Resistance is futile

You know how the bad guys in corny movies always say that, usually in a fake German accent? Giff up now, Doktor Jones. Resistance iss futile.

Well, I’ve discovered (or rediscovered) it’s actually much worse than that. Resistance is stressful. Every time you consider doing something you think is going to be hard or unpleasant, and then put it back in the too-hard basket instead, you add to the size of the problem.

“One of the most stressful factors in most of our lives [is] procrastination. Avoiding a subject does not get rid of the stress associated with it. It increases it. The result is that bad time managers are always living with a considerable amount of generalised anxiety.”

Hello, and welcome to my life! I feel as if Mark Forster has been watching me.

I’ve raved before about his book Get Everything Done and Still Have Time to Play. I reread it again last week, and have been putting some of his strategies to good use. As before, I found using a timer to split my time between different tasks helped to relieve stress by making me feel I was making progress on a number of fronts at once.

The other thing that really helped was his technique of assessing your feelings towards the work you have to do. Resistance is not just futile or stressful, it can also be useful! Which is the task you feel most resistance to doing? Make a start on that one.

It’s amazing how good this makes you feel. It’s like a weight being lifted off your shoulders when you finally do something you’ve been dreading. I tackled a few things that have been hanging over my head this last week, and felt so thrilled to be done with them. The stupid part is how not-scary the things I’ve been scared of actually turned out to be when I knuckled down and did them.

So this morning I again asked myself the question: What am I resisting most right now? And the answer came back: Finishing the first draft of Verity. I’ve had only one last scene to write for the last two weeks, and kept finding other things that “needed” doing more urgently.

So I did it.

Yes, folks – nearly two years after I started it, the first draft of Verity Bloom and the Sea of Stars is finally finished. Imagine what a proud mother I am.

Sure, it’s probably crap. But it’s finished crap. Thank you, Mr Foster.

Baby Duck and the very bad horrible no-good appendix

One Sunday morning about 4 o’clock, a little boy woke up and chundered all over the floor. Oh goody, thought his parents, a vomiting bug! But on Monday night it occurred to his mother that, for a vomiting bug, there was very little vomiting going on, and rather a lot of complaining about stomach pain.

“Where does it hurt?” the boy’s mother asked.

“Right here,” he said, pointing at his belly button.

Uh oh, thought his mother who, in a weird coincidence, had just been discussing this very symptom with a friend whose son had appendicitis. So on Tuesday morning she made a doctor’s appointment.

“My son has been vomiting and complaining of stomach pain,” she said, “and I just want to check it isn’t his appendix.”

Ha! Famous last words, as they say in the classics. The doctor sent the boy straight to the emergency department, where they waited. And waited. And waited, as one does in emergency departments everywhere. About one o’clock in the morning the boy was admitted to hospital, and by 9:30 the operation was underway.

Poor Baby Duck! The surgeon made a last-minute decision to x-ray, given the odd location of the pain, and discovered a twisted bowel as well. So he ended up with more than one cut. The tip of his appendix was gangrenous, he had an abcess and adhesions, whatever they are. I don’t know – they tell you things and you nod and look like you’re functioning normally, but the words just go whooshing past without sticking properly when you’re worrying about your precious baby. I heard “infection” and “almost perforated” – or was it “perforated”? – “long hospital stay” and not a lot else really.

Thursday we started getting him to take little sips of water, which all came back with added green yuck on Thursday night. “Bowel obstruction” was mentioned and I spent the night panicking. Fortunately things started to improve slowly after that, and Tuesday morning he came home after a week in hospital.

For a little while, anyway. Tuesday night he was vomiting again, so it was back for another day in emergency yesterday. What fun! Now, touch wood, he’s home for good, and feeling much better.

“Are you going to write about me being in hospital on your blog?” he asked.

I think he wants me to tell you how brave he’s been. I couldn’t exactly put my hand on my heart and swear to that one, but I guess it depends on whose definition of bravery you’re using. By eight-year-old standards he did pretty well. I can tell you he was very well-behaved. All the nurses commented on his lovely manners, and how easy he was to deal with.

It’s so good to have him home again. It was a hard week for all of us – very disruptive for the girls, and the Carnivore and I are both short on sleep. One of us was with him 24 hours a day. Nothing got done beyond the most basic necessities. It must be so hard for families who have someone in hospital for a long time.

We were lucky too, that we have an excellent children’s hospital only half an hour from home. It’s times like these I’m grateful we live in Sydney, rather than out in the country somewhere. Country life seems idyllic until you consider the whole airlift-to-hospital-in-a-strange-city aspect.

So, not a great week. Ironically, I was on a roll with Verity on the Tuesday morning, busy congratulating myself that I only had two scenes to write to finish the first draft. I’ll do some more when we get back from the doctor’s, I promised myself. Needless to say, I haven’t written a word since.

Life with kids is often unpredictable like that. At least it’s never dull.

Wednesday WIP for really truly

Hooray! I finally have some progress to report on the writing front. Not just a quilting WIP but a really truly one. Yes folks, it took months of procrastination and a prolonged sojourn in the Depths of Self-loathing, but I finally got my butt back into the chair and started working on Verity again.

It’s been so long I had to read through it first because I’d forgotten what the story was about. Oh, yes – now I remember! Pirate ships powered by sails made of human skin, krakens and star spiders, and a bitter war between merfolk and selkies in a magical universe beyond our own called the Sea of Stars. Well, that’s not really what it’s about. That’s just the bits that make it fun. It’s about a girl’s search for her lost sister, and the family secret that could destroy them both.

Hey, say that last sentence in a movie trailer voice – sounds corny, doesn’t it! Okay, so my summary needs work. So does the story, unfortunately. Still, one job at a time. I have to finish writing the first draft first, so I can pin down exactly what happens in the story, before I can fix it all up.

You might think that, with only a couple of chapters left to write, I’d have a pretty good idea already of how it all ends. Well, and so I do, but stories have a way of surprising you – at least they surprise me sometimes! Only yesterday another tempting glimmer of an idea peeked up at me from a perfectly innocuous sentence I’d just written. And I still haven’t decided whether or not to kill off a major character in the climax. I don’t want to, because I really like him, and yet … it would be so cool for the story.

Anyway, my little wordcount widget is gradually creeping along again towards The End, which makes me feel like a real person again. A Contributing Member of Society. Bizarre, I know. Society is certainly not hanging on my deathless prose. Though I do know one little duckling who will be delighted to find out at last what happens (even though she will probably rend me limb from limb if I do wipe out this character).

Still, We Novelists cannot pander to the desires of our adoring fans, but must remain true to the prompting of our Muses. A Novelist is not a democracy, to be swayed by the opinions of others, but an almighty God in a universe of our own creation!

And right now this God’s finger is hovering over the Smite button. Hovering, I tell you! Which way will the dice fall? Only time will tell …


Feeling mildly accomplished tonight – have just finished a short story and submitted it to an anthology. At this point I can’t tell if it’s good or bad, but that’s not the point. It’s finished! And what’s my word for the year? Yay, me! Another project done.

This one’s been in the works a long time. Every time I drove home from visiting Mum last year I passed under a bridge called the Skye Winter Bridge. I looked it up just now; it’s named after a poor little toddler killed in a police chase.

In my head it turned into the Winter Sky Bridge and I started thinking about a magical bridge that appeared in the sky at a certain time of year – a transient, unstable bridge that was the centre of a whole world’s creation myth. A bridge that the people of the world believe leads to heaven, but in fact goes somewhere else entirely, and a boy who has to climb it in search of his lost brother.

Stories get started in the strangest ways, don’t they? I love hearing writers discuss the evolution of their stories. Such big, amazing things can grow from the tiniest seeds of inspiration. A word, a phrase, a line of poetry or an image in a magazine can spark a whole book. It’s like magic. Creating something where nothing existed before.

And speaking of books – now I’ve finally stopped procrastinating and finished this story, I can get back to Verity. Which also deals with a search for a lost sibling, come to think of it. Seems to be a recurring theme of mine lately. Should my brothers and sister be worried?

I only have a couple of chapters to go to finish the first draft. Then Drama Duck can stop harrassing me to find out what happens. Poor kid, she’s been very patient. But she’ll have to wait till next week. February’s nearly over, and I still have to meet my goal of finishing a quilting UFO this month – guess it’ll be a busy weekend!

What about you? Have you finished a project lately, or accomplished a goal?

The Ugly Quiltling

Once upon a time there lived an ugly quiltling. The poor little quiltling didn’t look anything like the other quilts in the family, who all laughed at it and said how ugly it was. Even its own mother didn’t love it.

The poor little quiltling would sit by the lake and watch the beautiful quilts go by, and dream of growing up to be a beautiful swan quilt.

Sadly, this never came to pass.

See? Ugly!

I’ve joined the free motion quilt-along on Christina’s blog

Definitely need more practice! I thought it would be a fun way to improve, so I finally put together the ugly quiltling the other night to be my practice piece. The idea was to put together a quilt top that you wouldn’t get too attached to, so you wouldn’t worry about “ruining it” as you learned. “If at any time you think to yourself ‘My god, this is one ugly quilt’ then you have succeeded,” Christina said.

So the poor ugly quiltling will never be beautiful, but it will certainly be very useful. Heaven knows what I’ll do with it when it’s finished – no one in the family likes it either! Maybe for the dog? My tastes in fabric have certainly changed a lot since I bought those. I think they’re from my “trying to like country style because everyone else does” phase. I’m looking forward to getting started on the actual quilting part.

Back in my normal colour palette of bright and vibrant, I’ve just made a pretty handbag out of the same gorgeous bird fabric I used for Demon Duck’s apron.

I saw it on Terry’s Treasures blog, and she kindly linked to the pattern, which turned out to be very easy, though I thought it would be bigger than it turned out. Maybe I’ll make a bigger one another time. I have so many quilting irons in the fire at the moment! Not unusual for me, of course, queen of the unfinished projects.

At least I’m making progress again on Verity. Hopefully another 5,000 words or so will see me typing “The End”.