Is a Happily Ever Mandatory?

Photo: Couple by goodsophism (CC by 2.0)
Someone found a guest blog post I posted back in 2014, and asked if they could repost it on their blog, with credit.
I think that’s pretty cool. Mind you had to go and read it because I didn’t remember what I’d written for the post. I had been asked to write a post answering the question – Is a Happily Ever After Mandatory? And since I had never actually posted it here, on my blog, I thought it was high time that I did.
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Is a Happily Ever After Mandatory?
“…and they lived Happily Ever After.” Sigh. When the final pages of the book are closed and your hand is resting on the back cover, there is such satisfaction at a Happily Ever After ending. But does Happily Ever After mean what it used to mean?
In short…I love it. I read romances because for the most part I am guaranteed a HEA.
Kind of like fairy tales as a kid. They go through all these adventures and struggles and they get to live HEA. If I don’t get my HEA from a romance novel, I feel cheated and let down. I picked up a Romance novel for a reason. If I wanted an Unhappily Ever After, I would have picked up a different genre.
In long… If you think of some of the classic romance novels, they certainly didn’t get their HEA. Heathcliff and Catherine, Rhett and Scarlett, Romeo and Juliet, Tristian and Isolde. Some of them had Hero’s I despised, Heroine’s I hated and a great deal of bawling my eyes out at
the close of the back cover.
I think that at the time these stories were written, books served a different purpose. Romance novels explained human character, taught a lesson and explored many facets of how life was lived. Books don’t serve that purpose today. Romance novels are pure fantasy, unadulterated escapism and an excuse to shut out the harsh cold reality of life for a few hours. Of course we want a HEA…because
so often in ‘real life’ we don’t get it. We get day to day drudgery, the daily grind, screaming children, work (be that house or paid), traffic, illness, taxes and a husband who may well have come from another planet.
But a HEA doesn’t have to be the ‘traditional’ expectation. HEA doesn’t necessarily mean that they got married, raised a dozen perfect children and rode off into the sunset. (Who thought riding into the sunset was a good thing anyway? You can’t see with those late afternoon rays glaring directly into your eyes.) However a HEA means that at the end of the story, there is satisfaction that the hero and heroine have acknowledged their insecurities, opened their baggage, faced their fears and grown as characters. There is hope they will make it together, and an assurance that their love is going to last. They may still have issues to face, questions to answer, demons to fight and obstacles to conquer, but they are going to do it together. Whatever it takes. And that is a HEA ending in my book.

Hello, again.

Just a quick post to let you know I haven’t died. I have now officially moved, and most of the unpacking is done. I’m starting to sort things out and focus on writing again.

While unpacking, looking for work and completing assignments, I committed to NaNoWriMo. I really should have journalled my journey, but I didn’t think about it until now. Maybe, next year.

NaNoWriMo Logo
NaNoWriMo Logo

For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is short for ‘National Novel Writing Month’. It’s a writing challenge in which you commit to writing 50,000 words in the month of November, or an average of 1,667 words a day (which I think actually makes 50,010 words by the end of the month). It’s done by thousands of writers world-wide, which creates an amazing community of encouragement, and you upload your word count on the NaNoWriMo website. The goal is to have 50,000 words by the end of the month. You don’t have to finish the story, and you don’t have to have it perfect or even have all the scenes in the correct or final order. It’s just a challenge to sit your butt in a chair and write a minimum of 1,667 words a day for a month.

It’s been an interesting experience committing to writing a minimum of 1,667 words a day. A few days I really struggled to make it. I had to set smaller targets. I gave myself a goal of fifty words, then a reward, then another fifty words, then a reward, just to get through.
Other days I’d be so deep into the story I’d written over 3,000 words before I knew it.

Having that daily word target was a daunting, but at the same time, exciting. I think what made it possible was the accountability. I had writing buddies who could see my word count. They could tell when I slacked off. Which wasn’t often…only one day in the month did I not at least make the minimum word count. It was the next day when I pulled off the over 3,000 words, so I didn’t feel too bad. On the plus side, I had some very nice emails from my writing buddies encouraging me. And I sent a few of my own. It was awesome to see the efforts of my writing buddies. One of them even hit 50,000 words by the 20th of November and kept going. Awesome job.

While I have actually reached the target, I know that tomorrow the word count will drop. Everything I wrote in the month, I kept…because, well they were words I had written and for NaNoWriMo, that’s what counts. However, there are a few scenes that no longer fit into the story, so they need to go. I will need to continue to work on the story before it becomes a ‘manuscript’, it’s not finished yet.

I’m not sure I’m going to continue to write a minimum of 1,667 words a day after today, at least not until I’ve finished school. I think if I were to continue the daily word count, I’d have to find an accountability / writing buddy. I think I need that knowledge that someone else will know daily (weekly?) what my word count target should be versus what my word count actually is, otherwise, I think it would be too easy to find myself something else to do instead.

And that would be bad. Right?

Thank you, and Goodbye

Photo: Goodbye by woodleywonderworks
Photo: Goodbye by woodleywonderworks (CC by 2.0)

 

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted as regularly as I normally do recently. I had some hard thinking to do. And some prioritising of my life, as one should do every now and then.

What do I really want to do with my life?
What is actually important?

You see, it’s been a pretty tough two-and-a-half years. I’ve worked full-time, studied part-time, written and published 4 books and attempted to be involved in my family. I love writing, I really do. But I live in an area where writing conferences, retreats, workshops, author talks and networking opportunities are far and few between. I go to as many as I can, but the last one in my area was five months ago. (Well, the one I could attend at any rate. I didn’t have a car for the one two weeks ago.)

I see a lot of events going on in other parts of the state and the country. However, to attend even the closest ones is a four-hour drive minimum. And the really good ones I want to go to are a two-hour plane flight. Plus accommodations, food, and the flight home again. It’s too far out of my reach. Even after  I finish my diploma next year, and have more time for writing, it will still be out of my reach. What kind of writer would I be if I’m isolated from those opportunities? Yes, I have the internet, but the internet doesn’t provide interaction with real people. (You know what I mean.)

I have two choices. Move more than 2,000klms from where I am currently living…or quit writing.

And so, after much debate, doubt, and anguish it really is goodbye.

It’s goodbye because I have had to make a very, very hard decision.  One that I was in tears over. One in which I have to take a breath, close my eyes and leap. Because if I don’t at least try, I will regret it for the rest of my life. One in which I am very, very glad to have a loving supporting husband, and amazing, wonderful friends and family – all of whom believe in me. You see, it’s not an easy choice to resign your full-time job, when you have no job to go to, and move your family and everything you own more than 2,000klms away from home just to follow a dream

A dream which may very well come to nothing.

Am I scared? Absolutely.
Am I telling myself I’m stupid to give up a full-time job in this economy? You bet ya.
Am I really doing this? Apparently.

Goodbye to Far North Queensland. Goodbye to friends. Goodbye to my family. Goodbye to the life I’ve known for years.

I will still need to write around a job (when I get one), study (for a little while longer) and family. But I will be able to take advantage of so many more opportunities and the biggest leap of all. Really taking the chance to focus more on writing, and getting books out there.

Over the next few weeks, our house will be packed into boxes and we will make the long drive down to the Sunshine Coast Hinterland to start our new lives. I don’t know how often I will be able to update this blog during that time. But when we get settled and figure out what internet we have available, I’ll make sure to post an update.

So here goes. Deep breath. Wish me luck, and I’ll see you on the flip side.

 

 

What can change the world.

Photo: typewriter by Nicoleleec
Photo: typewriter by Nicoleleec (CC by 2.0)

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Only history will tell what will change the world
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I read this recent blog post from “The Practical Historian” – Lessons from a typewriter. 

Sarah speaks of the history of the typewriter and I think it’s amazing how someone can spend a lifetime not happy with their invention (Christopher Latham Sholes), and yet have that invention change and pretty much rule the world we live in more than 150 years later. Without the typewriter, I doubt we’d have computers. Without computers – it would be a very different world.

At school, I used a typewriter, I think they purchased them in the 60’s and were still in use. They used sewn calico covers to cover our hands and the body of the typewriters while we typed from ‘The Dictation Textbook’. At least I learned to touch type – which amazingly, in this computer age, seems to still impress people to this day.
My first stories, when not in pen or pencil, were written with a similar style typewriter. I can still hear the thwank-click of the keys hitting the black and red ribbon, the slightly  echoed high pitched ping that let you know you had 10 characters left until the end of the line, and the growling slide and solid thunk of the carriage return.
There was something satisfyingly solid and tactile about using a typewriter which is sadly missing from the computer keyboard – and don’t get me started on those touch screen tablets. I cannot type on those very well at all. I don’t know how people touch type on those without the feel of the keys. But on that note, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone touch type on one of those things. They all have to look at the screen.

While I love the feel and sound of a typewriter, I am very glad for the progression onto the computer. One of my weakness’ at school and it continues to be a weakness, is my spelling. I’m so used to seeing those pretty red underlines accompanying my words, which goes to show me that despite efforts to have better spelling, it still gets the best of me. With typewriters, there were no pretty red lines, and to correct a spelling mistake, you cranked the handle on the roller, used liquid whiteout, waited for it to dry (which gave you the time to look up a dictionary), brought the roller back down, used the carriage slide to bring the carriage back to what was hopefully the correct spot, and retyped. The worse part of that was when it either didn’t line up, or the incorrect word had fewer letters than the corrected word.

So from someone in the computer age, who doesn’t have to write everything out laboriously by hand, here’s to you Mr Christopher Latham Sholes and the invention you were never happy with, which changed the world.

 

 

Borrow Me

When I was little, I thought Libraries were a magic place. A place where books would simply appear on the shelves to be borrowed and devoured. Read and re-read as many times as possible in the four weeks before they needed to go back. I had no thought as to where the books came from, it was simply the magic of the place. Libraries were the place all the best books lived.

I still believe that – in a way, but not the same kind of naive, innocent way I once did. I still love libraries, even in this world of e-books and e-readers, the Library is a special place. And Mount Isa Library in Queensland, Australia just got a little more special.

If the Library is the special place where all the best books live, then I’m glad for the new residents.

Photo: Mount Isa Library, Local Author June 2016
Photo: Mount Isa Library, Local Author June 2016

I can’t tell you what it feels like to have my books in the Library. I’m still reeling. It’s astronomical. Not only am I published, my books are in the very same Library I visited as a child and grew up attending. My books have now appeared to be borrowed and devoured. Read and re-read. I have no words. Just a huge thank you for all the people who helped it come to be. It is literally a dream come true for me.

In the Beginning

It doesn’t matter what you do…you have to start somewhere. We all have a ‘first’ at something. Some of them are amazingly successful. Some of them are so horrendously awful you NEVER want the results to ever see the light of day again. (Yes, first attempt at baking I’m talking to you. I’m sure monumental masons would be the only ones to love that particular cake attempt.)

Some of my firsts have made it onto my blog and I want to share 5 of them. Some of them are quite mediocre, but I want to show that firsts are just that. The first attempt.

The first attempt will never be perfect. But unless the first attempts are also the last attempts, they will get better.

  1. My first attempt at poetry. I must say poetry is not my thing. Those who do know a bit more about poetry will instantly know where I gained my inspiration.
  2. My first attempt at writing from a male point of view. This one was hard. I don’t care what the popular theory is, males are different to females and writing from a male point of view is totally different from writing a female point of view. Writing this was the starting point in being able to write male points of view for ‘Edward (Book #2 Nephilim Code’ and ‘Zeph (Book 3 Nephilim Code)’.
  3. My first blog post. This was a while ago now. I remember trying to figure out what to write. How to write it. And then, when it was done, working up the courage to press post.
  4. My first cover reveal.  This was exciting times. My first cover reveal. The cover of my first book, back when I was literally weeks away from my first ever book being published. It is still that exciting.
  5. My first book trailer. I didn’t make this. Ducan from Business Communication Managment did. He did a fantastic job. (But I could be bias.)

 

So there are a few of my ‘firsts’.
What are some of yours?