Writing critique

You will not believe the weakness that just arose in me.

The fear. The unbridled dread.

Creeping, creeping. Slowly up through my body. Heat swarming over my face. Sickness dropping in my stomach.

I felt damp.

I felt hot.

I couldn’t. But I wanted to. But I then I couldn’t.

And my finger was held poised, over the button of my laptop, waiting, waiting, hesitating on every sharp intake of breath, to open up…

THE FILE.

The file, of writing criticism.

The file, from the tutor of my online writing course, that contained her very specific and educated, observations and critique of the first 3000 words of my novel.

I held my breath as I quickly ran over her comments. Click here. Click there.

Let out a short rush of air. No don’t relax yet.

Hold on some more. Yep I expected that.

Oh crap. Why didn’t I pick that up?

Okay… okay…

Last comments…

WHOOSH!

Out the air came tumbling. Like an earth embankment crumbling to the ground, and the water in the dam before it rushing forward in furious pressure.

That wasn’t so bad.

Oh wait. There is still audio feedback to be listened to.

Breathe in…

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Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

 

 

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How I handled f%$king writing rejection and lived to tell the tale.

Step 1: Stare at the computer in horror. Do this for as long as you have to, to let it really SINK IN.

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Photo by Pim Chu on Unsplash

Step 2: Physically express yourself. Scream. Cry. YELL. Do all 3 and then some. If you are going to throw something across the room make sure you don’t have any strong attachment to the item, it is not heavy/sharp/strong, and also, you don’t care about your flooring/it is virtually unbreakable.

Step 3: Keep crying and telling yourself self-defeating words. Things like:

“I’m a failure.”

“I am shit.”

“I am a shit writer AND I’m just plain shit.”

“I can’t fucking write.”

“I got rejected for a fucking writing course…”

And so on. If you have come this far you are doing well. Your self-loathing is working brilliantly.

Step 4: Wallow in self-pity. Pick someone who has to put up with you (i.e partner, parent, sibling) and tell them how shit you are. Cry as you are doing so. Tell them all your sorrows, including that time in grade 4 when you walked into a pole at school and your canteen partner laughed their head off at you. Go on.

Step 5: More than likely you have just been yelled at and scolded by your loved one. Go off and sulk for about 37 minutes.

I’ll wait…

Step 6: Ok you’re back. Now I want you to ask yourself…

“Are you going to let this beat you?”

That just jarred you didn’t it? You expected me to tell you to go cut some onions and rub them over your eyelids after all that self-hatred and the pity party you just attended with yourself as the star D-grade celebrity.

But SmikG is getting glass half-full right now and she is gonna whoop your ass.

Sit down! You’re not going anywhere.

Step 7: Ask yourself some more questions. Things like:

“Are you going to let one individual/organisation dictate what you can do?

“Will you someone else control your belief of yourself?”

“Is this one incident going to make you stop writing? Really? This ONE thing?”

At this stage, you may want to wallow in some more self-defeating talk for a couple more moments. Go on, whimper. Sniffle. Get some Kleenex super soft tissues, from the Aloe Vera range you weak piece of shit.

Step 8: “Are you REALLY going to let this get you down?”

“You know… you’re not that shit.”

“You’re actually, not bad.”

NOW we’re talking.

Step 9: Time to recall some famous writer stories.

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J.K Rowling. An unemployed and poor single mother goes from her Harry Potter manuscript being rejected 12 times before finally getting picked up… but even so, her editor encourages her to get a teaching job as it is unlikely she will earn much from writing children’s books.

She is now worth over 1 billion dollars (read, BILLION) with her name to one of the best-selling series in the world with 450 million copies SOLD.

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Stephen King. Rejected his own story, Carrie, only to find his wife had taken it out of the garbage with the note for him to finish it. It was rejected over 30 times, but was eventually picked up and even turned into a movie.

He has over 50 novels to his name, has written hundreds of short stories, and remains one of the great fiction writers of this generation.

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Dr Seuss. He had been rejected 27 times, and was literally on his way home to burn the manuscript when he bumped into an old friend. When he spoke of his woes from “a book no one will publish” his friend (also a children’s editor… how “co in-chi-den-che” – see the Tomei-Downey Jr. movie Only You for reference!♥ ) he read it and it was published.

He went on to write over 60 children’s books and remains a classic children’s writer through the ages.

Step 10: Woah. Now we are feeling just a little bit invincible. Almost like the way we felt when we first ventured into the writing world with fear and trepidation, hovering over the keyboard as we posed those first few words.

But we need something else.

Inject some creativity in your life… in the form of, MUSIC.

My fave go-to: Something loud and pumping, ROCK is real good.

Queen, for example.

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Prince doing his Beautiful Ones where he screeches at the end is also uplifting in a very RAW way.

Or you know, on the other spectrum we can go ‘alternative/new wave rock’ and play something like INXS’ Need You Tonight… you know the story, of how Andrew Farriss famously made the taxi driver who was meant to take him to the airport, wait an hour as he wrote the riff to the song? He then passed it onto Michael, who quickly penned the words to what would become the song… incredible.

You need to surround yourself with genius. Genius thoughts. Genius inspiration. Genius creativity.

Step 11: Ok, we are HERE. Perhaps you feel so unstoppable, so charged, the muse starting to move within you, that something you scribble on toilet paper while passing a bowel movement (why do you have a pen in there?) can be considered LEGENDARY.

“What am I going to do next?”

“What course will I look at?”

“What can I learn from this?”

Start work-shopping ideas to get around your initial rejection.

Step 12: Start with this quote by Albert Einstein: “Failure is success in progress.”

NEXT, sit at your computer.

And start writing.

🙂

 

 

 

Girl, don’t forget

It’s an exciting time when you fall in love. More so, when your man pops the question – there is joy, elation, satisfaction, deep fulfillment and often, a yearn to keep and want everything to be as easy and pleasant as that stage, forever until the end of time.

Keeping things smooth sailing however, sometimes results in us forgetting about ourselves.

Forgetting where we came from.

We try so hard to please, make the family happy, make the relatives happy, live and act the picture of a perfect couple, play the part and smile and laugh… that we often forget, about ourselves. 

Our wants.

Our needs.

It is not a conscious thing. Our self-ignorance is unintentional, as we throw ourselves whole-heartedly into the man, the life, the family that we wish to spend the rest of our lives in. We are so consumed with love and passion, that all else falls behind. All thoughts and desires, goals and dreams and big-thinking falls to the wayside as we embark on an exciting new chapter.

We focus so much on this new part of our lives, on our union with this amazing partner… that we forget about the individual who got there. The individual who has been left behind.

Ourselves.

To my younger self, and to my daughter who will someday read this… and to any other girl out there, beginning to embark on such a romance.

Remember.

Don’t forget yourself.

 

Girl, don’t forget – A POEM.

Girl, as you fall in love, don’t forget

The things that made you laugh, and what lifted you when you were sad.

Girl, as he holds you hand, don’t forget

Your parents who held it before, and who lifted you when you would fall.

 

Girl, as he kisses you sweetly, don’t forget

The lips that touched your head, to mend bruises, to maintain your even breath.

Girl, as he bends on one knee, don’t forget

You are more than a man, a union, a wedding that will consume all of your days.

 

Girl, as you plan your big day, don’t forget

Your parents are happy for you, but struggling to let go.

Girl, as you practice writing your new surname, don’t forget

Where you came from, and how far your maiden name travelled to get to you.

 

Girl, as you get married, don’t forget

Those who cheered you on are still with you, even though you are blind in your happiness.

Girl, when the day is done, don’t forget

To look back on the photos, and observe the smiling faces in the background.

 

Girl, as you go about your life, don’t forget

There is more to your day than pleasing those around you.

Girl, as you argue with you husband, don’t forget

That your parents yelled at each other too.

 

Girl, as you say yes to yet another request, don’t forget

What set your stubborn 16 year-old self on fire.

Girl, as you remember what you used to love, don’t forget

That no one told you to stop loving after all.

 

And girl, when you get to that day, when you realise you DID forget…

It is not too late to start again.

And girl, when you tell your husband what you love, please don’t forget…

That you are your own person, and will do it anyway.

    ~ Smik G.

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Photo by Jennifer Regnier on Unsplash

 

 

 

Rebel with a Glaze

(Disclaimer: I am using the wording ‘donut’ for the sake of the business I am reviewing, but we all know the proper spelling is ‘doughnuts!’ Because there is dough, duh. Onwards…)

I was utterly shocked over this past Summer when I read some fellow bloggers’ posts that they had just gotten sneak peeks at a soon-to-be-opening new donut shop just down the road from me… what? It was literally DOWN THE ROAD. I could essentially walk there. Something I would probably have to do a lot of if I did in fact visit the place… but probably not a good idea to test out, for risk of it being too convenient, you know?

But, I was enraged! How did I not know about this? How did they get a sneak peak, and your neighbourhood friendly SmikG did not? Harumph. That’s ok. I would still visit… and review them quietly, as per my identity…

MWA HA HA.

It was Australia Day, the day to enjoy the Australian and Western World privilege of not cooking for yourself (public holiday, so not doing much of anything for that matter) and so after getting for ourselves some takeaway food for the night, we popped into Rebel Donuts, to see what these guys had in store.

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A lot, it appeared.

There were over 15 varieties, and I now know from repeat visits that these often change. Each visit will bring you a surprise combination, a quirky name (like a Ned Kelly or James Dean inspired one), and a headache from having to make the tough decision of which to choose each time! They prepare donuts according to seasonal occasions, there are vegan varieties too, and for my fair people of Mornington, guess what? DELIVERY! Yes you can have your donut delivered, AND eat it too.

Why, I never.

That day we put on the brakes and brought home just 3.

(From left: a custard donut, plain with sprinkles, and Tim Tam).

The verdict? They were GOOD. They had a distinct yeasty taste, something that reminded me of my Mum’s doughnut making – and that is a good thing. Because if they have that hint of homemade, they will always be a winner in my books.

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Soft, delightful, exciting to pick and choose from… these guys can’t go wrong. If you are headed to Mornington, past Mornington, or you just need an excuse to get doughnuts, well here it is!

The deets:

Rebel Donuts

968a Nepean Highway (actually on the corner of Nepean Highway and Mornington-Tyabb road, in the same complex as McDonalds, Red Rooster, Dominos, as well as other fast food eateries. They often have a large billboard up on the corner pointing to where they are, so just look for the pink!)

Trading Hours: 8am to 10pm daily, unless sold out.

#rebeldonuts #mornington

 

An open letter to those I love…

A critical letter.

So often in life we talk to those closest to us about those that upset us. Shit us. Rev us up the wrong way. We critique them and bad-mouth them, complaining ’til the cows come home about all the things we so detest about these people.

How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways…

It is so easy to poke the finger and make negative comment when it is about people we do not care much for… and yet when our loved ones make us find fault in them, it is a bit harder to swallow.

You don’t want to hurt them. You don’t want to make them sad. You don’t want any suggestive words spoken to affect the relationship. You remain quiet, hoping they will fix themselves, by themselves.

They never do.

So here is my open letter:

Dear loved one,

I know there are people who have lied, and deceived you. I know you have been hurt more than words can say, and that in turn has left you distrusting and guarded, speculative and wary.

But believe me, people are not all out to get you. Please do not squint your eyes at everyone. Firstly, that is rude. Secondly, I hurt for you when you do that, and like the innocent people you judge unfairly, they start to judge you back… and I can’t stand that. I can’t defend you. I can’t win.

Dear loved one,

We have so much to say, right? But please let me say it. I know you think you can read my thoughts, or you know where I am headed in my speech. But I want to say it anyway. I want a chance to be heard. I just want to hear myself talking out loud, the way I let you do so often.

I may not go on as much, but that is because I get side-tracked and my mind never stops. I may not divulge so many details, but that’s because I am afraid of getting hurt. I may not express it all, but that’s because I fear the blab-mentality.

Please, just breathe. Don’t assume.

Dear loved one,

Don’t get all prim and proper on me now. Where has that spark gone? That glint in your eyes, that constant youthful laughter? Life is hard, I know it is hard… YOU know it is hard. But try to remember where it all began. Make it simple again. Don’t try too hard. It’s ME here. Remember that.

I want you to start the day laughing, and don’t stop ’til nightfall. Then I will know you are back.

Dear loved one,

Please say more. I know you have been knocked down. I want to hear you speak more. I want to hear your voice. I want you to muck about as you used to. Most importantly I want to see you smile.

Don’t lose Hope, loved one. I haven’t.

Dear loved one,

I know you want to make me happy. But listen to my version of happiness – don’t impose upon me YOURS. When I say I want something, please understand that is what I mean! You know me well… but I know myself better.

Dear loved one,

You are not the first, and you are not the last. Calm the f^%k down. Also, grow up.

Dear loved one,

Maybe when I wronged you, you thought it was intentional… but I didn’t realise what I was doing. However, you ‘getting me back’ is a conscious decision. Don’t play games.

(TIMES TWO).

Dear loved one

I know you wonder, ‘what happened?’ I honestly can’t remember anymore. But I thought we were stronger than a slow and prolonged absence due to ‘assumptions.’

Pretty weak huh?

Dear loved one,

I don’t know… do you actually like me? Or do you want to keep me around so you can continually judge me? I try to respect you and give you the friendship our years deserve… and yet I find myself hating you more.

Do you hate me more with every day, too?

Dear loved one,

You actually don’t know everything. Try to sound surprised, because I know you are.

 

Very Sincerely,

SmikG.

 

 

 

 

 

An event to ruffle up my feathers

“What?” I stared at my phone in disbelief. I didn’t know what to think. It was a while ago and a beautiful coincidence later, when I had happened across the words ‘Mornington Peninsula Bloggers’ in a Peninsula-based facebook page.

There was a group in my area, for bloggers? I didn’t even realise local blogger groups existed, and then I was soon finding out that they were often hosted by organisations in order for some kind of ‘review’ to be later posted by them…

Surely they were buying a positive review. I balked at the idea of being ‘bought.’

“Yeah right,” I thought. I was going to write a nice review about someone just because they paid for some of my stuff? Don’t forget I waged war on one institution which I will never visit again, and though I don’t go out of my way to bag them, if anyone ever asks me where to go Lygon Street way, I won’t be able to keep my mouth shut.

I like to think I am fair, but also, I am picky.

I couldn’t fathom this ‘pay-for-positivity’ idea circling in my head, and so went to Hubbie.

“They’re going to shout you food?” He looked at me incredulously. I really wanted him to go all moral and high-ground like me, and yet his expression told me otherwise.

“Go!” he urged. “You don’t have to write a positive review.”

“But I feel I’ll have to!” That was the clincher. All those food posts I’d read on other sites. They prologue their review with

“Restaurant X&Y hosted us that evening, but all opinions are my own.”

You know what that translates to?

“All opinions have been diluted through my well-fed tummy… What is an ‘opinion?’… More food please… Nom nom nom.”

I didn’t wanna be one of those food-coma bloggers.

But then my alter ego, SmikG, stepped in.

“I will be hosted, and I WILL have an opinion!”

I needn’t have worried about having my opinions watered down through my digestive system, or of having to lie about my experiences though…

So on an uncharacteristically beautiful and still sunny July day, I found myself driving 17 or so minutes down Mornington-Tyabb road. The scenery was striking. I was used to roads like this since I frequent Bungower so often, however I felt that the further I drove away from the Mornington beach-side, the more the imagery turned pristine and pointed. There were still the huge blocks of land, long winding paths leading to expansive houses and farm-style cottages, however they were both perfectly rustic and exceptionally manicured at the same time. White picket fences, immaculately placed rock trails, even the trees on either sides of the road stretched far and wide, meeting in the middle and opening their branches just enough to allow you a glimpse into the road ahead, providing a magnificently glorious backdrop to the gorgeous day that was.

It was very Castle-esque. I had “how’s the serenity” playing on loop in my mind with my musings, as we drove on ahead.

On first impressions, I felt I almost could’ve kept driving past The Hungry Peacock, our host for that afternoon. Even with my google maps alerting me that it was indeed, a 50 metre left turn away, I still had to slow down suddenly, and heads up for those with lowered cars – watch your bumper bars as you enter the dirt car park.

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(Church hall on left, The Busy Peacock on right)

The setting was quiet and peaceful. I slowly headed into where I thought I needed to be, as fresh as baby girl who was in more knowledge than I was about what lay ahead. Soon though we found our group, in a barn-like shed otherwise known as ‘The Busy Peacock,’ which sits nearby the café ‘The Hungry Peacock’ on the premises. You see, not only were us bloggers getting shouted, but so were our kids.

Those clever minxes.

So the whole idea behind the The Busy Peacock, is that kids get a 45 minute session, in where they engage in sensory play.

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There are two sessions a day – one early morning and one late morning – and they run from Tuesday to Sunday. The children come in, put on smocks, and then just go where their curious hands and minds lead them…

There are water-based activities, sandpits, kid-sized building box areas, hammering and craft tables, gooey water ball tubs, and so much more. The great thing is, these activities change every two weeks, so you can be sure you’ll get some new play areas for your little explorer, even if you do frequent the place often.

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Baby girl of course LOVED the water areas, and after having a good sticky-nose into almost every other section, spent a significant amount of time spraying a white board and applying human features to it to make a face, followed by the rest of the time counting gooey balls in a tub.

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I mean, simple things. And little details too, as I loved how there was a bucket of fresh water with some old rags for the kids to wash their hands with and dry when things got a little bit messy. As you know it undoubtedly would. I know kids dig that stuff, but baby girl is a little OCD like me (proud as punch Mama) and so when a smidgen of sand touched her fingertips, she was holding them high in the air and high-tailing it to the bucket of water that was now blue.

That’s right, blue, because there was paint too!

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My honest-to-goodness thoughts? I honestly can’t fault the space. I mean, for $10, you keep your kid entertained for 45 minutes, they get their fill of all kinds of fun and exciting play areas and sensory experiences, and then after that you get to eat and drink next door, and they have MORE areas to play in?

What? There’s more?

So after three quarters of an hour following the kiddies around, making a mess and getting their hands into all kinds of gunk, we tidied them up and followed the owner, Rebecca, into the renovated church nearby which is also a space for functions. Rebecca is part-owner with her behind-the-scenes chef Hubbie, and they have been running the place for a while now, ever since their previous partnership running the joint with another couple, went bust. As it happens. They’ve since renovated the interior café too (which we’ll get to) and put their own personal mark on the premises which I can see will be a terrific kid-friendly mainstay.

And these were my thoughts before I’d even had any food.

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The church is a gloriously beautiful building, one that would easily cater for a large number of people in any kind of function, and this was perfectly demonstrated that day as our kiddies began to run amuck and show us just how grand the space was.

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Give them an empty room, and they run for their lives, giddy with joy. God Bless. Oh how appropriate that was…

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That was our brief stopover, before heading into the last area of our afternoon, the actual Hungry Peacock café.

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Being my first time there, I actually can’t comment on the renovation itself, other than to marvel at how many kids play areas there were! It is actually a quite genius, and fairly simple idea.

What do parents want more than anything?

A break.

What keeps kids busy (and away from hassling their folks?)

Why, novelty play things of course.

(Butcher pic thrown in for Hubbie)

A track running along the wall for mini car enthusiasts (i.e. ALL kids), a shop corner complete with play food, and colouring pencils and paper for the creative kiddies completed the tables and chairs inhabiting the café. The café consists of two large rooms, the first one containing the counter/coffee area and kitchen entrance, while the other had more places to sit, a couch and a fireplace.

It really was the perfect place to spend an hour or two catching up with an old friend, or just chilling on your own-some… all while your little one ran amuck looking, and most importantly, FINDING interesting and amusing things to do.

But what if it’s a gorgeous day out, and you want to take in some sunshine, you ask expectantly (waiting for me to stammer and halt?!) ?

???

Even better.

There are even more play areas outside for the kids, comprising of cubby houses and a long tube-like contraption to send balls down, all with a decked area for the parents to sit down and wine, dine, AND whine away, conveniently nearby.

The venue itself caters to all types of parents and their kids – those who want to get messy in the Busy Peacock; those who want to chill indoors while their children wind down and explore other avenues; and those who want to sit outside and take in the sunshine, while the kids become backyard explorers of a different brigade.

I have to say though, quite strongly, that I think it is only a place for parents and their kids. It is a parent’s haven –

(let’s interrupt this broadcast for the Angels singing)

Ahhhhhh!

(and back again)

– knowing your child can lose their shit and not be ridiculed by other non-parents. Even if you have already passed the child-rearing stage, you will probably not be able to take the yells and screams so much. It is a serene place, so the backdrop and nature may just win you over… but really, this is a Mum and Dad go-to for some much needed R&R while the little ones take over everything else.

I can’t comment on the food, because I only tasted the slightest morsels from the shared platters we received… and being a European woman, those platters would have been demolished between just Hubbie and I.

So, a Food Review, next time. Hubbie will be pleased to hear beer is on the Menu…

In a nutshell:

16 Mornington-Tyabb Road, Tyabb.

The Busy Peacock runs from Tuesday to Sunday, at 9:30am and 11:15am sessions.

Book ahead. 0416623827

$10 per child, for a 45 minute sensory play session.

There is an old church beside it that can be booked for functions.

Finally, The Hungry Peacock is the café that has even more play areas for the kids to keep them entertained, while offering food and drink for adults and children alike. Also open Tuesday to Sunday, 8/9am to 4pm.

So in its entirety, the concept is fantastic. You go out, let your kid have fun, go to the neighbouring house for some food and drink while they get even more exhausted, and then come home to a clean house, and hopefully a nap-ready child too.

And as for my first hosted blogging experience? The Peacocks feathers are brighter in person, and that there is my metaphor for my first-time blogging out in the open, and not trying to hide the fact that I’m inconspicuously taking xxx number of photos.

I was fortunately pleased to find that I didn’t need to lie, nor blow smoke up anyone’s behind for a false positive experience. It was a fun day for baby girl and I, and we will ALL be back to explore even more.

The only way is up, folks.

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Failing at reading

I’d like to show you something:

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Other than not knowing how to screenshot, if you look even closer, you will see that on my Goodreads account, I started reading Sense and Sensibility…

in (shock horror) February of 2015.

2 freaking years ago.

Not even I realised how bad I was until logging in to update my progress.

It’s taken me over 600 days to finish a book, which though slightly hard to engage with at first, I grew to love, with Austen teasing me throughout about what, and how, certain things were going to play out.

It’s not that I don’t read. I love it, so so much. I wish I had more time for it. But, things happened last year, and though I turned to the book, time and time again, reading chapters here, chapters there, the fact that we had a massive life overhaul, what with Sea changing and all, meant that there were so many other things to take care of, and that still need taking care of… that taking time out to enjoy a very fave pastime of mine, just felt selfish.

This here my friends, is a lesson in failure. Observe the following 2016 reading challenge I participated in last year:

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Have a look at that, really, have a good look at that.

I pledged to read 10 books. Not much I thought. 10 books a year, equated to just under one book a month. That didn’t seem at all impossible, but as mentioned above, Sea change, and all I ended up reading was 2 books.

2 books.

2 books!

And during that time I was about half way through Austen’s book too.

I don’t feel oddly embarrassed. A little ashamed, maybe, because you know, being a Writer and all, and wanting to write for a living, well you feel a bit pathetic when your main bread and butter, the act of reading to help you write – you fail miserably at.

I failed miserably, I know.

I have excuses. I have reasons. Do I need to justify them to anyone? To make people believe that I am a legitimate writer, that I am worthy of the “Writer” title?

No. My online writing presence is enough. I am a busy person. I have a life. And sometimes, things don’t go to plan.

Many times, things don’t go to plan.

It doesn’t mean however, that we shouldn’t plan, or strive towards certain goals.

The lesson here is this.

Firstly, don’t feel bad for taking time out to read, if it is something you love to do – writing-related or not. We should all give ourselves a break now and then, even if it is while waiting in line to pay a bill, on your lunch break at work, or late at night when the house is quiet. For a creative mind, it is necessary.

Second, shit happens. It almost always does. So if your well-tuned ideas and visions don’t turn out the way you’d like – don’t despair. Don’t use it as a reason to give up.

Never use ANY thing as a reason to give up.

Just say “oh well,” and move on. Or my favourite “PLOT TWIST!” and then see what scene the chapter of your life will play out for you next.

I’m already thinking of what I will read next. And I think the well overdue “Girl on a Train” book that I borrowed off Hubbie’s cousin, LAST YEAR, is definitely next in line…

(If you’d like to be Goodreads friends and have an account of your own, my profile name is Smikg…)