Sunday, July 28, 2013

Other people don't always know best

I resigned from my job.

Normally, I would (like most well meaning people) advise that it is best to stay in the job and leave to go to another job rather than resign with no job to go to.

But a week and a half a go, I couldn't take the negativity of such a toxic environment any longer, I decided to put my health and well being before anything else, and to great criticism resigned from my role as overworked Employment Consultant with no alternative job to go to.

There was a number of considerations that went into my decision before I decided to act: I spoke with each of my children and gained their support. (Each of their reactions, although different from one another, supported me: my son, simply stated that it would be nice to see me happy and unstressed which he hasn't seen in a while 'you know, have my real mum back again'; my middle daughter, in perfect imitation of the advice I would normally give just said 'have you really thought this through, mum?  It's easier to find another job when you already have one'; and my baby daughter, sucked in her breath when I told her out of concern but an hour later came up to me and said 'August would be a good time mum, seeing as I'm going away with dad and all, so the only person really effected would be yourself.') I considered the type of work I could apply for, and know that I will do what many of my job seekers are not prepared to do: go out and face to face market myself to employers and accept any sort of work for which I am capable in order to gain employment quickly. I am also already prepared: I know my skill set and have my resume already up to date, and have interview clothing already purchased and set aside, so I can make a neat, good appearance.

The relief I have gained just by resigning has been paramount, and I still have another two and a half weeks before I actually finish up, because I had to provide four weeks notice.

One of the things I am looking forward to most, is that when I am not job searching, I will be able to spend a bit of time doing what I love: working on my novel.  Who knows, I might even be able to work for myself -  I have a few ideas to think about.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Cuckoo's Calling: RobertGalbraith = JK Rowling. Should we have guessed earlier?

Last Tuesday, I randomly check Mugglenet website, as I often do, and discovered a new post announcing that J.K. Rowling had been unearthed as having published a crime novel under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

The article gave sketchy basics about how the discovery had been made, and quoted J.K Rowling as having expressed disappointment that her secret had been discovered so quickly.  The same article mentioned that twenty two genuine reviews of the book had been published on Amazon while the secret remained unknown, and expression of disappointment in that now that her secret is out, readers will deliberately trash the books merits and ratings simply because of who the true author is publishing.

I hastened to read the genuine reviews, and was as equally amazed as the writer of the article or quotes from other articles cited in-text that the first review stated something to the effect that the reviewer wouldn't be surprised if this new crime author was actually an experienced, published author writing under a pseudonym.

At quick glance, each of the genuine reviews - there were even more by the time I viewed the page - gave favourable opinions about the story and author. Without hesitation, I downloaded the ebook version (not even considering that I may experience difficulties in purchasing a hardback copy) because I wanted to start reading immediately.  Although I am a fan of the Harry Potter stories, I am probably more accurately a fan of J.K Rowling's writing.  She definitely has had an influence over my own, as I have admired her skill with layering clues, and generating reader engagement long after readers have finished the completed works.

I was not a great fan of The Casual Vacancy. I pre-ordered the book the moment I learned she was publishing her first book since Harry Potter, and I like others truly wanted to enjoy the tale. Unfortunately, it is all too easy to compare anything else J.K Rowling writes to that of Harry Potter - as loved and detested as that series was, I don't think anything compares to the trashing and criticism The Casual Vacancy generated - which is sad, because a lot of that story's strengths were overlooked in favour of simple criticism. I disliked it for different reasons to other readers - it had no excitement or build up to its climax, and nothing 'changed', so I was left wondering 'what was the point in telling that tale then?'

Other people criticised - not without reason...

Head-hopping, yes it is jarring to the reader the first time they are yanked out of the point of view the reader has come to expect they will remain in, so fair criticism that J.K Rowling adopted a style in narrating the storyline that head hops multiple times within each chapter - all rules of good novel writing seem to point to 'only change point of view at the end of a scene or chapter, or after some indicated break'; but writers are also advised to know the rules before choosing to break them, and from my perspective J.K Rowling fully understood the rule she was breaking, and used it as a particular style and executed it with utmost consistency throughout the remainder of the book. And, as a reader, once I realised after the second or third time that this was going to happen quite consistently and with great frequency, I ceased being yanked out of my fictive state, and actually looked forward to gaining each of the other characters perspectives.

Yes, there was foul language... in an adult book - oh, the horror for so many people: "Harry Potter never used foul language like that" - No, it didn't. But folks, the book was not Harry Potter.The book was dealing with some pretty seedy side of life. I work with some of my area's most long-term jobless, and on a daily basis witness the language and poor behaviour; foul language much cruder and more frequent than J.K Rowling limited the pages to.

I haven't read a crime novel in a number of years.  I don't know why, I've always enjoyed them, but I have favoured fantasy and paranormal fiction probably because that's the type of novels I have a few different storylines for.

My only expectation in reading The Cuckoo's Calling, was to enjoy the words of J.K Rowling (now that I knew it was her) and to read a mystery 'whodunit' story.

I don't know if it is just me, or even if it is just my imagination, or having the benefit of hindsight, but as I read the story, I was curious as to just how many times I felt that J.K Rowling's personal writing style is so very present within the pages as the story progresses, while simultaneously understanding that great lengths had been gone into to disguise the true identity of the writer.

What do I mean by that?  Well, I'm not going to spoil the storyline for any reader, yet I feel I can say that there are certain 'key words' and 'key features' that appear within the storyline that had me thinking "How does this not point as strong clues that the writer is J.K Rowling?"  Stag, doe, pallid, loquacious, and a few other words that will forever be attached to J.K Rowling and Harry Potter in my mind (at the very least).  What a strange combination to appear in the works of someone completely different. Stag and doe, for example, such strong symbols identifying Harry Potters departed parents somehow make it into a crime novel that does not have animals or forests within its descriptions.

Firstly, the poems at the beginning of chapters.  J.K Rowling has included poems in the beginnings of her previous books before: Deathly Hallows, where readers are given passages from Aeschylus, The Libation Bearers, and William Penn, Move Fruits of Solitude; details explaining the term The Casual Vacancy, Charles Arnold-Baker Local Council Administration, Seventh Edition

And then there are those specific words...

Pallid... is there any scene or description of Professor Snape that does not include this word to describe his skin?  And here it appears within The Cuckoo's Calling.  Yes, I have seen this word used by other authors, but -- it is one of those words that J.K Rowling uses -  almost as a trademark - to describe characters.  If I recall correctly, I remember her using that word within the pages of The Casual Vacancy as well (but I'd have to fact check to be certain).

Loquacious... I mean, this one feels like an anvil sized clue.  Most writers use the simpler word 'talkative', but not J.K Rowling.  She has Hermione Granger describe to Harry that Victor Krum is 'not particularly loquacious' when Harry forms the opinion that Hermione and Krum spend more time 'snogging' than getting to know one another.  And loquacious appears in The Cuckoo's Calling. When it appears, the word 'talkative' could easily have been used, but the author has consistently uses higher educated words than what most of the books readers would have - J.K Rowling was no different in using these higher educated words within the Harry Potter books and The Casual Vacancy.

But J.K Rowling (and perhaps her publisher/editor) have gone to great lengths to remove all traces of her renown writing weaknesses that would have had readers guessing her identity long before actually occurred too: criticised immensely for the use of 'adverbs', namely during dialogue tags, such as 'Harry said angrily', such and such said 'whatever-ly'. I don't think I found even one example within The Cuckoo's Calling, yet, they were present (very minorly) within The Casual Vacancy.

But it was J.K Rowlings rich descriptions that truly would have made me curious, if I hadn't already known the true identity of the author...

The wonderful descriptions of both poverty and wealth could only have come from a writer who has experienced both.  Same with the experiences of paparazzi light-bulbs flashing in one's eyes.  There was an element of authenticity to the writer having lived and breathed through this on multiple occasions, the weariness and dislike of relentless invasion oozed onto the page.  I know I am no great writer, but I feel I can get emotion and mood across the page to my beta readers; and I can tell you now, not having experienced this, I could never have achieved this within my own writing.  And I have read a few other novels that follow the lives of the wealthy and famous, and in hindsight, even though I thoroughly enjoyed those light reads, none of them ringed that bell of 'the writer has been through this', they haven't even come close to depicting what it is really like to suffer at the hands of the paparazzi on its pages. I guess what I'm trying to say here is that other authors have seized upon the glamour side of being within the scrutinising unwanted spotlight within their stories; The Cuckoo's Calling truly reveals the inconvenience and intrusiveness of everyone wanting a piece of you, relentlessly, and going to sneaky and extreme lengths to gain a lecherous scoop.

Now consider for a moment that while releasing the later books within the Harry Potter series, J.K Rowling became known for desiring to 'play fair' with her readers. Harry Potter was 'at heart' a 'Whodunit' mystery.

So, what wouldn't be fair about J.K Rowling publishing a Mystery novel - which is her passion and forte - under a pseudonym when the very fact that the writer's name IS a pseudonym appears on the books jacket, as a subtle clue that 'all is not as it seems'?

And, in fairness to readers placing a few well-chosen clues that hint at her true identity to the clueiest of readers: mystery story + clues for the reader to work out = eventual reveal.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think there was any mis-intent like I am sure J.K Rowling will be meanly accused of; I think J K Rowling always intended for readers to find out - eventually - that she authored this book and its intended sequel(s). I think J. K Rowling truly understands how to engage with readers, and she genuinely enjoys the interaction from a distance. I truly believe that she craved getting honest and unbiased reader opinion about her story's merits.  The Casual Vacancy, published under her own name, was never going to achieve this. The comparison's to Harry Potter were always going to exist right from the release date.

I know that if I ever become a successfully published author (I'm still working on it), I'm not in it for the fame or recognition. I fully intend on writing under a pen name, with the very high hopes that I remain keeping my true identity unrevealed for all to invade. I, like J.K Rowling, love writing... if only I possessed even half her talent, I'd be in heaven if I could earn a decent living from doing something I truly love.  But I certainly don't envy or want the fame or the invasion to her privacy that J.K Rowling gained.

So I read this new book, and, I can honestly say that I enjoyed The Cuckoo's Calling for what it is: a mystery story.  It was an enjoyable read, possessed great descriptions (doesn't all her works), and all the clues were perfectly layered so that it was simultaneously not a - and also a delightful - surprise when the Whodunit was eventually revealed. (I was wrong in my guess, but not too far astray from reaching that conclusion my own self.)

I liked the character of Cormoran Strike, he came across more real than some other Private Investigators of other books. I loved that he was not cliche in any way. I'm glad Robin came to temp for him, they made a great team.  I loved Strike's thoroughness and skill in investigating where the Police had long since dismissed. I loved that J.K Rowling created a character of good motivation, and had him use his intellect.

And, I will conclude by saying, that I most certainly would have enjoyed the book even if I hadn't known that it was J.K Rowling writing it - I almost wish I had discovered the book before her secret came out.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Novel writing: I think in terms of 'moments' now

Last weekend, while I was home sick with the flu, I saw in Google Plus newsfeed someone had written a blog on the topic of overcoming writer's block with the solution being to write your novel in 'scenes' rather than face the prospect of starting an ambitiously large project.

I was sick and didn't read the article, and now that I'm better, the article is too far down for me to go back to.

But, earlier this week I also checked Mugglenet website and saw an article that mentioned that the final instalment of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban pages will be available in a few weeks time.

The two topics have come together in my mind.

Relaxed from four weekdays away from all the stress and tension at work, and feeling significantly better on the weekend than the days preceding them, I sat down to work on my novel work in progress.

I use a combination of typing up manuscript or story notes and using a paper based notebook and pen to record my ideas; it is not always possible to fire up my laptop computer to record new thoughts and ideas; and at other times, I fair better because I am able to get more done by typing than is possible when I hand write, because I type around 70 words per minute, but can only write at half that speed.

Last weekend, after months of zero progress to this particular work I thought up yet another new starting point for the novel which works better than my previous efforts.  I know the middle and ending of this storyline rather intimately, but until now, I have struggled to find the right starting point.  I've experimented with starting the storyline when my main character is eighteen and having just left formal schooling, I've experimented with her having a loving parent, an abusive one, and other background motivations - and although some of those beginnings resulted in ten thousand, twenty thousand, even sixty thousand words of novel manuscript being produced, eventually those false starting points ended up causing me to come to a grinding halt as I faced my story having taken off into directions I didn't want it heading or couldn't connect it to where I knew the storyline intimately - each of my prior starts  were 'just not right' despite my initial enthusiasm or belief that I was on the right track when I started from that point.

I'll have to go through this computer's and my previous computers files to work out how many different times I have started this story... I think this might be the eighth, or ninth... I really would have to check to be certain.  And I'm scared to go through all my files to work out how many thousands of words I have written in story notes and manuscript as my character has undergone name and personal situation changes.

And, I think the reason I have made so much progress over the last two weekends - with approximately fifteen thousand words committed to electronic file or paper - is because I thought back to how I successfully achieved completing a one hundred and twenty thousand word story, and considered how I succeeded in getting the story out of my head and into a fully completed draft that with a few rounds of editing, was satisfactory enough for me to pitch it to a publisher in the hopes of getting a publishing deal.

Yes... I had a very strong idea of the story from start to finish. I knew the sequence of scenes, always knew what was coming next. So, each writing session - I did some of it as an unregistered, one month in arrears NaNoWriMo participant, meaning I tried to complete fifty thousand words across four weeks in December/January - I got into the flow of the story I was telling by starting at the beginning and reading the story to myself, fixing up sentences and words here and there as I went, and then boldly moved forward in telling the story, even if I only managed to add one or two paragraphs in new storyline (I often increased my story's word count more than reducing it just from adding and deleting sentences to skeletal paragraphs and scenes -- oh, I haven't anchored the reader to knowing what time of day it is, so I'd slot a word or sentence into an appropriate spot so each of the essential elements within the scene were present).

Being that I had given myself a huge challenge, and I didn't have paid employment, I was able to successfully reach my word count target, and the momentum to continue became quite consuming - my housework and sleep routine suffered, but I had the luxury to indulge in doing this.

But with further thought, I have also realised -- in connection with the Pottermore update -- that I did my best writing by adding moments to my scenes and chapters rather than thinking in scenes, which leads to having to think of sequels, or worrying about the novel as a whole.  Isn't it strange that Pottermore call them moments, not scenes like most writers talk about.

Last weekend, after months of not making forward progress, my creative muse revisited and I imagined a new 'moment' my main character found herself in... and this moment turned out to be a really good 'ordinary life just before the inciting incident occurs' for the character that I had been wanting, and leads directly to the middle and ending that I have long had in mind. So inspired anew, I typed and wrote while the ideas were flowing.  Even a busy and hectic week since then hasn't stiffled new ideas that are still flowing (not as thick and fast as previously, but still coming) as they presented themself to me while I got dressed or drove to work. And, feeling less stressed and more refreshed from almost an entire week lazying at home sick between coughing and sneezing and using up two boxes of tissues, I even wrote a few words in the evenings too once I did reluctantly return.

And I can happily report that I have made great progress towards my goal to finish the first draft of my manuscript by the end of the year. Suddenly realising that I think progress when I work in moments rather than writing scenes or chapters has helped unblock me.

So my advice to anyone who is feeling overwhelmed or blocked as they work on their novel manuscript is not to think in scenes, but take it to an even smaller level and write in moments - even if, like me, those moments come to you out of order. 

My solution to that, developed over a lot of novel writing at an unpublished level, is to have three electronic documents open as you work on your storyline at any given time: the draft manuscript for which you are writing your great novel; a 'scenes and moments' file - where you add text using numbered paragraphs to record the moments and scenes of your storyline in as little or great details as it first comes to you - and a blank document, always on standby, where you quickly record the new ideas before you then transfer into order in your scenes and moments file as soon as you have finished recording the details of that idea - so that this electronic file becomes a sort of story outline, sort of half-written scenes for you to use relevant details to build the next scene or chapter you are working on.

I know this system won't work for everyone, but let's face it, when you are struggling with your novel, which writer isn't looking for useful tidbits to try out to get their creativity moving forward again.

The other way I make writing progress these days, is to work on small writing projects in between - for me it is writing blog posts, or rewriting scenes taken from favourite books that I could take into a different direction, and if I changed the original characters names, could possibly be there own story.

Anyway, back to it.  I plan on adding at least two thousand words to my manuscript or scenes and moments files before I head for work on Monday.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Me, Fuddy Duddy Daredevil, Quad Bike weekend

The last month has just come and gone so quickly for me.  Most of it has been focused on my job as Employment Consultant, with the 30th June bringing with it not only the end of month and end of quarter, but our performance contributing to the highly-critical government performance star ratings (results due sometime in August).  I've come home each evening mentally and physically exhausted as management unrealistically pushed to get not just one or two but ten to twenty more placements to increase our ratings, and yet other managers pumped out emails by the hour demanding this be done, and that, so one never actually got to complete any of the urgent admin tasks they wanted completed by close of business, within the hour, by the end of the week.

When the too short weekends finally arrived after very long and never ending work days, I rested as much as I could.

The downside was that I didn't have the time, or was too tired, to do what I love doing: writing.

But last weekend, with the end of month and quarter behind me, I broke out of my usual weekend routine of doing nothing except recover, and accepted the invitation from my middle child to come away with all three of my children, and some of their cousins from my ex's side of the family, to the country, where they had a weekend of horse-riding, quad bike riding, trail bike riding, four wheel driving and shooting ahead of them.

Did someone say quad bike riding?  Isn't that one of the items on my imaginary bucket list?

Count me in!

So, while the rest of my family headed up to Oberon some two hours drive away on the Friday night, I followed up next morning where I met up with the extended family group at Oberon's Royal Hotel for a pub lunch.

I wasn't overly hungry when I arrived, and the menu included lots of very big, highly filling meals, so, without realising I was choosing items from the kids menu, I ordered some chicken nuggets and chips, with the tempting 'chilli cream' sauce.  I expected to get a couple of commercially produced chicken nuggets along with my chips and different sauce; but what I got was absolutely delicious homemade chicken nuggets and chips smothered in the most delicious sauce I have ever tasted... so great start to my mini-holiday!

From the hotel, it was a short fifteen minute drive out of town and along a dirt road to reach the farm where we would be horse and quad bike riding.  It was pouring with rain, and everyone of us was excited to get drenched and dirty.

Unfortunately, the lady running the horse and quad bike riding trails made sure we were aware that she wanted us to reschedule to the following weekend, and we had to act highly out of character(s) and develop thick skin(s) against her persistent attempts to make us feel bad about inconveniencing her despite our letting her know that three of our group had travelled directly from Sydney this morning just to come out horse or quad bike riding.

Our thick skins won out, and the lady although she dragged her heels in doing so set up the horses and then took the group on the horse trail.

Okay, for readers of my blog, I set out at the beginning of the year with the good intentions to lose weight and become healthier. Well, umm, I have failed miserably.  I started out going well, and I lost almost ten kilo with my new healthy eating and regular exercising plan.  The only trouble is, 'life' got in the way, and over the last two months, all my good work was undone as I resorted to quick and easy meals over healthy cooking, and dear me, my poor treadmill has sadly gone back to being an unused white elephant again, resulting in me now being about three kilo heavier than before I tried to improve my health and well being.

So... there was absolutely no way on earth that I would ruin some poor innocent horses day by having me on its back, so I was more than content just to sit on the back of my nephew's four wheel drive ute and watch my children and their cousins go for their hour horse ride.  I contented myself taking a few photo's, wandering around the property to moo back at the cow, laugh with amazement as the obese pig ran downhill to come and stand at the fence next to the cow just to oink at me before turning its non-curly tail to slip and slide as it then tried to walk back up the slope to where it had come from, and explore the old-fashioned wood cottage reminiscent of our settlement days complete with a hollowed out tree trunk as a trough for the farm animals to drink out of while I waited for the riding party to return, any my turn at fun to begin.

My nephew and I, who hadn't seen or spoken to each other in over ten years, still hadn't run out of things to catch up on when the riding party returned and then packed away the gear and returned the horses to rest.

And soon the quad bike riding party were in an enclosure being shown how to operate the bikes and then allowed to take it for a test drive inside the rink.

I've never ridden even a motorbike before, but I soon got the swing of things.  Out of the six of us quad biking, I was positioned third, behind my youngest daughter who was behind the guide.  I had my middle daughter's boyfriend immediately behind me, and then my daughter, my son, and one of my nieces.

We were ushered through a gate into a paddock quickly, before the goat that was trying hard could escape, and then, we hit the motor trail!

Now, unbeknown to me, the handle brake on the left hand side did not work. I didn't work this out until about half an hour and lots of right hand curves into the trail.  For some reason, no matter what, I easily managed to control - even without the brake - taking left hand turns, but whenever I had to follow a right hand bend, I went off track, and the only way I didn't manage to stack it, or any other horror was because I instinctively let go of the throttle button controlled by my right hand thumb.

What I later worked out was that the right hand brake did work - only, my hands are too small to operate the throttle AND have my fingers on the brake handle, so I was forced to rest them on the handlebar grip pad which was just 'perfect' and comfortable.

So, I felt a bit guilty after losing it on almost every right hand bend, and whenever the distance between my daughter in front of me and myself grew too large because I knew my 'fuddy duddiness' would be causing all behind me to go slower and less recklessly than they wished, but I was overwhelmingly embarrassed when the guide circled back to my daughter's boyfriend behind me and asked him if he was having trouble keeping to the track and if he needed any riding tips - the poor boy has grown up riding trail bikes, and was being blamed for my mistakes!  But it was worse than that!  I raised my arm to admit that it was me running off track and in need of some advice - remember this was my first time, and I have a shoulder injury which was starting to cause me even more loss of control - but the lady didn't even look at me.  She just shook her head, disbelieving my daughter's poor boyfriend, and she returned to the head of the trail for us to continue.

That's when my daughter cracking up with laughter caused me to cry with guilty laughter. I tried to own up, but the lady had been determined that she knew who the guilty party was!

So when we waited for her to close a paddock gate as we progressed to the second of about five or six paddocks, I then offered to take the last spot, so I could fall a bit behind when I needed to, as I was starting to cotton on that all was not completely my fault - having no brake was a highly contributing factor.

I loved being in last position!  On the downhills, I was able to be as fuddy duddy as I liked, but I am pleased to say, my inner revhead assisted me in catching up so none ahead of me were any the wiser when we reach the top of the hill.  (Later, my children each complained that the lady had taken the course a lot slower than they had wanted to go, but I can attest, if they had of been in that last position and were desperate not to get caught having fallen so far behind, they wouldn't have been complaining they didn't get to go at top speed - I got air-born a couple of times going over mounds! At least my son caught me once tearing it up the hill to know I do have some little bit of daredevil inside me).

I think we were still in the second paddock when tearing up the hill my niece who was now directly in front of me somehow managed to get air born and then flip the bike so that it landed on her just as I became airborn behind her and could not control where I would land - dangerously close to on top of her!

But, I managed to land early and skid to a stop to the left of her, and andrenalin helped me to remember to use the engine kill switch so I didn't have to worry about parking the bike so I could jump off and go to her assistance to get the bike off her as everyone else ahead of us remained blissfully unaware that a major stack had just occurred.  I whacked my left ankle quite hard in my effort to dismount the quad.  Somewhere while I ran behind my quad so I could get to her, she managed - I don't know how she is so tiny - to get the bike off her and stood up.

She was in shock, and didn't answer my questions of 'Are you hurt?" "Are you okay?" etc.  My niece just raised her hands up for me to see, so I asked 'Is it broken? Is it sprained?" as she just showed me her mud spattered hands.  I looked beyond her to the others just coming to a stop at the top of the hill, we were still only a quarter the way up, and I waved for the guide to come back.

Relieved that the guide was tearing back down to assist me, my niece still just staring at her hands, holding them up for me to see but not answering any of my questions, both frustrating and worrying me, my niece finally answered in a soft disbelieving voice, "I have shit on my hands."  It didn't occur to me to find that funny.  I just said, "I know.  But are you alright?" just as the guide reached us.

My niece turned to speak with the guide who had arrived at the other side of her, and oh dear, she had horse shit on more than just her hands.

My niece was still in too much shock from stacking it and having manure on her hands, and decided she didn't want to do any more quad bike riding, so the guide returned her to the others before coming back and getting me restarted so I could rejoin our group.

We were all quite shocked that she had stacked it, but we pressed on knowing she wasn't seriously injured.

No further incidents occurred, though at one stage after a long downhill where I became quite far behind that I was out of site to the rest of the group through the long grass that they all feared that I had had a stack as well.  The guide was just about to come searching for me when I came 'fuddy duddying' into site which caused my kids to all laugh at me.

Before long, our hour and a half was over.  And I had just had great fun. And we all returned to my other niece's house where my kids would be staying the night.

I returned to Sydney because I had things I had to do, including feeding some friends cats for them because they had gone away and I had agreed to do this before the invite.  So I had a lovely drive back along the winding foggy road - for a while there, I was the only car on the road going in either direction.

But the beauty of turning the music off, so I could fully concentrate in poor driving conditions was that my mind came up with another story idea.

And another bonus was the cabin I mentioned earlier was exactly the image I had in mind for another storyline I have been working on, so I can now add these photos to my image book to help me with my writing when I need inspiration.

And then, to top off what was one of the best weekends I have had in a long time (do you know how great it was to not tell people I'm not interested in doing something that I am actually interested in doing because I couldn't afford to participate when what I really wanted was to get in there and join in on the fun instead of watching from the sidelines?) today I woke up with a sore throat, and after becoming pissed off over something at work yesterday, decided to treat myself to staying home sick. I was pleased when my doctor advised me to take the next three days off sick, and after a long sleep fighting off a temperature, I felt relaxed and well enough to write the draft outline of my new storyline, and tonight's blog post.

Ah I have missed writing!