Literaleigh, Writing

Having a stab at #introtopoetry

Poet, I am not, but I take heart in knowing that the only path leads upwards as far as my knowledge and appreciation of verse and all its forms. I promised in this blog that I would push myself out of my comfort zone. Well, writing poetry for a ten day challenge is out of my zone and into outer space. So here goes.

Day One of the Intro to Poetry WordPress challenge.

Prompt: Water

Form: Haiku

Once wild pristine stream.
Mine tunnels. Sandstone bed cracks
Toxic soup stagnates.

 

Nepean River for Haiku
The Nepean River near Douglas Park, a once clear river.  Polluted as result of longwall mining. Large bubbles can be seen rising to the surface from the fractured river bed.

 

 

Literaleigh

In and Out of my Comfort Zone 2

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.IMG_4221

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 exIMG_4194perience 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.

 

OUT:

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.learners collage 2 cropped

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.

 

Literaleigh, Writing

Writing at Midnight

IMG_4027

I am going to indulge in a bit of magical thinking. I am going to be sitting at my computer writing at midnight and hope the act of writing in the first minutes of 2016 will be a portent for the rest of the year.

Truth is, I love not having to do anything ‘special’ for New Years Eve. My big kids have their own parties to attend. My husband is worn out after a hectic year and will probably just slump in front of Netflix sci-fi. That means I’m free! Not just to do what I like, but to do what I like without a pinch of FOMO. Yes, FOMO. My daughter taught me this acronym it means Fear Of Missing Out. I usually scoff at sms abbreviations but I find myself using this one more and more. Generally I apply it do my overactive, overcurious dog who wants to be everywhere she’s not.  At the neighbours when she is home, with every dog who walks past, outside when inside, inside when outside, upstairs when downstairs, eating your dinner when she has her own feast. She signifies all these longings by heartfelt crying. I’m thinking of renaming her FOMO.

I digress. New Year’s Eve is rife with FOMO. I don’t miss my younger years stressing over where to go and who with. You had to have a good time with drinking and shouting involved otherwise you felt like a loser.  In my experience this pressure to have  maximum revelry generally led to disappointment. Going out with friends on other nights of the year was less loaded with expectation and lecherous drunken strangers.

Later in life when the children were small we’d troop down to be beach close to Wollongong and watch the nine o’clock fireworks. Without small children to oh and ah fireworks are an anti-climax. Call me a Grinch, but nowadays I can’t help thinking about all that money going up in smoke and all the scared dogs and wildlife.

I wish everyone a Happy New Year’s Eve whether it be a noisy or quiet celebration or none at all. I’ll be sitting at my computer doing what I love – what better way to bring in the New Year.

 

Literaleigh

NaNoWriMo -I’m a Winning Loser

NaNoWriMo graph

My first NaNoWriMo is over and I didn’t make it to the 50000 words required to call yourself a winner. I crawled and clawed my way to 35595. This untidy figure is an indication of how tired I was the last night of November that I couldn’t do that extra five words to take it up to a more rounded number. Also an indication of how NaNoWriMo makes you a little obsessive about word count. The NaNo graph; the status updates from more prolific writers; the sprints where you race to get those words on the page, all make you very aware that the word count is ticking over in the bottom left of your word document (No. Not a Scrivener convert yet) Punctuation bah! Forgotten character names just put xxx. Chapter breaks – I’ll work them out later. This was my month of letting go of old habits. My practices of waiting till I was in the mood, editing for half an hour before I start each session, fiddling with each sentence, being distracted by pinterest clips of castles and costumes (for my late middle ages setting) – these had to be curbed.

So is the barrelling ever onward habit of writing better than my old ways. I have come to a conditional conclusion about that, but one thing I know for sure is that NaNoWriMo was good for my writing. Here’s why:

  1. The practice of writing every day is habit forming. I couldn’t make the 1667 daily word count that was required for a win. I started off quite well but then tapered off as my plot became more difficult to navigate. But, with the exception of two days, I wrote every day. Before November I would often only write once or twice a week. It is now December and I am still writing everyday. No Zero Days is my new motto and I reckon I can sustain that (I might give myself a break on Christmas day)
  2.  Immersion in the one project. I don’t write for a living. I do part-time work unrelated to writing. So during NaNoWriMo my head was in my middle ages fantasy (ok I still had to be a mum taxi, cook, washerwoman gardener, dogwalker, holiday planner etc) but most of my waking thoughts were with my characters. This was all-consuming at times and I had to listen to a comedic podcast or blast loud music to give myself a pause from my own thoughts. But there was no extended breaks. I didn’t have to warm up to my characters or reacquaint myself with the plot by rereading previous chapters. My project was like a member of the family rather than a friend you meet for an occasional coffee. When you are immersed in a story there is more opportunity to come up with off-the-plan ideas. And I did. I think a few of these ideas really strengthened my story.
  3. Engaging with a community of writers. I have a long-standing writing critique group who I value immensely (later post) But NaNoWriMo connected me with a wider circle of writers via on-line platforms. I joined two facebook groups and connected with some local writers to do Skype sessions. These groups served a  different purpose to my critiquing group. They focussed on encouragement, engaging in word sprints (word wars) and tips from NaNoWriMo veterans.  Members bond over  triumphs and struggles (I had nil obstacles compared to some) and the general craziness that is NaNo (what was that weird shit I wrote at 1.00am?). I particularly enjoyed the sprints with my Skype group. I was always the slowest but it was still fun and challenging. Many local areas organise write-ins and you can participate in twitter and NaNo website initiated word wars at various times. There is no end of advice, from planning in the pre-NaNo period, to how to stay motivated in the middle, to how to go forward post-NaNo. One of the closed facebook pages I am in has decided to continue as everybody seemed to enjoy it so much.
  4. Pushing forward. Turn off that inner critic that wants to change every sentence and go back and read the beginning of the last chapter. This was a lesson I really needed to learn. There is time for editing and time to just finish the damn book. I didn’t finish my book in NaNo but I am confident I will now – by my estimation I have only three chapters to go. I have no intention of editing or even printing it out until I write that last sentence. NaNo taught me that. Yes, my story is a mess but editing is mostly mechanics. I don’t lay awake at night wondering whether I will be able to edit a chapter into shape – I do lay awake wondering whether I will be able to tie up a plot or whether I have even got it in me to finish at all. Get the creative, scary part out of the way first.
  5. Writing at every opportunity. I fitted 500 words in while at my son’s swimming lesson, 800 words in a hospital waiting room, 200 words in my morning tea break. I became unfussy about whether I had my computer or not. I kept a note book in the car and my bag and if I had a pen I could write. Of course I had to transfer my terrible scrawl to my computer when I got back to my desk. But strangely I found hand-writing freed me up and I was able to get past difficult plot points this way. I am going to use this method when I get stuck in the future. Of course this was always difficult previously because I didn’t have Point 2. I wasn’t immersed in my novel, so I at any one time I didn’t know where I was up to. With a daily writing habit this problem is solved – you always know where you are at in your story. Some of the people in my facebook group said that dictation worked for them. I tried it briefly and couldn’t operate without being able see the sentences laid out. Maybe it is a skill that has to be developed.

    westmead edit
    Hospital waiting room writing

As I said at the beginning I have come to a conclusion about the barrelling forward approach. In the heady days of the first week of NaNo I was able to write at a pace I have never achieved before. This was because I had my world’s calendar mapped out and the research required for those first few chapters had already being done. As I got further into my novel I realised I had to stop and do a few more weeks on my calendar I had to look up aspects of middle ages life eg the effects of poisons, herbal remedies, foods etc. Some may say that for the purpose of NaNo you should have just glossed over these and done the research later OR should have done all my research first. The problem with the first suggestion is sometimes a plot point is determined by the research eg Can they even make that journey if it is a new moon? or did they have ‘take-away’ food shops in middle ages? (turns out they did). You don’t want to waste time on an unfeasible premise. The problem with the second suggestion is you never know quite know what research you are going to require until you start writing. I didn’t know my main character was going to stop for a fish meal by the seaside. So altogether it is more efficient to do much of the research as you go. Which of course can slow you down.

My book is a fantasy so historical facts and timelines are not absolutely critical but I do want to stay true to the middle ages theme of my world. There are other genres such as non-fiction, true historical fiction or even some science fiction where research would be even more rigorous. This is where the barrelling forward method has its limitations.

I feel NaNo is more suited to contemporary fiction and pure fantasy but if you are prepared not to necessarily ‘win’ and barrel forward when you can, and stop and plan when you need to, then every writer can benefit from the experience of NaNoWriMo because of the points I’ve outlined above.

35595 words in November that is more words than I had written in the entire previous year. I have inherited a supportive community of writers and a regular writing habit. I would say that was a ‘WIN’

 

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Literaleigh

In and Out of my Comfort Zone

IMG_3305In the past I have suffered from Graves disease which is a form of hyperthyroidism. I am fortunate that, for me, the drugs work and send the condition into remission. I have had 3 or 4 recurrences which just meant I had to go back on the anti-thyroid medication.

Before I was diagnosed and in the periods before the drugs could kick in, it could get pretty rough. The thyroid controls your metabolism which basically effects everything, your skin, your muscles, your heart, your temperature, your mind. One of the most disturbing effects was anxiety. Your body’s metabolism is in a state of flight ie heart pounding, sweating, shaking- your brain follows. My anxiousness didn’t so much take the form of panic attacks, more often a feeling of being inadequate and overwhelmed. Routine tasks became like climbing mountains. Driving, shopping even conversation became gargantuan tasks in my mind. I lacked any confidence in my abilities to extend myself beyond the most mundane.

In hindsight that experience has done me a favour. It has made me grateful for every opportunity I get to experience something new and challenging. I like to take on things outside my normal sphere, just to prove I can.

I’m not a risk taker but I do like to promise myself that at least once a month I can do something outside my comfort zone. I am a reasonably unfit introvert with perchance for procrastination so stepping outside my comfort zone may be other people’s norm. Some of the things I have done in the past few years to fulfil my promise to myself are:

-Sing solo in front of a group of people. (a WEA class – and it was voluntary!)

-Drive into the inner city of Sydney (So what! you say. I learnt to drive in regional areas so city traffic and parking freaks me out. I am yet to drive over or under the harbour)

-Take on ethics teaching to groups of primary children (I learnt so much but it was definitely out of my comfort zone for first 6 months)

-Go on long bushwalks (this is sort of in and out of my comfort zone as I love being in the bush but am reasonably unfit)

-Attend meetings and gatherings where I knew nobody.

-Got a puppy (I swore I would never own a dog as they are too much work and tie you down and I knew nothing about dogs. I was right.)

Of course there is other times when I like to indulge myself. A massage, a walk along the beach, reading a good book.

So hence becomes a new blog routine. Every month, apart from my other posts, I will do one called, In and Out of my Comfort Zone.

This month

IN: This is going to make be sound very spoilt – I got a new car. My previous car was over 10 years old so the difference in technology and comfort is mindboggling. Sometimes I just sit and imagine I’m in a luxury spaceship. I am thinking of moving my writing space out there. Comfort, privacy, music, 360’ view. What more could you want?

OUT: I signed up for my first NANOWRIMO. National Novel Writing Month. That is a challenge to write 50, 000 words in the month of November. Did I mention that I was a procrastinator and a slow writer? This is my worst nightmare and my most necessary kick up the backside. I have made myself accountable by joining up with some other local NaNo nuts for write-ins and progress meetings. I feel the pressure mounting. Sunday is N-day.

What are your INs and OUTs this month?

Literaleigh

Creativity is mind-altering Part 3

Talk to the stranger including that which lurks within

So here goes – ways to whip that imagination and those observational powers into shape.

Write it down: A writers journal is not an account of day to day life it is a random collection of observations, character ideas, snippets of conversation, epiphanies about life, the seeds of story ideas, funny incidents, interesting words and phrases. My journal would be gibberish to others but to me it’s an assurance that I haven’t wasted some good experiences or thoughts.

Stimulus-free time: Ideas are allowed to blossom when you are not being bombarded with other stimuli. I am an avid podcast listener but there is times when I turn everything off and let my mind roam free. Go for a ipod-free walk or do a mundane house chore in silence, drive with that radio off. This is not just beneficial for story ideas but for sorting through your current project. For instance I have found that these times allow me to have almost have a birds-eye view of my overall novel and see inconsistencies in structure and characters.

Free writing: I’ll admit to not using this tool for a while as ideas haven’t been so much my problem as the discipline of writing my middle-grade novel. However I have found this useful in the past for short-story ideas (which sometimes grow into longer forms). The idea of free-writing can be a bit daunting ie creating something from nothing. So I mostly employ a semi-free-writing approach and start with a word, or a phrase or a character. These can come from the innumerable websites/ebooks/apps that offer writing prompts (see some links below) or maybe something from your own journal. Allow yourself to write unstructured rubbish for 10 minutes, longer if you are getting in the flow. Nobody else will see it. Put it aside when you finish and reread at a later time. You may find a gem amongst the refuse and you’ll almost certainly find strange musings that you didn’t even know you were capable of.

http://awesomewritingprompts.tumblr.com/

http://www.writersdigest.com/prompts

http://www.oneword.com/

https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/ideas-for-writing-creative/id529876147?mt=8

Deliberate observation: make a decision for a period of time to be deliberately observant. Ask yourself questions about the people and things in your environment. Yes, public places like airports and cafes are fascinating. Why does that middle-aged couple appear so awkward with one another? Why is that man in arrivals looking so worried? Why are those children so fascinated by their food they’ve being served? Why? Why? Why?. But you don’t have to be in a public place. Even driving I sometimes play a little game. What sort of person would have a confronting car sticker like that?? How can that young woman afford a car like that? Look at that toy truck sitting on the balcony of the high rise. What sort of life would that be for a child?

If you find yourself staring at people with your mouth open or edging closer to people to catch their conversation you are becoming a bit creepy but anything less than this is fair pickings.

Deliberate Engagement: This one is the most difficult for the introverts among us. I won’t say – walk up to a stranger and start a conversation, because that’s not always easy. But, at least, next time a casual conversation starts or a joke is shared with a person in a shop or on a train be receptive to continuing that conversation. Ask a question of that person give something of yourself. Before you know it you may learn that that man or women has a fascinating story to tell. A story that is outside your normal sphere of existence. I find it very sad when people think this type if interaction is somehow odd. Recently I saw a women start talking to a couple on train station. She was an older women and looked a little untidy but what she was saying about the day and the train made perfect sense. The couple just stared at her as if she was an alien. When she walked away they remarked in a loud whisper “You get some real weirdos around here!” (You do indeed. Rude ones as well!) It takes nothing to be polite and there is much to be gained from learning other people’s life experiences. Be endlessly curious and judge not by appearance alone. Some of the people I have talked to in this way have been African refugees, ex-sporting champions and young world travelling backpackers.

Thus ends my ramblings (for the time being) about a creative mind. Now it’s time for you to ramble or even offer pithy comments to show me up. Do you find any of the above techniques useful? Have you had a chance encounter with a stranger that has broaden your horizons?

Literaleigh

Creativity is mind-altering Part 2

Extrapolate Extrapolate

What I like about creative pursuits – any creative pursuits, is that they make you view the world in a different way.

For a short period in my life when my children were little I dabbled in watercolour painting. For the same reason as intricate adult colour-in books have become popular the gradual building up of layers of water colour took my mind from the fraught world of child-rearing to only what was on the palette before me. This self-imposed therapy was deliberate but what I wasn’t prepared for was the difference painting made to my visual perception. I began to see shadow and shine, light and shade that had previously gone unnoticed. I registered the sharp shadow on the inside of a cup that would require a straight-edged swath of grey paint or one side of a softly sunlit leaf translated to an area dabbed with white.

I went walking with my friend the other day and her particular form of creativity is photography and scrapbooking. We came across a colourfully graffited wooden gate which I would have passed without a thought. But she immediately saw the juxtaposition of the bush and the gate and its potential for a cool photo-shoot with her two teenage children.

In the same way writing has changed my perception of the world. Outings, emotions, conversations actions, interesting objects are potential grist for the mill. Scenes play out in my head as I drive the car or sit in a café. This heightened awareness is not always present but when it is it can add depth to even the mundane. After all what is more interesting sitting in a train carriage mentally giving everybody relationships, occupations, goals, or just seeing them as a faceless crowd.

Story possibilities are everywhere, you just have be honed to recognise them – then extrapolate. I’m not always switched on to be ultra-observant but sometimes it is interesting to be forced into this situation. This was perfectly demonstrated by an exercise I did in an Australian Writers Centre course some years ago. The presenter asked the class to write a mini story about an event that happened the day before. She was strict about this – it had to be from the day before the exercise. The results from my fellow students amazed me. Even those, like me, who thought their lives were basically boring and uneventful. There were poignant stories of family relationships and atmospheric road trips. In one story a simple act of baking a cake became a moving tribute to the writer’s mother. I wrote about my son’s apparent failure to gain entry to local high school advanced class. He had previously been assured that he would gain placement by a teacher at the school who’d looked at his results, so this was an unexpected blow. As it turned out later in the day we found out he did get in – it was a clerical error. The ups and downs of emotions that day made for the basis of a story. Furthermore a family discussion about other times clerical errors have sold us short led me to extrapolate to a fantasy element. So in my story there became a curse on our family name which made it disappear from lists and people’s consciousness. I’d never have thought of this if I hadn’t been forced to retrospectively look at my day with the eyes of a writer. That exercise only involved ONE DAY in our lives how many story ideas could we mount up if we did that exercise every day.

By listening to interviews with great writers I have often noted they are masters of extrapolating small observations. An example which always sticks in my mind is presented in an interview with Irish writer Colm Toibin on Selected shorts (see link below). He introduces his beautifully written, subtle story ‘A Priest in the Family.’ This is a short story set in a small Irish town told from the point of view of the mother of a disgraced priest. The whole idea for the narrative originated from a mere single image that came to Toibin. This was an image of a priest pulling up his socks. Now a picture like this may flash through the minds of us mere mortals without a second thought. In more finely tuned minds small acts can become nuanced with greater meaning. As in this story the town’s Father pulling up his socks becomes a symbol of unspoken truths, discomfort and the need to set things right. Listen to interview http://www.selectedshorts.org/search/blog?s=a priest in the family (almost worth it if for Toibin’s lilting accent alone) Unfortunately the story itself is no longer available to listen to online but I would recommend Selected shorts as an good podcast for those interested in adult short fiction http://www.selectedshorts.org/podcast/

Have you ever had a small observation expand into a whole narrative?

In the next blog post I will explore methods to facilitate your imagination and record it.

Literaleigh

Creativity is mind-altering: Part 1

I’m starting to plot my dreams

I am an amateur writer, a hobbyist but I’d be lying if I said that getting a novel published or placing in a major short story competition wasn’t my ultimate aim. But if somebody could see into my future and tell me that I am never to gain this level of success would I still write? Yes. I would.

Because I like what creative pursuits do to your mind. I like the way they rewire the brain to see the world in a different light. I love words and stories and so writing is the perfect fit for my creativity. But any artistic pursuit can sharpen your perceptions and make you more appreciative of the amazing world around you.

I am in a special (I was going to say unique but that would be presumptuous) position to recognise the difference between the creative mind and the non-creative one because you see for over fifteen years of my life I worked in a job that sapped all my imagination. It required that I hunch of a microscope for seven hours a day and scan stained slides for precancerous and cancerous cells. This work required expertise and high levels of concentration but at the same time was extremely routine, repetitive and non-social. It was like a process worker checking intricate items on an assembly line but with higher stakes. By the end of the day there was no part of my brain left for roaming free. Not only didn’t I write during that time but I didn’t read either (except for bedtime children’s stories) I wanted all my spare time to be spent doing things non-myopic.

When this period of my life ended I had a lot of catching up to do. I read adult and children’s classics and the latest bestsellers. I slowly, tentatively began writing. I had to learn from the ground up. My free-learning 70’s education hadn’t taught be much about grammar and punctuation* let alone active voice, point of view or plotting (what did I learn in English?).

An amazing thing happened. The world became more interesting. My mental health improved. I enjoyed the company of my own mind and its meanderings. I also enjoyed the company of others more. I listened more. I became more empathetic. Even bad times have their up-sides -they provided experiences and character insights that could be stored in my writer’s toolbox.

My daughter is an amateur actress and comedy writer. She’s had some tough typical 20-something problems to deal with since leaving home, no money in a rich city, relationship dramas, big nights out that go wrong , witnessing colleagues abuse various substances and the inevitable dramas of house-sharing. On these topics our conversations often start quite fraught but somehow we always end up looking at the incidents at distance as if viewing a play that was put on for our individual benefit. We use phrases like ‘It was interesting to see how people act in those circumstances’ ; ‘It was a struggle but I’m glad I experienced it’ or even the less subtle; ‘It’s great material for a sketch.’ For my part I listen eagerly to the language my daughter uses and the conversations she relates. Should I ever write my YA novel these snippets are precious insights. All this may sound callous and voyeuristic but the ability to see creative value of a situation can remove the sting from confronting events.

I had a strange experience a few nights ago I had a dream, a crazy irrational dream as is normal for dreams (I’m not a believer in dreams having any real meaning, symbolic or otherwise) Somewhere in the middle of this dream I became aware that it was poorly devised. My subconscious rebelled. This wasn’t a story, let alone a good story. My writers mind required consistent characters and a resolution. I began shaping the dream into some sort of logical plot. It was still a wacko story, which I realised when I woke and wrote it down. It involved my family moving to a rough neighbourhood and me trying to convince them it was for the best (we’ve got a northerly aspect!)despite the neighbours having continuous wild parties while wearing animal heads (analyse away). However the memory of the writer in me invading this dream then vainly attempting to plot it fascinated me and was really the only thing about the experience that was significant. Writing has rewired my brain to see potential stories in many places even during my sleep.

Children, in general are natural storymakers, although I worry that the screen age is having a deadening effect (that is a whole other topic). As adults we get bogged down with day to day responsibilities and often abandon our imagination.

There are plenty of my peers who have taken to the latest diet trends and adopted regular exercise routines in order to boost their health but I think we sometimes overlook the value of exploring the imaginative part of our brain for our own well being

Many of you who are creatives may have been so all your life so you may take all this for granted. But if you reflect would you be same person without that outlet? Those like me who have come to creative pursuits later I would love hear if it has changed your life.

My next few blogs continue to explore this question of how creativity can alter the mind in a positive way and how we can extend our powers of imagination.

*OK, I know some are going to say after reading this I still haven’t mastered grammar and punctuation. But believe me I am better than I used to be.