IWSG · This Writer's Life

IWSG: Attending a Writers Festival.

Back in April, I mentioned that I could not afford to attend this year’s RWA conference in Melbourne. In retrospect, this turned out to be the right decision, as I had not attended a writer function in at least three years, so I needed to start with something on a much smaller scale.

Over the weekend, I attended a local writers festival, organised by my local library. There were five authors who came to speak about their books and writing, one of whom I had met ten years ago. In 2009, I was one of six successful candidates to attend the Write Around the Murray Festival, including a writer’s workshop with author and Associate Professor at the University of Technology, Debra Adelaide.

I introduced myself and our talk was brief under the circumstances. She told me my hair was a different colour to what it was back then, which I found to be an interesting anecdote. I mean, she didn’t remember my dazzling prose?!

It wasn’t until lunchtime, when I had mingled with other people, trying to make conversation, where I really began to feel insecure. After having been locked away in my writing cave for some years, with only social media my ‘go-to’ when it comes to socialising, I was definitely out of my comfort zone. I sat there, alone, wondering why I was there, but the answer was all around me. I was there to meet and listen to other writers and be with other people with the same or similar interests.

So, what did I learn from attending my first writers festival in three years?

• After ten years, I am still writing; it is something that I cannot be without.
• I believe my writing is better than it was ten years ago, even though back then it was good enough for me to win a competition.
• My passion for writing is what helped me to get out of my comfort zone, despite my insecurities.
• Mixing with other writers has given me the confidence to keep going and believe in my capabilities.
• Self-publishing/indie-publishing is the right path for me to take.
• When it comes to meeting other writers, I really need to get out more!
• Maybe I shouldn’t change my hair colour quite so often. 😉

What have you done recently to get out of your ‘writing cave’? Do you feel awkward in social situations? When was the last time you attended a writers festival?

Side Note: In the next few months I’ll be spending less time blogging to spend more time writing. As well as getting more writing projects done, I will also be focusing my efforts on self-publishing. I will continue to post for the IWSG, but otherwise, posts may be on a fortnightly basis. Thanks for your understanding and I hope you will stick with me. 🙂

The purpose of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

Main image courtesy of Unsplash

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This Writer's Life · Writing Process

How are Your 2019 Plans Going?

It’s difficult to believe that we are already over half-way through 2019, which is the time when one can sometimes stop and take stock of how one’s plans for the year are progressing.

For the past few weeks, thanks in part to the winter school holidays, I have been assessing my writing goals for the year. Some goals I have achieved, others I have yet to reach, while others have changed completely. Some of the goals I had made towards the end of 2018 have changed because I have changed. I have been reflecting on who I am as a writer and as a person; what my passions are and what’s important in life.

Previously I had talked about focusing on what we can control, as well as recognising the fact that I am a highly sensitive writer. I guess you could say that lately I have been doing a lot of self-reflection. 😉

Self-publishing is still my No.1 priority for the year, however, I need to remind myself that despite the enthusiasm for experimenting with different genres, I need to remain focused upon just the one for now. This early in the process, I shouldn’t get too ahead of myself and take things one day at a time.

There may be times when our smaller paths may change, but the destination remains the same. Sometimes we need to take a step back before moving forward.

How are your plans for 2019 progressing? Have you needed to take a step back and reassess your writing goals?

Main Image courtesy of Pixabay

Movies/Television

American Horror Story: Freak Show.

Recently, thanks to Netflix, I have been catching up with American Horror Story. Some years back I had watched the first in the series, Murder House, and that’s where I left it; I didn’t know back then that every season told a different story.

I really enjoyed season two, Asylum and thought that was even better than the first, however, I was disappointed in season three, Coven. The story just didn’t interest me as much as the first two seasons and I didn’t finish watching it, so went straight on to Freak Show.

After watching the first episode, I was hooked. Maybe it had something to do with the characters and their stories; feeling empathy for the ‘freaks’, fascination for the wealthy but spoilt Dandy, a serial killer on the loose and the dark humour. I really enjoyed the storyline in this one, as well as the setting and the acting. A credit to everyone in this season, but I couldn’t help but feel that Jessica Lange really steals the show.

I had some personal favourites when it comes to characters. I thought the ‘freak’ Ma Petite was gorgeous, played by Jyoti Amge, the world’s smallest woman, and I enjoyed the character Edward Mordrake whenever he made an appearance (there are two episodes dedicated to him). And yet, it was the spoilt Dandy and his dark personality that I really enjoyed watching. There was never going to be a happy ending for him and neither did I wish it but there is something about the dark side of our humanity that fascinates. The final episode where he erupts into a psychotic rage was truly horrifying.

Although Jessica Lange believes that she is not a singer, her cover for the song ‘Gods and Monsters’ became popular. One of the things I like about this song in the video is Edward Mordrake’s entrance and departure, which is really well done. If nothing else, this version introduced me to Lana Del Ray. 😉

Yes, I have yet to watch more in this series (Hotel and Roanoke are currently on my list), but I have to wonder if they will be anywhere near as good as Freak Show. Time will tell!

Do you have a favourite season from American Horror Story? Is there a particular season in this series that didn’t work for you? Are you fascinated by dark/bad characters?

This Writer's Life

Are You a Highly Sensitive Writer?

In last weeks post, I talked about not having to concern ourselves with things outside our control and concentrate on what we can control. As much as we can control our efforts towards our writing, we can also learn ways in which to focus on our physical and mental well-being.

For insecure writers, like myself, we have to undertake some form of balancing act when it comes to our mental health. We need to step out of our comfort zones occasionally and meet fellow writers, so that we don’t feel so alone, and yet, if we overdo it, rather than be a help, it can sometimes become a hinderance. We may begin to compare ourselves to others, feel inadequate and believe in that little voice in the back of our heads that tell us we’re not good enough. We then become reclusive and can sometimes get depressed. It’s a vicious cycle that doesn’t necessarily get helped by social media.

Last year I learned I’m a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) and therefore I need to switch off more often than others. I tend to keep away from social media and avoid people both on-line and in the real world from time to time. I’m not being elusive or a snob, I’m doing it for the sake of my mental and physical well-being. There are times when we may need to switch off, avoid all the noise and appreciate the silence. So, I can really relate to this image.

And yes, I’m fully aware of how strange it may sound that a Highly Sensitive Person can also be a paranormal writer. Perhaps being Highly Sensitive is what helps steer me towards my interest in the paranormal in the first place. Maybe this is what helps me to pick up on certain things within haunted places when others cannot.

I have spent a lifetime believing there was something wrong with me, always labelled as ‘different’, but it’s good to know I am not alone in the way I see the world. Being highly sensitive is completely normal; it’s a trait and means that we’re observant, not weak.

If you think you may be a Highly Sensitive Person, you can do this on-line test by Elaine R Aaron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person.

Are you a Highly Sensitive Person? Do you often feel the need to get away from social interactions in order to recharge your batteries? What kinds of things do you do to help your mental well-being?

Main Image courtesy of Pixabay

IWSG · Writing

IWSG: Creativity is in Your Control.

For the past few weeks I’ve been feeling a bit like a rabbit caught in the headlights; I’d like to move forward with my writing, but fear keeps me in place. I’m planning on self-publishing this year and with every small step forward I tend to come to an abrupt halt. Lately, I began to worry about things that were out of my control.

Once our work is out there, there are a lot of expectations that go along with it. With all the pressure on writers to maintain a regular output, I worry that I may not be able to meet that expectation of others. Once I press that ‘publish’ button (which is my greatest fear of all), I fear I will be proven correct that I’m not as good at this writing gig as I think I might be.

It was fortunate then, that I made a few recent discoveries. I read a recent article on JA Konrath’s blog on why your book marketing plan won’t work. I found it an interesting read from someone who has made a success from self-publishing and there are plenty of things to consider. Not only did I get some good advice, but one of the big takeaways I got from it was to stop worrying about what was out of your control.

The other discovery was while I listened to an interview with author Jane Harper on the podcast, So You Want to be a Writer? (yeah, it was a while ago, but I’ve been a bit behind 😉). She mentioned a talk she had given where she gives advice to other creatives. I’ve found her advice helpful and have included the video of it below. She, too, advises to concentrate on the things you can control.

As recently as last week, it took me about fifteen minutes to write an short email of a few lines to my editor, asking for an endorsement for one of my short stories. Yes, I agonised over every word, but I sent it anyway, coming to the decision that there was no harm in asking. I received a reply that same day, saying simply ‘Of-course!’ (Happy Dance! 😊)

Fear has held me back my entire life and I tend to agonise over many things, yet I have found over the years that sometimes when I ignore the fear and do it anyway, things are not half as bad as I thought they would be. The saying is true that ‘there is nothing to fear but fear itself’.

We can’t control if other people will like our writing or not and if they don’t, then perhaps, they’re not our audience. Focusing on what we can control, that is our writing, makes for a less stressful and more enjoyable journey.

Do you worry about things out of your control? Have you found that ‘there is nothing to fear but fear itself’? Have you found advice recently that has helped you to move forward?

The purpose of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

Main image courtesy of Pixabay

Ghosts & The Paranormal · Research

Contacting the Dead: The Ouija Board.

Ouija Board. Two words that can send some people to recoil in horror. Realistically, they appear harmless enough, after all it is just a piece of wood containing letters and numbers, but they have been used in numerous horror movies over the years that they can sometimes be seen as instruments of the devil.

Is there any truth in the Ouija Board being an instrument of contacting the dead? In an article on The Weird and Mysterious History of the Ouija Board, the answer to that question remains elusive.

Designed as a parlour game in the late 1890s, the ouija board is now owned by Hasbro, who still market it as such and have even recently put out a Stranger Things edition.

During childhood, my sisters and I once made our own with paper and a glass for a bit of fun, but I don’t think I’d be doing that these days. After watching so many horror movies and television shows regarding the paranormal, I now err on the side of caution. Perhaps it’s warranted, perhaps not. Over the years, the ouija board has managed to have a stigma attached to them.

Sometimes I think about trying one out for the sake of research, other times I think of the bad juju surrounding it and chicken out. Either way, it is certainly an object that has aroused curiosity. 😉

Do you think Ouija Boards can help communicate with the dead or is it just a load of rubbish? Have you ever used a Ouija Board?

Main image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Movies/Television

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.

I had known for a while that Netflix was making a series of The Dark Crystal and wondered when it was going to come out. The teaser for the new series was released recently and I’m super excited over this news!

Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal was a film I remember seeing at the cinemas with my best friend at the time when it was released back in 1982. And doesn’t saying that make me feel old! 😉

I grew up on Sesame Street and The Muppets, so I always enjoyed puppets. I was fascinated by how they were made and how they all worked. The puppets used within this film were quite remarkable and I learned to appreciate Jim Henson’s talents.

When my children were old enough, I watched the film with them. My daughter was interested in rocks and gemstones at the time, so it seemed appropriate. The film certainly left an impression upon them, as all these years later, they remember it well. They both seemed freaked out by the Skeksis and even now my son refers to them as ‘creepy’.

The series is a prequel to the movie, set on the planet Thra. The story follows three Gelflings, who uncover a plot by the Skeksis to amass power, leading them to start a rebellion.

The teaser looks amazing and I’m so glad it remained faithful to the original film. The series premieres on Netflix on 30th August 2019.

Have you ever watched The Dark Crystal, and will you be watching Age of Resistance? Does this bring back memories of your childhood? Do you find the Skeksis creepy?