of work to get done and I can see my weekends flying out the door with assignments and exercises and readings (although I don’t remember doing all the readings when I was in undergrad so I’m not sure I’ll end up doing them this time but who knows?) and my brain is tired but it’s good.

I suppose that the one problem with taking night classes when everyone works full time is that it’s more challenging to connect with your fellow students. There are some really interesting people in the class, I think, and it would be good to get to know them. Like Dave, who’s been working entirely in stats and with numbers and is switching gears to work with language and words. And Gabe, who seems just cool and that girl you just want to hang around with. There’s a girl who’s written the beginnings of a Mills and Boon book and is embarrassed about it but I reckon it’s great – it’s hard work to write those but damn, they pay well!

So yeah, after a no-good, terrible day at work today, I got some brain strain, met some interesting people and came home to an empty apartment (The Boy is away for work) but filled with cute notes from my Boy that made me literally LOL. I at too many Jelly Belly jelly beans thanks to Costco and its 1.8 kg jar of them, and I’m going to go to bed and dream about assignments and readings but in a good way if that’s possible.

Going places

Today’s #postaday prompt is about planes, trains, and automobiles or, how you like to get around. I was tempted to post about that but honestly, my mind is all over the place and writing no superficial stuff is not happening.

My writing and focus has gone out the window this week. I find Mondays very tough when it comes to writing, which is going to be interesting come next week when I’m at uni and having to go straight from work to class every Monday and Tuesday. I’m going to have to figure out options to keep myself focused and keep my mind from wandering.

On the way to work this morning, I was listening to a very interesting podcast from WNYC Radiolab. It was a rebroadcast from sometime during the year with the theme Detective Stories and one of the stories involved a guy finding letters on the side of the highway. The letter were all addressed to the same person – Ella Chase – and were from the 1950s and earlier. The guy was a writing professor and started using the letters in his classroom as stimulus for students to research and write historical fiction and create a character from the material they had. When someone went and actually researched this woman, they found her real life story – filled with divorce and heartache – but the guy didn’t want to know. He preferred to create different lives for her every semester in his writing class. To keep the mystery going.

I like the idea of taking bits of someone’s life and creating a story, a character, another life altogether from the fragments. You could take someone who’s never left their small town and make them into a world traveller, or vice versa. It’s almost an advantage if you don’t know much about them at all. One of the projects I’d like to put on my list this year (because my plate is not overloaded AT ALL :P) is to go to the State Library of Victoria and find some original correspondence from the past, grab some details and run with them. Create a backstory filled with history and characters and experiences based on fragments of information. Let my mind wander into history and have fun with it.

I wonder what story someone would tell if they had fragments of my life. Would I end up travelling the world or marrying young? Would I end up a lonely spinster or enjoy a life of singledom while solving mysteries of the historical realm? Could you ever reimagine your own life properly or do you inherently know too much about yourself that you’d still end up creating the same life you already live?

I wonder if I could write a story of my life when I’m 50 and make it happen. In some way, write a reverse memoir, write the story before it happened from the perspective of me in the future. I’d make myself go places and have adventures, but also get through the tough times I imagine everyone has. Writing a life story that’s gone entirely to plan makes for very dull reading I think.

A bit of a ramble this morning but my mind is back and focused and whirring away. That makes me happy.

To know you is to love you

Topic #189:

Is it possible to know someone too well? If that’s true, why do we typically have the goal of always trying to get to know people better?

I think it’s possible to think you know someone too well. You may think that you know your boss too well, to be able to predict what he’ll think of an idea or proposal such that you don’t even propose it because, well, what’s the point if you already know his response? You could break up with a partner because you think you know them so well that you have entire conversations and arguments in your head, to the point where you no longer see a point in actually talking to them directly.

But I don’t think you ever know anyone completely. Not even your partner. There are always secrets and hidden aspects to people and there should be. It makes things interesting and keeps you engaged. You may think that you know what makes your boss tick, but one day, they may surprise you. Something in that idea that you doubt they’ll go for may hit a note that you have no idea about and suddenly, you have the go-ahead. Shock! Horror!

I think that if you get to a point where you think you know absolutely everything about someone, the relationship loses its lustre, be it a friend or a lover. You no longer need to engage them in a discussion about politics or news or the latest movies because you know exactly what they’ll say, down to the words they’ll choose. What’s the point in engaging them in anything if there’s no mystery to what they’ll say or do? I have a friend like that, where I feel as if I know what she’s thinking and going to do to such an extent that I don’t engage fully with her anymore because what’s the point if I’ve already had the whole argument in my head? The friendship is not long for this world if I continue on like this.

But on the other hand, I don’t think it’s actually possible to know someone too well. This friend? Keeps surprising me, in good and bad ways. Unless I open my mind, she won’t be able to do that. If I assume that I know her inside and out, I’ll miss out on the more interesting aspects of her personality, aspects that grow and change all the time.

I know that I don’t know my husband completely. I know a lot about him but I have a lot to learn. Because he is constantly evolving and learning and growing. And that’s what makes him so interesting, that’s why I want to keep getting to know him better because there’s always something more to know.

A moment in time

Topic #188:

Can a camera truly capture a moment in time when it is unable to capture itself or its user in that moment?

The camera never lies, or so they say. I say the camera lies all the time. It tells the lies you want it to tell. It catches the scene you want people to see. But we do the same time all the time.

When you take a holiday snap to show off your awesome tan on some exotic beach, you don’t want to include the family fighting over there, or the heap of garbage on the other side. You make sure the camera is focused on you and your awesomeness or the amazing sunset or your friends. You show the moment in time that you want to capture.

We all see moments in time from our own perspective. There’s no way that we can capture a moment from someone else’s perspective really – I see my workday as long and tiring but challenging. My colleague sitting just behind me may see it differently. If I’m writing about my day, it’s about MY day. Ditto if I’m taking a photo to represent my day. It can only represent the day from my perspective.

You know when you’re home from your AMAZING vacation and you’re looking through your photos, how difficult is it to find one of yourself? Especially if you’re the photographer of the trip, you’re very rarely in the photo. There’s often very little proof that you were actually, well, THERE. So has the camera captured the moment completely or just the moment from your point of view? I has – you didn’t see yourself there. You WERE there. Seeing the action from behind your eyes. You captured the scene, the moment, the action as you saw it. Therefore it’s accurate.

Where I think the different comes up is when you analyse not if the camera truly captures a moment, but if the camera could ever capture a life, everything about an event or an experience. Unless the camera operator is completely separate to the event, I don’t think so.

The only way this can happen is if every person has their own camera operator, their own paparazzi. I don’t actually think that’s too far off really. We’re already documenting every aspect of our lives online through blogs and Facebook and Twitter and now Google+. How far fetched is it really to think that one day we’ll all be monitored by our own camera operators? The camera alone may not capture a moment entirely but it’ll get pretty close to capturing a life.

And our dreams are who we are

Topic #187:

When is it acceptable to kill things? People? Animals? Plants? Ideas? Dreams?

My first response to today’s topic is “NEVER!!” Who would advocate killing anything – people, animals, plants or ideas and dream? But then I start thinking.

Firstly, killing people and animals – off the table, never acceptable. I don’t count having your family pet put down at the vet because of old age as “killing” them though. See, already I’m drawing lines and setting boundaries on my definitely never stance.

But ideas and dreams, are they any different? Sometimes you have to kill an idea because it’s not a well-thought out one, or a practical one, or even a workable, doable, GOOD idea. I mean, I could have an idea that my boss should give our books out free to all those in need. It’s a noble idea but is it a good one? Is it worth nurturing and keeping alive? Or is it one of those ideas that just can’t go anywhere? I’ve sat in many meetings where we throw out ideas that range from the fabulous to the fantastical and many of them get killed. Nobody cries murder most foul.

So that leaves dreams. Is it ever acceptable to kill a dream – your own or someone else’s? And this is a bit trickier. I don’t think it’s ever acceptable to kill someone else’s dream entirely and I don’t think anyone can really do that. Yes, you could apply to Drama School and get knocked back but they haven’t killed your dream if you decide never to act again – you’ve killed your own dream. There will always be road blocks and obstacles in life – nothing really comes easily – but if you keep your dream alive throughout, you should be able to achieve it.

But, I hear you say, what if you’re a terrible actor and your dream of making it big in Hollywood is really not realistic? What then? Should someone euthanize your dream, put it to sleep, in order to save your sanity? What if you’re going to keeping this dream alive and meanwhile not actually living at all, just waiting for the day you hit Hollywood. What then?

As a friend, are you helping or harming them by not killing the dream? What if their dream starts to harm someone else – for example, their family? What if they’re so determined to hit Hollywood or write the next Harry Potter that they neglect their family and people are suffering – is it okay then to take them aside and metaphorically slap some sense into them?

All to often, we are judged for our dreams. For not being practical. Wanting to be a writer is hardly something that’s going to make me millions. I know that. But it’s my dream. I put it aside for many years and I’m dusting it off again – I didn’t kill it off before, perhaps it was in an induced coma. It’s not hurting anyone else … yet. I’m working full time and bringing in money while I indulge myself. I’m not neglecting anyone and I’m slowly nourishing my creative soul and my dream. I would hope that my dream won’t end up hurting anyone, including me. But I also hope that I’d have the strength to recognise my priorities and what I value and put that ahead of any potential harm.

I read a column online the other day where the letter writer asked about how she could organise her life so she could look after her family but also finish her dissertation. The advice columnist pretty much said that her priorities probably needed to change and there was nothing wrong with not finishing her dissertation since her family needed her. I thought that was a definite murder of this poor woman’s dreams, instead of real advice. What do you think?

Topic #186: Imagining the perfect meal and beyond

 Describe a perfect meal. What will you eat? Who is there? Are you outside, or inside with a view? A view of what? It can be an imagined place and meal, or a real experience you want to have someday.

My perfect meal? That’s a good question. Is it a meal I’ve cooked and am serving at home or are we out somewhere? I think it’s easy to get a “perfect” meal when you’re out for dinner. You’re in a good mood generally, all dressed up and it’s an occasion. The best meal I’ve eaten was at our favourite restaurant in Auckland, a little place called Delicious where the food was always, well, delicious. The menu changed season to season but there was always one particular dish present, in one form or another – Pumpkin ravioli in sage butter. The first time we went there, I got the small serving of it and by the time we finished the meal, I was berating our waiter for not telling me that I should have ordered the large serve. Nobody should ever order the small serve of the ravioli – take it from me!

The little restaurant became our go-to dining out spot. Every time we had someone visiting, that’s where we took them. Every special occasion, that’s where we went. And generally, one of us always ordered the ravioli. But whatever we ordered, it was perfect.

Realistically, my perfect meal would be going there, with all my family and friends, having a glass or two of wine and sighing over the perfection of the pumpkin ravioli. Of all the things I miss about New Zealand, this is near the top of the list.

My if I’m going to dream, I might as well dream BIG. Perfect meal? To be a part of one of Heston Blumenthal’s feasts or eat at his restaurant, The Fat Duck and not worry about the money. That man is a genius – the fun he has with food inspires me. He’s creative and inventive and unshackled by what supposedly can and can’t be done. I would love to have that level of creative thinking and living in my life.

My goal: to use Heston as my inspiration and be fun and creative in the way that I live. But I’m not easting snail pudding.

Topic #181: Boundaries

The question on today’s Daily Post is simple:

How do you know where your boundaries are? We all have limits for what we are willing to try, or do, but how do you know that you haven’t gone far enough? Or when you go too far?

I think this is something I struggle with. I have two sets of boundaries – the boundaries I set myself and my real boundaries.

How are they different?

I have a massive fear of failure – something I’m sure many people face every day. Growing up, I was the good girl, the clever girl, the one who aced her exams and picked things up quickly. So I grew familiar with success and avoided that F word as much as possible. The only thing I wasn’t all that successful in was sport and that was easy enough to avoid.

But generally, one doesn’t go through life with only success and, as I grew up, I found that I wasn’t brilliant at everything. In Grade 9, I added Science to my list of Things to Avoid, thanks to a terrible teacher, and it became that Thing I Sucked At and part of who I was. In Grade 11, I added Math to that list and again, I made it part of me and laughed about it. I was the girl who sucked at math and science and sport. Instead of trying to overcome those “failures”, I embraced them to make them hurt less. I put up boundaries and let them grow. It was easier to avoid the things I failed at than to make them work for me.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried to renegotiate those boundaries. To make them more realistic. I tried joining a Beach Volleyball team to see if I really sucked at team sports and I do. That’s okay. But I push myself more at the gym than I ever thought I would. I’m learning to recognise the signs of when I’m at my limits versus when I have thatlittlemuch more to go.

And I’m learning that failure is not a bad thing. It makes you stronger, pushes your boundaries out there and sometimes, it hurts. But if you can get up again, you can push a bit more everytime.

Topic #180: Busy vs. Lazy

I know that I’m a chronic procrastinator. I will make lists about what I need to do instead of actually doing it. I will talk about what needs to be done, write about it (unless it’s writing I’m putting off) and definitely stress about it before I actually do it.

Often I complain that I’m too busy and I am busy, but if I’m 100% honest with myself, I’m not that busy. I could get it done, get it written, make the time, if I really cared about it. I would write instead of sitting on the couch watching Masterchef. Or I would stretch instead of lying on the bed reading the news online.

It’s all about priorities and until I prioritise things, they’ll get talked about, thought about but never done.

Are you too busy or too lazy?

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