Thursday, 25 August 2016

In which I have been inspired to do the scary... step up and change

Those of you who’ve followed this blog for a while will have seen it go through seasons – and most of you will know how torn I have been about the future. Will I write? Will I follow my love of languages? Should I continue to study, now I no longer have the job that inspired the study? And so on and so forth.
It has been a battle, let me tell you, but I think I have a direction to go in, now.
So, some of you will have noticed I’ve altered the blog description. I did this on Thursday, August 25 – yes, today. And I did this, because I’m ready to admit to my degrees, and all the rest of it. I’ve done this, because I have been inspired to try for something I think might actually be impossible, and to do that I have to accept where I've been. And all this is all because I went to a conference at the ANU (Australian National University).
This conference was about Russia. It. Was. AWESOME!!! There were so many people who were as interested in Russia as I am, who didn’t think learning a language or studying this country was a weirdass thing to do, who were doing something they loved for a living, and it made me think… maybe there is a future in this, and maybe I can combine all the things I love into one path, instead of trying to follow them as two different paths with the idea that, one day, I’ll have to choose. (Shutup, yesIknowIamcrazynowgoaway.) So, I am going to try that… and this blog is going to reflect it.
Here’s an interview with myself, exploring that:
Are you still studying?
Do you still have assignments and readings to do?
Shouldn’t you be focussed on your studies?
Yes – but they need to have a purpose beyond the piece of paper; that starts now.
Don’t you need to spend a lot of time walking to stay well?
How will you find the time?
The same way I always have; the same way anyone does – by prioritising and sacrificing – and I don’t mean family.
So, what’s next?
Restart my language study – Indonesian, Chinese and Russian on a regular basis, but at my own pace and in my own time.
Nutter – and then what?
Write regularly.
Well, duh, aren't you already trying that and not doing very well; how’s that going to change?
Because I’ll be incorporating my language study into writing by writing lesson plans and activity sheets, and actually using that BTeach I have. I am qualified, you know. And because I’ll be exploring my non-fiction interests here on the blog, while I work out how to write books on them… And because I will make time for my fiction. (If I don’t bad things will happen; I need to write the not-real stuff.)
But, what about your assignments?
Yeah, well, you’ll notice when I’m working on those. Those will be the times I don’t get a lot of anything else done, followed by a fiction or language splurge, or a combination of both.
And what about the pokemon and Ingress? Don’t you still need to walk?
I do, but you’ll see less pokemon – I just don’t have time to stop and photograph them all; and Ingress will continue at a reduced rate. The walking will continue, but I’m reducing the reportage weight attached to it.
And when was the last time—
None of your business. If I can’t remember it’s not scheduled.
But you don’t know what I was going to—
It was clearly not on topic. Thank you for your time.
Closes door on other self before this conversation gets even further off track.
So, there you have it. I’ll be sorting out some sort of rhythm over the next week of class and the break, and then we’ll see what survives once next term starts, and exams start to loom. I want to succeed… but it’s still entirely possible that I will fail.
I will just have to do my best, and see where it takes me. You’re welcome to journey with me; I could do with the company.

P.S. I will start publishing posts… er… blogging about publishing, again, as a regular weekly thing, just in case any of you are interested in giving the whole independent publishing thing a go. If you’ve seen it before, or know about it, bear with me. If you have anything to add, jump in. Comments are moderated, but, if you’re not spamming or trolling, I just might let it through.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

It's Tuesday.... I think I promised you pokemon...

And here they are.

I have to admit that it got to a point where I didn't have time to take pictures of each one, as I hurried for a bus after class, or to catch the next little critter I'd seen nearby... and then there were the swans.

Swans are not pokemon, but they are cute, and cygnets are fluffy. These ones were on the Australian National University grounds, possibly touring for their little ones' future education.

I was sick for Friday, and then wrote an essay most of Saturday and Sunday. Monday, I had an impromptu class to make up for one I wouldn't make later on due to a conference. Anyhow, here we go with the pokebits.

On Saturday, August 20, 2016, this little guy came to say goodnight...

 On Sunday, August 21, I went for a quick walk in the morning - there's an Ingress badge that requires you to hack a portal every day for 360 days - and our local portal is also a pokestop, so, of course, I had to catch these two before heading back to start my essay.

Do you think the little blighters would leave me alone while I was settling down to write? Well, I fixed their little red wagons - after clearing these two off the keyboard, I turned off my phone.

 After six hours or so, I took an essay break, and went for a very brief walk. Along the way, I found some more of the little critters. Professor Oak is gonna love these... 

And then this one was waiting for me when I got home...

On Monday, I dropped my littlest one off at school, catching this one on the way...

 And this little monster kept trying to talk to me on the bus.. so I stuffed him in a pokeball and sent him off to the professor to learn better manners.

When I hit the city, things got really interesting. I saw a bunch of water pokemon, a couple of fighters, and yet more pidgeys. I guess someone heard last week's complaint about all the rattata.

 Even, on campus, we had water pokemon... and yet more pidgeys, this time an evolved form: 


And then there were the swans. I will do a post on the swans later this week. In the meantime, repeat after me: "Swans are not pokemon."

The big guy getting out of the water, is the daddy swan, and he was watching me... reeeally watching me...

I had to get to class, so I left, taking more pictures on the way, and then I had to get home.
I caught two more pokemon on the way home, and then found another one sitting on my chair!

I caught a lot of pokemon at the university, and some coming home on the bus, and some after I got home. Let's just say, I didn't have time to photograph them all. Here's a summary, in vaguely the order they were caught in (just work your way from the bottom to the top of each screen shot and you'll see where they overlap):



There were more after I got home. On the way to do school pickup, a rattata tried to bar my way, and I found a few more critters lurking by the path... or in the middle of an oval, in the case of the seel...

 Of course, there just had to be some more intruders on my desk when I got back...

... but, after they were cleared, I actually got some work done.

On Tuesday, I played Ingress on the way to class, and almost got my 10,000 steps done for the day - and then I Pokegoed most of the way home. I also met a friend who had been secretly playing, and we went for a walk together. I forgot to take photos, so here's a quick recap of what was caught between school drop-off and heading out for the bus.

There was pollyway and a zubat at the bus stop, but the zubat got bored while I was busy stuffing the pollywag into a ball, and left... at least, I think it was bored.

After that, things got really busy so I only have these summaries:

I should add that the vulpix and psyduck hatched out of 5km eggs; the rest are legitimate catches from around ANU campus and the Mort Street bus stop, and from the short walk home.

To top the day out, I walked over 12,000 steps, finally caught my third over-sized magi-carp, and earned this:

I hope your weeks have been as profitable.
Happy hunting, everyone!

Monday, 22 August 2016

Introducing the Story-A-Week Catch-Up Challenge

I didn’t talk about this challenge, because, well, my record of completing challenges is pretty bad, but this challenge is part of my goal to find my feet and to learn to balance my study commitments, with my family commitments, with my writing commitments, while the university semester is on.

For this challenge, I wanted to try and write a story a week, hence the title, but then I got ambitious; I wanted to complete the stories I’d started for last July’s Story Match challenge. If I could complete one story a week, why not two? So, I merrily made the goal to write a brand new story each week, AS WELL AS completing an older short story, starting with the Story Match Challenge tales. I know, I know. You can sit down, now.

So, for the first week, it was so far, though, so good—although, I will admit that it has been tough. Fingers crossed I can keep this up AND still get the grades I need to do what I’d like to do next… while writing. The second week was also okay.

Aaand then it just stopped in the third week as I caught up with weekly readings, lectures and tutorials. I was hoping to get back to it in the fourth week, but chose to complete five 1,000-word assignments, and one 800-word assignment, instead.

In the fifth week, I started on a 2,000 word assignment, and was starting to feel optimistic again, so I decided Tuesday was a good day to catch up on the writer’s blog, and slide in a little writing. This was made easier by having to stay home and look after a sick child for most of the week.

In the sixth week, I was back at university, and trying to get my walking back on track, after injuring my ankle in Week 4, and being confined to the house for most of Week 5.
These are the results so far:

Story-A-Week-Catch-Up Challenge to Week 6

New Stories:

  • Week 1: Road Trip became an urban fantasy story set in the world of pixie dust and the Paranormal Operations Squad. I started it on July 12 and completed it on July 16. It started life as the randomly rolled title: Berry Fairies, and came in at 6,979 words.
  • Week 2: Banquet at Magic Mountain became a science fiction tale. It took from July 21 to July 24 to write, and ended up being 3,947 words long.
  • Week 3: saw me doing assignments and university readings, so I started Week 3’s new story in the middle of Week 5, and without a clue as to what I was writing. It ended up at 6,364 words long, and turned out to be one of the Paranormal Operations Squad tales, set in Canberra in the pixie-dust world. It’s title? Memory’s Return. I also caught up on the blogging for my writer’s page, during Week 4.
  • Week 4: saw me finalise 5 x 1,000-word reading assignments, 1 x 800-word Op Ed assignment, and set the first draft of a 2,000-word assignment, before I could get back to my fiction. Bid Farewell to the Moon was this week’s short story. I started and completed it on the last day of Week 5. It was 4,369 words long.
  • Week 5: I got back to the fiction writing with a vengeance this week. Having to stay home to look after a sick child helped with catching up and writing, so I managed to complete two new and two old short stories, which puts me a week behind in this challenge, and three weeks behind in my other goals.
  • Week 6: has been a complete disaster on the writing front. I have two chunky essays due in 11 days’ time, and I got sick and fell behind with readings, and it snowballed, so I just got done what I could. I completed the 2,000-word assignment, and started on the 3,000-word assignment, but didn’t do any creative writing until Saturday night, after posting this report, so that piece of writing will go into next week’s Challenge report.

Older stories:

  • Week 1: Men of Sand and Light was resumed on July 16, the same day I completed Road Trip, and completed on July 20, 2016. It ended up being 5, 137 words long.
  • Week 2: White Pinnacle was resumed AND completed on July 20, 2016, and came in at 3,060 words.
  • Week 3: The Medusa’s Starman was one of those stories I didn’t actually start in the Story Match Challenge, although I’d left a place-holder document. I started it on July 25, 2016, and didn’t get back to it until August 9, 2016. I completed it on August 11, and it ended up being an 8753-word long blend of dark fantasy and science fiction.
  • Week 4: The Magicians and the Silk Road was scheduled for beginning on Week 4, but I didn’t start it until August 12, close to the end of Week 5. It was completed on August 13, and came in at 4,760 words.
  • Week 5: The Plain Magician was slated for Week 5, and has yet to be started.
  • Week 6: Luck Amongst the Servants was slated for Week 6, but, despite almost having this part of the challenge back on track by the end of Week 4, I bombed out  in Weeks 5 and 6.

I know, not auspicious, but I’ll keep trying. This work-life balance thing is a lot harder than it seems.