Birthing Stars

One of my favourite writing friends, Julie Christine Johnson, just published an evocative post “Atmospheric River” on her blog. (Aside* Do yourself a favour and visit Julie’s blog. It will lift your spirits and inspire you.) I had never heard of the term “Atmospheric River” before but it just zings with me now. Julie speaks of awakening from a winter of the soul, one which I know well and so much of what she shares in this post echoes what I am feeling right now.

A couple of days ago I celebrated a birthday. In many ways it was a difficult Birthday because it was my first without one of my oldest friends, someone who is a part of my soul. But also because of A and how much she treasured life, even as it slipped out of her fingers like the broken silken threads of spiderwebs, I also was determined to truly appreciate the day. It ended up being both a terrible and beautiful day, much like life itself. Terrible in that someone, in a six degrees of separation way, was buried on my birthday morning. Beautiful in that a precious new human, the first longed-for son of one of my soul-friends, was born on the evening of my birthday.  A burial in the morning and a birth in the evening on my birthday. An ending in the morning and a beginning in the evening of my birthday. This paradox of tragedy/beauty and death/birth made me think of the life of a star.

The past and all its little deaths of finished moments births our present…

There is nothing more magnificent than looking up at a night sky and trying to count all the stars one sees. But the stunning paradox is that many of those bright stars that we see in our galaxy are reflections of their past. Many of those stars that look so bright with life are stars that have died but because of their immense distance from us, we are actually seeing their past in our present. Isn’t that how it is with our memories and our own lives? We see the past in our present, hope for the unknown future but all we do know is the past. The past and all its little deaths of finished moments births our present. The past beauty of stars gives us our present vision of the night sky.

Black holes birth stars

The above article was published a couple of days ago. Ironically it was published on my birthday. 

“A team of astrophysicists has discovered that supermassive black holes at the centre of galaxies aren’t just destroyers of stars, but can also be their creators…”

This artist’s impression depicts a galaxy forming stars within powerful outflows of material blasted out from supermassive black holes at its core. (ESO/M. Kornmesser)

This article filled me with thrills of excitement and it zinged with the epiphany I’ve had this week. I’ve been in my own black hole both creatively and emotionally. For the longest time I haven’t only not been inspired but I didn’t care that I didn’t want to create when life felt so destructive and chaotic. This black hole kept sucking me further and deeper into its vacuous depths. But very slowly a tiny, minuscule creative spark was being birthed in all this destruction.

This personal supermassive black hole had destroyed the stars of my creativity and ripped asunder the fabric of my night skies, forever changing the galaxy of my life, pulling it all into this consuming black nothingness that is grief. But where there is death there has to be life. This black hole I have found myself in has birthed beautiful, vibrant, sparking creative energy. The immense blackness has birthed exquisite light. 

This black hole has birthed stars. Out of chaos, beauty. 

I am birthing stars again. The synapses of my imagination are sparking with a fiery energy as they are born out of the very thing that was their destroyer. For the first time in the longest time, ideas are flying through me and streaming out my fingers into the ink on a page. Old words are reawakening. New words are taking their first breath. Finally I am creating again. This act of creativity/creation is awakening my very soul and stitching the broken pieces of my grieving heart  together again into something stronger and beautiful. The ideas are flying so fast and so abundantly that it is all I can do to capture them in the net of my page.

How do you net stars? 

I can’t net all the stars and some of these words, some of these ideas, like the stars in the night sky will die even as their trailing light births new words, new ideas and new stars of creativity. But I don’t need to net all the stars flying past me at light-year speed. It is enough that there are stars being birthed and that even as some will die, more will be born. My galaxy looks different now, forever changed. Life is chaotic and messy, tragic and broken. But life is also beautiful and precious, hopeful and whole. The seasons of a life are many and constantly in flux, changing even as they change us. The seasons of Creativity are also constantly in flux, ebbing and flowing, dimming and brightening. Life and creativity is a paradox of opposites, of winters and summers, of rusting leaves and fragile blossoms, and that is a beautiful reality.

I will net enough stars out of this black hole, enough stars to remind myself that I am breathing, that I have this time, this present moment. This present moment is all that we have but what lies in our control is what we choose to do with it. For me, right now, I am birthing stars.

Out of destruction, creation. 

Out of death, birth.

Out of darkness, light.

Out of grief, hope.

Out of chaos, stars.

Writing on the Go

Three things I love and use every day:

  1. My iPad Mini
  2. Scrivener 
  3. Stationery (Especially the delicious lure of NEW stationery)

In this post I get to combine all three of some of my favourite things.


Writing Essentials: iPad mini/Logitech Bluetooth Keyboard + Macbook + Scrivener/iOS + Paper Notebooks (Nanami Seven Seas Crossgrid + Moleskine + Hobonichi) + Bag full of Pens/Pencils + Coffee + Water + Private Writing Space + Spacious Desk + Ergonomically comfortable chair #onmydesk #onmydesktoday #inkslaying #drafting #writersdesk 


Scrivener iOS + iPad Mini

This month I finally downloaded the Scrivener iOS app on my iPad Mini. I adore my Macbook but my iPad mini is never far from my side. I have had the “MacGyver of Writing Tools” Scrivener on my MacBook for 6 years now and it is hands down my favourite writing software. But it had one drawback, it did not have an iOS app. Until now. So until now, and because my iPad mini goes everywhere with me, I wrote on the Write for iPad app and then copied and pasted from the Dropbox sync folder into my Desktop Scrivener. Until now. Until this month. At the beginning of this month I finally downloaded the magical Scrivener iOS app. WOW! I’m not sure what I was really expecting but I had thought the iOS version would be a bared-down-minimal version of the desktop version. I was right and wrong. 

Minimal: 

  • Yes. In that it is a minimalistic, distraction-free and beautiful digital writing space. 
  • No. In that this is the Full Monty of Mobile apps. This is not a “mobile” version in that it lacks from the desktop. It is a “mobile” version purely because it is 100% Scrivener on a smaller screen.

Finally I can write on the go, anywhere and it is synced through to my MacBook Scrivener. No more copying and pasting. All my research/drafting/edits/notes at my fingertips whether on my MacBook at my desk, or on my iPad on the go.

As much as I love Scrivener and love my digital technology, I can never say no to the delicious lure of new stationery. For me paper and pens are my essential favourite things. I am especially obsessed with the magic of Tomoe River Paper. Since getting into the world of fountain pens I realised the many different qualities of paper. My first experience with Tomoe River Paper was through my favourite planner: Hobonichi. Tomoe River Paper has three amazing features: It is all Ink/Watercolour friendly, it is very thin, smooth Paper and it shows off sheeting fountain pen inks. 

Then I heard about Nanami Paper. An online maker/supplier of notebooks and stationery, most importantly they made big notebooks full of Tomoe River Paper. The only issues were the limited quantities available. These notebooks are so amazing that the minute there is availability they are sold out by the second minute. So I have waited patiently until there was stock available. Finally I was able to snag one of these elusive notebooks for myself: The Crossfield.

Nanami Seven Seas: The Crossfield

There are three different types of Seven Seas notebooks. The Standard, the Writer and the new Crossfield. The Standard is blank Tomoe River Paper. The Writer is lined Tomoe River Paper. Both of these options are an ivory coloured paper. The newest Seven Seas notebook is the Crossfield. This is an open-cross-grid Tomoe River Paper and the colour of this paper is white. I tend to choose either blank or grid paper and prefer white paper over any other colour so the Crossfield was the perfect option for me. Another fantastic feature of this notebook is that it is a 480 page notebook but the magic of the Tomoe River Paper is that it is exceptionally thin paper so the notebook itself is not much thicker than one of my hard-backed moleskine notebooks. The Crossfield comes in the A5 size which is my favourite drafting notebook size.

Related Links

#Travel Edition | These are some of my Favourite #OnTheGo Things #2017 #EDC 

For the last 5 months of 2016 I was on the road, in the air, on planes, trains, underground trains, cars and mostly living out of a lightweight suitcase + a backpack + a crossbody travel bag. So I had to minimise my favourite things into portable Every Day Carry (EDC) options; those which would take the least amount of room, be highly functional, be minimalistic but still give me pleasure. When travelling, especially long-term, the key-words are Minamalism + Functional. I would add my personal motto of Yo-No-Bi: Simplicity, Function, Beauty. 

  • Yo-No-Bi 

This principle is known as yo-no-bi. Common among the older generation of craftsmen in Japan, yo-no-bi consists of two kanji, yo (用) which means use or application, and bi (美) which means beauty. Together they aim to balance the aesthetic and the functional – not only must a technique/item be functional, but it must be pleasing to the eye.


So here I’ve summed up my Favourite On-The-Go EDC things, all true to the principle of Yo-No-Bi, that I ended up carrying with me all over Australia/Hong Kong/UK/Greece for the last half of 2016.

Write It Down

Hobonichi 

  • Hobonichi Weeks [Wallet-Size]

Hobonichi Weeks

Hobonichi is hands down my favourite planner. I have waxed lyrical about my love for Hobonichi before. Hobonichi come in 3 sizes: Original Techo/Planner -A6; Cousin – A5; Weeks – Chequebook/Wallet size. I have all 3 sizes and use all three for different uses. But my favourite that is always with me is the Hobonichi Weeks. This is the Hobonichi I chose to carry with me while travelling overseas.

Traveller’s (/Traveler’s – USA) Notebooks aka TNs

Favourite Brands:

Chic Sparrow Maverick – Pocket

    Zenkraft Appalachian Trail Trifold Logbook

    I adore my collection of traveller’s notebooks [Current count = 7] but in 2016, while travelling for 4 months, my constant companions were my hardy Chic Sparrow Maverick Pocket TN + my rustic Zenkraft Appalachian Trail Trifold logbook. These were the two I chose to carry with me. My little Maverick (Water-Buffalo leather) went everywhere with me as my notebook-on-the-go. My gorgeous Zenkraft Appalachian Trail- this leather is stunningly soft and pliable – embraced my journal.

    Notebooks

    Pens

      Fountain Pens

      TWSBI Vac-Mini Fountain Pen + Visconti Travelling Inkwell + Chic Sparrow Maverick Pocket TN


      My favourite on-the-go fountain pen is designed with an ink shut off valve for easy carry and no mess on airplanes. Although it is a mini fountain pen, because it is a vac filler it holds a large amount of ink so it is both functional and portable. Along with the handy Visconti traveling inkwell, I can travel with these with ease and still have the pleasure of writing with fountain pen.

      Ballpoint Pens

      Archival Ink Pens

      Pencil Case


      Devices & Apps

      • MacBook 13″ Aluminium 2008 Laptop 

      This laptop has been my faithful companion for 8 years and is still going strong. But I can no longer update the OS so this year it will be a time for an upgrade. I have decided, after lugging around this MacBook in my backpack through airports, that I need a more portable laptop. So this year I will be downsizing my MacBook 13″ and getting the new 12″ ultra-light MacBook. These (1) + (2) articles had me lusting over the 12″ MacBook. But it was when I went into my local electronics store and tested one out for myself that I was 100% convinced this will be my 2017 laptop. And Yes, I can’t resist that gorgeous rose-gold option.

      • Apple iPad Mini

      Hands down my favourite on-the-go EDC device. I can write on it, I can communicate on it, I can be entertained AND it is extremely portable.

      • Apple iPhone 5c

      My favourite mobile phone is actually my Blackberry Storm 9900. But although I took it with me on my travels, it was not playing nice with the different overseas networks. Thankfully I had my backup iPhone which ended up being my main phone. 

      These ear-phones were a godsend on my ultra-longhaul flights + numerous underground/overground train trips. Excellent audio quality and excellent external noise-cancelling qualities but allow in just enough external ambience noise so that you’re aware of what is happening in your surroundings – vital for travelling.

      Favourite Apps

      • Dropbox – My favourite cloud backup.
      • Scrivener – Hands down my favourite writing/editing word processing app.
      • Swipes – My favourite to-do list app.
      • Netflix
      • Spotify Premium



      Travelling/ On-the-Go

      Although I have travelled a lot in the past, the longest those trips were, were 1 month. In 2016 my travels were for 5 months. On top of that I travelled from the…

      Southern Hemisphere Winter: New Zealand (Home) – to Australia 

      To

      Northern Hemisphere Summer + Winter: Hong Kong – U.K. – Greece

      To 

      Southern Hemisphere Summer: New Zealand (Home)

      So not only was I crossing hemispheres but I was travelling to countries with vastly different climates to New Zealand’s. So I had to plan both my luggage + wardrobe options very carefully and precisely as well as take into account that I would be changing seasons while on my travels as well. I was also travelling by myself which meant I had to carry everything. If nothing else, this journey made me an even better traveller. With all this in mind, I did my pre-travel research – we writers love any excuse for research – very thoroughly, both on what to pack and what to pack everything in for long term travel. Here is what I ended up with…

      Luggage

      These PACSAFE bags were two of the best purchases I have ever made. Extremely durable, all-weather-proof, brilliant anti-theft features and the clincher for me, both were extremely comfortable to carry.

      Favourite Clothing Items (for longer-term travelling across seasons)

      • Black Leather Jacket + black leather gloves
      • Kathmandu Isograd All-Weather Waterproof 3-in-1 Jacket
      • Skinny Jeans [Day + Night] – In 3 colours, classic distressed blue, classy indigo blue + dressy black.
      • 3 * Cotton Cargo Trousers – My preference are the ones that can zip off into shorts.
      • Tank tops in multiple colours
      • 2 * Boho-inspired maxi-dresses + 2 * maxi-skirts 
      • Little Black Dress (LBD)
      • LED Little Everything Dress – not black, but something that is a colour version of the LBD
      • 2 * Pashmina Shawls – Brilliant as knee-blankets, scarves, shawls, replacement cardigan/jumper/jersey
      • Monokini Swimming Costume – One-piece swim-wear costume with cutouts + a good beach towel
      • Underwear + Socks (Took the basics but ended up buying what more I needed while travelling.)
      • Pilates work out pants/top – Triple use as casual day/wear and/or Workout clothing and/or Pjs (sleeping).
      • Havaiana Flip-Flops
      • Flat-heeled Knee-Length Boots – Tip: make sure your boots’ soles are thick, especially if in Europe/UK cobblestoned streets.
      • Platform/Wedge Heeled dress shoes (They look good, are comfortable and good for cobblestoned streets.)
      • A good water-resistant pair of running shoes
      • A good pair of ankle hiking boots.

        Tell me, what are some your Favourite EDC On-The-Go Things?


        Capsized | Writing through the Fog, Emerging from under the Wave

        The Uses of Sorrow | Mary Oliver

        (In my sleep I dreamed this poem)

        Someone I loved once gave me

        a box full of darkness.

        It took me years to understand

        that this, too, was a gift.


        …And today I felt like I was drowning in this ocean wave of grief and pain and lostness. I felt overwhelmed and raw with too many emotions trying to come out all at once…Then I knew I needed to quiet the ocean of noise in my brain. The only way I know how to do this is to Write! So here I have been writing in this journal on and off all afternoon/night. I don’t think the noise in my brain has died down yet. But it feels cathartic to see my thoughts and feelings in black permanent ink on a white page…-I need my poems to truly expel all this grey emotion. I’ve been purposely staying away from working on my poetry because I don’t want to actually face all these emotions. But I know I’m drowning beneath all my emotions/thoughts…the only way I know to come up and out from under all of this is through my poetry. It is my own life-raft. I need to get back in my life-raft… | excerpted from my journal ~ Greece, September 2016

        “From the Sea” [Image by Bojan Jevtić]**

        capsize

        kapˈsʌɪz/

        verb

        1.(of a boat) be overturned in the water.

        “the craft capsized in heavy seas”

        “gale force winds capsized their small craft”

        antonyms: right

        cause (a boat) to overturn.

        “gale-force gusts capsized the dinghies”

        Origin
        late 18th century: perhaps based on Spanish capuzar ‘sink (a ship) by the head’, from cabo ‘head’ + chapuzar ‘to dive or duck’.


        A new country called Grief

        I am a traveller in a new country called Grief. For much of last year I was lost in a place-less Fugue. I went through the motions automatically relying on muscle memory rather than being present in the moment. There was no need to be present in the moment, this Fugue state carried me through this isolated country of Grief. I couldn’t concentrate or focus on much else than normal daily surviving requirements. Fiction, my own and others, was no longer an escape or a refuge. For the first month and a half after losing A, I just barely existed. But slowly as I got acclimated to this Grief, I started looking for ways to communicate; to express myself more clearly and to process this emotion that remained nameless in its immensity. Music and Poetry were the two life-rafts that rescued me from this storm-ravaged place.

        A New Project

        Newton’s law of motion states that “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”. Grief capsized me completely but through the twin life-rafts of Music and Poetry I was slowly Emerging: Emerging into a new direction, an altered me. When you sink, the equal and opposite reaction is to finally rise and emerge. I have found a way to breathe again. I have a way to stop drowning in this Grief. 

        The only way I was going to emerge from this Fugue state was to truly give in to the terrible emotion. To let it embrace me without fighting it. The only way a drowning swimmer can be rescued is if they don’t fight or struggle but simply relax and let themselves be rescued. In much the same way, I needed to just let this Grief encompass me in her watery depths before I could be rescued. Slowly I started rising up from these depths and as I began to rise, words started rising with me. At first I could not grasp the words so I just let them rise around me. But slowly the words became clearer to me as I immersed myself in others Poetry; poetry by Dylan Thomas, Pablo Neruda, Leonard Cohen and Rupi Kaur, and let Music be the soundtrack to drown out the cacophony that was the silence of this Grief. Slowly I could grasp enough words to form a line then enough words to form a verse then enough words to form a stanza. As I journaled I realised that these were my emotions becoming words becoming poems. Poems that expressed what I could not, did not want to verbalise in conversation. 

        What was emerging from my immersion into Poetry, Music, Art and through my journaling was a collection of emotions in words: a collection of poems. Suddenly I could focus again creatively. I had stopped struggling and in my surrender to this emotional drowning I had found a way to rise up and to begin emerging again. So this is what I have been working on for the last few months and will continue to work on for the next few months. A new project. An anthology of poems that could finally name all these unnameable emotions that Grief drowns one in. An anthology that I am calling…

        CAPSIZE

        Every year for the last five years I have chosen One Word to theme and propel my New Year. Last year my word was ironically RISE. But although most of last year felt like the opposite of Rising, felt closer to drowning, it was the gift of words in the form of Poetry that did have me eventually Rising. 

        2016 has forever changed me. I’m carrying a box of loss that is forming a new version of who I am. So for 2017 I have chosen a new theme, a theme of hope. A new word for a different me. A me that is navigating an altered topography of where I am going, who I am now and who I want to be. I am ready for a new dawn.
        So this year my Word of The Year is: 

        EMERGE

        ɪˈməːdʒ/

        verb

        verb: emerge; 3rd person present: emerges; past tense: emerged; past participle: emerged; gerund or present participle: emerging

        1. move out of or away from something and become visible.

        “black ravens emerged from the fog”

        synonyms: come out, appear, come into view, become visible, make an appearance; turn up, spring up, come up, surface, crop up, pop up; materialize, manifest oneself, arise, proceed, issue, come forth, emanate

        2. become apparent or prominent.

        synonyms: become known, become apparent, become evident, be revealed, come to light, come out, transpire, come to the fore, enter the picture, unfold, turn out, prove to be the case; 

        3. recover from or survive a difficult situation.

        Origin

        late 16th century (in the sense ‘become known, come to light’): from Latin emergere, from e- (variant of ex- ) ‘out, forth’ + mergere ‘to dip’.  




        [**PostScript: The image of “From the Sea” by the Serbian visual artist, Bojan Jevtić, helped inspire my theme for my new W.I.P poetry anthology: Capsize. I found that this particular image was able to vividly portray how this loss, this Grief makes me feel. It was the picture that has inspired my new words.]


        Devastation | The Daily Post

        My #WriteSpace | With Space to Create #WhereIWrite

        I have always been fascinated with the spaces where creatives love to retreat to. I loved the Hachette vlog series #WhereIWrite. I absolutely love Catching Days’ How We Spend Our Days interview series where Cynthia Newberry Martin asks writers to guest-post on how they spend their days. I have also just recently found the delightful rabbit hole of  Novelicious’s My Writing Room. 

         

        courtesy of the freedictionary.com

         
        To me there is something sacred about being let into a creative space. For many creatives, this space is often where they feel most like themselves. It is a nest where they can retreat to succour their creativity. So I thought I would invite you into my #WriteSpace for a short while. 

        *Ever curious about other creative spaces, I have also knocked on the doors of some of my friends and asked if we could have a quick peek into their creative spaces over the next few weeks. If you’re curious to see where they create too, remember to click on their names, at the end of this post, to take you to their digital spaces.*

        “The writing life is defined by the succession of choices you make, primary among them whether or not you will write. You honor your writing space by entering it with this mantra: ‘I am ready to work.’ You enter, grow quiet, and vanish into your writing.” | Eric Maisel.

        Welcome to my #WriteSpace.

        This is where I go to run away with my characters and escape into my stories. I am fortunate enough to have a dedicated “Room of my Own” with space to create. I write full time and for me my home is the perfect place to write. I’m not one to write at cafes. I prefer to be in my own space in solitude when writing. I love this space of mine. It is on the top floor of my home overlooking a beautiful golf course in hills embraced by the Pacific Ocean. It faces north-east which means that the morning sunshine streams into this space. But being north-facing, this space is filled with light throughout the day. I’m a country-gal, born and bred, so to work well, I need lots of natural light, spaciousness and a view of the outdoors, as free of buildings as possible. A space from which I can hear bird song and enough open space to get lost in. 

        I have spoken before about my vintage solid-oak rolltop desk which I waited patiently for years to find and finally make mine. There is something special about sitting down at a rolltop desk and writing. Talking of sitting, my chair is the most comfortable chair I have ever sat in. I paid more than a a pretty penny for it but every penny was worth it. It is a leather ergonomic (very important for the comfort of my lower back, where I was kicked by a horse 20 odd years ago) swivel chair that rocks back and forth, leans back like a lazy boy chair, swivels in 360′ and has both a seat that is height adjustable and arms that are height adjustable.The desk itself is an inspiration for me. Each object on this desk has a purpose and a special meaning particular to me. 

        “People think that I must be a very strange person. This is not correct. I have the heart of a small boy. It is in a glass jar on my desk.” – Stephen King

        One of the many reasons I love my rolltop desk is all the little storage compartments and many, many drawers, even a few secret drawers, it has. Here are a few of my own “hearts in a jar” that I keep on my desk.

        Top of the Desk

        • Jessica Fletcher ~ My sexy Vintage Imperial Good Companion 5 Portable TypeWriter circa 1957.
        • Angel Sculpture (left) ~ I bought this beautiful Angel of Inspiration in Greece. She is holding a font of water that is said to be from a sacred waterfall of inspiration. 
        • Bronze sculpture of Hermes (right) ~ a nod to the Ancient Greek patron of Writers.
        • Photographs ~ photographs of me in places I have travelled and my beautiful Arabian gelding I left behind in South Africa when I immigrated to New Zealand.
        • Special memento objects from my favourite places that I have travelled ~ a sea-shell and glass bowl of semi-precious stones from South Africa + Exquisite handcrafted perfume bottles +traditional copper coffee pot from Dubai + Urn from Greece – my flower vase when I feel like fresh flowers + glass paperweight with a dragon kanji from Singapore + glass paperweight of a Cathedral in Melbourne, Australia.
        • A wooden paper weight carved for me from my brother when he was a child + stuffed tiger also from my brother.
        • A perpetual desk calendar with daily quotes from Shakespeare.
        • A collection of scented candles ~ I love to burn these when I’m finding the blank page/screen overwhelming.
        • The top of my desk also works excellently as a standing desk-space when I get tired of sitting.

        On the Desk

        • Left: A shelf of fountain pen inks ~ Currently: Iroshizuku Yama Budo, Diamine Ancient Copper, Diamine Bilberry, Diamine Red Dragon and Diamine Eclipse + along with my rubber stamp and book darts collection
        • Right: Some more memento objects from my travels + a pink-haired troll (circa early 90s) with a sign – “Nobody’s Perfect” – important reminder for a recovering perfectionist.
        • Desk Area: A few of my collection of leather Traveller’s notebooks. (Leather covers that can hold multiple notebooks.)
        • Centre Desk Area: My A5 Custom Trifold leather Traveller’s notebook that houses my drafting notebook, my research notebook and my plot notebook + my favourite fountain pen ~ The Visconti Van Gogh Starry Night with Medium nib.
        • Desk Area: Rear Centre Left ~ A leather and wooden carved book-box, carved by my late maternal grandfather, where I store my fountain pens. On top of this box are my Hobonichi planners. 
        • Desk Area: Rear Centre Right ~ My Rain Design M Stand (aluminium laptop stand) and MacGyver aka my MacBook Pro 13″ aluminium laptop
        • Desk Area: Right~ Apple Time Machine (very important backup storage) + modem
        • Desk Drawers: If you opened my desk’s many drawers you would find a stationer’s supply of writing + sketch notebooks, pens, pencils, watercolour + oil paints and coloured pencils. These are essential to be kept close to me for my own sanity. I don’t believe a writer can ever have enough notebooks and pens/pencils. I also love to relax by sketching or painting. My love of sketching and painting is almost as strong as my love of writing. Just recently though I have started sketching with fountain pens as well which I am really enjoying. 

        “Do me a favor – right now, today, start a list of all your crazy obsessions, the things that get your heart pumping, that wake you up in the middle of the night. Put it above your desk and use it to guide you, to jumpstart your writing each and every day.” | Jennifer McMahon

        I do face the wall when seated at my desk but I could not bare a blank wall. So I have a print of one of my favourite paintings by Jackson Pollock ~ Silver on Black. I love the controlled chaos and sheer creative freedom of this piece. It is absolutely mesmerising to stare at. On the surface it looks chaotic but actually as you look deeper at it it reveals exquisite layers of colours and shapes. Ever single time I look at this painting, I see something new. Between this Jackson Pollock masterpiece in front of me and magnificent views to the left of me, I am never without visual stimulus sitting at my desk. I also love this painting because it reminds me that every creative masterpiece contains many initially imperfect, chaotic layers that eventually combine to form a masterpiece. 

        “Routines and rituals, discipline and structure: it is within this order that the wild, free creative mind is set loose to roam.” | Judy Reeves

        I do more than just writing in my space. I do a lot of reading and I love sketching here too. Every nest needs a comfortable corner. My comfortable corner is my large blue leather couch. There is nothing I love more than to lie back on my couch, pull my purple mohair blanket over me and tuck in with a new book to read. Of course as any self-respecting writer I am a caffeine-addict and coffee is my chosen vice. So I have my coffee corner all set up with my DeLonghi Automatic Espresso (the working drink) / Cappucino (the relaxing drink) machine and my assortment of favourite mugs and cups.

        My two prints above my couch are copies of my two favourite Dali (Salvador Dali) paintings. Dali is one of my favourite artists and his works all inspire me to continue to dream and imagine. I am obsessed with surrealism but Dali is definitely my favourite surrealist. 

        I always wanted a large whiteboard/blackboard to work out ideas and fill plot holes but never found anything quite right. Luckily enough I have a huge built in double wardrobe in my atelier and it has very useful, convenient full length mirrors. These work perfectly as my “whiteboard” area. So if I’m stuck in a plot-hole, I’ll usually write my way out of the hole by working things out on my mirrored plot-wall.

        You’ll also have noticed the can’t-miss-it bold red carpet that fills most of the floor in my atelier. I absolutely love bold, bright colours and red is my power colour. So even when I look down at the floor, I am visually stimulated by the bold geometric patterns and bright colours of my carpet.

        “A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.” | John le Carre

        Although I truly love my creative room of my own, I love to get outside. I do some of my best thinking outdoors. I have a cozy sitting area on my verandah (Jazz, my ever-constant writing companion, my beautiful papillon believes this space is as much his as mine) that is situated in a very leafy, small enclosed garden and being north-facing is bathed in sunlight most of the day. 

        Walking is one of my – and Jazz’s – favourite daily rituals. Often I will take my Traveller’s notebook and pen and settle down in one of my favourite outside spots. I live on a gulf so am lucky to be within walking distance of the ocean, a river bordered by beautiful willow trees and a peaceful marina. I love being near water, somewhere where I can watch and hear the water flow or the tide come in. If I’m feeling in a funk, then I know it is time for Jazz and I to take a walk which usually takes me to these serene spaces.

        “Most people dream a dream when they are asleep. But to be a writer, you have to dream while you are awake, intentionally. So I get up early in the morning, 4 o’clock, and I sit at my desk and what I do is just dream. After three or four hours, that’s enough. In the afternoon, I run. The next day, the dream will continue.” | Haruki Murakami


        So tell me where do you create, think, dream? 

        Do you have a creative room or place of your own?

        Care to show me your write space? 


        *Knocking on some Creative Doors #ShowMeYourWriteSpace*

        Darcy Conroy | Narrative Disorder

        Julie Christine Johnson

        Rebecca J Bradley

        C.J. Carver

        Michael Jecks

        Cynthia Newberry Martin

        My favourite Websites of Creative Spaces

        Hachette | #WhereIWrite

        Catching Days | How We Spend Our Days

        Novelicious | My Writing Room

        {Re}Focus | Inhale {The Good Sh!#} Exhale {The BullSh!#}

          

         
        I opened up my WordPress app today and this is what my stats told me:

        It’s been 5 months since … Last Post

        So let me begin by stating the obvious…It has been a while a long while a bloody long while since I posted on here. WordPress is kind enough to inform me that it has been 5 months since my last post. So why the deep buzzing of mosquitoes and no posts you may wonder? I could tell you I have been: 

        swamped ~ overwhelmed ~ stressed ~ burnt-out ~ burnt-through ~ exhausted ~ sick&tired.

        All of the above would be true and accurate. But mostly I have been so quiet because I have just been learning to  

         

        Stop holding my breath 

                        and just breathe…

         This year has been a tough one filled with more darkness than light, in more ways than one. But the important thing, even in an Annus Horribilis, to remember is that there have been slivers of light. The last 5 months I have been searching for and storing those slivers of light. That is why I have been quiet online. I needed to take a breath and then to breathe out again. Breath by breath. 

        It got too dark for me to write. So instead of forcing it, I did the unthinkable, and just stopped. I realised I needed to refocus on myself, get my emotional + physical health on a better footing. I needed time to just learn to breathe again because there have been moments this year when it took all my energy reserves just to breathe.

        I could go into a few logical reasons as to why I didn’t want to write but that wouldn’t be quite accurate. The worst thing was that I DID want to write. But my well was empty. A perfect storm of events + emotions + health (lack of) = Empty, dried up well of creativity/inspiration/focus. Things, past things, that I had boxed up and stored in a dank, forgotten basement in my memory crept up out of the darkness and demanded to be dealt with. Where I thought I had been brilliant at compartmentalising I was proven wrong. Because nothing had been thrown away instead the boxes had just been hidden. 

          But I’m still upright. Bruised, battered and scarred from the Past-become-Present and the Present, kneeling but upright. Ironically enough it has been this WIP – Tattooist – that has forced me to deal with those memory-monsters hidden away in boxes in that dank, forgotten basement. I was feeling claustrophobic because it was in the writing and rewriting of Tattooist that these memory-monsters started creeping out. Tattooist was their siren call. So I did the only thing I could do, I boxed up Tattooist and all the poisonous emotions and I faced down my hungry memory-monsters. I faced them and although they put in more than a good fight, I conquered my inner demons and released those hungry memory-monsters. 

        That is what I have been doing for most of this year and all of the last five months. I haven’t been writing but I have been healing. In the next few weeks I’ll share a little on how and where I found the small slivers of light that took me from a dark place up into a place of faint, but growing, light.

        Today there are exactly 6 weeks left of 2015. 42 Days. I won’t lie by saying I’ll miss 2015. I won’t. But today, with just 6 weeks left of 2015, I embrace my personal Annus Horribilis and I thank it. I embrace the hungry memory-monsters and I thank them. I embrace my stalled WIP and thank it. I embrace my creative claustrophobia and I thank it. I embrace the dark nights of my soul and thank them. I look at the reflection in my mirror and I see a woman who is stronger for the struggles and I thank her. I embrace and thank the girl that stands in this woman’s shadow, a reminder of what hope, joy, optimism and love look like. 

        So today there are 6 weeks left of 2015. 42 Days.  

         I have been holding my breath but now I’m breathing again. I’ve exhaled the darkness and I’m inhaling the light. It is time to dust off the creative cobwebs of that dank basement and step into an open space. A space where there is light and where I can breathe without fear, without panic, without doubt, free from the shackles of the past. A space where I can pour the elixir of story back into my soul. Tattooist calls me again but now I am ready to accept the call not as sirens calling me near treacherous, dangerous rocks but as a lighthouse guiding me back home to the written page. 

        So today there are exactly 6 weeks left of 2015. 42 Days. 42 Fresh starts. 42 Days to start over…

        What are you going to do with your one precious life these 42 days?

        #Droptask : How I Get Things Done: Fav Digital Tools #GTD #Productivity

        How do you “Get Things Done”?

        I am allergic to lists but love organisation. I am one of those people who cannot write if my desk or surroundings are cluttered.

        For the longest time I have been looking for a project planner that has nothing to do with lists. This month I finally found it: 

         Productivity Tool #1.

        Droptask 
         
        What is it?
        Droptask is the visual project/task manager for the person who is allergic to list-making. I am a very visual person. I have always written down notes in a mind-map as opposed to paragraphs of text. I like shapes and colours.
        Droptask fulfills all of these wants for me.

        IMG_5221

        IMG_5219

        IMG_5220

        Above is a trilogy of screenshots about my current WIP.
        Droptask comes as a basic free app or the advanced pro option. Although the free option is perfectly suited to project management, I have opted for the pro option for its advanced features.

        The best two features about the pro option is the ability to create unlimited sub tasks and task dependencies. For me a project, in this case a manuscript, is not just one whole concept but a whole sum of smaller parts. This is where the ability to have unlimited subtasks and task dependencies comes in.

        Droptask broken down

        Main project: The Tattooist

        Group: Complete Rewrite

        Tasks: 95k Rewrite*
        Tasks: Broken down in 5k increments (5k – 95k)**

        Task Dependencies: 10k needs to be completed before 15k can be done, 15k needs to be completed before 20k can be done.

        Subtasks:
        *95k Run through final edit
        Submit
        **2.5k per day
        Print
        Backup

        Other groups related to same project:
        @Home / @Office / @Computer / @Errands / @WaitingFor / @Email / @Calls / @Submissions
        Research / Fact-Check / Editing

        Droptasks

        IMG_5222

        Status

        IMG_5223

        Urgency

        IMG_5224

        Effort

        IMG_5225

        Deadline 

         When you date a task, Droptask emails you the current deadline (today) + the next deadline (tomorrow) plus the final deadline date. A great little prompt every morning to get me focused on what needs to be done.

        IMG_5226

        Tag

        IMG_5228

        Attachments (Picture/Audio/Video)

        IMG_5229

        Extra added bonus

        Team Collaboration 

        You can have more than one person working on a project.
        Droptask (basic subscription): You can have one extra person per project (limit of 5 projects).
        Droptask (pro option) you can have unlimited extra people per unlimited projects.

        So in this way I have one screen for everything related to my current WIP. 

        Droptask is THE project manager for the person who hates lists but loves getting things done. 

        What is your favourite task manager?
        How do you tick off tasks? Pen and paper? Lists? Apps?