Taking Control and the Odd One Out

The last couple of years, well nineteen months, have been tough. Yet I’ve survived everything that has happened and I am sitting here today planning a future. I think that’s a good sign.

I am looking at the future and wondering what I want to do with my time. Sometimes I feel pressured to be someone I’m not. Sometimes I feel stressed because I want to be something I can’t reach. Why? Why do we do this to ourselves? Am I happy with the way things are? No. Can I change it? Yes.

I’m learning to put me first. It’s sounds easy and selfish, but it is neither of these things. We cannot control anything or anyone else. We can’t control how people think or act. We can’t control what people do or say. But we can control these aspects within ourselves. We can say “No!” to accepting other people’s rubbish and we can push the anger, hurt and/or whatever else we might feel away.

That’s what I’m learning to do.

odd-one-outAt the end of October 2006, I started reading Odd One Out by Monica McInerney. At the time, I only read the first three chapters and then November arrived and with it NaNoWriMo. Following quickly on its heels was family issues and then Christmas. In that time I didn’t read anything (book related).

I guess I should write something about Christmas Day. The three days leading up to Christmas fell nowhere near short of hectic. G and I cleaned and scrubbed everything inside and outside the house. We cleaned high, low and in between. We cleaned on, under and behind. Everything was washed in some way. We’ve never ever done spring cleaning like this before. In fact, we worked so hard and so long that I lost weight with all the exercise! Perfect timing really, because Christmas time is when we usually put the weight on.

Anyway, at midday on Christmas Day the family started to arrive. I had it all planned out in my head (I can’t help planning; it’s what I do best). I had warned G that if I said something needed to be done and he thought I was going about it all wrong, he should just humour me and do it anyway. And that’s exactly what he did. There were only 13 of us and the afternoon went quite well. No one, except G, saw my stress levels. Not that I felt stressed all day. It was only at that crucial time when all the food needed to be ready at the same time. At appropriate times, G walked up to me and calmly mumbled in my ear, “Settle down, you’re doing a marvellous job.” That is all I needed to calm down and carry on being a hostess, which is something I have never felt comfortable with.

At the end of the day everyone left with a pile of presents, a full belly and smiling faces. I certainly couldn’t ask for more than that. And we were left with a heap of food, because I had miscalculated, but hey it’s better to have too much than not enough. At least we won’t starve anytime soon.

On Boxing Day I woke up early and decided to sit in bed and read. I grabbed Odd One Out and reread chapter 3 (because, after eight weeks, I couldn’t really remember what was happening or anything much about the characters).

I read on and off during the day and that night I finished the entire book. That’s quite an achievement for me. Coincidently the theme of the story was parallel with my life, except for different reasons. I guess this meant I connected with the storyline and the characters. Hence I really enjoyed what I read.

Odd One Out is about a woman who is not in control of her own life. Born into a creative family, she was the only one who was non-creative and this made her feel inferior. Yet, she had qualities that her family didn’t have. With her brother’s help, she was pushed into the unknown and out of her comfort zone. She learned to deal with situations that she would never normally put herself in. She learned to stand up for herself and take her life into her own hands.

From reading this story, I learned that our future is not set in stone and we can change roads without abandoning who we really are. People may not always approve, but they will get used to the idea in the end. Mostly, I learned that we must do things because we want to do them and not because other people expect it of us or because we expect it of ourselves.

In 2008, I intend to take control of my life again. What are your intentions for the coming year?

Warning! Changes Ahead

I’m going to make changes to this website. I thought about changing the template, but after spending a couple of days looking at templates and messing about with them on a test site, I have decided to stick with this template as it has the features I want (with a bit of modification).

In the coming days, and possibly weeks, you might come here to find strange things happening. Don’t worry, it will all be for the greater good in the end.

I don’t think I’ll be posting much until after Christmas. So Merry Christmas to everyone and may 2008 be better than 2007.

Update (later the same day):

I have:

1. Upgraded to version 2.3.1.
2. Gotten rid of the “Read More” buttons so that the entries can be read without clicking to another page.
3. Included an excerpt in the search results.
4. Gone through the posts and deleted the nonsense ones (or the ones I found anyway).

Update (17 December 2007):

I have changed the navigation bar. Some of the pages created, however, are still under construction.

The blog is now called “Personal Diary”.

Update (18 December 2007):

The pages in the navigation bar are all functional. Now I have to change the index page to match.

I have hidden the categories for anything other than my personal posts in the sidebar of this “Diary”.

The “Recent Comments” only shows the comments made to posts that are in the category list in the sidebar. (Comments to general writing or history posts will not show in the list.)

Update (20 December 2007):

I’ve recoded the index page as I’ve never been entirely happy with it. Whilst it looked great in Firefox and the latest version of IE last night, it has a slight problem when I viewed it in IE6 today, so I’ll fix that problem tonight.

Stepping Back for a While

Life is throwing too many curve balls at me at the moment. I’m not coping particularly well with it and have decided to step back from the unnecessary things and give myself time to recover as my health has been affected by what’s going on.

I wrote through the first week of the trouble and managed to be a “winner” for NaNoWriMo, but I don’t feel like a “winner” in life right now.

My writing has abruptly stopped and I won’t be pushing myself to return to it unless I’m ready and willing. This website is no longer important to me, so for the time being I will take some time out and see what happens. It might be a few days before I return or it might be longer. I honestly don’t know.

I won’t be spending much time at the message board or email writing group either. I might drop in from time to time, but I will make no promises as to how much I’ll participate in discussions.

I will, however, try to meet my obligations with the anthology. So if you are an accepted author, at this stage the anthology will go ahead as normal. Too many people are involved in this project for me to step away from that too, so it will be the only online commitment that I will continue to deal with for the time being.

I will drop in to read the blogs of my regular haunts – you know who you are – yet I can’t promise that I’ll leave comments on your posts. Please know that you are the people I often find inspiration from and that’s something I need right now – inspiration, happy thoughts, love. Find it in your lives and write about it, because I need to know the world is not all dark and miserable.

I’ll be back when I feel able to fit more into my life. Right now, I must take care of me.

50,000 Words Complete

nano-winner-07I proudly announce that I reached the 50,000 words I needed to become a “winner” over at NaNoWriMo. I must admit that when you are writing a story that means something to you, the words come easily. I had no problem this month with writing about 2,000 words a day (generally)…although I had a lot of other problems to contend with.

Although I’ve completed the 50,000 words, I haven’t finished the first draft. I’m hoping to have the first draft of the manuscript 100% complete by the end of next weekend. However, I won’t give myself an undercut if I don’t make that deadline. There are other priorities that I have to attend to – such as Christmas, the anthology, and personal things – so I’m going to be kind to myself if I don’t reach this goal.

I hope all the other NaNo participants are working hard and nearing their goal. Good luck.

My NaNo Progess:

Mirror Image – 100% Complete

52,174 / 50,000

NaNo Quick Update

I’ve had a busy and bad week (which has had nothing to do with writing). I have written every day, but my word counts have been a lot lower than the rest of the month. I’m well ahead, so it doesn’t matter.

The public goal I’m going to set for this weekend – and I hope I can reach it this time – is to go over the 50,000 words required for NaNoWriMo. An extension of this goal is to have the entire first draft of the novel completed by the end of the following weekend, which will be 2 December 2007.

[ Personal Content Removed ]

My NaNo Progess:

Mirror Image – 94% Complete

47,490 / 50,000

Leisure

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

By Wm. Henry Davies.

My mother and I used to recite this poem when I was young. Every now and again, one of us would say something that reminded us of it and we’d say the words together. It’s the only poem I ever really knew. Having said that, we never knew the entire poem.

Today, I found myself saying the poem aloud as I rushed about…as I really don’t have time to stand and stare. And I don’t have time to write posts. Especially when every word I type should be towards my manuscript and has been lately.

My NaNo Progess:

Today’s Word Count: 2,011

Mirror Image – 83% Complete

41,798 / 50,000

Didn’t Get There

Not only did I not reach the personal goal I set myself this weekend, I didn’t even reach 40,000 words. True, I only had another 220 words to write, but sometimes you just have to stop and let go of a goal and that’s what I did.

Saturday, as I mentioned in my previous post, was extremely busy for me. I expected to be home, after a full day out and about, by 5pm, but in reality we didn’t walk through the door until 6.30pm. Not only was that an hour and a half more taken out of my writing plan, I also had another migraine. I could have pushed through it, but decided not to bother. The words just don’t feel important when your head weighs 100 tonne and the pain is more torturous than childbirth (for me anyway).

After a grand total of zero words for Saturday, which I might add is the only day this month I didn’t write a single word, I knew the goal was out of reach. I decided to change my goal for Sunday. I’d write no less than 3,500 words. That goal I did manage to reach, but only just.

My NaNo Progess:

Yesterday’s Word Count: 0
Today’s Word Count: 3,635

Mirror Image – 79% Complete

39,787 / 50,000

My Weekend Goal

It’s the weekend and it’s always good to stretch yourself on the weekend. I’m going to make a public goal. This one is to write 5,000 words over Saturday and Sunday. This will ensure I am over the 40K mark by Monday morning, which will be excellent incentive to reach the overall 50K goal well before time. I have no doubt that I’ll complete the NaNo challenge. I do wonder where I’ll be in the story though by the time I stop writing on 30 November.

Having set this goal, I do admit that I have a slight problem which may stop me from reaching it. Tomorrow will be an extremely busy day for me. I won’t be able to start writing until after 5pm and usually by then I’ve already got most of my words written. Whatever I don’t write on Saturday will have to be written on Sunday, so that will be my incentive to do as much as possible on Saturday night.

Mirror Image is told from several view points and explores several emotional angles. The sub-plot, although planned, has taken on a new twist which is exciting for me to write about. I’ve had to leave myself notes in the manuscripts because I’ve changed direction at a certain point and I will need to go back and edit the beginning to suit.

My NaNo Progess:

Today’s Word Count: 1,946

Mirror Image – 72% Complete

36,152 / 50,000