I’ve toyed with participatinnanoplanning_oct2016g in NaNoWriMo a number of times, but life has conveniently provided me with an ongoing multitude of excuses not to. But what all those excuses actually boil down to is that producing 50,000 words in 30 days simply sounds wayyyy too daunting to consider.

Then, a couple of weeks ago a friend sent me a message on Twitter: Hello! are you gonna #nanowrimo this year?

Bold writer that she is, she gave it a go in 2015 and reached her 50,000 word target on 30 November – the deadline. At the time I think I said something along the lines of  ‘Well done! I should’ve signed up too… maybe next year…’

But that was then and this is now… So sensible-me reply-tweeted: Heh – I think not. My greycells are still pulpy after #BlogJune, and that’s a much less intense project!

When we caught up for coffee and cake the following week, we talked about writing and plans and life – as usual – and she asked another curly question: Are you planning on writing another book?

My answer was much the same as the one to the NaNoWriMo question, but with more detailed excuses. In essence, I told her, I’m not sure I have either the subject matter or the commitment to launch into another big project.

As it turns out, the cosmos seems to have other plans…

This became clear a few days later when one of my favourite local librarians suggested I might like to attend a NaNoWrimo information evening. Just come along, she said. It’s part of the combined libraries Write Along the Highway programme and the first time we’ve been involved.

So I went – mostly as a gesture of solidarity and support but also because I was jut a little curious.

Somehow or other, for reasons still not quite clear to me, by the end of the session I found myself agreeing to jump on board the NaNo-wave. Of it’s own volition, my hand had sneaked up in answer to the question: So who’s gonna sign up to participate in NaNoWriMo this year?

How did that even happen!? 😛

50,000 words equates to 1,666.67 words each day. Since my blog posts are often around 800 words, I guess that’s a bit like two blog posts a day – or BlogJune on steroids. Hardly scary at all…

I guess my subconscious decided that since I work best under pressure (even if it’s self-imposed), it would provide me with some. Senisible-me is still kicking and screaming about it a bit, but she and my subconscious are slowly coming to an accommodation.

Since I also attended a (free) introduction to Scrivener at one of the libraries, perhaps I’ll try Scrivener-ing my way through November. The presenter, Natasha Lester, calls it ‘the best writing tool on the market‘ and her enthusiasm was very infectious… and I have had a copy of Scrivener sitting around for the last many months…

In short, I’m in. Although, as you may have gleaned, I’m both looking forward to and dreading 1 November. My goal is to reach the finish line with ta (very) rought first draft of an actual book. Then I can dither, procrastinate and deliberate over that for a number of more relaxing months. It certainly beats dithering over whether to start in the first place!

It’s the end of #blogjune… Will I miss it? Yes and no – my daily brain strain will enjoy having a little holiday, but the commitment to write something every day has been a very useful exercise. Thank you to all the June-bloggers who posted and who read my posts. It’s been fun 🙂

Actual June also comes to an end today – and with it the third of the food-drives hosted by Menagerie10 (our place). Last December some friends and I decided to collect food to help out those less fortunate than us. Sharing some Christmas cheer by giving, rather than receiving, sounded like a good idea. So we agreed to each set aside one durable food item every day up until 19 December. Then DaughterDearest and I went out to delivered the boxes of food to the Foodbank and were given a little tour of the facility.

We were very impressed with the set up – and with the great work that Foodbank does right around Australia. So much so, that I decided to host four Foodbank food drives this year. I started a Facebook group and invited a few people to join in and commit to fighting hunger in Australia by donating a tin/container of food each week. The result was that I delivered 55kg of assorted comestibles to Foodbank at the end of March.

Foodbank delivery1_2016Today, Cassie-puppy accompanied me back out to Foodbank to deliver the group’s second care package of the year: this time 25kg of food, all most gratefully received and put into stock for distribution. Watching the forklift drive away with the boxes felt good. Good to know that my friends and family are prepared to to care about the homeless and needy – and to do something concrete and practical to help out. So, thanks everyone – I hope you all felt a little warm glow too 🙂

Foodbank deliiver_20160630

We have two more collections this year, one for delivery to Foodbank at the end of September and one just before Christmas. So if there’s anyone out there (in the Perth region) who’d care to donate to the next appeal, please let me know. This poster outlines the sorts of things that are most appropriate – please note: no glass or bottles.

foodbank poster

A friend’s baby turns one this weekend, so I thought I’d make a gift for him rather than buying one. I then spent many (!) minutes scrounging around on craft sites, knitting sites and pinterest, hunting for a simple project. As always, I found the sheer volume of ideas for make-and-do overwhelming and stalled out more several times. But in the end I came across some adorable little crocheted animals. It turns out that they’re called amuragmi – and they’re really cute.

This is about when I reminded myself that the last time I made soft toys I vowed to never do so again… but 2012 is a whilxmasknits_dec2012e ago now… and amuragami are quite small… and there are heaps of free patterns available on the internet…. and I managed to talk myself into giving it a go.

The only tricky part, really, is that I’m not really much of a crocheter. I have crochet hooks, but only because I inherited them. To date I’ve made a few granny squares (in the dim and distant past) and a pair of glovens (last week), so making a crocheted toy was an interesting decision. Nevertheless, I boldly chose a simple pattern for a roly poly cat, then set about a YouTube video to teach me how to make a magic loop – which is the first stage of the process.

A few binned attempts later I now have all the elements crocheted and final assembly has commenced. So far the critter doesn’t look a whole lot like a the pattern, but it is kinda cute and I think 1-year-olds tend not to be too judgey, so I’m hopeful it’ll do the trick. Next time a smaller hook size, perhaps, and finer yarn.

Roly Poly Cat - construction phase

My parents read to me when I was little – which is probably where I learned to love stories. More than that, I learned to love the spoken word. I find a beautifully narrated story the most fabulous entertainment imaginable. The combination of a well modulated voice and a rousing tale is right there at the top of my ‘best things ever’ list 🙂

Fast forward to when I was at uni. There I noticed that academic prose tends to be littered with the sort of language that professors and tutors require – but which doesn’t make for easy narration. I chose to avoid that as far as possible, reading my essays and assignments out loud after writing them so that I could get a sense of how they sounded.  My goal? To achieve words that scan well and can be read out loud without awkward pauses. This often required cutting out unnecessary words and/or complex language in order to express my thoughts more efficiently.

I’d type and scribble – then read it all out loud – then tweak what I’d written until it sounds right. Then I’d do it all again. It made me think about what I’d written differently. Hearing the words gave them different meaning, helped me to understand my research differently and make linkages I might otherwise have missed.

My postgrad supervisors enjoyed this aspect of my monthly reporting. We’d all sit down and get the social niceties out of the way, then I’d ask them ‘Are you sitting comfortably…? Then let’s begin’.  Flipping open my journal, I’d read my report to them as a story – a compilation of my research activities, thoughts and analysis over the past month. And they’d sit back and enjoy it. Afterwards we’d have a discussion about the research, but no session was complete without story time. It was enormous fun and we all remembered a great deal more about the project from month to month than we might otherwise have done.

This way of being flowed through into how I structured my thesis and, later, my memoir. It’s how I choose to write (for fun and profit).  The dogs have never been much of an audience, really, but they’re very patient with my ramblings… Perhaps they know that as my own first audience I will also always be my harshest critic?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’ve been thinking about creativity, about the creative activities I’m currently engaged in (writing, knitting, mosaic, rug making, cooking) and how much I enjoy them. The one thing they all have in common is that they each offer me the opportunity to do things differently. In every instance I can choose whether to follow a script / pattern, to use one as a guideline, or to create something from the ground up. Whichever option I choose, everything I make is new and different and hasn’t been made before – at least not by me.

On the other end of that scale is what I consider the least creative pastime imaginable: household 450px-Wooden_clothes_pinchores. Somehow floors always need vacuuming, beds making, laundry washing, loos cleaning (etc) – and it’s a little tricky to come up with new and exciting ways to get these done. Emptying the washing machine today, I remembered my mother-in-law once telling me how she used to look back at her washing line with pride. She said it pleased her to see how sparkly clean the washing was and how nice it all looked in colour-coordinated sections…

I was young and the best response I could muster at the time was a smile. Perhaps it was the only response possible in that situation. It probably wouldn’t have been appropriate for me to tell her that her comment made me feel sad for what I perceived as the narrowness of her life – or to tell her that my feeling on looking over my shoulder at a line of washing is generally just one of relief that it was done and hung out. Again.

But was Ma-in-law actually trying to teach me something? Could she have noticed something of my newly-stay-at-home-mum frustrations and been trying to help? Perhaps she was using the laundry as an example to show that one can take pride in doing the simplest and most mundane of tasks well – and that no task need be inherently objectionable, particularly if viewed pragmatically.

With hindsight – and the knowledge that she was an kind, intelligent and creative woman – I feel it likely that the laundry comment did indeed have some deeper meaning along those lines. It’s also probable that this and other subtly delivered messages from her over the years are an example of what is now referred to as intergenerational learning. I was very fortunate to have her in my life and feel quite sure that she helped me to understand that aspiring to do something well, no matter how insignificant or repetitive that thing may be, is worthwhile in its own right – and can even be fun 🙂

Images sourced from Wikimedia Commons: