I am not sure that I live 100% here; on my writing days I fall through a crack in the fabric of the Universe into another dimension, where the world as we know has ended. Even more than what we are seeing now…
I can pinpoint a big change in my life to the day when I was walking through Mosman’s #HeadlandPark and realised that many companies had been stablished in the business spaces I had once seen and wished to work at.
This was many years ago, when I took pictures of all the companies names and sent them my resume, asking for a job. I’m an Office Manager/EA, when I’m not being a writer, and that is a position that exists in many companies.
The Alive Mobile Group had just lost their person in that role and hired me. Alive would later transform and become part of The Mirus Group and move to Pyrmont, and it is where I still work (still a beautiful water-views office!)
At that time, the company was in Mosman, and I lived in the area. The office was phenomenal, with harbour views and my walk to work was incredibly inspiring, meandering through the cozy village and the paths of the Headland Park. I loved the company, the place and the culture (still do). The one thought that distracted me sometimes was that every day I would walk to work and wish I could write on the way, stop at the amazing locations and just sit down on a bench, or at a cafe, and write my heart out.
Alas, I had to get to work on time, and even though I did write before and after work some days, and took to write during some lunch hours, I had this consistent desire for more time.
Last week I was a bit disappointed because my writing day hadn’t been the most productive and suddenly I had this idea, that now, with my Writing Wednesdays, I could do exactly what I had wanted to do all those days while I was working in Mosman, I could walk the path, and stop for writing along the way… All day long!
It was an incredible experience, I left early with my writing gear, down to Balmoral Beach and all the way alongside it, crossing the Balmoral Park Oval and up the steps (many, many, very steep steps). I stopped at Frenchy’s Cafe for a couple of hours of writing.
Then I took the track behind the cafe through the Artist Precinct and found the bench with the most beautiful view in the world! Quite predictably, I sat there for another writing sprint… I watched while a guy — who must have a pretty great job — removed weeds from the bush.
When the sky started showing signs that it would fall on me, I continued my walk, and took this picture, bombed by a brisk walker.
By the time I got home, just before the rain really started falling, I had accumulated thousand of steps and, even better, thousands of words!
The concept of flexible discipline, (no idea where I took that from, I’m sure it is out there somewhere) inspires me.
I have a full day of writing per week to apply such concept and have fun in listing what I feel I should allow me to do or not and still consider myself to have been productive…
- Writing (obviously)
- Writing items on my main list of goals is better than just writing anything
- Writing useless emails are not valid, but writing complaints or anything that will free my mind of some annoying persistant thought is okay
- Writing about writing
- Research and preparation
- Character building
- Location research
- Contacting people to be interviewed
- Preparing Interviews
- Reading short, specific material (broad reading is for other days)
- Admin tasks that will organise the writing
- Writing travel booking
- Contacting story-related people
- Keeping up blogs and sites and social media
- Renewing domain names
- Clearing email inboxes and organising calendar
- Ideas building
- Taking a nap thinking of something (preferable with conscious dreaming)
- Walking meditation – focusing on something that needs solutions or ideas
- Swimming, dancing in the living room, or bathing meditations
- Cooking meditation
- Catching the ferry or the train for writing while travelling (not travel writing)
- Day writing adventures
- Libraries visit writing
- Toilet breaks – even many of them (they are great for sparking ideas)
- Freeing your mind
- Taking notes of ideas for writing
- Cataloguing ideas for writing (blog posts? books? short stories?)
- Doing small tasks that take little time and un-clot the mind
- Organising the space before starting to feel ready to start
- Writing any messages and booking any appointments early in the day and letting people know its the end of the conversation for the day
- Regular breaks to refresh and get the blood pumping
- Bobbing on yoga ball (for the same reason above)
- Editing and publishing
- Editing and proofreading
- Layout creating and cover creation
- Hiring freelancers
- Sending material to publishers
- “Coffee glides into one’s stomach and sets all of one’s mental processes in motion” Honoré de Balzac
I have achieved something that has been in my radar for many years. On 1st September 2018, I reduced my day-job journey to four days a week, to give myself one day a week of full time writing.
Right at the beginning I was organising my “Ideas for Writing” folder and found a list of writing goals I had set for 2017 and realised I had accomplished all of them by September 2018, one of them being the weekly author’s day. It was inspiring, even if there was a delay in the completion of the goals and it was a lesson that told me to keep establishing goals and not giving up on them even when they don’t follow my original timeline.
I can’t express how grateful and fulfilled I am feeling. Having one full day of quality time, fresh-brain, undivided attention to dedicate to my passion is unbelievably powerful. I am finding that not only I produce much more efficiently, the inspiration comes more powerfully, and the anxiety I used to feel over not having time to write has lost its grip on me.
I used to feel anxious every time I had an idea, and no energy or time to write it.
Another interesting aspect is that with the writing day in the middle of the week, (I chose Wednesdays for my Writing day) I get more done on weekends too. There is a momentum effect, by the weekend I haven’t forgotten what I have been working on, it just simmers under the surface, boiling new ideas and aspects to focus on…
I will never take this opportunity for granted, I feel grateful to each of the moments and aspects of my life that allowed me to get here.
The advantage of having been sleepless lately is that waking up before 5am to get to the Dawn Service for Anzac Day was much easier.
I had this strong desire to be there, and I walked through darkness to get to Georges Heights, in Mosman.
If I was in an unsafe place I would have been afraid when I heard running behind me of multiple pairs of legs; but looking back this mother and small boy informed me ‘the alarm didn’t go off’ and ran ahead.
We got there in time, the service was just starting, permeated by the smell of sausage sizzle and the gentle frying sound that my mind kept sending me as images of waterfalls.
The morning singing birds reminded me of the time when I arrived in beautiful Sydney, fourteen years ago, they bring an unnamed tightness to my chest of love, longing, adventure.
The service was beautiful, and the part that I loved the most was a very simple letter from a soldier who wrote it to the father of his fallen friend. I cried, those words that crossed oceans and time made their way to us, to remind us of the sense of loss and love.
I have strong feelings against war, but warm feelings towards people, families, and soldiers who make the ultimate sacrifice for a greater cause.
When the speaker told us of this land that receives so many peoples from over the seas, I felt welcomed and warm in the Australian embrace.
The sunrise wasn’t as spectacular today, but the moment was of beauty and sadness and happiness to be here. I felt my bond to this land deepening, even more.
On my way home I saw a lot of flashing lights, police cars, one of them making a bus reverse out of the main road, as if it was a cowboy herding a stubborn bull.
I was privileged to wave to the diggers coming through in a long motorcade of mini-buses and taxis, all white haired, dressed to impress and the word that came to my mind was that they were beautiful.
I got home under a light shower, filled with the sense of belonging, adventure and safety.
In front of me, all I can see is green. Green grass, green trees, green hills and green mountains. I can hear the creek that runs at the back of the property and the birds singing. The fresh smell of wet soil and bush is invigorating.
About one year and a half ago I had this brilliant idea that if I wasn’t able to write full time yet, I could pretend, for a few days here and there, that I did. That is when I did the first of my writing trips. I’m now on my fifth trip. (See here how to organise your own writing trip)
I had mentioned these trips to a friend and she offered me to house sit for her over Easter while she was away. I feel very lucky that she did so.
I’m taking care of her house and two cats. I’m in love with Mojo, I think it is mostly because he doesn’t care who is providing the cuddles, as long as someone is. Once or twice a day he comes to me for a caressing session. Eve, the other cat, well, we tolerate each other. I think she knows I’m not the right person, doesn’t want any cuddles, ‘just food, thank you’, she tells me with her eyes… I’m sure she is thinking ‘who are you, impostor!’ I don’t do what she wants ‘open the door right this minute I want to look outside’ (at 9 pm) and she doesn’t do what I ask ‘come back in right this minute so I can close the door’ (at 7 pm), she turns around giving me her wriggling backside.
Mojo is a vanishing artist, he disappears and I look for him everywhere thinking he must be outside when half an hour later he prowls from somewhere in the house… I swear he has to be able to open and close doors, that is the only possible explanation.
Eve is obsessed with looking outside the front door. I leave it propped open and it is not that she wants to go outside, she just wants to sit there, looking out.
One of the things that make my heart jump in happiness, is the constant presence of the Wallabies. They come to the house everyday. I know I probably should not let them eat my friend’s trees, vegetables and grass but I don’t have the heart to make them go away. Fortunately I wasn’t specifically instructed to do so, and that will be my excuse.
They are absolutely silent when they are around, you can only hear when they hop, producing this endearing thump, thump sound.
Yesterday I saw a baby roo and it saw me. It jumped, fast as lightening to its mum, and dived straight into the pouch, head first. Took him a few minutes to turn around and look at me with uncertain eyes. I think they keep looking straight at you to assess if you are a threat.
On my first morning here I saw a Moses walking down the hill. Or was it a Gandalf? Except it was a female one. She had long white hair, billowing dramatically in the wind and walked holding a wooden staff, followed by a dog.
She has a hen house near the creek and walks down twice a day to let the birds out, feed them and put them inside to sleep in the evening. Yesterday the hens were not collaborating and I heard the woman talking to them what sounded like “come-on birds, it’s time to go in”. They are Helmeted Guineafowls, I believe, and responded loudly “buckwheat, buckwheat” running around.
Iwon’t criticise. At that exact moment I was talking to the cats “are you hungry? Is that what you want? It is a bit early…”. “Meow, meow.”
A couple of times, I went to the town centre, for a better word to call it, a couple of streets with a couple of stores. I understood why I heard the place being called Hippie Country… I felt as if I had walked through a portal and ended up in the seventies, inside one of those pictures of big hippie festivals, you could smell the unnatural sweetness of the air. I was told to be ware of the brownies and cookies… (I’ve never tried one for the fear they might make me turn normal.)
There isn’t a supermarket, but there is an Emporium. It reminds me of the small city stores of old, it had the cramped corridors and everything you can possibly imagine. I had to squeeze around to let people pass all the time. It was wonderful.
The funny part is that they had organic, sustainable and environmental products for everything, they would put any big city supermarket to shame! Recycled toilet paper, sustainably caught tuna, earth safe cleaning products, you name it… I went into a bakery and asked for a carry bag (looking forward to using such bag for garbage) and the sales woman looked at me as if I had said profanities about her mother, I swear she looked positivelly disgusted as she mumbled something about “plastic bags”.
The street had stores of funky t-shirts with flowers on them, organic preserves, herbs and spices shops; organic food cafes and organic juice shops. Everything was very colourful, painted in strong colours of purple, yellow, green and blue and a few rainbows, and a lot of the people really dressed the part.
I didn’t think they were a relaxed bunch though, in two blocks I heard one woman complaining about the drama, not sure what happened, then a man was screaming abuse at everyone and a third said that her friend just lost her license, because of alcohol.
What was absolutely wonderful was the art. I went to an exposition at the town hall and there were many different styles for many different preferences but I thought most were very inspired.
At the house, most of the time there is a deep seeded silence, except for crickets and birds, but some other times I think people come away from civilisation not to enjoy this wonderful tranquility, but to make noise undisturbed. With so much green, often enough a neighbour decides to cut the grass, or a tree, or blow leaves, or bang on wood or listen to opera so loud someone at the top of the mountain can also hear it.
But still, frequently there is a tranquil and wonderful peace.
(Is it too bad of me that I keep wishing that the grass mower breaks, the head of the hammer detaches and flies away never to be found again, or that the opera singer turns mute? Poor neighbours… bad me.)
I’m enjoying the changes in colour and mood of the scenery, the rain and the sun, the fresh breeze that comes in the afternoon, and the hot air in the middle of the day. Including the sounds, even the noises, but more when they go away. So many different bird songs, colours in the sky, smells that remind me of childhood farms and ranches.
This is the perfect writing scenario, especially as the sun sets right in front of my writing desk!
I am usually lucky at finding good freelancers to edit and proofread my work but this weekend’s crop is a bit despairing…
This one really wants to edit my work! What is he trying to say? A proofreader that writes “i” in lower case, puts a space before full stop, doesn’t start the phrase with a capital and doesn’t say anything coherent? Bothering no chance? Whaaaat?
… Since past 7 years? Is this right? I think it should be “for the past 7 years, or since 2011…”
“THE content writing industry” THE grasp of articles is essential to an editor… I’m not even going to question the “into”, or “from last 5 years”…
“I am having experience”? I am having experience of running screaming around the room! And I am not a SIR (that is how carefully they have read my proposal…)
I want an editor for a sassy romantic text, this one does not seem to fit the profile…
And same with the finance wiz who use his words “carfully”. Sorry cannot hire a proofreader who cannot proofread his words “carefully”.
This one is the best one so far, for real, not ironically. He just misses spaces after full stops. I can give him the benefit of the doubt, maybe he was trying to save space in a limited character profile… but what if this isn’t the case? A proofreader that misses details…
Lastly, I need a person, not a tool! And I’m not worried about plagiarism… my proposal clearly states they are just to edit a book proposal, not write anything, why would I need a plagiarism tool? I din’t plagiarise anything and I know it…
[deep long sigh ending up with a chuckle… I can’t deny this is funny]
I’ll wait for tomorrow, or the day after, or a week even, it may bring me a good option or my previous freelancer back… Wish me luck it seems I’m in need of it!
Domingo, oito da matina, a Lara e eu estamos tomando café no nosso bairro. É uma portinha que serve cafés nas mesinhas que coloca na calçada.
A Lara não se chama Lara, mas como é o nome que lhe dei quando se transformou em minha personagem, vou adotar desde já. Há anos coleciono suas histórias e tenho trabalhado duro para escrever um livro com as aventuras dessa figura. Esse livro nasce direto em inglês na minha mente, por isso está dando tanto trabalho!
Essa tal Lara virou personagem porque as coisas mais inusitadas acontecem com ela, ou ao seu redor.
Por exemplo, a cena de um desses domingos de manhã. Estávamos indo trabalhar; ela trabalhar-trabalhar, por estar organizando um grande evento que está acontecendo essa semana. Eu porque indo acompanhá-la, posso fazer companhia e dedicar o dia para “os meus escritos” que são qualquer coisa desde promover meus livros, escrever-escrever, ou planejar os próximos passos que preciso tomar.
Estávamos ali, cafezinhos e torradas na mão, e a Lara olha para o lado, olha para mim, e me diz baixinho:
— Olha, o Tony Abbott está passando correndo!
E passa o Tony Abbott com um sorrisinho na cara, porque ele viu a Lara falando o nome dele. Ela percebe que ele percebeu e dá aquela disfarçada, olhando para o lado. Ele passa com a camisa suada junto com dois amigos, ainda trotando.
Só na Australia mesmo para passar o ex-primeiro ministro sem pompa nem cerimônia.
O que me veio na cabeça foi o conto “O Recital”, do Luís Fernando Veríssimo que depois de colocar um homem querendo tocar a tuba num quarteto de cordas, solta uma manada de zebus no palco.
Quando estou com a Lara, o cara da Tuba é o de menos, eu vivo esperando a manada!
Sunday early morning, Lara and I are having a coffee in our shops. It is one of the little-door coffee shops, with tables on the walkway, squeezed against the walls to avoid blocking the pedestrian way.
Lara isn’t Lara’s real name, it is the name I gave her once she became my character. That is how I call her in my stories. For years I have been collecting Lara’s tales and working hard to get her stories shaped into a book. This novel is born in English in my head and that is why it is harder.
Lara became my focus because unusual things happen to her, or around her, all the time.
Today for example, we are going to work. She is going to work-work, because she is organising a huge event which is happening in two weeks. I am going with her because on top of keeping her company, I can dedicate my day to “my writings” which means anything from promoting my books, writing-writing, or plan my next steps.
There we are, coffee and toast in hand, and Lara looks to the side, looks back at me, and says quietly:
‘Look, it’s Tony Abbott, he is running!’
Then comes Tony, with a discreet smile pasted on his face because he saw Lara saying his name. She sees that he saw her, and she looks to the side pretending nothing happened. He runs by us, with a couple of friends, the three trotting by with their sweaty t-shirts.
Only in Australia, the former prime-minister runs around without security or any special attention.
There is a famous short-story by Luis Fernando Verissimo, one of the best Brazilian authors, who wrote this tale about a man who wants to play the Tuba within the concert of a string quartet. Verissimo explores the humour and absurd of the stress between the string quartet and the tuba player and ends his story releasing a herd of zebu on stage.
When I’m with Lara, the Tuba guy is the least of my worries, I’m often waiting for the herd!