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You’re There, I’m Here #3

This is the third post from the project series You’re There, I’m Here.

[My friend Donnie suggested an idea for a collaborative project where we each take a photograph outdoors on the same day. The purpose is to showcase the contrast in our surroundings as we are 16,504 kilometres apart.]

See all posts here.

MARCH 20, TWENTY SIXTEEN

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Jennifer: Twenty days into autumn, this is my back door, some metres away from the house, through our fig tree, way after dusk. Though it’s home, it’s a perspective that I’m not familiar with.

Donnie: On the first day of spring, there in the back side of an old wall, atop rickety steps and weathered wood rails, was a door that someone had felt the need to proclaim as new. For a while I debated the truth of the scrawled words, then I realized that ultimately, a door is a door, and opening it is a new beginning.

—-
My image probably looks a bit eerie, could be King’s latest book cover even, but to be honest it had been a strange day, and the vibe had stuck around for the evening. Earlier that day I had visited my paternal grandmother at the nursing home, and speaking of unfamiliar perspectives, it truly saddens me to write that I just don’t recognise her anymore–she is suffering from Alzheimer’s. I was also waiting on news from my maternal grandmother’s back surgery after she’d had a fall. On top of that, one of my cats went and ‘fashioned’ this horrible gash on her back, most likely from a fight with another cat, and I was worried about it, and needed to take her to the vet. (Mind you, she looked like an animal extra from The Walking Dead.)
And so I had intended to capture some sort of well-isn’t-it-lovely-that-autumn-is-finally-here moment, and how refreshing the cool is in the evenings now, but it didn’t work out that way. Then again, that is one of the things I like about photography: you never know what you’re gonna get. Come to think of it, that’s very similar to my writing process, too.

Donnie and I don’t share beforehand what we’re planning to shoot, and so I love that we both ended up in front of a door. I can always appreciate a nice dose of synchronicity.

See Donnie’s post here.

You’re There, I’m Here – #2

This is the second post from the project series You’re There, I’m Here. The first can be found here.

DECEMBER 24, TWENTY FIFTEEN
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Adelaide: A subtly-lit gumtree at dusk that Jennifer tried not to take for granted on Christmas eve.
Lexington: A bright Santa made Donnie take notice of the dreary weather on Christmas eve.

I had aimed to get my shot outside the hall where my extended family always get together on Christmas eve. However, the surroundings were a little banal. I took a few shots anyway, totally uninspired, and then I saw a dandelion head in the air. I liked the idea that perhaps an angel was nearby and so I tried to follow it and shoot at the same time. A photo didn’t work out, but during my movement a gumtree (that I had initially passed off as ordinary) got my attention in the end…

I know that my photograph doesn’t exactly scream Christmas. But I love that the floating dandelion was my reminder to live in the moment during the Christmas chaos, therefore making me really feel the spirit of the festive season.

See Donnie’s version here.

You’re There, I’m Here – #1

My friend Donnie suggested an idea for a collaborative project where we each take a photograph outdoors on the same day. The purpose is to showcase the contrast in our surroundings — with perhaps an emphasis on the season — as we are 16,504 kilometres apart.

This post is the first from our project series called, You’re There, I’m Here.
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Adelaide: Late-spring grapes begin to grow from a vine that is over a 100 years old.*
Lexington: Late-autumn leaves were aglow in a backyard.

Donnie’s post is here.

*My family and I have been at this property for only 18 months and it was our neighbour that informed us about the age of the vine. The grapevine is planted right on the boundary between our home and the neighbour’s. Years back, when there were plans to put up the adjoining fence, our neighbour didn’t want to see the vine destroyed as a result. He arranged for the fence to be erected on his side of the boundary — for the love of preserving the vine.

My husband had never pruned a grapevine before. He winged it during the first spring at this home, and a couple of sizeable bunches sprung forth. Since then, he has become quite the avid gardener. He tried a new pruning technique this year and consequently there are grape bunches sprouting everywhere. However, time will tell whether his research paid off, or if there are in fact too many grapes on the vine…

PS – Following on from my last blog post, I now have a baby boy and a finished first draft of my novel. I am still amazed at both accomplishments. I have shared details of these two significant happenings on my Instagram profile. Next step on baby front: enjoy every moment with him as he is already six weeks old! Next step on manuscript front: take it out of the drawer where it has been germinating for the last seven weeks and begin the first edit. (When I’m not feeding, changing nappies, and sleep-rocking.)

Having A Baby and Writing A Novel

There are two definite things going on in my life that began this year. I am having another baby, and I am writing my first novel.

It will be my second child; I’m due mid October.

And it will be my second (proper) attempt at writing a novel, although, this is the most promising experience I have had in my life so far.

(I tried to write something about 7 or 8 years ago, although, to be honest, I don’t really know what it was. After I abandoned it, I forgot about it, and I no longer thought of it as a novel attempt. Perhaps it was more like an extended exercise to teach myself how to write a novel. A practice novel. I guess.)

(I also wrote about 4000 words of fluff for Nanowrimo during October last year. I’m not going to count that as an attempt either. The idea didn’t work and it wasn’t the right time for me to begin writing a novel.)

So now I am 25% of the way through my first draft—it’s about 20,000 words down to date. My aim is to finish the first draft before the baby comes. That way, I can let the draft sit for a good two months while I am caught up in newborn land. Once that time has passed, I can revisit, revise, and get it to some beta readers. That is the plan anyway.

I feel like I have mentioned my pregnancy a lot on social media but I realised I hadn’t yet posted about it on my blog. My photography jobs will be winding down and I’ll be starting maternity leave by the end of August. However, I plan to keep up with writing projects until my waters break.

At 23 weeks and 2 days pregnant today, I am reasonably hungry most of the time. I am trying to make sure that I am well fed before I sit down to write. Otherwise my desire to eat comes out in the novel, and my characters start talking about food a lot. It was amusing when I realised it was happening. That may be a tip for all the pregnant first-time-novel goers out there. I wonder how many of you there are in the world right now. I salute you all, and I dedicate this blog post to you.

Cheers.

Eight Day Old Hex Sign

[This is something that I quickly wrote thanks to a writing exercise from Gail Carson Levine.]

The first time I saw Stephen, he painted a hex sign on my right arm, and I couldn’t move my fingers for three hours. That probably sounds like he injected me with something to cause temporary paralysis, but what I mean is that I had to stay still so that the art came out exactly how he wanted it to. He used black, yellow, red, white and a hint of blue which reminded me of tear drops. I didn’t know what a hex sign was before I met Stephen. It was far from symmetrical but I thought it was striking nevertheless. Apparently he liked to paint them on everyone he felt a connection with. At first I thought that was kind of creepy, but now I like that about him.

I have often wondered about how many he has painted, and how long people have left it on for. I left mine on for around eight days. The paint started to crack where my skin had folded or been stretched. I was surprised that I had left it on for so long and I am not sure why I didn’t scrub it off earlier.

Not long after I had the painting done, I was at my local supermarket and saw a tall girl with a similar sign on her wrist. I smiled to myself. The girl had long black hair that stopped at her waist, piercings in her lip and she was reaching for the lactose-free cheese in the refrigerator. I was short and blonde and didn’t care for piercings, and I never had to buy lactose-free dairy. I don’t really know what came over me, but I headed her way and lingered just behind.

Suddenly I said to her, “I had a sign painted like that on my arm about two weeks ago. My friend Stephen did it for me. I don’t suppose he painted yours, too?”

She raised her eyebrows and took a step back.

“I’m sorry,” I continued. “That was a bit random of me.”

“Wow, how bizarre,” the girl replied, putting the cheese into her trolley. “A Stephen painted mine, too.”

A sound escaped from her mouth – it was like a chuckle and a hmmph meshed together. We stood there for a few moments. It was awkward. I assumed it was the same Stephen, but I needed confirmation…

That Whole ‘Grit & Grace’ Thing…

In the Winter of 2013, there was a public announcement about the impending arrival of an online music magazine called Grit & Grace. It was to be a new project of mine although I didn’t make it obvious in the beginning that I was behind it. I created a website, social media accounts, registered the domain name, sorted email addresses, picked an editor and put out a call to help build a team. I met with key people in Adelaide for research, networking and brainstorming purposes. I dreamt about it; in my sleep and while I was awake. I didn’t have unlimited funds behind me as I was going to figure it out as I went along. It’s the way that I work best. An organic path. A recipe for disaster most would say, but moving organically is my thing, and it has worked for me in the past. This time however, I decided to try and plan as much as I could. My family thought it was a bad idea from the start so that also pushed me into planning mode. I planned so hard that I lost my inspiration, hunger and desire for the project. So hard that I got confused about what I wanted the magazine to be,  where it would fit in the market and what I was ultimately going to get out of it. If I could no longer answer those questions, good God why would I pursue it?

I kept up the illusion because I had already put out the announcement. In hindsight, I jumped the gun, and knew it at the time but I was excited and wanted to make a move. I thought that by announcing that I was holding myself accountable — that I wouldn’t be able to back out even if I wanted to. (Not a healthy thought so early in the game!) When I could no longer ignore that it was just going to be one of those “it seemed like a good idea at the time” projects, I subconsciously shelved it. I hoped no-one would notice; simultaneously I hoped that the hunger to pursue it would return.

Perhaps if I had let it exist as a hobby instead of trying to make it a business venture, maybe it would have gotten off the ground. I really don’t know. I still have “create a magazine” on my list of things to do before I die. Not crossing it off just yet.

While I’m being honest here, I’m disappointed in myself for abandoning it and I feel like I have let people down. Simply put, I hate saying that I am gonna do something and then I don’t. The good news is that the loss wasn’t about a huge stake of money (that pleases my family!), it was just about energy and my credibility. Losing credibility is the absolute worst.

I have wanted to write about this for a very long time because I felt I owed the universe an explanation. Now it’s out there. Thank you for listening.

Once Closing-Down, Now Free

This morning when I went to one of my local shopping centres, I noticed that the furniture store had finally cleared out. They had a closing-down sale, which I thought would run for at least 2 years — seems like most of these closing down sales run forever — but alas it ran for only a few weeks. I peered into the empty space and I felt bad. Although, I don’t know how they survived as long as they did to be frank.  They had some nice stuff, but nobody ever seemed to be buying from there and whenever I went in, the sales people always had a look of desperation. Please buy our shit or we will die. That sort of thing. Awkward as hell. I’m relieved that I no longer have to see those desperate looks, and I hope the owner has a new opportunity in his life for something that he has wanted to pursue for some time now.

‘If You Want To Write’

I’m currently reading ‘If You Want To Write’ by Brenda Ueland. It’s an unusual book but somehow it’s just what I need. It’s giving me a very polite mental ass-kicking in the writing department. Not that I have acted on anything yet, in fact I haven’t written anything since October. But it’s OK, all is not lost.