An Unexpected Source of Motivation

Turns out there is nothing like having a child for motivating me to sort myself out.

I’m practically 37 and vaguely remember a time in my mid twenties when I was convinced I’d have everything worked out by 30. Ha!

Admittedly back then I was thinking about the big stuff like career, house and relationship. Now I find myself conscious of the small habits and attitudes I dislike about myself and have been working on and failing to break for years.

Passive aggressive snark can be fun, but is usually counter productive, but before baby (BB) it wasn’t hurting anyone but me.

Now I have someone watching me all the time, and I’m his template for healthy social interactions.

I’d run screaming from the room except that I’d be failing to demonstrate proper emotional regulation to him.

Things that I’d normally be annoyed about but not act on (being interrupted, for example) have suddenly started to make me stand up for myself. I’m decisively laying down the law on weaning, setting ultimatums about Christmas and vehemently disagreeing with anyone who dares to tell me ‘if you let him nap now he won’t sleep later.’

I’m accidentally modelling my parental style on a cross between Molly Weasley and Sarah Connor, if you can imagine that? 

But then I’m not really standing up for myself but what I think my son needs, and that makes it easier to speak out. Not always in the calm and authoritative I’d like, but still…

And honestly I have no idea what I’m doing. Still, if anyone is going to mess up my son (either emotionally or mentally) it’s going to be me, his mother. I’m the one that will end up dealing with the crying at bedtime after all.

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My son is five months old

It feels like forever and yet no time at all. Finally though I have come up for air, or been brave enough to put my head above the parapet to see what wreckage of my former life is still standing.

“Don’t make any plans for the first six months,” a work colleague(mother of two girls) said.

I nodded. Didn’t believe her. All babies do is sleep, right?

Sort of true. He sleeps on me mostly. His cot is an offence to his delicate baby sensibilities.

“Mwhaha. You will never be early for anything again,” My brother (father of a boy and a girl) texts me when I tell him I will be ten minutes late. No, make that twenty.

And I thought I had no time to write before baby was born.

It’s a whole new world. Honestly, nothing prepared me for the complete mind bending wonder, and emotional and mental fuckery of it.  He is amazing and exhausting. Constantly.

And I’ve made it through. Am still making it through and rebuilding. Or reinventing rather because now nothing is ever static. I am reinventing my life because it just got more beautiful.

R.I.P Challenge: Seriously, what just happened? White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi.

Have you ever read a book that made you wish you were smarter? Or that you’d read it slower? You enjoyed it, but felt that there was something the writer was trying to do or say that you just didn’t get?

That’s how I felt about White is for Witching. It’s a gorgeous, tangled nightmare of a book.  There was a haunted house, matriarchal ghosts, a mad Gothic heroine and fascinating supporting characters.

The plot never really moved though.  Miranda Silver (the Gothic heroine) is mad. She stays mad until either;

  • She has a break down and runs away;
  • She is murdered;
  • She is absorbed by the house and joins her family ghosts.

Nothing about her really changes, and she never really tries to change.

It’s all very disturbing, but it remains only disturbing.  The overwhelming feeling of dread and claustrophobia that Oyeyemi conjures is absorbing (I couldn’t put the book down) but never really grows to become anything else.  The moments that should have been really frightening were more puzzling because I felt distanced from her characters and/or was never really sure what was going on (or in which reality it was happening.)

Has anyone else read this? Or read anything else by Oyeymi? I’d really like to know what you thought.

For more information on Readers Imbibing Peril (R.I.P) go to Estellas’ Revenge  or My Capricious Life

You can also follow the Twitter hashtag #RIPXII

 

 

 

 

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril (R.I.P)

The R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril Halloween blog hop is here again!  While the rest of the world is preparing to sleep, I have kicked off my coffin lid and have crawled through cobwebs to make it to my book shelf.

Last year I read some Gothic Horror, and this year my peril is fairy tales.  I want to remember how scary then can be.

NOS4R2 by Joe Hill – maybe stretching the theme already, but the big bad is a vampiric pied pipe/Santa Claus.  Plus his henchman gasses the victims with gingerbread flavoured smoke, so that has to be a fairy tale, right?

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi –  A Snow White Murder Mystery

Tinder by Sally Gardner – A retelling of the Tinderbox with a werewolf on the front cover.  Yay, werewolf!

 

 

 

Insecure Writer’s Support Group – April

Insecure Writer’s Support Group is brought to you every month by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Follow the link to learn more and share your insecurities, anxieties and troubles with a supportive community.

This week’s (optional) question is Have you taken advantage of the annual A to Z Challenge in terms of marketing, networking, publicity for your book? What were the results?

Er, The What?

If you’re as clueless as me see here. I was tempted to join this month, but have recently managed to crack Twitter, so am currently having too much fun playing hashtags games at #WIPJoy, #WIPAprilFolly and #authorconfession

Then there’s #1lineWed, #FolkloreThursday #SlapDashSat and #ShakespeareSunday.

And I wonder why I have no time.

The reason I like those games though is that it gets me talking and interacting with people. Sometimes we talk about our books, but other times it’s arguing Austen or advice on crab’s legs.

The A to Z challenge looks like it will be provoke a similar connection with people out there, and I’m looking forward to reading other IWSG posts on it – and some of the blogs that participate.  It’s something that I think I would like to put in to my calender for next time.

Happy IWSG day everybody.

 

 

 

 

Fake it Away – Insecure Writer’s Support Group March

Insecure Writer’s Support Group is hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh.  To find out more and sign up visit the link.    IWSG Badge

This month I have also been organised enough to answer the optional question. Virtual cookies for everyone.

Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it?

The first story I had published (and I mean, like totally grown up published with actual payment and a contract, and everything) was a reworking of something I wrote in my teens.

I was so  excited. I jumped. I squealed. I told everyone, and everyone was suitably impressed. They all wanted copies of the anthology my story would be in. They all expected me to be the one buying said copies.

This led to the second lesson I learned (the first being just send the damn story off already because what have you really got to lose?)

Second lesson. It’s great that family and friends want to support me, but next time I will give them a website link and get them to buy their own.

It gets ridiculous very quickly. Add to this guilt that grandparents, work colleagues, boyf’s family etc. would not normally have an iota of interest in vampire slash/YA romance/fairy-tale mash ups/barely concealed feminist re-workings of the top ten moments in history that make me angry (pick your poison) so I felt bad about asking for the money I’d spent back.

Not a sensible way to make a profit.  Less sensible to put my boyfriend’s dad in the position of being that far inside my head.  ‘I liked your story,’ he said sympathetically, ‘but what did it actually mean?’

I do not regret supporting the publication that gave me a chance, but next time I will be so much cooler and controlled about the whole thing. Self-help gurus are always saying fake it until you make it, and I have solemnly sworn to fake it like a demon.

On the outside anyway. On the inside I will always be the girl jumping up and down and squealing.

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image courtesy of Pixaby

How about you? What have you learned from publishing? Have you ever re-worked an old story?

Walking, a Welsh Tale and the Dangers of Over Thinking.

The first time I heard the story of Gelert the hound I was on a family holiday in Wales, and as it’s The Year of Legends for Wales with St David’s Day around the corner I’ve been revisiting the tale.

The Myths and Legends podcast has a brilliant re-telling of the story, although it’s the last one of the show

Gelert.jpg
image from Wikimedia Commons

In essence: King Llewellyn goes hunting and returns to find the room of his infant son ransacked, with the cradle toppled and blood everywhere.  His favourite hound, Gelert, is there with a bloody muzzle.  Llewellyn kills Gelert in revenge for his son and then hears a baby crying.  His son is alive, and there is also a wolf’s corpse in the room. Gelert had been protecting the baby prince all along.  Llewellyn erects a monument for his faithful dog and never smiles again.

This is where I come in, walking past that monument with my mum telling me the story. It made me cry. Partly for Gelert and partly because we had a family dog who walked with us, although I could never imagine blind, ditzy Goldie, taking down a wolf to save my baby brother.

I had fantasies of re-writing the story to save Gelert.  I never liked that Gelert died and as I got older I blamed Llewellyn.

Where was his wife? His servants? Why didn’t he think? Why did he go hunting if he couldn’t find his dog? I’m afraid that I’m quite like him. I will often act blindly, too full of my own emotion to see straight.

The hot mix of shame and regret following my impulsive lashing out makes me identify with Llewellyn. Yes, he felt sorry afterwards, but the unthinkable had already been done.

Now I’m also angry at Gelert for being so nice, and for thinking Llewellyn’s opinion was more important than his own life.

It reminds me of the film Stage Beauty where the female actor criticises her male predecessor over his representation of Desdomona by raging, ‘You just died! Beautifully!’ and ‘A woman would fight!’

Yes, I have issues.

I want Gelert to fight because I don’t quite believe that he would just submit. Or he would at least have the savvy to reveal the dead wolf, because just where the hell was that hiding, anyway?

 Maybe I’m scared I’m like Gelert too. Too nice and too willing to put others before myself. Maybe I’m scared that when it comes right down to it, I wouldn’t fight for what was just either?

What stories from you past touched you? Which ones still come back to haunt you?