Thursday, February 25, 2010

Taking the Risk

My mother-in-law is an inspiration to me and the rest of our family. Here is a photo of her on holiday with my brother-in-law and his kids. Yes, she’s the one smiling in the front seat and NO this is not photoshopped.

She turns eighty in October and is currently planning her winter holiday north. In between she plays tennis and bush walks, volunteers at the local church and community centre and helps out twice a day at the small hospital for the aging in her town. She even has her own ID card and lanyard. Funnily for us Mum calls the patients there ‘the oldies’.

What my mother-in-law has taught me is to take the risk. To get ‘out there’ and to be a part of what is going on. To look outside the possibilities I have accepted as ‘the norm’ for many years. To see the opportunities available to me. To try something new.

In 2005 I was invited to a Breakfast with the Authors at the Somerset Literature Festival (I've been going each year ever since). The authors moved from table to table joining in on the conversation and talking about their work. It was my first encounter with the world of children’s literature (other than as a reader) and I was thoroughly enjoying myself.

Then when a children’s picture book illustrator sat down at our table and began to show us her portfolio with samples of rough sketches and reference photos, I was immediately captivated. That was my Ah Ha moment.

In the ten minutes she spent chatting with us a new world of possibilities opened up for me. Instead of dreaming about drawing and painting I decided to ‘get out there’ and ‘try something new’. I enrolled at the Gold Coast Art School and began creative writing courses. This lead to a 3rd place award in the CYA Lit competition in 2009 and publication this year with Penguin Australia.

So I took the risk.

It meant having belief in myself and it meant being supported by family who always believed in me, like my mother-in-law, my husband, my children and my late parents. I am grateful for them.

Tell me about your risks. Have you taken any lately?

PS. I have a special visitor popping in to my blog on Tuesday 2nd March. Dee White will be calling by to talk about 'Viewpoint'. If this is a troublesome area for you in your writing then stop by on Tuesday and join in with your own comments. Dee is visiting as part of her Tuesday Writing Tips Blog Tour.

Oh, and rush out and get your tickets to the Somerset Festival, Markus Zusak author of 'The Book Thief' is speaking along with a host of other award winning Australian authors and illustrators like: Jackie French, Nette Hilton, Leigh Hobbs, Melina Marchetta, James Roy, James Moloney, Sofie Laguna, Anthony Eaton, Belinda Jeffrey and more... too many to mention. Go have a look.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Creative Space

Before I became a writer I always found other ways to release my creative soul. While the children were little I poured myself into my home, sewing curtains, pelmets, cushions, tablecloths and painting every room in the house at various times. My passion for English country interiors found me scouring antique shops and craft markets, op shops and garage sales. I could pair a Dutch delft vase with a chinese grocery store bowl and visitors would comment on their complementary arrangement. The value was not in the cost, but in the aesthetics.

In between house decorating and renovations, when cleaning bricks and stippling stencils were set aside, I would draw and paint. But I never had a space, a special area set aside for my pencils and brushes, paints and paper. Until recently.

Now I have a room called 'Mum's Study'. It is central to the family, near the laundry for hanging out that quick load and the kitchen for the essential cuppa. And Mum's Study is probably the tidiest room in the house. This is most likely because I like to procrastinate by arranging and re-arranging my piles of books, notes and sketches.

But because you are visiting today my procrastination has been given a purpose, a writer's purpose. "It's for my blog," I say.

So this is my creative space, a small room with a large picture window overlooking the front paddock, a room that captures the morning sun and the afternoon breezes.

I love the new office chair that hubbie bought me for my first book contract. Note the apple, a mother's day gift from my daughter. The blue notes board is my plotting board for the novel I am working on.
Where I sit and read with feet up
My art desk and easels and a part finished portrait of my daughter for her 18th.

The reading and thinking couch bed, with my dad's 'tambourica' and my sister's resonator guitar (just visiting)
Recently other authors and artists have been posting about their creative spaces. Check out Sheryl Gwyther's , Katherine Battersby's and Jason Nahrung's blogs. Perhaps you'd also like to tell me about yours.