Up Late, Writing

“Listen.
I will lose myself
if it means I can find you.” 
Alaska Gold

 

I didn’t mean to do it.

I meant to open up one folder, to check one fact, on one page, and to add one small note that was in danger of being forgotten if I didn’t immediately write it down.

I’m meant to be finishing the edits on the last three chapters of my memoir right now. I’m meant to be getting ready for my August retreat. I’m meant to be finishing the content for my new website. I’m meant to be catching up on sleep.

So it was only going to be one thing captured on paper. Not even proper writing. Just the recording of a small idea…

I sat down a little before 9pm to write that simple thing before I went to bed. A simple thing about a dragon and a sister who loved her missing brother very much and could not give up on him.

At 2am I looked up again and half the night had flown.

The fire had burned to cold ashes while I had been traversing volcanoes, diving with mermaids, flying through the night sky on the back of a winged beast, and engaging in acts of espionage and treachery.

My skin was goosefleshed and my feet were icy bricks.

My cheeks were streaked with tears, and there were three new chapters on the screen in front of me.

I didn’t mean to do it. But I am glad I did!

This writer’s life is such a glorious adventure.

Much love to you, Nicole ❤  xx

Exhausted, with Aprons…

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“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” 
~ Albert Einstein

 

What a lovely weekend I’ve had. Our friends and their children visited the farm, and to my delight I found that these particular children had a great love of rambling walks in the countryside, board games, stories, an exceptional fondness for fairies and pirates, and a deep appreciation of yummy food, all of which are among my favourite things! 🙂

Ten-year-old Hannah was also very keen to strap on an apron and help in the kitchen, and so we practiced knife skills, invented crazy salads, decorated desserts with strawberries and made endless delicious treats, including Blueberry Crumble Slice, which was a huge success with her blueberry-addicted brother, Mitchell.

Blueberry Crumble SLice

Today, I’m going to catch up on all that energy I expended. The dogs are equally exhausted after all that fun so we’re going to stay snuggled up on this rain-sweetened frosty morning, drink tea, and write. Well, I’ll be writing, and the dogs shall be lending moral support, bless their furry paws!

Tomorrow, after I am caught up on sleep, I shall share a particularly delectable recipe for Nutella Cheesecake, which was the dessert we enjoyed on Saturday night. I promise it’s both easy and divine. 🙂 Mmmmm, cheesecake…

The Friends Who Came to Visit

The Young Pirate by Hazel Mitchell

The Young Pirate by Hazel Mitchell

“When we honestly ask ourselves which people in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
― Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey

 

Some friends came to visit me last night. They arrived via my dreams, which is how I first met them a few years back. Our reunion was so noisy that it spilled out of my dream and into wakefulness where we talked almost until daybreak.

I haven’t spent any real time at all with these friends for over a year. In fact, longer…

It started when I went to a writers’ workshop in 2012, run by a man who told me that these friends of mine were worthless. Pirates, fairies, dragons, fantasy – it was all nonsense he said. Children today didn’t want stories like that. Which made me feel quite worthless too. 🙁

So at first my friends (who became my characters) and I no longer spoke because I lost courage. I lost my voice. I lost faith in myself.

Later, although I turned up at the page, I couldn’t find my friends. Lyme laid waste to my mind, and all of my words and memories and imaginings led me down dark corridors that ended in walls with no doors.

I lost the threads of my story. I could no longer hear the voices of my friends. It was as if they had sailed away, leaving me stranded on some distant shore where I barely recognised even myself.

But I’ve missed them and mourned for them, and wondered if I might ever reconnect with them and their magical world, which is the place where I have felt most happy and right.

Image from wallsave

Image from wallsave

Instead I’ve been communing with owls and orchard men, and finally beginning to tell my own story.

My beloved fairies and pirates and dragons have left a huge void in my life. Until last night, when magically they returned.

Now I finally understand that I had to go on a transformative journey, that I had to suffer this agonising path, this disconnection, this loneliness and fear, so that I could tell their story with honesty and clarity. I can see how it all relates – my journey, their journey, my family, their family, and it leaves me humbled, excited and just a little trepidatious.

In November I am writing. A cookbook. It must be done. I am happy to do it.

So my precious novel and all my darlings will wait. I’ll keep my notebook by my bed. I’ll dust off my magical rock and my undersea treasures. I’m sure I’ll have more glimpses of where this next part of the story shall lead. And most importantly, I have faith now that this story can be told.

That knowledge fills me with a peace and comfort I have never known before. It makes me sure it is the reason I still draw breath. It is like the most fabulous secret sitting luminous inside my chest.

One day soon, I shall share it with you.

Nicole xx

Fruit Dragon by staplesart

Fruit Dragon by staplesart

Tribute to Eye Patches

“There was a single blue line of crayon drawn across every wall in the house. What does it mean? I asked. A pirate needs the sight of the sea, he said and then he pulled his eye patch down and turned and sailed away.” 
~ Brian Andreas, Story People: Selected Stories & Drawings of Brian Andreas

Eye Patches. Not just for Pirates!

My evolving sense of eyeball style over the past six months, brought to you courtesy of Lyme Disease

Phase 1 – It’s agony, it’s temporary, we’ll make do.

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Phase 2: I’ll get one of these surgical eye patch numbers from the chemist, and just not go out much.

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Phase 3: Oh hell, I’ll still go out, but I’ll discretely cover it up, and no-one will know that I’m sick and afflicted, even when my friend has to cut my food up for me in cafes and act as a human guide dog. (Thanks, Carly-Jay Metcalfe xx) Reminds self it is a temporary thing. Tries to be cool with it. (Failing…)

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Phase 4: Realisation: I am what I am. Arrrrgh – embrace Inner Pirate and decide to be happy anyway. Find awesome eye patch at Abracadabra, a funky store in my hometown of Bangalow. This eye patch thing could be part of my fashion statement for a while yet. And I’m good with that. In fact I’m out and proud!

2013-08-28 17.53.30And hey, at least I got my smile back!

PS: Kill all the things! 🙂

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It’s an Eyeball Thing…

Image from Etsy

Image from Etsy

“If you can’t laugh when things go bad – laugh and put on a little carnival – then you’re either dead or wishing you were.” 
~ Stephen King, Under the Dome

I have an eyeball thing going on right now, so I’ll keep this post short.

My poor left eye is not happy with all these meds I am taking to kill my lyme disease and other nasty co-infections. So it’s protesting by doing this wiggly little dance up and down in my skull, otherwise known as nystagmus.

Makes it kind of hard to focus. So writing is tough. My plan today is to sleep long enough that when I wake up it has miraculously fixed itself.

Fingers crossed…

And if it doesn’t?

Well, it gives me a great reason to wear my trusty pirate eye patch.

Who doesn’t look better as a pirate!

Image by Alpha Mom

Image by Alpha Mom

Don’t Let Anyone Sink Your Ship!

pirate_ship_sinking

“Dreams are difficult to build and easy to destroy.” ~ Seth Godin

There is much truth in that quote. No matter how thick-skinned or emotionally resilient we think we are, our dreams – especially when new and tender – are fragile things.

Today I want to remind you how important it is to protect those tender dreams, not just from the people you KNOW will stomp on them, but from the people you’d expect might treat your dreams with a little more care.

We all have intuitive instincts that help us to feel what resonates with truth for us, and what does not. This is a cautionary tale about what can happen if your intellect overrides your instincts when a dream-stomper comes your way.

Back in 2012 I took a writing workshop with a well respected children’s author. Part of the workshop involved submitting a short sample of our current work for constructive feedback from this industry professional.

What followed nearly killed my dream…

The story I was working on is a children’s story, a tale filled with fairies and pirates and all things magical. It’s very dear to me, for many reasons. I had considered it to be my best work to date.

Siren Song by Victor Nizovtsev

Siren Song by Victor Nizovtsev

The author’s comments, given in a private ten-minute interview just before the workshop started, were devastating. I felt like bursting into tears. His feedback included that I was trying to write High Fantasy with no idea of how to write that genre, that modern kids didn’t read that stuff anyway, and that I was very Tolkien-esque, clichéd and extremely amateur with no imagination. I reminded him of C.S. Lewis.  He could tell I hadn’t written before. (I’d recently had two completed manuscripts shortlisted and one chosen for a nation-wide writing competition, but I was so shocked by his barrage that I sat mutely for almost the entire time and didn’t defend myself.)

He was disappointed that my fairies had pointy ears. My ideas were classist and un-original.  I was writing stuff that had been done to death already.  I was boring. I had no idea what children wanted. The only positive thing he said was that my sentence structure was fair, and my pacing okay. I certainly pushed his buttons somehow.

How did I react? I wanted to run away. I wanted to take my precious story and my precious characters in my arms and protect them from this angry man.

And really, that’s what I should have done.

But I didn’t. I was a good girl. I’d paid for the class, and I’d been so excited to attend and rearranged so many things to be there that I made myself stay. I sat politely for the entire workshop as this man belittled and ridiculed me in front of the rest of the class.

It was a morale-shattering experience, although I tried my best and did get a few good ideas from the day.

When I got home I emailed my writing group, who were very supportive and helped me feel a little less rattled. Poo to him, I said. I’ll keep writing anyway. Big meanie!

But that’s not what happened.

I started another story, I threw myself into my psychic work, I found a myriad other distractions. And my poor pirates and fairies sat stranded on ships in the middle of unfriendly seas, or trapped in the basements of  grand old buildings, waiting desperately for me to return. Only I didn’t.

I’d lost my nerve.

Lucy and Eustace by Michael Morris tumblr

Lucy and Eustace by Michael Morris tumblr

Who reads fairytales anyway? What makes my writing so special?

This man’s negative and nasty words became a caustic force, quietly eroding my confidence and sapping away my strength. I put my story away, and never returned to it.

That is, until just recently. I found my way back to it through my blog, and the sharing of the unfolding of my psychic life.

You see, the fairies and pirates I write about might only be a story but it’s also much, much more.

So thank you. Because your interest in owls and fairies and magic has helped me to see that some people will care, and that’s enough for me to keep on going.

Poo to that man, the big old meanie. I have fairies to save!

TypewriterGirl-Vintage-GraphicsFairy2

My Left Eyeball…

Image from flickr

Image from flickr

“What does not kill me, makes me stronger.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

I had intended a different post for this morning, but I have an eyeball problem. I’ve been on my Lyme drugs, well the first of them anyway, for a month now, and they are doing strange things to me.

All night, apart from the ‘normal’ sensations of insects crawling on my skin, deep stabbing pains in strange places, and nausea, I have had a feeling not unlike someone stabbing my left eyeball with a toasting fork, and then slowly roasting it over a fire.

My left ear is also on fire, and intermittently stabby.  What joy.

I have devised a three point management plan depending on whether this escalates into totally untolerable. Plan A: Right now I’m sitting with a damp warm cloth tied over the offending eyeball, hiding it from the light and trying to reduce my pain. I shall soon lie in a darkened room and hope it goes away. Plan B: If it stays this painful ring Doctor when their rooms open. Plan C: If I can’t stand it, or it gets any worse get a friend to drive me to the hospital.

These Lyme bacteria invade everywhere. Organs, tissues, cells. They colonise and have parties, they multiply and and they invite their friends. Some of these critters have set up home in my eye, and now they’re unhappy because my drugs have found them.

It’s making me quite grumpy.  Quite grumpy indeed. And stubborn.  As I swill this morning’s drugs I have quite the attitude.

“Die, you miserable pathogens, die!” I want to shout.  I am not shouting though.  My eye is sensitive to noise, I think.

Now I shall lie down and dream of being a fearsome female pirate, sailing a Lyme Green Sea, and killing all the things…

Image by www.ops.org

Image by www.ops.org