My second (somewhat belated) post of things I have done IN and OUT of comfort zone. The out is the important one as these are the things that have taken a little courage or effort to push beyond the everyday.
IN : Stayed in a lighthouse keepers house. It has always been my fantasy to live as a lighthouse keeper, far from civilization, surrounded by the wild ocean and coastal bush. I got to live this fantasy for two nights at Green Cape Lighthouse in Ben Boyd National Park near Eden. We had unlimited access to the classic lighthouse and an enthusiastic ranger to give us some fascinating historical insights.
We learnt that in the sitting room adjoining our bedroom an inquest was held into the tragic wreck of the Ly-ee-moon in 1886. This ship grounded on the rock platform attempting to round the cape, resulting in the violent death of 71 people, many of whom were women and children. It was eerie to sit on the lounge chair within sight of the churning ocean and think about the harrowing testimonies that took place in that very room. The third officer who was at the helm at the time of the grounding blamed the Captain for not responding to his call for assistance. Both men were charged with manslaughter after the Green Cape hearing but were later exonerated by jury in Sydney.
The experience lived up to my expectation but I have a new slant on the life of lighthouse keeper families. One of the keeper’s living in our accommodation had eleven children and his assistant in the neighbouring cottage had 16 (or was it 17) children. The wives had to be trained nurses and teachers and only had a cook as help. At least the children would have had fun playing with each other. Right? Wrong. The children of the head lighthouse keeper were not allowed to mix with the assistant’s children and were kept indoors when the assistant’s family were out, and vice a versa. This was to eliminate the risk of arguments between fathers over their offspring’s spats. I think I will revise my fantasy and be very happy with my breif cushy lighthouse keepers experience.
Became a nervous passenger (again)
I got in the car with my L-plated son. Ok, so this shouldn’t really count because it is inevitable (and I made my husband do the first twenty hours). If you are a parent it is just one of life’s humps that has to be endured. Unlike teaching your child to read, catch a ball or even cook, there is little joy in sitting white-knuckled in the passenger seat trying to stay calm, very calm. And its hard to explain how to do something that you rarely analyse.
‘Which way do I turn the wheel to get out of here,’ my son asks.
I don’t know I just do it, I feel like saying, but I don’t. I grab an imaginary wheel and pretend to reverse the car out of the car park. ‘Anti-clockwise,’ I say.
Completing the 120 hours of driving time required for a NSW drivers licence is onerous. Every time I’m tempted to just hop in the car and relax into the driver’s seat a little voice says, You should be making Unruly Son drive or you’ll still be filling in his driving log on the way to the retirement village.’ I know parents who have put the task off and then Freddy’s Higher School Certificate looms (can’t do it now) and then suddenly he’s off to university or has to move away for work (no time then). Before they know it their Freddy is in his twenties and is restricted to using friends or public transport to get around. I shouldn’t whinge I only have two children and Son Unruly is my last to go through the driving log marathon. I know, all too soon, he’ll be an independent driver and I will be anxiously lying awake at night hoping to hear the sound of the car pull into the drive.
Let go of my manuscript
I sent the manuscript I have been working on for four years off to a manuscript assessor Was it ready? Probably not. Will it ever be ready? That’s what I need to know, no matter how painful that revelation may be. The novel I have sent off is the first book in a middle grade wannabe trilogy. I’ve heard some words of wisdom regarding series advising to write all the books before submitting, in order to minimize plot inconsistencies. Unfortunately with this practice you have no idea (or at least I haven’t) if the whole premise is flawed or unmarketable or targeted at the wrong age group. Could I be wasting my time doing subsequent books in the series? Halfway through Book 2 I had this very crisis of confidence and realized I needed some professional feedback.
It was difficult pressing that send button knowing that a stranger will be reading my manuscript with a critical eye. In a month’s time I may be sitting in a corner rocking after reading the critique. However at least I will have an independent opinion on whether to move forward.
Any writers who have any thoughts on how to handle series submissions I would be interested to hear.