Telling tales

Mum lives about an hour’s drive away. It’s an easy drive, along motorways and freeways, but monotonous, particularly for small passengers. To pass the time last weekend I suggested we take turns telling a story, with each person taking up the tale where the last one left off.

In fact we had time for half a dozen stories in the two hours there and back, featuring such things as giant hairy flying cucumbers, pink elephants that turned into long-lost brothers and cows who were “dairy godmothers”. I believe that pun was snitched from a real story but it gave me a good laugh at the time.

It was fascinating to hear what each duckling came up with and observe their different personalities at work. Demon Duck, our little perfectionist, was very hesitant. A couple of times she got carried away by the story, but mostly she had a very quick go before passing the responsibility on to her sister. I think she was afraid of “getting it wrong”.

Drama Duck, otherwise known as “Little Miss Talk Underwater”, was in her element. Her turns were very long and inventive, and long after her brother and sister had dropped out of the game she was still eager to continue.

Baby Duck surprised me. He eventually got bored – he is only six, after all – but his efforts were quite creative and coherent. Once I thought he’d gone off into a different story altogether, but he brought it back around and tied it into the main thread. He’d only introduced a different point of view. And his grasp of storytelling conventions was quite firm. When it was his turn to start a new story he began:

“Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, in a land far, far away … there lived a little lizard named Fred.”

Lucky!

Whew! Lucky I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions. Those babies would have been smashed already. Have I been exercising? Eating less rubbish? Writing every day? Updating my blog twice a week? Only if today is Opposites Day.

Not that I’ve been completely unproductive. I’ve sewn a few bags lately, including a tote bag for Demon Duck’s teacher that we both liked so much we were sad to part with it.


I also finished a more sedate handbag for myself. I’m wearing a lot of blues and browns lately so it goes nicely.


I’ve got stuck into the decluttering and have already thrown out a stack of scrapbooking magazines about four foot high. I’m still working my way through another stack almost as big. This job is part of the reclamation of the rumpus room as a usable space and not just a junk storage area, which has been hanging over my head for ages. It feels great to see the floor reappearing from under the piles!

A curious side effect of the sorting process is that is makes me want to scrap again – or at least mess around with paints and patterned paper, which I haven’t done in nearly two years. I dug out my old art journal and did a couple of pages, which was a lot of fun. This is one of them.


So no New Year’s resolutions, because I know I’ll break them. But goals – I can do that. Generally I aim too high and miss, but at least I get further than I would otherwise. Last year I wanted to finish two first drafts, Man Bites Dog and Starfire. I only managed Man Bites Dog, but I wouldn’t have done even that without something to aim for. I also wrote 50,000 words on a new novel, Dragonheart, plus started revisions on Man Bites Dog.

Another goal was to start submitting short stories for publication. I only submitted two, which wasn’t as many as I’d planned, but one got a very encouraging rejection and the other got published, so that went pretty well too.

Writing goals for this year are:

* finish revising Man Bites Dog
* complete first draft of Dragonheart
* write and submit more short stories
* establish a routine of writing daily (at least on school days!).

Other goals include:

* keep up with the monthly art journal challenges at Blue Bazaar
* declutter and get organised
* have more fun!
* and I’m not even going to mention the whole exercise-and-diet thing.

The “have more fun” goal started well. On New Year’s Day we had afternoon tea with the neighbours that turned into dinner and a movie as well. Less successful (from my point of view at least) was an excursion to Jenolan Caves a few days later. But I’ll tell you about that next time I post on my new bi-weekly*-but-it’s-not-a-New-Year’s-Resolution schedule.

Happy New Year to all!

*I just looked up “biweekly” in the dictionary because I was having a vague moment about whether it means “twice a week” or “once every two weeks”. According to my dictionary it means both. Both?? They’re two completely different things! It’s an outrage!! What kind of sloppy good-for-nothing word is that?

In which the dreaded green wall makes another appearance

The two elder ducklings helped me paint a picture last week for our green feature wall. See? I knew I’d find a use for all those green sample pots.

Baby Duck was all keen to help paint circles too until it was made plain to him that he couldn’t just paint one giant circle on the canvas. He couldn’t even have one little corner to paint whatever he liked. The Pout made its appearance, quickly followed by the Venomous Look. Some people have such dreadful mothers.

Drama Duck pointed out when we were finished that it looked rather Aboriginal. Not sure how that happened, since the piece that inspired us looked nothing like an Aboriginal painting. It was pink and gorgeous but I can’t tell you any more than that because it was just in the background of a photo I ripped out of a magazine when the painting caught my eye.

Still, I’m happy. It’s quite big, about 3′ x 3′. It combines the greens and apricots I needed to tie the colours of the room together, and it was a fun way to spend an afternoon. Demon Duck took particular joy in accidentally-on-purpose wiping a great deal of paint over the white pants she was wearing (they were old). I think it made her feel more artistic. And it beats letting them watch TV.