V/Line Vignette 1

Golden 1.4.19

Pauline’s husband died on the eve of their 50th wedding anniversary. A heart attack. It was no surprise as he had been one of a dying breed. A smoker  who over the years had to trade the convenience of smoking anywhere he chose for surreptitious drags in the shadows wedged between the looming office tower where he worked and the adjacent apartment block where he kept four walls for late nights at the office, doubling as a faux bachelor pad for the high class hookers he was dependent on. He’d work late into the night, billing clients for time that would never be his again. Pauline had been busy with arrangements for their anniversary party that coming weekend. It was just another of a long list of projects that kept her occupied through the course of their marriage. Their secret for longevity, they’d only half joke to anyone who cared to ask, was that they were both too busy to have any marital discord. This was of course not entirely true. There was discord, but it was spoken of in the hushed tones of their body language, separate beds, and dreams on divergent paths. From the first time they clapped eyes on one another, Frank a fresh graduate, and Pauline one of many typists in the room servicing the bellowing orders and egos of the men at the Firm, alarm bells rang. He’d criticised Pauline’s spelling mistakes, the smudge of ribbon ink that smeared his dictated words, and the thick, un-shapely legs beneath her desk. He was just getting accustomed to the status quo, clocking the hours to be the man the world accepted and expected of him. Their courtship, which really was just a regretable late-night tryst in the office, led to pregnancy and a shot gun wedding, Frank ejaculating quicker than Pauline could vow that it would be a first and a last. The pregnancy and her changing shape, moods and  connection with the growing being inside her that he had no control over (yet) drove him into violent rages. And so it began, or rather, continued – she could do nothing right and had the bruises to confirm this. She was lazy, a shitty cook, and of course those legs only became more engorged with the fluid retention of pregnancy. Before number one was born, Pauline already thought she’d leave Frank once her bump was of school age. That way she could get full time work and everything would be okay. Time flies she’d think, at every milestone that reminded her of her failed plans. Now that bump and the two that followed in quick succession are adults who occasionally face-time, and Frank is dead. After answering the phone call pronouncing Frank’s demise, she didn’t skip a beat and carried on with the list of final touches required for the party the following evening.

 

Vanessa 9.4.19

The train wove slowly through the changing landscape, darkness descending as tired commuters yawned, faces illuminated by dimmed fluorescent tubes overhead and blue screens projecting mood lighting upwards from clasped hands and warm laps. Veronica fought her will to scroll, placing her phone in her bag and focusing instead on the outline of blurred trees and dark sky, switching her gaze occasionally to the reflection in the window beside her of the couple who sat across the aisle, oblivious to being studied while buried in their laptops, the quiet carriage a convenient excuse for their absence of words. Proposals needed writing and job applicants needed screening, get it out of the way, they had both agreed long ago when their commuting lives began, to free up the evening to feed their voracious appetite for whole seasons in one sitting. Of course, Veronica had no idea this was the case, but creating a story for the people she observed muted thoughts that reminded her of what was missing. Looking at her checkered canvas shoes, she recognised the pattern in the lives she imagined, bleak and loveless narratives that blurred and rendered each observed pair of strangers no different from the last, not even the lightness of a homeward, end of work week leg allowed her to see them any differently. She was single and had been for some time, with no frame of reference other than the failed relationships of her past, poor choices that littered her memories of her twenties and thirties. She returned to her phone for the colourful distraction of candy crush, not quiet the same without the dopamine firing sounds, but a temporary reprieve from the same tale she’d tell the next morning.

 

In the spirit of the holiday, I am resurrecting my blog. The ‘V/Line Vignette’ series will be a weekly post with what little or a lot I have written on my commute. These are from two separate weeks earlier this month. I return to work 29th April, so I will post the next V/Line Vignette sometime on the weekend of 4th May (may the force be with me to commit to that)- saying all this is about accountability. I admire people who commit to a long term creative project like a daily illustration, photographing each meal they eat for a year, a weekly vlog etc. Have you committed and followed through on a long term project? I‘d love to hear from you about how you stick to a concept.

2017 Blog Navel Gaze

Grab your celebratory beverage of choice and join me as I reminisce on most viewed posts; a hilarious search term that landed a confused internet user on my blog; my wild card entry of a post that had a great impact on my creative output for the year; and finally, resolutions for 2018! Continue reading

Back to School

Black and white sketch of a lioness, illustrating a story of courage in returning to a work in progress

After ‘winning’  NaNoWriMo 2016 with 50,012 words, to say I burnt out would be an understatement. Today, 9 months after the grueling 1700 words per day and just a day before commencing the 3rd Draft Novel Writing Course with The Writers’ Studio is the first time I have looked over what I wrote, and much of it ain’t pretty.

Below are just a few scenes I edited in celebration of this return to my work in progress. It will be an intense 7 months, but somehow I don’t think it will be as crazy as November 2016.

Why the lion? Aside from why not, I’m a Leo, it has taken some courage to commit to this course, and this was a beauty we saw at Melbourne Zoo a few weeks ago. I may be projecting but I think there was a yearning in his expression- for the wild? for the plains of the Serengeti? for her true nature to shine? for that complete novel in the not too distant future? Continue reading

6 Lessons from NaNoWriMo

Over the course of November, I wrote 50,012 words towards my novel, pieced together as:

  • Scenes for the first 5 turning points and first step of the 6th turning point of my WIP
  • A prologue
  • Off-shoot stories about some of the cast of characters who are part of my protagonist’s journey.
bar graph showing daily word count during NaNoWriMo 2016 for 10000hoursleft, finishing at 50012 words on November 30 2016
Source: screen grab from 10000hoursleft’s NaNoWriMo account

In addition to NaNoWriMo, I completed a writing course, applied for 5 jobs, and fulfilled family, work and personal responsibilities. The writing milestones are personal highlights of the past 12 months. Funnily, when I co-wrote my first post of 2016 (on maintaining goals), I hadn’t set out on this path, conceiving these goals in the final half of the year (and working on them in the last quarter), giving me a more tangible target than my previously vague goal of progressing my WIP over the year (it is never too late to start a ‘new year resolution’!).

Here, I share lessons I learnt about myself, my writing, and the writing process. Continue reading

NaNoWriMo Widget

NaNoWriMo 2016 Participant widget with word count

This post is idea 101 out of 101 Ways to Procrastinate During NaNoWriMo. Look out for my eBook for the 100 other ways. It is a pretty cool widget though, being dynamic, meaning the word count updates and the image changes, including ‘PARTICIPANT’ changing to ‘WINNER’ once I reach 50,000 words. Right, those words won’t write themselves…

NaNoWriMo Week 3

NaNoWriMo 2016 week 3 update goals word count novel writing
Source: Screen grab from 10000hoursleft’s NaNoWriMo account

Another week. I am holding on to that line with all my might. I found the tail end of week 3 particularly difficult, but am pleased that I persevered. The greatest challenge I am facing from now till the end of November is the curve ball that life has thrown, with my non-permanent role at work being advertised as permanent as of Thursday, along with many non-permanent roles in the branch of the organisation for which I work. The deadline for applications is December 1, coinciding a little too neatly with the remainder of NaNoWriMo. Just when I thought my main challenge was boredom with my story, having established that time wasn’t a barrier to hitting the daily target. Continue reading