Happy New Year to the southern hemisphere, and a bit later, Happy New Year to the northern hemisphere.
May 2020 be your best year!
♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward
Miscellaneous Collection by Gretchen
♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward
Readers of my blog often go straight to my current post which detours Photo Of The Week on my Home page. I’ve gathered together some of my favourite shots—just in case you’ve missed a couple!
♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward
On a go-slow day at home, I clicked a link from a fellow writer and discovered this cool/cute/interesting Adobe Create personality test. It invited me to answer 15 questions. Eight creative types are on offer and once I’d completed the test I was given a full explanation of My Creative Type.
This quiz-like questionnaire gave me a joyful, colourful few minutes. I could take it or leave it, the results are rather like a horoscope, but it did give me a confidence boost.
Apparently I am “VISIONARY – A visionary combines a vivid imagination with a desire for practical solutions. Your introspective and intuitive nature is balanced by a keen interest in the world around you.” The rest is private!
The Adobe Creators say “The Creative Types test is an exploration of the many faces of the creative personality. Based in psychology research, the test assesses your basic habits and tendencies—how you think, how you act, how you see the world—to help you better understand who you are as a creative. Answer these 15 questions and you’ll gain a deeper understanding of your motivations, plus insight into how to maximize your natural gifts and face your challenges.”
“These personality types aren’t black-and-white labels. Think of them more as signposts pointing you toward your full creative potential. While there’s probably one core type that best describes you, you may change types at different points in your life and career, or even at different stages of the creative process. As a creative, you have a little bit of all eight Types inside you.”
About the Team
Eight Creative Types
The slick visuals are not completely computer generated because if you look closely you can see the human touches. Kind of endearing. Try it!
♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward
This faded old book jumped out at me. I believe interconnections exist everywhere in many forms but none so strongly as with books.
I spied this hardback ‘In Search of Wales’ by H.V. Morton, with sixteen illustrations and a map, resting on one of the tables at UQ Alumni Book Fair. It was published by Methuen & Co. Ltd London in 1932 and purchased by the Parliamentary Library in Queensland, Australia, on 27 July 1932. My photographs don’t convey the substance of this volume.
Apart from my purchase giving me a tenuous Queensland connection, since I have been blogging I have come to know bloggers from Wales like Book Jotter, and people with ties to Wales, so I guess I was curious to find out some early 20th century history.
There is a city named Ipswich, west of the capital Brisbane, Queensland, and it has Welsh heritage from the founding families, the legacy of coal mines, and street names I can’t pronounce. It was going to be our capital city but being situated inland away from sea ports (and always hotter in summer) Brisbane took over the coveted position.
When I look at the B&W images in this book, I can’t help but feel strong emotion for those Welsh families, the people who came to Queensland in 1851 and started afresh. Whether it was out of necessity, assisted passage, general interest or just sheer bravery, it was a long way to come to start a new life in a totally different land.
The three photos (below) are 1. Cornfields, 2. Druid ceremony conducted by the Archdruid at the Gorsedd Stone, 3. Cockle women of Penclawdd on the seashore. It looks cold! Throughout there are two-page spreads of dramatic valleys, stoney castles and heartbreaking portraits of mining men and soot-covered boys.
My new old book was deleted from the Old Parliament Library catalogue on 22 October 1996 and I wondered where it had been since then. ‘Oh well,’ I thought, ‘I am enjoying it now on 10 May 2019’. Then I saw a small pencilled Dewey notation on the back cover map UL914.29 Mor. It had probably languished in the University Library.
As yet I haven’t tracked down all the details of author, Henry Vollam Morton, and even though he was a well-known journalist and travel writer, the information in the final pages doesn’t give much away. There is an insightful personal comment (photo below) which ends with three tiny icons, perhaps foreshadowing today’s social media links.
Further material tells me that the author’s book ‘…is more than a travel book, it is a sensitive interpretation of a country’s people and their history.’ He wrote a series called ‘The Search Books’ and further along it reads ‘Since that time Mr Morton’s gay and informative travels…have gained him thousands of readers.’
At this late stage, a book review would be rather tricky—okay, it would be hard for me to get my head around. H.V. Morton travels far and wide through Wales and writes in depth. The voice, the style of that era (nicer than brash Bill Bryson) is easy to read and written in a friendly, personal way with warmth in every chapter. Allowing for the off-key words we don’t use today, there is factual information and humorous stories, and in Chapter Six he asks the usual traveller’s question and receives a great reply—
“The first village, commonly and charitably called Llanfair, provides the stranger with an impossible task among the Welsh place-names.
Its title is: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllandysiliogogogoch
This is no joke. It is only too true! The full name, however, is never used but it appears only slightly amputated in the Ordnance Survey maps.
The postal name is Llanfair P.G. or Llanfairpwll.
I entered the first inn and said to those who were drinking in the bar ‘I will buy anyone a drink who can pronounce the full name of this place.’
There was an ominous silence until an old man, finishing his beer, stood up and sang it!
‘And what does it mean?’ I asked.
‘It means,’ I was told, ‘the Church of St Mary in a wood of white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and near St Tysilio’s cave close to a red cave’.”
Sounds magical to me. Daith yn hapus!
♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward
Further reading from Niall Taylor, Glastonbury, England, and HVM Society
The swirls and ripples of the blogosphere will let your post resurface any number of times to an ever-widening pool of readers.
Never underestimate the infinite lifespan of a blog post.
Your post may not make a big splash the first time, nor days later, but it has the potential to be viewed many times into the future.
I know, because I have certain posts which haunt me. In the nicest possible way, of course, but it is still rather disconcerting when an old post gets a sudden flurry of views. It’s like they tread water waiting to bob up.
The reason behind my floating posts remains unclear to me.
Where, or why, my original blog story becomes resuscitated could be caused by any number of factors from reblogging to tweeting or—
I’m sure the tech pond at WordPress is teeming with answers but that’s too factual for me, I prefer the serendipitous, the happenstance of it all.
Overall, I am always pleased and still thrill to see those stats wade across the WordPress map!
♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward
Sonnet 116: Let Me Not to the Marriage of True Minds
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me prov’d,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.
By William Shakespeare
I’m reading blog posts which say ‘Posting has become a chore’ or ‘It’s hard to post regularly’ or ‘Feeling the pressure to post’—-stop right there!
Take a break, the earth, the sky and the stars will still be there, the world will still turn.
Conversely there are serious blog posts coercing, er, cajoling the writer into a formula. Or worse, a winning formula to be the best blogger in the blogosphere.
There’s even a blog ideas generator, how unoriginal can you get!
Does a technique overcome bloggers block? Better blogging supposedly comes with strategies, structure, schedules, regularity, planning…bah, humbug I say! There’s probably enough pressure in your world without adding more via your blog. If anything, blogging should be
a release from the daily grind,
your little patch of calmness,
a zone of personal creativity,
a focus on what you want,
how you want to say it,
and most of all, don’t worry,
let your originality take over.
The old hippie saying ‘go with the flow’ is appropriate when doing morning pages and you may like writing in the morning or writing in the evening. Don’t push yourself to write to someone else’s rule, someone else’s timetable. Free-writing is better than no writing. You can actually write anywhere, anytime, and I don’t mean social media.
Self-control up to a point.
Yeah, I know people who have to have a hammer hanging over their heads on a piece of string. If they stand up, the hammer hits them on the head, they sit back down and do another 500 words of pain. One famous writer actually tied his body to the chair to write.
Then there’s that annual trial by acronym.
Which does not spell g-o-o-d w-o-r-k to me.
Do you really want a target audience? Do you personally know anyone who is making a decent living from blogging? They’re the ones in the pressure cooker. If you are not commercially selling, I say ‘Do your own thing!’ and that’s exciting.
I speak from experience. You will find your own rhythm if you truly want to write. And nobody, least of all me, will help you or hinder you. You’re on your own, kid.
‘Work hard to create great content’ – if it’s too hard it won’t work.
‘Blog often while controlling quality’ – we all know quality varies.
‘Find your competition and observe them’ – nothing worse than a lurker.
‘Write to please your readers’ – first ask yourself ‘Am I pleased with it?’
‘Improve your blog writing formula’ – your creativity is not a prescription.
‘What is your target market searching for?’ – don’t pander to the people.
‘What type of content do readers prefer?’ – write your content and let them Follow.
‘Start internal link building’ – in other words Liking but not liking.
‘You need to know the right audience for you’ – other bloggers will work that out.
‘Make your blog post titles catchy’ – why get hung up on headings.
‘Don’t have time to write then reblog or hire a ghost-writer’ – ha ha ha ha ha.
‘Images are important to highlight your post’ – keep them relevant, naturally.
‘Good eye-appeal in formats and layouts’ – beauty is in the eye of the blogger.
‘Learn basic SEO’ – because it’s basic but not life threatening.
‘Reply to Comments daily’ – meaning a proper reply or else deactivate Comments.
‘Bill Gates once said Content Is King’ – well, hey, that’s a given.
‘Keep wordcount down’ – there are people who can still read lots of words.
♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward
It’s a bright, breezy Saturday morning and I’m doing light housework when I hear a knock on the front door. On the weekend nobody knocks at the front door at this time of day. Nobody except salespeople touting a product, charity or religion. I go to the window and look down at the doorstep, which doesn’t have a porch covering, and I see two people. A fair-haired woman who is thumbing through an iPad and a man in a jaunty hat. The window is open so I lean out, say a loud hello and they look up. Predictably, they respond with surprise, the man uttering the usual “A voice from above” and I give a weak smile. The woman swallows and clears her throat. She launches straight into her patter which goes something like this “We are currently in your neighbourhood discussing death and dying and what this means to families, your family…etc, death cropping up several times…and what are your thoughts on this subject?” My first reaction is annoyance, she hasn’t said who she represents. The invisible signs are as obvious as the outward message. My second reaction is one of astonishment. Do they really expect me to talk over such a matter with them, total strangers, door-knocking my street, making dogs bark, trying to look deep and meaningful on a topic which is universally devastating no matter what the circumstances? My third and final reaction is to look her in the eyes and say “I’m sorry, I do not wish to participate.” She smiles, he smiles, I offer them a polite good-bye and they wish me a happy weekend. As I’m drawing back, I catch a momentary look of relief on the woman’s face. ♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward
An enlightening literary look at events on the Victorian/New South Wales border; interesting books and even more interesting authors, and a bookshop with the perfect name.
Seniors Week 2018
Celebrating a Queensland for All Ages
Seniors Week provides the opportunity for older Queenslanders to explore programs and services, events and activities, connect with people of all ages and backgrounds from 18-26 August. Celebrate the many contributions older people make in our communities. Visit https://www.qldseniorsweek.org.au/
♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward
One post with three headings READING, LOOKING, THINKING an idea started by Book Jotter, innovative blogger Paula Bardell-Hedley. Her invitation to participate offers a slight change from ‘Thinking’ to ‘Doing’ if that suits your purpose but I’m sticking with the first format. Also, I am restricting myself to around 200 wordcount per heading. I can love, like or loathe in three short bursts!
READING: Let’s not pretend we always read high calibre books like Booker Prize winners and heady non-fiction tomes, most people like a bit of lowbrow stuff to pass the time without stretching the brain too much.
This is why I love reading ebooks on my iPad, so accessible via OverDrive, and so many back numbers that it’s easy to binge on a writer’s complete oeuvre. At the moment my guilty pleasure, no, rephrase that, my escapism is prolific British author Simon Brett and his Fethering Mysteries series. A cross between Agatha Raisin, Miss Marple and cosy crime books featuring ‘mature’ women, Brett has created retiree Carole Seddon and her neighbour Jude, a healer, who live in an English seaside village which thrives on gossip and, you guessed it, murder. Amateur sleuths Carole and Jude manage to solve crimes without external help, e.g. police, by persistence and sheer nosiness. Exploits often revolve around fragmented marital relationships. The first book I read was “Bones Under The Beach Hut”, coincidentally while I was on a beach holiday, and have enjoyed the consistency of the characters ever since, although some plots are more gripping than others. Apart from Fethering series, Simon Brett has also written the Charles Paris, Mrs Pargeter, and Blotto & Twinks series of crime novels. GBW.
LOOKING: My movie review of the HBO television version of Liane Moriarty’s “Big Little Lies” could be filled with vitriol but I’ll rein it in.
How did it go so wrong? Why base the story on a best-selling book if you aren’t even going to try to recreate the ambience? I was one of the first to read and review the novel “Big Little Lies” by Liane Moriarty (before I became a blogger) and I knew it was a winner. Modern, edgy, clever, the plot was enhanced by social media comments from witnesses, police, etc, which obviously didn’t translate to the screen. In the turgid, overblown DVD 3-disc version, which thankfully I borrowed free from the library, the school-obsessed mothers were rich, pampered, spoilt like their children and their husbands were just as bad. I could not relate, nor feel any sympathy for the movie characters although they were portrayed by big-name actors. I can’t even begin to write about the weak build up and even weaker ending. Moriarty’s name does not get credited on the DVD case and the words ‘based on’ is unreasonable. In my view, the book is brilliant and regrettably I think anybody who has seen the HBO depiction will have a tainted view of the genuine meaning. GBW.
THINKING: Dog eats possum in suburban backyard. No, not a newspaper headline, something which happened in my quiet, sober suburban street two days ago.
For a start, there are three dogs which is against Council bylaws and one of them has just birthed ‘accidental’ puppies. They are territorial so they bark at anything that moves, people walking, kids on bikes, and possums. Possums are a fact of life in my suburb, we have possum-proofed our house. On a moonlit night they will pound across the roof, jumping from tree to tree, house to house in search of food. I won’t go into the habits of possums, the main thought I can’t get out of my head is my neighbour calmly telling me the mother dog caught and ate a possum. Horribly, I had heard the commotion, the desperate squealing, so my fears were confirmed. The said neighbour let this happen because it was ‘good nourishment’ for the lactating dog. Suburban possums are full of parasites, the least of which is worms. That dog has now given those worms to her puppies. I’m not squeamish, I understand how the animal world survives but that’s in the countryside, not a suburban block where owners need to conform and dogs need to be domesticated. GBW.
♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward
♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward
There’s no disputing that clothes, shoes and food make the world go around. The order depends on your preference. I would have listed food first but today I’m talking about shoes. Why? Because I wear shoes out of necessity and make my favourite pair last for years.
Summertime footwear is usually sandals or thongs, no, not that kind, the flip-flops/jandals kind. And wintertime is usually a closed-in toe like runners/joggers/sandshoes. I have black work shoes and lace-up boots for walking, and flat heels and small heels being the most versatile for social occasions.
I like matching accessories, however, my shoes are usually the least prominent colour. Recently I purchased a shiny rose gold-pewter casual pair of flatties and I love them. They go with a lot of things and they are comfy. My maroon old-lady slippers haven’t had a workout yet (summertime lingers in the subtropics) but my shiny flatties are just as good for pottering around the house. The best part is that the shoe shop where I purchased them had a sale day. Need I say more…
The ramblings above make it appear that I have many pairs of shoes but in actual fact I do not. Of course, there’s the old, forgotten ones shoved to the back of the wardrobe, e.g. closet, gathering dust and mould. The strappy, bling-covered pair which contain good memories; the 1980s white leather and wood health clogs; the brown leather knee-high boots which cost me a month’s wages (much admired by family and friends) now growing mildew.
Not so long ago I had a foot problem due to a gardening incident and suffered much pain even when inactive. Treatment and recovery were slow, I spent a lot of time babying my foot which became a nuisance. My heel had throbbed at random intervals, even though I inserted every kind of foot pad imaginable into the sole of my shoe…but not all at once!
My foot injury made me very aware of good shoe support and good advice from a doctor or podiatrist. Never underestimate the importance of your “plates of meat” as Cockney slang might say. Feet get you from A to B carrying the complete load of your body. Support them!
♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward
Attention span of a puppy? Pushed for time? “Publishing is a long game. As they say, you have to be a stayer if you want to be a player. Even if your book is only 500 words!” said Jen Storer, children’s author and chief inspirationalist at Girl & Duck.com when discussing the pitted path to publishing. I intended writing a three-part posting on my literary travails but here they are in one glorious chunk.
PROLOGUE After reading countless children’s picture books for Storytime in a public library, it became obvious to me what worked and what didn’t with a live audience. I thought it was about time I tried to write my own children’s book.
CHAPTER ONE The Plan. Work up slowly with a picture book maximum of 500 words for age 0-5, step into small chapter books for age 6-8 with 20,000 words, graduate to a decent sized book of 25,000 for teenagers then launch myself into young adult. Well, perhaps not young adult, could get a bit messy in the emotions department. Hopefully, maybe, I could consider penning a series. Something humorous and fun, with a good plot and memorable characters. An attention-grabbing theme, a zany bookcover and before you can say Harry Potter, I’m flying high, riding the wave of published author!
Er, right. The truth of the matter is that I knew full well I had no experience. Career shattered before it began?
In steps the many writer’s workshops and online courses available to the newbie. Or as they say in the trade “emerging author”. Plus a local writer’s club SWWQ, State writers centre, Facebook groups and a conference or two. (List of website links at end of page). Not forgetting the self-help books – anyone who’s ever written a book and had it published with moderate success seems to qualify as an adviser on the subject of literary rules. The do’s and don’ts, the routines, the voice, the need for originality, the best way to grab an editor’s attention, grammar, plot structure, plotter or pantser, show don’t tell, how to sell yourself, and the list goes on.
CHAPTER TWO First up, I enrolled in an expensive online course which certainly got me motivated but not by the moderator or the tutor. The other participants were withdrawn and really didn’t share. And the course notes were a little outdated. Yes, I know “Where The Wild Things Are” is a classic but hundreds of good, if not better, books have been published since then, with far more appeal. And I don’t really like the artwork.
Ah, artwork. You can write the words for a picture book but you can’t have it illustrated by an artist of your choosing. The publisher does that. And we all know we have different ideas when it comes to imagination and imagery. If you write and illustrate your own picture book, it has to be of exceptional standard. I can do pen and pencil drawings but they wouldn’t cut it. I’m much better with basic colour-in stuff. Which doesn’t sell.
Then came the face-to-face classroom workshops which were fun. Lots of buzzing people with buzzing ideas and questions. Isn’t it surprising that when it comes to reading out your own work, people clam up? Not me. I always read out my stuff and one story was later fleshed out into a decent read “Saving Grandpa’s Tree”. However, it hasn’t attracted anyone’s attention yet.
CHAPTER THREE The big thing among creatives is to attend a yearly conference or festival in another State, necessitating a weekend away. I think a conference is meant to be more serious than a festival with serious lectures, serious note-taking and serious editor appraisals. I have a small green notebook riddled with notes. A festival has all manner of literary people chatting on stage, with microphone feedback, showing wonky PowerPoint slides, supplemented with drinks and nibbles and a lot of networking.
Just like anywhere else, unless you are seen as someone who has “made it” you are not worthy of a business card exchange. And bookmarks, phew, I could wallpaper my room with all the industry bookmarks floating around.
At these displays of verbose literary knowledge (excluding The Duck Pond – see below) I always wear my name badge. Nobody remembers my name and I don’t remember theirs but we compare notes, likes and dislikes and complain about the way the event is organised and the length of the queues. Usually the food tastes as good as it looks. Of course, the better the quality, the quicker the goodies are consumed. Never cram your mouth because someone will ask you a question, and never spill anything down your front because you will be asked to step up the front to speak.
I’m going to pen a small piece on the Judith Rossell weekend writers retreat I attended at historic Abbotsford Convent in Melbourne, Victoria. Amazing vibe! We don’t have many older buildings in Brisbane with such history. I have organised, promoted and hosted author talks and, believe me, not all are created equal. Will save that story for another time.
CHAPTER FOUR For well over a year, I submitted children’s picture book manuscripts to a myriad of publishers in Australia and overseas and have received only two rejections. I think the silence is worse than those two polite rejection letters. Surely, in this day and age, it wouldn’t take two seconds for the office junior to email a rejection to the poor, desperate writer at the other end.
Requirements Of Submission occasionally want physical copies and I’ve gone the old A4 paper route, Times New Roman (no glitter in the envelope, big no-no) with clean easy-to-read layout and still not heard a word. Does that mean I’m no good or the publishing houses are totally swamped? Harking back to that office junior, who didn’t send me an email, I could get bitter. They are the first readers of unsolicited manuscripts which forces me to cry “What do they know? My literary reading is decades ahead of theirs.” Sadly, they know the trends. A new writer cannot predict trends. Nor can they single-handedly make them.
The scariest thing I’ve done (apart from hosting an avant-garde Shakespeare theatre troupe and judging a YA writing competition) was Literary Speed Dating; five minutes of torture in which you have to sell yourself and your manuscript. A bell rings and, if you haven’t collapsed, you go to the next editor’s table. And the next...and the next...A woman in my queue was eight months pregnant and the summer heat was ferocious but she coped better than all of us. A book contract? I hope the others were successful. At least that woman has a baby now.
CHAPTER FIVE After becoming thoroughly disenchanted with the children’s book industry, I started up my own WordPress blog and thought “I’ll just do what I like and if anyone notices, that’s okay” but I didn’t hold my breath. Prepare to be amazed – 409 million people view more than 20.8 billion pages each month on WordPress, and users produce about 77.0 million new posts and 42.7 million new comments each month, an estimation of six new WordPress.com posts every second. Those stats have probably changed while I type, but it’s still a shedload of competition. It takes a lot to shine. Who’s going to read me and my miscellaneous ramblings? Recently I had 385 Followers but I culled the spammers and that number dropped back drastically.
I’ve discovered that personal stuff gets the most hits but specialising is not my thing. Although I blog about many things, I still like the idea of kidlit. Notice that term? I’m getting good with the industry terms. Copy edit, structural edit, narrative arc, protagonist, antagonist … I subscribe to the newsletters of publishers, book stores, State organisations, libraries, writing groups, children’s literary charities and other book-reading bloggers like Paula Bardell-Hedley (see below). So far, I’ve come across a lot of WordPress book reviewers and enjoy their commentary. Personal opinion is a great thing, just not something I always agree with when it comes to books. Honesty compels me to admit that my leisure reading is not nursery rhymes, it’s a good crime novel.
CHAPTER SIX In between life, I volunteer at special events and displays at State Library and offer my free time closer to home in a charity shop bookroom. What an eye opener! Certainly a book for every customer, young or old; and quite a mixture of clientele. The shelves are browsed with all the fervent devotion of a high-end bookstore in the city. Without the price tag. And a few bent bookcovers and rusty pages thrown in. Behind the scenes, the staff are just as interesting. Again, will save that story for another time.
“But what of your picture book career?” Glad you asked. Confession time. Deep down my literary urge begins to lean towards writing for adults BUT I join Creative Kids Tales, an online group for emerging authors which specialises in children’s literature. By this time I was doubtful that this was my true calling (after all, one can only take so many unsent rejection letters) and was oscillating between adult works and the perfect kids book. I hung in there.
Each month CKT features a different aspiring writer with a successfully published author. One author captured my imagination, Jen Storer of Girl & Duck.com An Enid Blyton lover, Jen shows an intelligent, vibrant nature, an honest, straight forward approach to writing and I like her children’s books, especially Truly Tan series. Jen was starting a Facebook group The Duck Pond, inviting kidlit creatives to join, and the rest is magic.
CHAPTER SEVEN I’m pretty much a founding member of The Duck Pond and recently their creatives group Scribbles was added which I also joined. Membership grows weekly, and Jen does weekly Q&Q (questions and quacks) videos on YouTube. Apart from sudden Facebook drop-ins on screen, Jen does one-hour Scribbles Live Rounds and members tune in from around the world. Kidlit help is always at hand and the expertise of members is far-reaching. The slogan “The rule is there are no rules” is true to its word. Jen says “Do the verk”. Immersion is the only way and I’ve learned so much about writing books and the book industry generally.
An author/illustrator, Jen Storer believes is having fun and being messy, “Mess creates clarity”. The Scribblers course is for writers and illustrators and it encourages everyone to work without restrictions. Quell that inner critic! There are set Modules with exercises which you do at your own pace but following the easy guidelines so that your words just flow. I’ve experienced writing freely and unfettered and being surprised and pleased with the results. Honestly, with Jen’s prompts, I’ve had so many ideas I could be writing for years. Of course, submitting a manuscript isn’t messy, it has to be refined and polished. Jen is ex-publishing house so she know those ropes.
Now, the cruncher. I adore The Duck Pond group camaraderie and "doing the verk" but I am not a fan of the circus called Facebook. Nor do I participate in other social media like Twitter, Google, Instagram, etc. “Click this, view that, Like page” get lost. In a short space of time I have witnessed two great bloggers over-extend themselves to the detriment of their output. I like to think I am not spreading myself too thinly!
CHAPTER EIGHT I’m loving my WordPress blog, the layout, the posts, changing photos, the full control I have over my content. Which reminds me, in the past I have submitted reviews and editorials to organisations who have edited or altered my work without my prior consent, which is apparently their prerogative, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I don’t – especially when they muck up a sentence to make it shorter or change paragraphing. So, dear reader, this leaves me in literary limbo.
What is next in my literary journey? Will I shine? Over 18 months, and varying lengths of commitment, I have happily entered writing competitions (two Third Place awards and shortlisted) and completed a magazine writers course, travel writing course, children’s writing, crime writing, romance writers workshop, non-fiction-fest, lampooned the Australian publishing industry, and still don’t know what genre I want to pursue. I know it’s too late to become a ‘proper’ writer, contrary to what dear Jen Storer says in her passionate YouTube video A Slap Down For An Ageist Society I think I have missed the boat. I am passed my publishable prime. It’s no good lamenting the fact that I represent Gustav Freytag’s five-part story structure. I had a younger life to live and it didn’t include lonely, lengthy periods sitting at a keyboard. It does now.
EPILOGUE Sure, I can happily write to my heart’s content but who’s interested? Don’t answer that, please. Suffice to say I will dabble, making my miscellaneous Thoughts Become Words for my own pleasure because I can’t stop writing. Basically, that’s what it all boils down to, in the end we are doing it for ourselves. If someone else likes it, that’s a hefty bonus.
♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward
IN APPRECIATION – This post is dedicated to WordPress blogger Paula Bardell-Hedley for her great reviews, ideas, encouragement and super organisational skills
and I get a mention in Winding Up
RELEVANT GROUPS AND ORGANISATIONS:
In between writing and not being published, I attempt to draw, which defaults to my basic doodle setting. My mind slips out of gear when doodling. I drew a curlicue doodle which ended up with a small snail at the end of it. Significant?
Is there a better chance of being published if you illustrate your own bookcover? Nope. Even with children’s picture books, there’s no guarantee it will be snatched off the slush pile because of the synchronicity of your fresh-faced pictures and curlicued words. In fact, in Australia the editors prefer to nominate an artist so forget that plan. Still, I can’t stop myself doodling. What use is it? (A) tension release, (B) learning aid, (C) mind clearer, (D) mind-wanderer, or who knows what. Ah ha, light bulb moment! I will research the experts and see what they have to say on the subject of Doodling 101.
Prepare to be bored, please doodle among yourselves – preferably with a real pen or pencil.
….. had enough?
You can’t get out of it that easily!
Here’s what JournalWeek had to say in a non-scientific way: “Doodling comes from the word doodle – a habit of unfocused or unconscious drawing a person makes while his attention is actually occupied by something else. Doodles are generally simple and sometimes nonsense drawing that may have definite representational meaning. Today, doodling is fondly considered a ‘national’ pastime mainly because it is done by a lot of people in different settings, but mostly in classrooms and offices. <Using a pen, or more recently using laptop, tablet or smart phone apps> Some examples of doodling are found in school notebooks, mostly in the margins, caused by a student who is either lacking interest in the class or day dreaming. Another example is when someone is having a long telephone conversation while a pen and paper are within range. What’s interesting about it? For many people, it’s just a typical way of occupying themselves. Not a lot of them realise that doing it does actually provide some benefits. Let’s find out how… Memory Link: Admit it – you doodle perhaps in most instances where there is a chance to. Most of us could not deny it because we have developed the habit as students. What you remember and what sticks in your mind are usually the things you doodle. For instance, it can be trees you always see outside your bedroom window, logo of your favourite team, or the name of your favourite band, singer or celebrity. The products of doodling are the images and words coming out of your subconscious mind. Although they seem to be of no significance, they can actually be helping you in learning and grasping knowledge. One health benefit of the habit: According to the Applied Cognitive Psychology study, doodling allows us to be able to effectively recall information hidden within our subconscious. The same research found out that the people subjected to the experiment that filled in shapes while listening to the phone had a better memory retention or recall percentage. The different is about thirty percent compared to those people who did not doodle. Being Productive: Although not yet proven, the hypothesis is that the habit itself is effective in minimising and combating daydreaming and absentmindedness. But the power of doodling is not limited within the bounds of memory and recall alone. There is a widespread belief that it, in fact, corresponds to empowering one’s intellectual prowess. As it appears, someone who’s doodling seems to be distracted or plainly unfocused. However, this is an activity that gives the brain an awkward but beneficial exercise of engagement and processing of complicated thoughts and ideas. Likewise, those who rely on their talents of creativity also use doodling to unlock that artistry and creativity in them. Not convinced? Read about some of the most notable people in history who themselves admit that the habit has in fact helped them focus, recall, and literally make use of their brains. The list includes the likes of Leonardo DaVinci, Sylvia Plath, Presidents Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and Thomas Jefferson, as well as poet John Keats, mathematician Stanislaw Ulaw, Franz Kafka and Mark Twain. Therefore, if you have issues about paying attention and focus, doodling will help you deal with those issues. There’s really nothing wrong or you won’t lose anything if you start to developing the habit.” <And maybe gain a small work of art> Most of this blog post was brought to you by JournalWeek! “Our aim and mission is to provide our readers articles on interesting facts” http://journalweek.com/interesting-facts-about-the-power-of-doodling/
I think the saddest doodle belongs to Jorge Luis Borges, writer, essayist and poet, who drew a self-portrait after he had gone blind.
“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library”
– Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)
♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward
♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward
When we grow up we don’t really shed childhood. It is tucked away inside us, nice and quiet, suppressed by what we perceive as Adult Behaviour. Until something triggers that child-proof gate. Our sillies jump out! Irrepressible, childlike joy will spring into our hearts, gleam in our eyes and beam from our faces. Oldies will smile benignly at us but a child will shriek with delight because they understand. ♦ Anything can trigger your past. A puppy, red shoes, a TV show, theatre tickets, sweets, that winning point, a favourite song, splashing in a puddle with a clear plastic umbrella, er, wait, what was that? “A clear plastic umbrella?” said Adult Voice. Yes, when I was young, the most coveted accessory for primary school students was a clear plastic umbrella. The plastic was plain, you could see the metal spokes through it and the handle was white. ♦ It was enthralling to watch raindrops falling on a see-through umbrella held over your friend’s head, water trickling off and dripping onto the ground while she stayed dry. If you were really fancy (or your father had enough money for kids fripperies) you could buy them with ladybirds or slices of fruit and suchlike imprinted on them. If you were really rich (and more of a teenager) you teamed it with a short skirt, beehive hairdo and white vinyl go-go boots with lipstick to match. Trés chic. ♦ I haven’t researched this but I’m pretty sure one or two models would have slinked down the catwalk twisting a clear plastic umbrella shaped like a mushroom. Or, shock horror, wearing a clear plastic raincoat! “Personally I think you would sweat horribly inside one of those,” said Adult Voice. Anyhow, here comes the sad part. I was not one of the groovy girls, I never owned a clear plastic umbrella. ♦ Somehow I managed to survive the ignominy of having a pale blue nylon umbrella. Its saving grace was a real bamboo handle and it lasted for years. Once I left it on the bus and my parents tracked it down in the city council’s lost property office. Hard to believe now, but there it was in all its pale blue opaque glory. I have since owned a stylish British brolly, frilly French parapluie, Winnie-the-Pooh bear parasol and various brands in various colours mainly used as sunshades. ♦ Until last week, drum roll please, when I came across a clear plastic umbrella hanging on a sale rack. It was the standard shape, with the usual opening and closing action and it was only a couple of dollars. Sold! I actually whooped with excitement. Finally, a dream come true. “Pity it’s a clear sunny day,” said Adult Voice. I brushed this aside. Once I was out of crowd eye-range, I shook it out. So clear, so transparent, so useless in the glare of a hot day. “Be quiet,” I snapped at Adult Voice. I pushed the umbrella open and twirled it wildly above my head. I’d made it. I had joined the Groovy Girls. My childish delight brimmed over! And delight brings recollections. ♦ My very own CPU has flourished several times in light rain, occasionally the plastic will stick together, but that doesn’t stop me opening it just to marvel at the concept. Truly, an umbrella worth waiting for. Now I’m thinking about those white vinyl go-go boots... ♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward More umbrellas https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2018/04/21/hrh-queen-elizabeth-ii-birthday/
A highly charged and deeply honest memoir, ‘Reckoning’ combines research into the life of assassin and Polish World War II survivor Zbigniew Szubanski , father of Australian actress Magda Szubanski, and Magda herself as she struggles to come to terms with her father’s legacy and forge her own career within the world of television and movies. This absorbing, eloquently written book contains remarkable revelations of wartime espionage, emotional family ties and facing the truth, and I was enthralled to the very last page.
First published in 2016, ‘Reckoning’ is Magda’s debut novel, and courageously written. I must admit my initial thoughts were ‘Wow, she’s brave putting that in writing’ but it made me love this book even more. Definitely a five-star read! Magda relates one of those true stories from childhood to adulthood which hits the right cord with just about everyone. We’ve had similar feelings and domestic issues and career changes and sexuality debates and, yes, sadly, the father we got to understand a little too late.
‘Reckoning’ has gone on to bigger things but here’s the first results:
Winner Nielsen BookData Booksellers Choice Award, 2016
Winner Book of the Year, Australian Book Industry Awards, 2016
Winner Biography of the Year, Australian Book Industry Awards, 2016
Winner Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-Fiction, NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, 2016
Winner Indie Award for Non-Fiction, 2016
Winner Victorian Community History Award Judges’ Special Prize, 2016
Shortlisted Matt Richell Award for New Writer of the Year, Australian Book Industry Awards, 2016
Shortlisted Dobbie Literary Award, 2016
Shortlisted National Biography Award, 2016
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Magda Szubanski is one of Australia’s best known comedy performers. She lives in Melbourne and began her career in university revues before writing and appearing in a number of comedy shows. Magda created the iconic character of Sharon Strzelecki in ABC-TV series ‘Kath and Kim’. She performs in theatre productions and has acted in movies – notably ‘Babe’ and ‘Babe Pig in the City’ – and currently ‘Three Summers’ directed by Ben Elton and ‘The BBQ’ directed by Stephen Amis.
♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward
“Growing old is like being increasingly penalised for a crime you have not committed”
– Anthony Powell, English novelist.