The Folly of Exercise

They (meaning doctors and health officials) tell us that exercising is good for us, so why is it that every time I exercise something goes wrong?

Mid last year I bought an exercise machine and ended up at the cardiologist. Luckily, it wasn’t my heart. It was a blood disorder.

On Monday, I decided to walk to work. It’s not far, but there’s a lot of up hill. By the time I got to work, all the skin from the ball of my left foot was gone. Completely gone. My foot was on fire. The pain was terrible. I applied some band aids, but the wound was weeping (quite heavily). Walking home at lunchtime (which was my plan), was not an option so I had to phone G to come and pick me up. At home I changed my shoes to something (anything) flat, slip-on and wide across the toes. That afternoon, I limited the amount of times I had to get up from my desk until I just couldn’t avoid it a moment longer.

After dinner, I bathed the foot and left it open to the air because I knew that drying it out was a priority. Overnight nature worked wonders and yesterday morning, it felt a heap better. Today I can actually walk without too much of a limp, if I walk slowly.

Alright, I know what you’re thinking, and the title of this post is in jest. Seriously, I can thank the exercise machine for showing me that I had a problem before it turned nasty. As for the foot, it was my own fault. I knew I should put on joggers, but I didn’t want to be seen dressed up for work…wearing those smelly, dirty things. It’s a mistake I won’t make again, and yes, I will attempt to walk to work again, but not until my foot is completely healed.

Australian Writers’ Centres

Your local writers’ centre can be a useful resource. Not only can you find like minded people to talk to (if you live close enough to visit in person), but most centres also have a library, an assortment of workshops, regular talks by published writers and they can even provide advice on contracts, agents, and publishers.

Becoming a member means that you have something you can add to your writer’s resume too (which never goes astray).

Below, you will find links to a number of Australian centres, with a short blurb from the appropriate website.

ACT Writers Centre
The ACT Writers Centre has a Meeting Room available free for use by members and a computer, printer, fax and photocopier available for use by members. We have a growing library of books about writing and by writers. We also sell books by members on consignment. The noticeboards are full of information about publishing, competitions, writers’ rights, and writing courses.

Central West Writers’ Centre
The Central West Writers’ Centre provides development and promotion services for literary activity in rural Australia in the Central West of New South Wales.

NSW Writers’ Centre
The Centre offers literary resources and professional information to established and aspiring writers of all kinds. It provides a spacious venue for events such as book launches, readings, literary evenings and lectures as well as meeting spaces for writers’ groups and literary organisations.

NT Writers’ Centre
The Centre offers a range of activities and services for writers including workshops, literary events, manuscript appraisal, a regular newsletter, special projects and an annual writers’ festival.

Queensland Writers’ Centre
Provides writing tips and resources, advice on handling rejection and rates of pay, details for workshops, seminars, competitions and much more.

SA Writers’ Centre
The Centre acts as a resource centre for writers of all ages and experiences. They focus on writing activities and work with a wide range of organisations to promote and encourage writers and literature in society.

Tasmanian Writers’ Centre
The Tasmanian Writers’ Centre supports numerous initiatives that promote Tasmanian’s appreciation of literature. These include workshops, residencies and mentorships for Tasmanian writers, as well as providing professional advice to TWC members.

Victorian Writers’ Centre
The Victorian Writers’ Centre is dedicated to nurturing and promoting the diverse writing culture in Victoria. As the leading provider of information, resources and skills development, the VWC connects and supports writers and writing within the broader communities throughout Victoria.

First Weigh In

Today we had our first weigh in, which I was looking forward to, because I knew I’d lost weight. My clothes haven’t been so uncomfortable (after only a week).

One thing I’ve noticed since being on this diet, all our old habits are dying. This is a good thing. Instead of spending all our money in a food store like Franklins, Woolworths or Coles, we are spending most of our money at the fruit and vegetable market. We’ve become health freaks. When the kilos are gone, we will hopefully remain on healthy food too, which I believe is the only way we’ll keep ourselves from putting on the kilos again. After all this hard work, and suffering 🙂 , I know I’ll be more careful for sure.

Anyway, let’s get the numbers over with:

G started out at 94kg and is now 89.4kg, which means he’s lost 4.6kg in 7 days. Yoohoo!

I started out at 71.7kg and am now 69.6kg, which means I’ve lost 2.1kg in 7 days. Double yoohoo!

This certainly gives us the incentive to carry on, although we didn’t really need it. Today is the first day of our second week, I think we’ll find the going much easier this time. Oh, here’s something I discovered (although I always knew it deep down), eating lots of steamed vegetables is much more satisfying than eating a lot of fresh salad. I should know, we’ve had salad all week (because of the heat) but tonight we had to have vegetables, I couldn’t stomach the thought of salad again. We enjoyed every, single mouthful. Yum.

Getting it Right

I wrote this for the Writers Email Group and thought I’d put it here too.

I don’t swear…no, that’s not right, I rarely swear. If I do, people know I’m seriously angry…and run. Yet I know lots and lots of people, including women (and children), who swear on a daily basis (no matter what their emotional state). I work with all men, they swear…a lot. They try to control it when I’m around, but I hear much more than they think I do. In other words, I’m used to hearing swear words. And I’ll say now, that I don’t think less of a person if they do swear. It’s a part of life. A huge percentage of people swear in one form or another every, single day.

Right, what’s this got to do with “getting it right”.

I’m a reader. I read several genres. When I read horror, I expect to see some swearing because it’s part of the genre (as long as there isn’t too much), but with other genres (especially fantasy) I don’t like seeing swear words. I’ll put up with three or four times during the whole novel, but if it’s on every page or two then it annoys me. If it’s every paragraph, I’ll put the book down and will never read that author again.

Yet, swearing is a firm part of life and if a writer is “getting it right” doesn’t it mean that every sentence of dialogue will have a swear word in it? I accept it in life, but I don’t accept it in books.

I’m a writer, and it’s drummed into me to get the facts right, make it realistic. Yet, a manuscript filled with swear words will have a very narrow market. A young adult manuscript with the same number of swear words will find itselt out of the market altogether because part of the publisher’s marketing is to try and sell the book to schools. This brings them a huge revenue, so, if they think the book is not suitable for this market, this will make them look for a manuscript that does fit their requirements. Remember, it’s all about money.

This means that “getting it right” is only true when it suits the publishers and/or the critics, which leaves the writer in a bind, because it’s up to the writer to decide how much “getting it right” is the right thing to do.

Personally, although I know swearing is a normal part of our lives, I would prefer to escape from it in my reading adventures. Using those words when it’s appropriate is one thing, but I think showing your character’s anger without the use of certain words is the way a true writer gets the message across.

What do you think?

Diet Update

We’ve been on the diet for…well, this is the sixth day, and already I’m feeling the benefit. I have not weighed myself, and won’t, because I believe weighing yourself daily is a bad thing. I’ll wait for the official weigh-in on Saturday.

As I expected, drinking the water was a huge effort, especially over the first two days. I felt watered out, and the mere thought of another mouthful made me feel sick. Day three saw me reach the required 2 litres, and I’ve managed to reach the target every day since. My writing experience came to the rescue, because, just like I plan my stories, I planned my water intake. My planned stories work out fine, and so did my plan for drinking water. 😀

Days 3, 4 and 5 saw me feeling fatigued and suffering from a headache. However, the headache wasn’t a “normal” headache, and I knew that it was the toxins exiting my body. It’s a terrible time, and I can sympathise with people who cave in to the pressure at this stage. I rode it through, and was thankful when the headache disappeared yesterday afternoon. The bonus was the energy that returned to my body. I can do this now. I’ve gotten past the worse part and now I can achieve my goal.

It’s amazing how we take food for granted. I’m a fussy eater – I don’t like quite a few things, but suddenly that has changed because the menu I’m allowed to pick from is quite limited (in a sense; it’s a low carb diet). Meat has never been a priority to me. I’m not a vegetarian, but I’ve always found meat too chewy and heavy on the stomach. Well, now that everything I eat is watery (tasty, but watery), I find that I look forward to that small portion of meat. What’s more, I’m enjoying it even though I can’t have gravy with it – the large pile of mushrooms and onions help though.

Fruit, only two pieces a day, is something I really look forward to, but in my former life I rarely ate fruit. Now, it’s better than finding a bit of gold. A chunk of gold is a different matter altogether.

What about G? He agreed to do the diet, but he didn’t really want to do it. He did it for me, not him, and that was wrong. The first few days were really hard for him – he’s on a lot of medication (for his heart; he’s had a triple by-pass) which makes him sleepy at the best of times. This diet took the zap completely away. I honestly thought he wouldn’t see the week out, but…I was wrong. Now, he’s over the initial shock, and he’s as committed as I am. I’m so pleased, because now he’s doing it for him. He has weighed himself, and he said he’s lost 2kg (that gave him the boost he needed), but that will not be official until the “real” weigh-in on Saturday.

Set Out Your Manuscript Correctly

Thanks goes to Yzabel for sharing a link to Joe Konrath’s A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing. Although the other posts are informative too, the post I’ve link to struck a cord.

Unlike Joe, I have never tried to work my way through 2000+ short stories trying to find “winners” (the mere thought makes me shudder), but I have judged 25 or so stories twice. The numbers do not compare, but it made me see that people do not follow simple instructions and are not professional in their submissions.

I did read the stories from first word to last, but some of them really got my blood boiling. One even made me want to turn violent and through something against the wall, it was so drawn out and boring.

It’s because of this that I can agree 100% with what Joe has said. Put in the same situation – remember, editors received hundreds of submissions a week – wouldn’t you find quick ways to get through the pile? I guarantee that you would.

No, it’s not entirely fair, because one of those stories might be a gem. That’s a shame, but the author of that story will hopefully learn the correct way to set out their manuscript. Being professional at all times is a must. Without it, you’ll never find your way off the dung heap.