Resilience

Resilience is the art of getting up after you’ve been knocked down. Sometimes it’s done with quiet grace, sometimes it’s done with fanfare and sometimes it’s done while your face is still red and wet from crying. The first is preferable, the last common.

There are people who say you need to know when to give up. Maybe. But I think that when it’s time to let something go then it becomes painfully obvious. Like when it’s time to move on from your first car – it let’s you know by refusing to start five mornings out of seven.

It’s much harder to keep going. Your confidence has been shaken, you doubt yourself and you’re feeling hurt and maybe a little badly treated. But you must keep going. Worse than rejection or failure is regret. So, dust yourself off. Have a cry. And then get on with it. You’ve got a lot more work to do.

I Must Get Back to Work

Did you know it’s February? February! Already! And I must, must, must get back to work. I’ve got excuses. Of course I do. B1 has just started school, it’s summer and the weather is beautiful, my husband and I are thinking of buying a new house and the real estate sites keep distracting me.

But I MUST get back to work. Right now my main character is stuck in limbo, waiting for me to end is plight. His dad is dead, his little brother is in hospital, his older brother is lost and confused, his mum is heartbroken. He’s discovered that his dad had a secret family and his just discovered half-brother is missing.

And I’m enjoying the sunshine!

So I must get back to work!

Starting School

Today B1 started school. In Victoria we call in Prep and so now, instead of saying that I’m the mother of two pre-schoolers, I’m the mother of a prep and a pre-schooler.

When I was teaching, and bare in mind I was a high school teacher, I found parents somewhat strange – like exotic animals whose behaviour I didn’t really understand. To be fair I was in my early 20s and closer in age to their children then I was to them. I found their expectations (voiced or otherwise) overwhelming. Some of them were protective to the point of bubble wrapping their house, others wouldn’t have known where their children were five nights out of seven. Some of them were dumbfounded by the change in their children following the onset of puberty and were looking for answers – answers I had neither the training nor the life experience to give them.

Now my child has started school. I spent the first six months of his life wishing the time would pass quicker – please sleep, please feed less, please smile, please laugh – and now I don’t know where the time has gone. How did it pass so quickly?

And boy do I have some high standards for my son’s teachers ;)

If your little cherub has started school for the first time this year and you’re feeling a little lost (and maybe a little cheated by Father Time) then know you’re not alone. Like me, you might find it helps to remember what a big, exciting, adventure your child is beginning and that education is a gift and a privilege that not all children in the world are lucky enough to be given.

And it’s okay to cry…in private.

Good luck!

Hunting for an Agent

I’m hunting for an agent –

I’ve looked once or twice before –

I’ve read all the guidelines,

I’m sure I know the score.

 

Sure, I’ve known rejection,

I’ve felt it’s acid sting,

But this time might be different.

Who knows what time will bring?

 

God knows that I am patient,

I’ve been tapping away for years.

I’m giving it my all,

And with hardly any tears.

 

So I’m looking for an agent,

I’m on this path again.

Because you can’t appreciate success

Unless you’ve known the pain.

 

A Brand New Year

There’s something about a new year. It holds promise. You open up that new diary and marvel at all those little squares just waiting to be filled.

And I’ve already started filling them!

Among the birthdays and summer catch-ups there’s the KidLitVic writers conference in Melbourne which I have bought my ticket for. So. Ex. Cited. It makes me feel like a real writer! I can’t wait to meet other writers and to hear what the publishers and people in the know have to say.

January in Australia brings heat, fire and flood but it also brings the smell of gum leaves in the north wind, blushing tomatoes and nodding daisies. It’s easy to feel positive about 2016 when there’s such a nice opening number.

I hope your, and your loved ones, year is as wonderful as ours will be.

Are Teenagers Really Like That?

When I was in high school (oh, so many years ago now) I loved watching Dawson’s Creek. I loved watching Dawson and Joey and Jen and Pacey try to navigate their life. I loved Pacey. Everyone in my year watched it – okay, there was one girl who didn’t have a TV. She’s a doctor now so, well done her parents.

But while we all agreed it was great, we also agreed that ‘real’ teenagers didn’t talk like that. We could ignore it, sure, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t know that the characters talked like 30 year olds (well, 30 year olds some where. Not like me or my friends now that I am 30, but you know what I mean).

I mention this because lately I’ve been binge watching Awkward and I read a lot of YA fiction and what I wonder is, do teenagers feel that they’re portrayed accurately in books and television? And does it really matter either way?

If you are a teenager, what do you think? And if you’re through your teenage years (and isn’t that wonderful!?), what’s your take on this?

This is my gratuitous picture of Pacey. Because, you know, I loved him.

Violence Against Men

Everyday my husband and I work at raising our two sons. We make sure that they eat well and play well, that they use good manners and treat people and animals with care and respect. In short, we work at helping them to become good people and good men.

I would be appalled if either of my boys grew up to be the kind of men who used violence against other people. But nor do I want my boys to be the victims of abuse and violence, and this is where I wonder if as a society we’re taking a wrong turn in our methods to prevent domestic violence.

Campaigns against domestic violence seem to be very gender driven. Women are always the victim and men are always the perpetrators. But in truth, men are also victims of domestic violence, male victims are less likely to report abuse and, if they do, are less likely to be believed. Yet the impacts on male victims are just as significant as those on female victims. The majority of perpetrators of family violence against men are women.

My interest in this became aroused not just because I’m the mother of boys but because when I was writing Child of War I made a natural assumption that my female characters might be vulnerable to sexual violence but didn’t consider that my male characters might also experience sexual violence. A little bit of research stripped my naivety. That boys and men in war-torn countries experience rape, genital beatings and sodomy shouldn’t have been surprising to me but it hadn’t been something I gave much thought to. While we know, almost instinctively, that women and girls face sexual abuse where the rule of law has broken down we often don’t consider men and boys in the same situation.

Closer to home, by exclusively focussing on female victims of domestic violence, do we risk alienating male victims? Are men less likely to come forward if they believe that domestic violence is the preserve of women only? Does admitting to being a victim of spousal abuse as a man, emasculate that man?

Domestic violence is overwhelmingly committed by men, against women. That is not in contention. No woman should have to feel afraid of the man or men who share her life. All I’m saying is that men and boys can be victims too. All people deserve to live free from fear and violence.

What’s in a Name? – Picking Character Names

We have a furry addition to our family – a female black cat that we adopted yesterday from the local animal shelter. We’ve had a bad run with pets over the last few years but, ever hopeful, we’re giving cat ownership another go. Which leads us todays post, because of course our new furry friend needs a name.

In this case we decided on Blackie. I know it doesn’t win awards for originality. Thank goodness animals are the only ones to get names based on their appearance, other wise both my boys would be named Scrawny Pink Thing.

Names are a funny thing. When I was teaching I came to associate a certain type of kid with their name, thus I’ve never met a Lewis who wasn’t lovely while I have a weird aversion to boys with J names (thank you, all you Jakes, Jordans, Jacksons and Joshs). Of course some of the ‘J’ brigade were lovely, but it’s the little…well, you know, that stand out.

As far as characters go, I struggle to name them. My protagonist in Child of War is Jedda, a name that I hoped was strong and not too main stream – but not too out there. It’s a j-name obviously but he and I get along pretty well.

And while they may seem superficial, the names characters have help to form a picture in our mind, they both draw on and add to our previous experience to create meaning. After all, would we picture Shakespeare’s Juliet the same if she were called Ursula? Romeo and Ursula? Or would we now imagine all girls called Ursula differently? I knew a couple who named their new baby daughter Ursula – my immediate mental image was not flattering.

If you were being set up on a blind date with a man called Homer, would you picture a distinguished Greek poet or a jaundiced over-weight family man?

Do you have any favourite character names? How important are names to you?