Tools of the Trade

My favourite time of the day is when I hear the sounds of my postman’s motorbike as he comes up the hill toward my house. My excitement heightens when he pulls into the drive, his engine stops and I hear him walk .toward my door. The loud rattle of the screen with his knock is quickly answered, as I started making my way to the door as soon as I heard his engine cut out. Opening the door I know what is waiting for me……it’s a book! Well not always, occasionally it is something I’ve ordered for one of my sons birthdays or Christmas presents for others, and before you ask the answer is yes. I definitely have a small online shopping addiction. Trust me when I say though that the way it earns the addiction title is through the amount of books I buy and because of this I see it as a healthy addiction, one to feed!

This week I have had the pleasure of opening not one but two packages. Both investments in tools that will not only build my skills as a writer but also my confidence. The first to arrive was my combined Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus. I know what you are thinking, you can use the online version. I am old school though and I need to see books, hold them in my hands and smell that fresh parchment. I am pleased to say that when I shared this with my sons, my youngest drank in that smell of the new edition to my book family like he was smelling a newborn baby, or more aptly when it comes to him, a large plate of freshly cooked spaghetti bolognaise he was about to devour. 

My second addition to the family was The Australian Handbook for Writers and Editors: Grammar usage and punctuation by Margaret McKenzie. That’s right, I’m going back to basics. My English teacher from High School would no doubt delight in my excitement of rediscovering nouns, adjectives, verbs, prepositions, conjunction and all the other delights that await me. They are old friends and I am taking my time to welcome them back into my present, instead of them fading into the background of everyday use. 

So let this be a warning to you all, my ramblings now will no doubt be filled with practice and connection with these old friends. It ill be like a reimagined version of an old movie or soundtrack. Unlike other remakes though I am confident that this one will be better than the first! Oh and for all of you who have picked out all the grammar and usage errors in my work in this blog piece, it is just evidence of the need to sharpen my tools. 

 

Am I a real writer now?

Earlier this year, before Coronavirus I attended a writing Master Class with Jaye Ford and  Fiona McArthur at the Newcastle City Library. At that point I had one idea, 5000 words, and a tremor within my whole body at the thought I might have to write and share my work with not only them but the other people in the group. 

I’m pleased to say that the tremor quickly disappeared and within five minutes I felt like we were old friends and I was an accepted peer to them! There were many great things I learned from both Jaye and Fiona (I will fill you in as each one comes up I promise) but the ones that stuck out the most were write every day, take every opportunity to write and then enter your writing in competitions if you want to publish your work. 

I’ve failed to write everyday, although I am definitely approaching that now, but I have thrown myself into looking for competitions and have put forward three pieces of work now. The first was short, under 500 words, and I don’t expect to hear back until October for that one. The second was up to 1000 words and had to be titled after a crossword puzzle in the Audrey Daybook magazine, for which I earned my first form letter rejection of my work being of high standard but not quite enough to earn the prize, and please try again in the next quarter (I am definitely going to do that – and every quarter after that until they say YES).

The third is under 500 words for the Furious Fiction monthly competition where you get 55 hours and a few rules. I came up with two stories for this and entered the second. I took my time with this one and was quite proud. I would love to say that it doesn’t bother me if I win or lose it’s just about the practice, but if I’m being completely honest that loss will hit harder than the second piece. Maybe though that’s a good thing? If it hurts more I will only be more determined to keep doing it, and each time I write I get better, and it brings me closer to my goal…. published work! 

What Does Little Kel want?

 

A couple of months ago whilst in peer consultation, in my previous (although currently my dual) professional life, a colleague and good friend asked me if I could give my younger self anything what would it be? My answer was time. I don’t think she really knew what she was doing when she asked me that question, or maybe she did? Regardless it was the question that unlocked years of wondering about my career and what I wanted to do with my life. 

Fast forward two months and some pretty big conversations with my husband, children and friends and here I am closing down my private practice as a Psychologist and taking the time to feed my two greatest loves, after my children and husband of course, reading and writing. 

I won’t say this is the first time I’ve written anything, or blogged for that matter. In that previous career I’ve had the opportunity to do both these things and unlock my creative side. I could have continued to do that and returned to a mix of clinical work, research and project work like I have in the past, but in doing this I would be again struggling to find the balance between work, family and me. It was time to give little kel a chance, I couldn’t ignore the pleading of that six year old self saying ‘ it’s my turn now.’

So for the first time I have left the confines of academic writing, blogging about mental health and writing project reports and I’m turning my fingers and mind towards the creative world of fiction. To say that I have a few ideas to pursue is an understatement. I have a suitcase of them and they are in size 9 font, single spaced and printed double sided. With so many where do I start?

It turns out starting wasn’t a problem. I’m 45K into my first novel, seeking every writing competition I can find to enter in the pursuit of improvement in my skill….oh ok, I’m also looking for some kind of approval, that I belong in this world and that I was right to listen to that six year old self.  I know I don’t really need it though, I love writing and creating stories and characters and it brings me happiness everyday. So rejection be ware – I will not give up!