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Writing Compost

 

7July growth
Spring is in the air at long last! The birds are getting amorous. It won’t be long till the bees will be out pollinating their little socks off. It’s that time of year. Yup, that very fecund, fertile time of year when a woman’s thoughts turn to … compost!

 

Yup! You heard me right. It’s time, once again, to give some serious thought to compost. Most of you know by now that I’m an avid veg gardener. I’ve flooded social media with images of ripe, succulent strawberries, flirtatiously phallic courgettes and full-bodied, mouthwatering sweet corn. I’ve told tales of the allotment – some of them dirtier than others, and I’ve even written a fair few sexy encounters that take
cucumber 17 aug 1mail.google.complace in veg gardens. Gardening is one of the topics I’m almost as enthusiastic about as I am writing. That’s not terribly surprising since the two are so philosophically compatible. So today, in honor of the beginning of Spring, I’m talking compost.

 

My husband and I inherited our first composter from the people who owned our house before us. We were suspicious of it at first and more than a little intimidated by it. It looked like a Rubbermaid Dalek casting a long menacing shadow across our back lawn. We’d heard that if we put egg shells and fruit and veg peels, cardboard and tea and coffee grounds in the top that in a few months, we could open the little door at the bottom and the myriad resident worms would have magically transformed all that garbage into rich luscious soil. Then all we’d have to do was
shovel all that organic loveliness out into our garden.

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I’ll admit, we were skeptical at first – I mean seriously – egg shells and veg peels in and rich, luscious compost out? I mean that’s just crazy talk, surely! Still, we did as instructed, every day adding coffee grounds and tea bags and other goodies worms and invertebrates love to chow down on. Then one day we took the plunge, slid open the door and there it was, all dark and rich and soft and warm, and smelling vaguely of citrus. We filled a couple of planters. We were planning to put in geraniums, but never got around to it. Several weeks later I noticed there were tomato plants coming up in the compost we had excavated. My mother used to call plants that came up where they weren’t planted volunteer and, sure enough, we had eight volunteer tomato plants, the result of seed not broken down in our strange compost-making Dalek.

 
We never did get our geraniums, but it didn’t really matter. Our eight tomato plants
yielded up their yummy fruit at the end of the summer, an unexpected, unintended First ripe toms 10 Aug 2013IMG00572-20130910-0951gift from our predecessors. The next year we actually dug a bed and planted corn and beans and squash. After that there was no looking back. Our one lone composter has been joined by three others, and twice a year we open the doors at the bottom and marvel at what an army of invertebrates can make from our kitchen waste.

 

The next year, as my sister and I shoveled bucket after bucketful of rich, loamy soil from our original battered, smudged composter and spread it in anticipation of the veg I’d be planting in May, I thought about how much writing is like composting. There are times when my efforts truly seem inspired. Those are the fabulously heady
times all writers live for and hope for, when every word shines the moment we write it down.

 

I would love it if everything I wrote would come forth fully formed and beautiful like Venus on the Half Shell, but more often than not my words are more like used teabags on an egg shell. More often than not, what I write is kitchen rubbish, the remnants of experiences already spent, the detritus of half-formed ideas that aren’t quite what I fantasized when they appeared so perfectly shaped in my imagination. Somehow they’ve turned to apple cores and coffee grounds by the time I manage to get them into words.

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My husband takes his lunch to the office, and he brings home his fruit peels and apple cores because he knows what they will become. He convinced the lady who
works at the office canteen to save the coffee grounds for him because he knows what the worms will magic them into in a few months’ time. It’s true, what we dig out of our composters is technically just worm poop. Oh, but it’s so rich, so fertile, so completely loaded with potential. My husband knows, as I know, what wonderfully succulent corn and tomatoes and green beans we’ll grow in that rich compost in a few months’ time.

 

Writing is no different. On the written page, the coffee grounds and apple cores of my everyday existence, the remnants of half formed thoughts, the grandiose ideas that didn’t quite have the magic on paper that they did in my minds’ eye will become compost, no matter how much they may seem like rubbish. Nothing can happen until I write those words down — no fermentation, no agitation, no digestion, no chemistry.

 

Writing imageBut once the ideas are words on the written page, the real process begins. I turn them and twist them and break them down and reform them until they become the rich luscious medium of story, until they are just the right consistency to grow organically
what my imagination couldn’t quite birth into the world in one shining Eureka
moment. It takes longer than Venus on the Half Shell, and it involves some hard work and some getting my hands dirty, and a whole lot of patience. But the end result is succulent and full bodied, organic and living. And my finger prints, my dirty mucky finger prints are all over it. It’s intimately and deeply my own, seeded in the compost of what I put down in a hurry, raised up in the richness of what I then cultivate with sustained, deliberate, sometimes desperate, effort. The result is achingly slow magic that lives and breathes in ways I could have never brought about, ways I could have never experienced in a less messy, less composty sort of way.

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 Happy Spring, everyone! May your compost be rich and your yields be fabulous.

 

Some Days I Just Need to Write Something

Dreams imageIMG_0347Some days I just need to write something, but I don’t know what. I want to write something, but everything in my brain is a jumble, a bit like picking raisins out of a scone. I’m looking for the tasty bits, the sweet bits, the bits that will take me by surprise and get my pulse thumping with thinking outside the box and letting the imagination run wild. Some days those things I want to write, those things I really need to write only show up in my mind when I’m walking or when I’m just going to sleep or when up to my elbows in dirty dishes, and I think I’ll write them right down in just a moment, just as soon as I can settle in front of the computer, and then they’re gone.

Those are the days I need to write something, but it’s not story, it’s not ideas for stories. Some days it’s just the detritus that builds up like a log jam in my head and needs to get out there on the page to release the pressure, to let the ideas flow again, move again, be at ease again, to just let me rest a bit. I used to keep a journal, but I seldom take time for a good long navel gaze anymore. I let my characters do the navel gazing for me. They can do it once removed and I can make them squirm instead of me. But some days they’re just not having it. Some days they’re taking time off and I have to sort it all myself. Rude of them! Inconsiderate of them, but there you go. It’s not in their job description, I guess.

The truth is that it is in my job description. It’s more than just in my job description. I think it might actually be in my DNA – in fact it quite possibly might be in most writers’ DNA – that desperate need to write something, to write anything to write EVERYTHING! We writers define our world and everything in it in words, sentences, paragraphs, collections of images that are only real to us, only live for us when
we’ve written them down, mulled over them, analyzed them, compared them with other written images and defined their meaning in our world of words and story. For us, it’s as though things only actually Writing pen and birds 1_xl_20156020become real once we’ve written them down. At least that’s how it is for me. The fact that I can write my
own reality into fiction makes it all even better, gives the life I live more dimension, more depth, more
color, with every character a facet of some experience, some connection, some thing that’s found its way into my psyche. In essence, I get to live over and over and over again, to experience my own life and those of everyone around me not only for real, but vicariously re-imagined, redefined and recreated multiple times in story as well.

I suppose that’s it in a nutshell, what I needed to write today — only that I needed to write something, only that I wanted the opportunity to share it with you, and now that I’ve written it, toyed with it, seen what it feels like, what it looks like on the page, I feel better.

 

For Valentine’s Day: Love Yourself

Valentine 2

Happy Valentine’s Day, my Lovelies! Though I know Valentine’s Day is dedicated to romance and lovers, I am officially rededicating it to self-love — and I don’t mean just … you know … ‘Self Love,’ though that certainly can be a part of it. Very sadly, and unfairly, Valentines day has often been a day when people who are One, rather than Two Together (The words single or alone, or worst of all singleton, have such bad connotations — especially on Valentine’s day, and reclaiming them is a major undertaking, but a topic for another time) I was One for a very long time before Raymond and I became Two Together, and for a very long time, I found Valentine’s Day traumatic with all the hoop-la and commercial hype all aimed at couples. It was only when I learned to be happy as One that I discovered I could celebrate myself and show love for myself ALL BY MYSELF! I didn’t need someone to do it for me. In fact, strangely enough, I discovered until I could be happy being One, I didn’t really have much to offer in a relationship of Two Together.

Celebrate One-ness:

Be Physical: Go for a walk, go for a run, go to the gym, bike, hike, climb, row, swim. Make yourself sweat. Now I’m all for doing this with a vibe or yummy sex toys, but do something for the rest of you as well. We are a Whole, not just a mind with a body attached like extra baggage. Love your Body! Always remember, it’s your Body that gets you there! Wherever there might be. Sadly, it’s also our Bodies that so often get neglected, ignored and often abused; and yet our Body is, and will be until our dying day, the vessel that gets us through the physical world, the conduit for all sensuality, all pleasure, all emotion, and all physical challenges. Why shouldn’t we love it, appreciate it and say thanks by showing a little self-love.

Enjoy some bubbles: And I don’t mean Prosecco, although there’s certainly room for some of that too. Bathing and cleansing rituals have long been rituals for preparation — a preparing for new beginnings, for ceremony, for something challenging.  What a lovely way to tell our Bodies we love them, and we’re ready for whatever new challenges they allow us to experience. Scented bubbles, a few candles, and yes, a glass of Prosecco or your favourite beverage. Add a little bit of your fave music in the background and indulge. Be mindful of the senses, be mindful of all that’s wonderful about being you, cuz, I promise, it’s so very much!

Do Something Totally Decadent: This is the best bit! Your choice! Totally decadent. Spend the morning (afternoon too if you like) in bed with a good … maybe even filthily book. Eat your very fave dessert, BUT eat it very, VERY slowly to savour the texture, the tastes, the feel, the smell. The richer the dessert, the slower you should eat it. The slower you eat it, the more delicious it’ll be. Oooh! Making myself hungry here. Go to a film, watch that Box Set you’ve been wanting to watch, Buy yourself that something you’ve had your eye on for awhile, go to a museum or a gallery. These are just ideas. The main thing is that whatever you do, it should be totally and completely for you — no guilt, no angst, just pleasure.

Do Something New: There’s an old proverb that every time you have a new experience, you add anotherSleeping woman reading181340322466666994_IswNAb85_b day onto your life. Certainly it feels like new life has been breathed into me when I step outside my comfort zone and do something new. Take that local sight-seeing tour you’ve always promised yourself, but never done because … well you know … it’s local. Sign up for that class you’ve always wanted to take, but never quite gotten around to. Learning something new is always life-enhancing and one of the very best ways of loving oneself. Cook a new recipe, plant some herbs, raise your own salad sprouts in a jar, knit, embroidery, draw, paint, take up kettle bells — whatever works for you! Whatever you feel the urge to do. Do it. You’ll be glad you did.

 

Now then, you might have seen that this list applies whether you’re One or whether you’re Two Together, because honestly, we’re all still One, and we need to take care of that One even when we’re Two Together. Good things are always good things. Seeing ourselves as worthy of good things, worthy of love and adoration and a little self-worship for being the gods and goddesses we are, helps us understand that circumstances are just that — circumstances. What we do with those circumstances can truly be the gift we give back to ourselves.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone! Whether you’re One or whether you’re Two Together, go out and enjoy some seriously decadent self love! 

 

Here’s a little Valentine’s Day Self-Love giftie just for you from my novel, The Pet Shop, now a part of The Collared Collection, which teams  Kay Jaybee’s The Voyeur with my Pet Shop. Enjoy! Preferably in bed with your fave beverage of some chocolate or toy or Other Half of Two Together … in a bath might be a bit on the wild side and scary for your computer 😉

 

The Pet Shop Chapter 9

It wasn’t Stella’s first time in the States, or the Northwest. She considered it a very good omen that her first trip for Strigida was to such a lovely place. In a lot of ways, the Western part of Oregon was like a primordial England that had been picked up by each of its corners and stretched and tugged and expanded. Then after it had been given a hearty shake to rid it of too many people, it was snapped like a puzzle piece in between Washington and California to glisten in the veil dance of wet Northwest sunlight.

There was plenty of talk about nature and the great outdoors with Vanguard. Stella had done all the appropriate research, brilliant research even, but the internet could only take her so far. On the last day of her visit, Vanguard sent her on an impromptu field trip with Bob Paris, the resident biologist, so she could actually see the site that was to be reclaimed.

She rattled down the road hermetically sealed in Bob’s muddy Vanguard Land Rover. She thought it Collared bundle - Copymight have been green, but she wasn’t willing to wipe away the grime and risk muddying her mauve pencil skirt and matching jacket to find out. The need for clothes more suited for outdoor life had not been something she had thought about when she came to work with Strigida, but she was beginning to see the wisdom in a pair of good walking boots and clothes that could withstand the rigors of the natural world. Her lack of such attire and the fact that there had been substantial rain the night before meant it would be a drive-through sort of tour, with Bob hitting the highlights of reclamation and pointing out a few of the local birds and a couple of deer browsing at the edge of a clear-cut.

‘The clear-cut will grow back on its own given time,’ Bob was saying as he pulled the Land Rover to the edge of the rutted excuse for a logging road and stopped so she could look. ‘Erosion is our main concern here.’ He nodded to the dark patch of heavy forest next to it. Tall conifers drapes in moss and spiked with mistletoe looked like giant, pre-decorated Christmas trees. ‘That patch would have met the same fate had it not been for Vincent Evanston.’

If Bob hadn’t before, he certainly had her full attention now. ‘Vincent Evanston? You know him?’

‘Yep.’ He laughed under his heavy mustache. ‘Always preferred to spend his time with the birds and the beasties rather than with humans. Guess I’m a bit like that too, but then I wasn’t born richer than God like Vincent. He’s a strange one.’

‘Then he lives around here?’

‘Has all his life. Right on the other side of those trees there. Speak of the devil.’ Bob raised the pair of binoculars that permanently hung around his neck, then gave a confident nod. ‘That’s the Birdman there. He spends a lot of time in these woods when he’s home.’

She fumbled with the spare pare of binoculars Vanguard had lent her, giving herself a hearty knock on the nose before she managed to get them focused. Her stomach did a flip-flop, then a pirouette. Even with her unsteady hand and the thud-thud of her heart making the scene tremble in front of her eyes, she knew she was looking at Tino, who was looking right back at her. She caught her breath ‘You’re sure that’s Vincent Evanston?’

‘Of course I’m sure. I’ve worked with the man often enough. Helluva naturalist.’

The butterfly dance in her stomach had moved up into her chest to do a mad mambo with her heart and suddenly she had to know. ‘Excuse me.’ She threw open the door. ‘I’m sorry but I have to go. I really need to talk to him.’

‘Wait! You can’t get out there dressed like that.’

She slammed the door on Bob’s objections and went slip-sliding across the road toward the man in the wood. Her kitten heels sunk in the pale mud with each step she took. On the other side of the road she found herself faced with a ditch full of fast-moving rainwater. It wasn’t that wide, she could have jumped it easily enough in trainers, but she wasn’t in trainers. She found purchase on a mossy rock and struggled to balance on the ball of her foot, but the rock slipped and turned beneath her sending her teetering with arms flailing before she sat down hard in the middle of the icy flow.

7401867966b49d9e25e799def0c09dae            The gasp for breath and the high pitched yelp barely passed her lips before he was on her, grabbing her beneath the armpits and pulling her to her feet with a heavy slurp and splorsh from her skirt, which seemed to be acting like a sponge. He half-dragged, half carried her to dry ground and plopped her down unceremoniously on a mossy log. His curled fingers lifted her chin until her eyes met Tino’s dark gaze. ‘You scared the hell out of me. Are you alright?’ Tino speaking would have been shocking enough but Tino speaking with an American accent just seemed wrong somehow. She nodded, unable to reply.

He already had his Blackberry out. ‘Bob, yes she’s fine. No, don’t worry, I’ll take care of her. Go on back to the hide.’ He slapped the blackberry back in his pocket and turned his full attention on Stella. This time it was not concern that filled his eyes.

‘What the hell were you thinking, out in the woods dressed like that?’

She was already shivering from the cold and the wet. ‘Guess the Great Outdoors isn’t my forte.’ She offered an apologetic smile.

‘Come on.’ He grabbed her hand and pulled her to her feet. ‘My pack’s under those trees. Let’s get you into something dry before hypothermia sets in.’ But when she stumbled and nearly twisted her ankle in her now filthy mauve shoes, he cursed under his breath and lifted her as though she were weightless, causing her to gasp surprise as he turned on his heels and headed back toward the pack.

She threw her arms around his neck and hung on tight, smelling wood smoke in his hair and on his plaid shirt, a smell that made her pussy tighten at thoughts of making love to him in the light of a campfire. They didn’t have far to go, just in the protection of the trees. There he eased her down on huge stump and thrust a steaming cup of cocoa into her hand from a flask he’d dug out of a rucksack big enough that he could have used it for a tent. ‘Drink this. It’ll help warm you till I can sort out something dry for you to wear.’ He turned his broad back to her and began to dig through the pack.

She was trembling hard enough that is was an effort not to spill the cocoa. ‘You’re Tino, aren’t you?’ She spoke between chattering teeth.

His back stiffened slightly, then relaxed again as he continued to dig. ‘I’m Vincent.’

She sat the cup down next to her and hugged her arms around her shivering body. ‘I know you’re Vincent, Vincent Evanston, but you’re Tino. I mean he’s you, isn’t he?’

He turned on her, grabbing her shoulders so quickly that she feared he would shake her. Instead, he began to chafe her arms, his dark eyes locked on hers. ‘I told you, Tino’s not here.’

‘But I — ’

He swallowed up her words in an open-mouth kiss, taking her breath away, taking away her ability to think with the heat of it, the expressive depth of it. He bit her lip as he pulled back, still holding her gaze. S6304604‘Tino’s not here,’ he repeated. His voice held the tiniest edge of warning. Then, as though it were business as usual, he bent and removed her shoes. ‘You’re lucky you didn’t break an ankle in these.’ He tossed them onto the ground and wiped his muddy hands on his trousers. ‘Afraid I don’t have an extra pair of shoes with me. Now lift your butt.’

‘What?’

He nodded to a non-descript wad of clothing now sharing her stump. ‘It’s not elegant, but it’s dry, now lift your butt. Or,’ the weight of his gaze was nearly physical, causing her heart to hammer and jerk like it was trying to get closer to him, or maybe run away from him, ‘if you’d rather I can turn my back and let you do it.’

She released her breath slowly and lifted her arse off the stump, an act, that in itself seemed lewd. He pushed open her jacket with warm hands and shoved up the edge of her silk blouse to unzip her skirt, exposing a swath of her belly just above her navel. Then he curled his fingers around the waist of the skirt, catching the elastic of her knickers as well, and shimmied both down over her hips. His hands skimmed the lacy tops of her hold ups, and for a second, she forgot about the cold. She reached out and raked her fingers through his unruly hair.

His breath caught in his chest, and he lowered his head to plant a warm kiss just below her navel, lips burning on her icy skin. Then he pulled away all businesslike. You’ll get hypothermia. You’re cold.’ The rush of his hot breath brushed her belly, causing goose flesh to tiptoe up her spine.

She had little control over the trembling that gripped her body from the cold, and yet her insides squirmed with want as he inched the skirt down over her thighs leaving her hold-ups in place. ‘Please,’ she gasped between chattering teeth. How could she be so damn cold and so hot at the same time. ‘I need…I need.’

‘I know what you need.’ His voice was tight, accented by the heavy drag of his breath, much heavier than the expended efforts demanded. His dark eyes were clouded with a cocktail of emotions too complex for her to translate in her discomfort, but there had to be some anger and maybe some concern in the mix. The second kiss chased the descent of her skirt, lighting fast and humid on the apex of her gash searing hot against the damp chill of goose flesh, just above the place where her clit roused itself from beneath its hood. The delicious steamy shock of it unbalanced her and she dropped back onto the stump, her bottom settling into soft moss and her elbow sending the cocoa cup clattering into the fragrant pine straw.

He dragged her skirt down and shoved at it as though it had offended him somehow until it was in a heap around her ankles. Then he eased her left leg free, lifted it so her foot rested on his shoulder splaying her crotch for his hungry gaze. ‘I’m wet,’ she sighed.

‘You fell in a ditch.’ His fingers traced a ticklish path up the inside of her thigh above the hold-ups.ThePetShop

She squirmed and arched her back. ‘That’s not what I mean.’

‘I know what you mean.’ Hi words were short, clipped. He slid a thick finger between her heavy folds causing a sharp intake of breath. Then he rose to take her mouth again, forcing her leg forward, knee bent to press her thigh against her breasts making her pussy gape like a begging bird, making her bare down into the pillow of moss. ‘Please,’ she gasped. ‘I need … ’

He held her in his weighty gaze. ‘I know what you need,’ he repeated. With his free hand, he fought his trousers like they were the enemy until they were down around his hips, and in her peripheral vision she could just make out his heavy penis straining toward her before he pushed into her with a grunt sending shock waves up through her at the sudden invasion that filled her too full for comfort, yet felt way too good to be pain.

He gathered her to him and began to thrust. There was no preamble, no foreplay, just driving hungry need. She hooked her legs around him and held on for dear life, growling and grinding, feeling like she would split in two with the each pounding. And yet she wanted nothing more than to live for the next thrust. It was as though her whole world contacted to thrusting and shoving and trembling. She was freezing and burning and grasping, and he was pushing her, more quickly than she would have ever imagined, to complete overload.

The Pistoning of his body raked the swell of her clit raw as he drew nearer his release. And when at last he overwhelmed her, she threw back her head and howled as her orgasm raged like fire melting ice. Only a split second later he convulsed and jerked on top of her.

For a few minutes they lay sprawled on the stump together catching their breath. Then, at last he pulled out, and it was as though nothing had happened. Avoiding her gaze, he cleaned them both with the large america-artist-art-paintings-prints-note-cards-by-howard-chandler-christy-nude-women-reading-approximate-original-size-18x16
blue bandana he’d been wearing around his neck, then he tossed her a pair of grey track suit bottoms with a draw string. ‘Put these on. We need to get you someplace warm.’ He packed up his rucksack while she struggled into the bottoms, then he threw her a hooded sweatshirt. He tossed her
muddy shoes into a waterproof bag and shoved it in the top of rucksack, just before he hoisted it onto his back. Then he lifted her in his arms again.

‘What are you doing?’ She breathed. ‘You can’t carry me to your house.’

He nodded behind him as a dark blue Jeep pulled up and parked inconspicuously by the side of the road, not far from where she had tried to cross. ‘I have no intention of carrying you to my house. George will take you back to your hotel.’

 

Five Non-writing Ways Writers Can Write Better

Dreams image 2IMG_0351I’m an obsessive person. Most writers are and often to the detriment of their health. For most writers I know, balanced is not their natural state. For many of us complete and total tunnel-visioned obsession is more the norm. After coming off a very challenging year in which I’ve been forced to find a more balanced way to live, I’ve discovered that while balanced may not be my natural, writerly state, the more balanced my life is, the better I write, and the more productive I am. As counterintuitive as it sounds, I’ve discovered that for me to be the best writer I can be, there are some non-writing things that I need to incorporate into my routine. Every writer has a different list, I’m sure, but these are my top five.

 

Read More for Pleasure. Okay, we writers all know that reading is a great way to improve our P1000885
writing, and I would be the first to give a hearty nod to reading in order to write better. BUT this is not that! This has nothing to do with anything but enjoying yourself. It doesn’t matter what you read, read it for pleasure, read it with your feet up and a nice hot cuppa or a good glass of wine at hand; read it while munching some seriously decadent chocolate. Read it in a boat. Read it with a goat. Read it greedily and obsessively and leisurely, and totally and completely do it for the sheer delight of it. You won’t regret it.

 

kettle bellsBe More Physical. We writers tend to forget that beyond the fabulous world where our imagination meets the written word, beyond the characters with which we eat, breathe, and sleep 24/7, beyond the WIP and the plot problems solved and the scenes unfolding in our head, we are flesh and blood. We’re often flesh and blood with carpal tunnel, stiff necks, horrible posture and bad backs because about as physical as we get when we’re on a roll, when the Muse is with us, when we’re chasing a deadline, is to move our fingers across the keyboard at blinding speed. Physical bodies were meant to be … well … physical. It doesn’t matter so much what we do, but that we move – pilates, zumba, kettle bells, dance, walk, run, bike, row, swim, but move! It can hardly come as a surprise to learn that the Muse likes a fit body as much as we like to write about one.

 

Eat Better: Never mind the notorious one-handed read, most writers could tell you a thing or two Harvest 25 AugIMG00569-20130825-1722about the one-handed write. It happens when we’re in the zone, in happens when we’re facing a deadline. We manage the keyboard with one had while we shove something quick and dirty into our
mouths with the other – pizza, M&Ms, a bag of chips, cookies, donuts, any kind of take-out. We need to eat and we don’t want to take the time to do it properly. But a one-handed write doesn’t have to be an unhealthy one. We can make the choices good for us. It’s amazing how easily fruit lends itself to the one-handed write. I’m a notorious grape-popper. Or even better yet, I have been known from time to time to actually walk away, take a break, fix myself a real meal – something healthy. You’d be amazed how many yummy, healthy things you can fix for yourself in just a few minutes. There are a gazillion recipes out there all over the internet. AND, the great side effect is that when I give myself a break; I come back refreshed and more focused, and I actually write better.


Be Seen in Public:
I tend to be a hermit whenever I can get away with it. I tend to be even more of a hermit when I’m chasing a deadline or when I’m in the zone with a new novel. But, we humans, even the IMG_3633reclusive hermits among us, are social animals and being with other people feeds the Muse. Plus the occasional honing of social skills helps to insure that we don’t forget how to use them. The truth of the matter is that there’s nothing more inspiring than watching and listening to people. People are where the stories come from, and our stories are almost all about people! That being the case, it might be wise to spend some time with a few real ones and not just the imaginary ones in our heads.

 

Pamper yourself: As often as I can, I try to do something for myself that’s deliciously decadent and Sleeping woman reading181340322466666994_IswNAb85_bjust flat out feels good – so good, in fact, that it makes me happy – possibly even makes me feel guilty for being so indulgent. What’s a writer without a little self-imposed guilt? I love long baths with nice bubbles. I love to read in bed – there, you see, I’m actually multi-tasking when I do that. It helps assuage the guilt J What are your guilty pleasures? Be sure to indulge in them regularly. They’re good for your writing. Your Muse will be pleased.

 

I’ve discovered that good writing involves more than just writing. Good writing often involves not writing at all. But as all writers know, even when we’re not writing, we’re still writing, so lets practice a little self-indulgent, decadent, pleasurable, physical, fun non-writing from time to time. Our Muse will be glad we did.

 

New Years Resolutions — ish

 

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! As I started thinking about the way I now view New Years Resolutions and IMG_5258what resolutions are most important to me, I began to formulate a blog post for my end of the year navel gaze with that in mind. It was then that I discovered I’d already written that post for the ERWA blog a couple of years ago, and it still applies. What I’m sharing below are my every-year, every-day resolutions, starting off with the most important one — I WILL BE KIND TO MYSELF!  If in doubt, always refer back to number one!

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I used to start thinking about all the changes I’d make for the New Year in the middle of November. My New Years Resolutions would be preceded by pages and pages in my journal of navel gazing and reflecting on the year past and on what I saw as my successes and failures before I finally got around to writing a list of resolutions longer than my arm and impossible to remember, let alone implement. Success was spotty at best.

I don’t do resolutions any more because it’s easier not to than it is to fail. Still, it’s impossible not to view the New Year as the ideal time for new beginnings, and the best time to make changes for the good. With that in mind, I’d like to share a very short list of resolutions that I plan to do my best to implement this year and that I would encourage other writers and creative folk to implement as well. I’m not promising success, but I think these resolutions will make my life better on a lot of different levels.

  1. I WILL BE KIND TO MYSELF! This is first and foremost, and likely most difficult on the list. Most of the creative types I know – writers among the worst – are way harder on ourselves than we would ever be on anyone else, which means, not only do we fail at that massive list of New Years Resolutions, but we thoroughly and completely beat ourselves up about it, just like we thoroughly and completely beat ourselves up about all of the many impossible goals we set for ourselves during the course of the year. I wish I could give advice on how to implement this first and most important resolution, but I fail miserably at it multiple times every year. The best advice is just to keep on trying. I’m trying to teach myself that this is not a resolution to see through March and then forget. I constantly need to make an effort to be kind to myself, to understand that I can choose to be my own worst enemy or my own best friend. I’ll never be able to do enough to satisfy myself when it comes to my writing. It’ll always be a work in progress. That being the case, I have to make being kind to myself a daily resolution – maybe even an hourly resolution, which includes forgiving myself when I fail to meet my own expectation. Each day I’m kind to myself I will consider a huge success worth savoring!
  1. I WILL DO SOMETHING PHYSICAL. Like all writers, I live in my head. I create whole worlds in kettle bellsmy head, I make the characters I create in my head do amazing and sometimes terrifying things, but that means my characters get their exercise while I sit on our arse in front of a computer. This is not a resolution to spend two hours at the gym every day. It’s a walk in the sunshine when that’s all I have time for, a half hour at the gym a couple times a week. Walking instead of driving, gardening. I will breathe deep, stretch, move, sweat. I’m sure I’m not the first writer to discover that the more physical I am, the more creative I am, and the more productive I am, which helps majorly with number 1!
  1. I WILL READ MORE! It’s another strange paradox, but at least for me, the more time I spend Book stacksreading, the more I actually manage to write. It isn’t just that I write more, but it’s that time spent in the imaginations of fellow writers stimulates my own imagination, makes me think, makes me imagine. I’ve heard writers say that they’re so afraid they’ll copy someone’s ideas if they read. I find myself much more inclined to think of every book I read as a chance to learn, a chance to become a better writer from example – even in those cases when it’s a bad example. It’s also just a pleasure that feels guilty but isn’t. There are too few of those in life.
  1. I WILL LOOK UP! Living in isolation is a huge risk for writers. I work at home. I live in worlds I raindrops 2
    create, and most of the time, I’m very happy to be in those worlds and often very anxious to go back to them when I’m forced to walk away. But I need to be connected. I need to talk and laugh and share and look around me and observe. Everything inspires. Everything sparks the imagination. A part of what I do is to create something new from what already is. A part of what I do is to see things through different eyes and to translate what I see into ways in which it’s never been translated before.
  1. I WILL GET IT DOWN! Once I look up, then it’s essential to record what I see, even if it’s just Writing pen and birds 1_xl_20156020making a mental note. Everything is seed for a story and everything can be seen from multiple angles. The very act of taking a mental note, or even more, of scribbling something down that gets my attention, is a view from a different angle, a possible story waiting to happen.

It’s simple, but it isn’t easy. But simple is always the best start on things worth striving for. Yes, this year’s resolutions are exactly the same as last years, which were exactly the same as the years before, and I’m going to go out on a limb and predict they’ll be exactly the same next year as well.

 

Wishing you all good things in 2016, the very best of those, I’m hoping you’ll give to yourself and I’ll try to do the same.

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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