Weekend Wanderings: Library Up Late

On Friday night, my girlfriend and I headed to a not-so-local library (about 40km from my house) to attend an event titled ‘Grown Up Story Time’.

I’m told the Tea Tree Gully Library does events quite regularly, and they sure do them well! When my friend forwarded the event details to me, which promised mulled wine, buttered rum, craft and stories, I could hardly stifle my excitement. Plus, it was on a Friday night which meant I could cash in one of my 627 I O U’s for a night out, while Dad stayed home on parenting duty.

I arrived a few minutes late having misread my GPS instructions and getting caught in a loop of traffic lights, with no suitable U turn facilities in sight. When I finally arrived, it  felt weird and rebellious to be walking into a library after dark. Sort of like how I imagined, as a kid, being locked in a department store overnight would feel.

Fortunately, we weren’t the only ones to happen upon this wondrous event. The place was packed, with seemingly every available chair occupied. The organisers pulled some arm chairs around the back of the crowd for us, handed over some crayons and a blank picture to colour, which we struggled to fit on the tiny table alongside our mulled and sparkling wines.

We got to work colouring and waited for the stories to begin. Two of the librarians sat at the front of the room and read from a couple of the ‘Ladybird Books‘ for adults. If you’re not familiar with these gems, they are tongue-in-cheek manuals for dealing with every-day challenges, illustrated in the traditional vintage Ladybird style. We were treated to The Hangover and The Mid Life Crisis.  We sang nursery rhymes with the words adapted, and listened to some poems with cheeky rhymes.

Our two hours of library frivolity absolutely flew by. It was a wonderful event, hosted by a great community library which seems to have an emphasis on engaging people of all ages. This is a library that is not just about books, but about community. Not just about education, but about fun.

I hope to see more libraries thinking outside of the square and engaging their communities in fun and interesting ways, like this. Thanks TTG Library!

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A year in review

My baby turned one this week. In some ways, I can hardly believe I am the mother of a one-year-old, and in other ways it feels like this milestone took an age to arrive.

I have no doubt that parenting is one of the hardest and most challenging experiences of ones life, exasperated for me by the fact that I was unwilling to let go of my writing during those tough early months.

I didn’t write every day. Not even every week. I wrote some poems when I felt overwhelmed. I wrote in my journal a heck of a lot. But I didn’t really open my manuscript for fear that I would get immersed in it and my baby would wake up screaming. Which he did. A lot.

I feel like he didn’t sleep for the first 6 months. Certainly not in blocks of any longer than 2 hours overnight, 20 minutes during the day. He only started to figure out the whole sleep thing at 10 months. But it’s only been since 11 months that he’s consistently been sleeping through the night, and sleeping in wonderful long stints of an hour or more during the day. You will never appreciate a sleeping baby more than when you experience a baby who doesn’t quite “get” sleep.

Aside form keeping my son alive, I actually managed to progress my manuscript quite a lot in the past year. Something I didn’t think would be possible when I was in the depths of sleep deprivation.

After receiving such generous and heart warming support on my recent post over on Louise Allan’s Writers in the Attic, I began to reflect on exactly what I have achieved in this past year. Not just in my journey as a parent, but in my journey as a writer.

Though I still have a long way to go, I think it’s important to acknowledge how far I’ve come. And in an effort to do that for myself, I’m sharing my achievements with you all, here.

When my baby was 8 months old, in my sleep deprived state, I took myself off to Fiona McIntosh’s Commercial Fiction Masterclass. This was five intensive days in a room of 15 other fabulous writers, learning to hone our craft, navigate the publishing industry and basically get down to business. I credit Fiona and this masterclass to kicking my butt into gear and really committing myself to this manuscript.

I worked a reworked a synopsis and submitted it and my first three chapters to the Richell Prize for Emerging Writers. If you’d asked me 6 months ago how confident I was of my work, I would have told you it would never see the light of day. So to submit to such a popular and prestigious award (even with reservations), goes to show how much my confidence in myself has grown.

On advice from Fiona, I changed the names of my character’s and the working title of my WIP – which resulted in a snowball effect of changes to my entire manuscript. At first, this was incredibly daunting, but in actual fact, it’s returned some of the joy and pleasure back into my rewrites. Everything just seems to fit better.

I sorted out my home office. It may seem small, but for me it’s a really big improvement. In order to feel motivated to write, I need a good space. Something with natural lighting and a decent chair. Though I can (and often do) write anywhere, having a dedicated space makes me feel all that more professional.

I’ve made headway on social media, particularly on Twitter where I get a real sense of what a writing community is all about. I fell out of love with facebook but have since decided to modify my personal page as my writing page. I was going to set up an ‘author’ page, but I bulk at the thought of having another space to manage. So instead, I’m taking Valerie Khoo’s advice and using my personal page as my Facebook writing platform.

I started doing some freelance writing and editing. I don’t want to spread myself too thin, so I’m selective of my clients and the time I can put towards freelancing, but I’m enjoying the diversity of work and the options it may afford me in the future.

I started an interview series with and for my fellow emerging writers: The Writer’s Room.

And I created this blog!

 

Thank you to each and every one of you who have followed along with me on this journey, sent me encouraging words through social media or email, commented on my posts and supported me when I’ve complained or exclaimed about anything and everything going on in my life. Your support and encouragement means the world to me. X