What makes an effort worthwhile?

Last Saturday was a fairly momentous day for me.

IMG_1907I finished the first draft of my third book. And then I went and performed on my harp in public – for the first time.

But although both of those were momentous for me, their impact on others is negligible.

I typed ‘THE END’ on JUSTINE BROWNING AND THE YETI SOLUTION at 5.17pm, then packed up my three cherubs and we headed off to an evening performance with the Moreton Celtic Fiddle Club, which we’re all part of. Miss11, Miss8 and I play violin; Mr7 and I play recorder; and I also play harp. Different instruments for different songs, I hasten to add, hopefully before images of Dick Van Dyke in MARY POPPINS are stuck in your head… whoops… sorry!

Anywho, I’ve been learning harp for just over five months now. I’m a music teacher, and I’ve been playing instruments for three and a half decades, but harp is BY FAR the most difficult I’ve ever learned. Saturday’s was my first performance, and as scary as it was? It’s been and gone and the others will all be easier.

Likewise, my book. The first time I typed THE END, on May 10 2015, it was exhilarating. Typing it for a second time on May 10 of this year was just as brilliant, if not more exciting because I’d proven to myself that last year’s book wasn’t just a fluke. Typing it for the third time, two days ago, made me realise, ‘Hey, I can do this. This is a thing, now.’ And that’s an incredibly fantabulous realisation to make!!! Especially seeing as I can see how my writing is improving substantially with each and every book. It may not be getting ‘easier’ but it’s certainly getting ‘better’ 🙂

Although, (and I’m thinking about Saturday again now) for each of these two events, I also stepped back from myself and said, ‘So what?’

I played my harp piece as background music during a celebratory meal – the group that had booked us to play for them, were marking 30 years existence. So people were eating and drinking, talking and laughing – and maybe a handful were watching; listening; paying attention. Not that I was playing for their attention… but the thought hit me: ‘few care’. And no more than a couple would have given any thought to the efforts I had gone to, to learn the harp and play the song for their enjoyment.

Likewise, my stories. I’d like to think they’ll be published one day. [Please Lord, before my 45th birthday!] but even if they are, only a mere handful of readers may possibly think about the effort that I put into creating the book.

And that’s okay. Don’t get me wrong, I realise that this is the way life is, and even if I wanted to change this, it’ll never happen.

No, my point is: what is it that makes these efforts of mine – any effort, by anybody, really – worthwhile?

Was I playing solely for my listeners’ enjoyment? Do I write solely for my future possible readers?

In part, yes. But to be downright honest about this – only a little part.

So what makes my efforts worthwhile? My own feelings about what I’ve accomplished. My own emotions about what my future could look like.

And if that’s not motivation enough, I don’t know what is 🙂

Have a great week, dear reader!

— KRidwyn

30 must-read books – #28

As an aspiring writer, I’m interested in world-building. And Iain M. Banks does this brilliantly.

#bj27I first read The Player of Games twenty-odd years ago. So yes, I was young(er) and more impressionable, but man oh man did this ever make an impression! The world-building is magnificent. Superlative. Masterful. And the story’s not too shabby either 🙂

Have you read this, or any of his other work? Would you agree?

And have a great day, dear reader!

— KRidwyn

 

30 must-read books – #23

The countdown is on! There’s just seven days left of #blogjune and I still have SO MANY titles I want to include in my blogposts this month!

Solution: I’m resorting to cheating again. (LOL)

And I’ve decided to go with ‘miscellaneous’ for these final posts, because there’s no way I can fit everything I want to include in, otherwise.

So… continuing with ‘non-fiction’ for the next day or so, here’s a couple of MUST READS for those ‘writer’ readers who visit:

#bj23a

#bj23b

and

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t remember exactly how I stumbled across Mary Kole’s incredible book Writing Irresistible KidLit – but I am SO immensely glad I did! In the short time since I discovered its existence, it has seriously become like my ‘writing Bible’. No joke.

And the second is like it. This one came via 2015 Christmas season recommendation from the QOTKU herself, literary guru Janet Reid, on her blog. Thank you, Janet! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Writers, if you haven’t already, buy this book 🙂

And stay tuned for tomorrow; there’s one more non fiction title before a return to fiction for the remainder of #blogjune. (And yes, it’s another writing one – yay!)

Have a fantastic day, dear reader!
— KRidwyn

Writing up a storm…

Well, a sequel, actually. And that heading’s a little misleading, because there’s no storm in the book. So far, anyway.

But this blogpost is late (read, 11 hours later than I’d wanted) and that’s solely due to Mother’s Day. As in, the day last year when I finished JUSTINE BROWNING AND THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT. So half way through last month’s #AtoZchallenge, I decided I was going to finish JUSTINE BROWNING AND THE FAERIE DILEMMA  by Mother’s Day 2016.

Considering I had just 4 chapters done, because I’d inadvertently deleted 6 others, this was probably pushing it.

And Mother’s Day 2016 came and went, with nary a ‘The End’ in sight. It was close though, and getting closer.

But I was a little disappointed, because I was *really* hoping to get it finished within the year anniversary.

Enter a google search, just completed, prior to starting this blog post. Mother’s Day, 2015, was celebrated on May 10th here in Australia.

Today, the day after Mother’s Day 2016, is the 9th!!!

So I have just under 28 hours to complete this thing, and still ‘make it’ within the year. WOOT!!!!!

I’m heading off to type some more now. Wish me luck!!!

And have a great day, dear reader!
— KRidwyn

And now back to our regularly scheduled program…

Wow! What a month it’s been, huh?

FullSizeRenderTwenty-six posts, for the twenty-six letters of the alphabet. Originally, I’d planned a 26-instalment story. But the draft version ended up far too violent to publish here, so at the last minute, I changed to ’26 metaphors for God’, inspired by a cross-stitch Mum made for me. Praise God for Mums, and for friends who make suggestions like “why don’t you use your Mum’s cross-stitch?”

But that being said, it was a huge month. And although I participated, I’m glad it’s over. It took a lot of time away from my ‘normal’ writing, so I’m quite a bit further behind than I wanted to be. And as for my Goodreads challenge, that’s looking like a TKO at this point. Because although I *have* been reading, it’s been on blogs, not books!

My favourite blogs this past month have been:

https://kdjames.com/ (A fascinating story over the month of April)

https://johndavisfrain.com/blog/ (26 stories, each 6 sentences long. Chilling stories.)

http://julieweathers.com/blog/ (American history? READ THIS!)

http://www.colindsmith.com/blog/ (100 word stories inspired by the songs of Paul McCartney. So clever!)

http://denapawling.blogspot.com.au/ (Military definitions from A to Z; enlightening to say the least)

https://alleysiande.com/ (stories, and beer. And dragons…)

https://wordwacker.me/ (clues in haiku for the word of the day)

http://katelarkindale.blogspot.com.au/ (New Zealand movies from A to Z with gorgeously written reviews)

and

http://romancespinners.blogspot.com.au/ (on writing, and writer’s life)

I thoroughly recommend, if you have the time, drop by and have a read.

And for any A to Z challenge participants stopping by, THANK YOU for your encouragement and support, and YAY!!! We did it!!!

(Heading off for a well-earned nap now…)

What’s new…

Well now then, let’s see. It’s been months since I’ve posted ‘news’ from my world. Getting to finally introduce Vicky and Troy last week was lovely, and yes, they’re an important part of my writing life, but other stuff is pretty important too, such as…

I’m teaching less this year. Down from 0.7FTE to 0.6FTE. It feels weird, and Hubby and I have certainly noticed the back pocket is a LOT lighter now, but – on the upside, it’s leaving more time for me to get stuck into this writing thing that I’m falling more in love with. So that’s pretty… ummm… wonderful! 😀

I’ve also started learning harp. Which I thought wouldn’t be *too* hard – seeing as I’m a Music teacher an’ all – but boy was I wrong! Getting the technique right is painful!!! (Both on my self-esteem and my thumbs. I never realised just how much harp strings take it out on your thumbs.) So that’s a bit of fun, and in two lessons I’ve learned six notes. Wow. That’s humbling. Just six. Thumb and two fingers on each hand. Uh huh. That’s all.

So yes, that’s new. And having my eldest in her final year of Primary School is a bit of a major emotional milestone, too. She’s the school’s Music Captain too, so insert proud Mummy faces here. I’m so incredibly stoked about *that* one! Now for her to live up to the job…

And finally, in writing news, I’ve been vacillating between finishing the mess that is GUARDIAN (a Christian novel for 10-11 year olds) or editing the adventure for 7 – 8 year olds that is JUSTINE BROWNING AND THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT. Both have strengths and weaknesses. And I know I need to focus on just one of them, and get it finished and off through the query process; but I don’t know which I should complete first! JUSTINE BROWNING has less work… but GUARDIAN is what I’m feeling that I *should* be writing…

Anyway, it’ll all pan out in the end, I’m guessing.

So yeh, that’s where I’m at. How about you?

Have a fantastic day!

— KRidwyn

Feedback from beta-readers

So I wrote a book, edited it, and gave it to some people to read. This was both exciting and scary! It was just over 25,000 words; an adventure story aimed at children aged 7 – 10. I’ve since had feedback from some of my beta-readers. One member of my writing group gave the manuscript to her two nieces. The seven-year-old wandered off after a few chapters, but the ten-year-old loved it, took some of it to school and showed her teacher – who also really liked it. I like that sort of feedback! Another member of the group gave me really detailed feedback on multiple aspects. This was more than I had expected, and incredibly helpful. He also made me laugh with this comment: “You write short sentences. My average sentence has 25 words. Yours has eight.” Another group member asked if he’d counted them; apparently he’d run the manuscript through a computer program. I didn’t even know that these existed!

Then again this morning, I spent a few hours with another of my beta-readers. A retired lecturer in Creative Writing, who gave me some intensive feedback. As in, two hours on just a couple of chapters. Which was brilliant! Mentally exhausting, but fantastic nonetheless.  And this afternoon, a lady who I aspire to be just like, is planning to spend the next three hours curled up on her couch with my manuscript. She was looking forward to it, and had set aside the time – this time, this afternoon – weeks ago, because she knew she could have some interrupted time to herself, and that’s what she wanted to spend it doing.

I’m really very blessed to have people in my life who are so supportive! I just hope that my little story is worthy of their time! 🙂

And to you, dear reader, I wish for you a lovely, lovely day.

Thanks for stopping by!

— KRidwyn

Smiling – while sick

Hip hip hooray, it’s my birthday today!

It’s 4.30am. The house is dark and quiet and I’m sitting at the dining table at my computer. I am happy.

I am also sick. I’m guessing that, by the way my body feels, I have a case of pretty much full-blown flu. The tissues keep being moved from their original box on my right, to the bin on my left, getting soggy on the way and making my nose red and more sore in the journey (Note to self: Hubby needs to buy a couple of boxes of Aloe Vera ones today. Maybe a couple of hundred boxes.) My throat is sore, and I think I’m coughing at a rate of twice per minute. Less now that I’m sitting upright, and closer to our very-warm fireplace. But my back and the muscles in my diaphragm are aching in sympathy with each cough. And don’t get me started on the head uncomfy-ness!

But I am happy. Because I set myself a deadline, and today was it. Today, I turn 41. And I desperately wanted to be able to say “I finished my first book at the age of 40”. Finishing it today, or at any other point in the future, would have been too late. Because I can no longer say “I am 40”.

But that’s okay. I made my deadline – weeks ago, actually! In fact, I’m most-of-the-way through editing it, as well! Stoked!!!

So, on a practical note, I’ve updated my ‘About’ page. I’ve also added another short story to my ‘Short stories’ page, for anyone who’s interested.

And have a happy day, dear reader – I know that I’m planning to!

— KRidwyn

Keeping it at bay…

The laryngitis, that is. Well, so far. But I’m teaching for the rest of the week, so let’s just see how that goes, huh? I find that the constant swapping from speaking to singing voice (that’s an integral part of classroom music teaching in a Primary school) is such a strain on it; far more than it ever was in a High school. But maybe that’s just me.

But anyway, on to yesterday. So I edited the first 12 chapters of my book – now the first 11 chapters. And I was pretty happy with that. 30 chapters to go.

I also found some research that I was doing over 10 years ago. For my first ever historical novel. And there’s HEAPS of it – five folders full, in fact! So I’ve been thinking that I might start that piece again. See how it goes, you know? So I read it all through, and that inspired me to continue the research last night. Head back to original sources, back to the Latin versions, etc etc etc. Supremely interesting stuff!

So the plan for today is: not lose my voice. Edit 10 more chapters. And maybe dig some more into the history of Autun. Because I can 🙂

Have a great day, reader!

— KRidwyn

On the relationship between libraries, teaching, and vocal nodules

I’ve been teaching ever since I can remember. Well, not when I was 4, or 5, or thereabouts. Of course. But since my early teens, I’ve been earning money teaching. Back then, it was teaching violin to children who’d just started learning, and whose parents wanted private lessons. It was easy enough – I knew how to play, and passed this knowledge on. At 21, I got formal qualifications in the field, and went on to teach kids as young as four, to students older than me, in subjects that varied from English and Music to Drama, Geography, Christian Studies, History, Dance – and there was also a Sex. Ed. semester long unit in the late 1990’s – to a class of Year Ten boys!

My younger brother commented once, “You’re such a born teacher!” He’d been staying with Hubby and I, and all of us were in our late twenties. I’d just finished teaching a private violin student, and was helping her to count out change from the money she’d paid me. Rather than just giving her the money (4 or 5 coins), I had asked her to count it as I put the coins, one by one, into her hand. My brother watched this, laughed and shook his head, and made the comment – which has stuck with me ever since. I realised that, ‘Yes, I am. Teaching is something that I love doing. Imparting knowledge, helping children develop skills, watch them develop attitudes – hopefully positive ones! That’s what I love.’

Back in 2010, I decided to qualify myself as a Librarian. So that, when my children were old enough to go to school, I could return to full-time work as a Teacher Librarian.

Life didn’t work out quite like that. I’m back at work, on a 7-day fortnight, in a permanent teaching role. And my kids are all at school. Those Library qualifications, earned last December, are just that. Qualifications. At the moment.

But the good thing is that I’m only working a 7-day fortnight. Which means that, every Monday for a while now, I’ve been able to volunteer in a Library for a few hours. And I love it!!! In fact, I would love to be heading there this morning. That’s what I was planning to do. And I was planning to blog this afternoon about it.

But again, life intervened. This morning, it was in the form of that annoying nodule on my vocal cords which sometimes decides to make its presence known. I developed it about six years ago, when I lost my voice for over three months. It was pretty bad. Speech therapy worked wonders though – however, at certain points in time, when I’m sick, it must feel neglected or something, and so it flares up. And that’s what has happened today.

I know that if I don’t rest it, it’ll get angrier and angrier, and I’ll lose my voice for longer than just a few days. So, unfortunately, home is the only place I’ll be at today. Home, and quiet. No Library time for me. And that makes me sad. But it can’t be helped.

On the upside though, I guess, I’ll be able to get stuck into that children’s book that I finished some weeks back. The one that I’ve been procrastinating editing. Because all the advice that I’ve read says: ‘leave it for a month’; ‘wait, let it rest’; ‘return to it with fresh eyes’. Or maybe it’s just because I’m scared. I don’t want to edit it! I’ve never edited a full work of mine before… because I’ve never written a full work before! But today’s lack-of-voice provides a perfect opportunity, so I’d best not waste it.

Hold me to it, dear reader! And have a great day yourself!

— KRidwyn