Back to the 80s: K is for Kids in the Kitchen.

kids-in-the-kitchenIf I was having a tough time coming up with band names for last month, it’s nothing compared to this months challenge for the letter K. I could only come up with one – yes, one! And they are once again, another Aussie band.

Kids in the Kitchen were formed in Melbourne in 1983 and their debut single ‘Change in Mood’ reached No.10 in Australia later that same year. The following year, they were nominated for ‘Most Promising New Talent’, as well as ‘Best Debut Single’ at the Countdown Music and Video Awards. In 1985, they released their debut album Shine, where the single ‘Current Stand’ became a hit overseas and reached No.12 in Australia. Their second album, Terrain was released in 1987, which failed to chart. Unfortunately the group could not emulate their earlier success and broke up in 1988.

What other bands of the 1980s that begin with the letter K can you think of?

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Emulating Other Writers

anne-hathaway-in-becoming-janeYears ago when I started taking writing seriously I wanted to emulate a particular author I was reading at the time. By this stage I had done a fair amount of reading and I was doing a couple of writing courses by correspondence. It may sound silly now, but back then I was a Jane Austen wannabe.

In High School, some of my reading involved books such as the Sweet Dreams series (which I bought by the truckload) and borrowing Mills and Boons romances from one of my girlfriends. I was smitten by the ‘love bug’. I began writing my own romances, but I soon abandoned them as my plots were paper thin.

After leaving school, I persisted with the romance genre, despite my poor writing efforts. Romance novels were popular; there must be something I was doing wrong. So I sent away for a tape from Mills and Boon on how to write a romance novel. I went over that tape a number of times; trying to work to their formula, but still I couldn’t master it. It was around this time that I had moved on to different reading material, such as Richard Laymon and Catherine Cookson – I even struggled through Lord of the Rings (and struggle I did, but I eventually made it to the end). I even read the Brontes, re-visited some Stephen King and an old favourite, a gothic romance named Dragonwyk.

I soon discovered I had moved away from being a Jane Austen wannabe. I could never really write a Mills and Boon; there was no ‘passion’ in it for me as a writer (although these days I may still try writing romance – never say never 😉 ).

It took a while, but I found that there’s no harm in emulating other writers when we start out. It helps us to learn our craft through reading; we discover our strengths and weaknesses, our likes and dislikes, our genre or genres, as well as finding our own voice. That’s the time when we need to stop emulating others. Just like there is only one Jane Austen, there is only one you. Let your voice be heard.

Have you found your voice by emulating other writers? Who was your ‘wannabe’ author? Have you tried writing in a genre that just wasn’t really your ‘thing’?

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The Inspiration to Make Good Art.

Make Good ArtLast week as I travelled around the internet, courtesy of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, I came upon a number of helpful and inspiring posts in answer to finding the time to write. As a result, I discovered more about myself and learnt the best ways in which to get more writing done.

One helpful post I came across was by author Donna K Weaver (thanks Donna). She had posted a speech by author Neil Gaiman that I had never heard before (yeah, I know, I’m so with it). In it, he states that despite how bad life may treat you, keep on going – ‘make good art’. I have posted a short version but if you wish to hear the entire speech, you can find it here.

It was after the discovery of this speech, that I heard the full speech by J.K. Rowling for Harvard graduates back in 2008. Although twenty minutes long, I recommend you to take the time to listen (see below). In the speech, she talks about the benefits of failure and the importance of imagination. One statement really stood out to me, which was this:-

‘Had I really succeeded in anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena where I believed I truly belonged’.

Like J.K. Rowling, the arena I truly belong to is writing; it is my art. It is through authors like her and Neil Gaiman that have come before us, can we really find our inspiration to keep going.

What inspirational speeches have you seen lately? What inspires you to keep going to ‘create good art’?

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Image courtesy Unsplash

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#IWSG: Finding the Time to Write.

laptopIt’s time once again for this month’s post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. A different question is asked each month, where your answers are shared and you encourage others who are struggling. It’s a great way to meet fellow writers, so if you’re interested, you can join here.

Years ago there were many times I wished I could just spend my days writing full-time; where I didn’t have to worry about work and looking after kids and a household. Now that my kids are older, I’m no longer working and completed my University studies (yes, I did that too), I can finally say that I’m fortunate enough to write full-time. It’s every writer’s wish come true, right?

Sure, some days can be like this:

ktpngwhile other days it can be more like this:

secret-windowThe reality is that sometimes I think I wrote more when I had less time to write; I valued my time more and therefore spent it more wisely (and we didn’t have such things as social media as a distraction). Writing full-time, especially when you are unpublished, makes it very easy for one to goof off (yes, guilty as charged).

If there’s one thing my university studies taught me, though, it was to learn to become self-motivated. I studied, not for change in career, but because I Insecure Writers Support Group Badgewanted to. My studies were completely on-line; no need for me to attend a lecture once (much to my husband chagrin), for several years. I sat at my desk and at the keyboard day after day, forcing myself to get that work done. It’s the same when it comes to writing. Nobody is forcing us to write; we write because we want to. We need to make that time to write, no matter how small.

And as far as housework goes? Pft! Let those dust bunnies come – I’ll get rid of those once they become antiques.😉

How do you find the time to write in your busy day? What do you do to stay motivated?

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Image courtesy Unsplash

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Back to the 80s: J is for The Jam.

The JamWe’re back to the 80s again this month, and this one had me a bit stumped. I was racking my brains trying to come up with bands starting with the letter J, which is why I’ve cheated a bit as this month’s band starts with ‘The’ (yeah, real naughty of me). The Jam happened to be one of those bands that I was fortunate to discover back in the 80s as my sister worked in a record store at the time, and as she was introduced to new bands, so was I.🙂

The Jam were formed in England in 1972, and were influenced by the Mod music and lifestyle. They gained a small following on the punk scene and incorporated 1960s rock and R&B influences within their music, which would later have them tagged as ‘revivalists’. In 1977, they signed with Polydor Records and released their debut album. A second album was released later that same year and it was around this time that the bands lead singer, Paul Weller, became the chief songwriter.

In the years that followed, they released three more albums, including Sound Affects in 1980, which included the song ‘That’s Entertainment’; one of the bands most celebrated songs. Their next album, Start! reached No.2 in the U.K and would become their most successful album in America. The album The Gift released in 1982, not only reached No.1 in the U.K, but also became their final album. It featured ‘Town Called Malice’, which had become a No.1 hit. The Jam played a farewell tour of the U.K before disbanding in 1982.

Other bands formed or who had hits in the 1980s starting with the letter J include:- Joy Division, Japan, Judas Priest.

What other bands of the 1980s that begin with the letter J can you think of? How have you discovered new music?

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Writing Through Illness.

Summer's_boredomThe writing profession has never been easy and these days it’s very much a case of treating it like a business. In order to be successful, you need to produce more and being a small business owner you can’t afford to get sick. Personal issues can also get in the way, especially if you have children to take care of.

Lately, I have been reading a lot of blogs from fellow writers (thanks in part to the ISWG), which have left me not only inspired from what others have done, but have made me feel quite slack in what I need to do in order to get where I want to be. I am in awe of other writers who can accomplish so much, even when they are unwell.

Here in Australia, we are in our last weeks of winter and with kids in the house, it was only a matter of time before illness was to strike our household. Being sick doesn’t help you progress where writing is concerned. I’ve always been of the belief that if you are sick, you need to listen to your body and take it easy; if you push yourself too far, you may only make matters worse. I don’t think society has really helped, as people have become more demanding; always wanting more and more, so that we may become too hard upon ourselves if we don’t meet other’s ideas of success.

Whenever I’m not well, I have a tendency to do a fair amount of one of these activities and an an awful lot of the other:

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I’ve read recently that no-one will care that your stories go unwritten; that if you get sick no-one will be doing the writing for you. No-one is making us write – this is entirely our own decision. This is why it is in our own best interests to be our own motivators. Even on days where we are limited, we can still find something that keeps us moving towards our goals.

This is not meant to be a whiny post, as there are many people out there who are worse off than ourselves; it’s just that sometimes we need to slow down and find ways to keep the spirit healthy while the body recovers (being prepared for those days when the unexpected happens can also be a Godsend). If we continue to do the work, no matter how small, we are still progressing towards our goals.

Do you continue writing when you are sick or do you prefer to take it easy? What small tasks do you do when you are unwell that helps with your writing? Do you think society has made too many demands upon our time?

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Image courtesy Kristaps B. at Wikimedia Commons.

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#IWSG: Is Your First Piece of Writing Gathering Dust?

mortality-401222_640I’m back once again at the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a blog hop for insecure writers of all kinds. A different question is asked each month, where your answers are shared and you encourage others who are struggling. It’s a great way to meet fellow writers, so if you’re interested, you can join here. In the meantime, here’s my post for this month.

It was some years back in the early 90’s when I decided to summon my courage to send my writing off for publication. At the time, I had been writing for many years, purely for a pleasurable hobby and during High School I had let some of my friends read what I’d written. All the time though, I had it in the back of my mind to be published; I always had a dream of being a published author.

After leaving High School I did some correspondence courses on writing and had written some incomplete stories, but I really wanted to try my hand at writing a short story to get it published in a magazine. It was then that I wrote my first ghost story. I was working full time and let a co-worker whom I trusted to read it. ‘You wrote this yourself?’ she asked, clearly surprised that I had done so. Now, whether she thought that was a good thing or a bad thing, I’m not sure, but she seemed to think what I had written was alright and I sent it off to a popular Australian women’s magazine.

The wait was excruciating and I can’t recall how long I ended up waiting, but in the end I eventually received a form letter in the mail with my story returned. I admit I wasn’t too happy, but when I read my story again I was horrified; with new eyes I realised my mistake. It wasn’t as good as I thought; clearly I had more work to do.

I sent my work out when I wasn’t ready and looking back, I now know that I Insecure Writers Support Group Badgewasn’t completely confident enough within myself at the time either (perhaps I was also aiming too high to begin with). It has proven a great learning experience though and that piece lies amongst many of my other papers hidden away somewhere, gathering dust. I keep it as a permanent reminder of just how far I’ve come.

What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published?

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Image courtesy of Pixabay

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