How to…

Bullet journalling is all the rage, and as The National Novel Writing Month is only 53 minutes away I’m sure lots of bullet-journallers will be scribbling away getting their beautiful journal ready for day 1.

First of all bullet journal… as far as I understand it, it’s a do-it-yourself diary where you have an empty book which you create everything you need to keep track of your life, including target setting.

Here is an interesting ‘how-to’ page:

https://www.wikihow.com/Bullet-Journal

… and how it introduces the idea:

 “A personal bullet journal is a quick and flexible system that helps you track short and long-term goals. You set up your journal into sections by month, week, and year. From there, you track what needs to get done. You also track significant events and milestones. While starting a bullet journal can seem confusing, with some patience and energy you will find a bullet journal is a great way to stay organized.”

… and if you like, here’s a short youtube:

https://youtu.be/fm15cmYU0IM

So how would this be useful to someone undertaking the NaNo challenge?  The NaNo site is excellent – I have found, where you can set tracking goals, targets etc really simply. However it seems some people have embraced the idea of tracking through bullet journalling and making their journal fun and pretty. Some are really intricate and people have pages and pages of notes and plans and timelines and timescales and family trees and tasks and… and… and…

…and I just wonder how many of these keen and enthusiastic people will actually get down to writing? Will they become so obsessed with their journal that instead of it being a very useful tool it becomes an end in itself? Some people have posted great youtube videos of what they have achieved… I’m in admiration! Some of them are works of art, coloured in or with stickers and ribbons, they are gorgeous… but are they practical? (Not that they have to be, they can be fun, of course they can!)

With NaNo challengees who have produced these wonders as part of their scheduling what they arr going to write and how, will they find they have they spent so long planning every move their hero makes, every scene in detail, every area they need to research, plus such things as writing sprints, targets, word-counts, useful web-sites, (and what are plot bunnies?) that I wonder if they will actually be sick of their project by the time they get to do it?

I shall be really interested to follow up how journallers find the actual challenge… I’m going to try in my own way, but I fear it will be very random, possibly difficult to make sense of, and maybe a distraction… we shall see!

PS My featured mage is how I hope my writing will be, gently steering my way through the plot, my characters calm and in control and with an eye on their target.

The Hobart Rivulet (3)

Earlier this year we went to Tasmania; we spent most of our time in the city of Hobart but had a two week tour of some of the rest of the island. Although we were over a month in Hobart, we didn’t run out of things to do, and towards the end of our stay we realised there were still more places to visit, walks to take, sites to see! In our last few days we took a walk down the length of the Hobart Rivulet – well, the part that is accessible and not beneath the city! We very much enjoyed it and thought many other visitors and tourists would enjoy it to – a walk through Hobart’s history, and in a way, the history of the whole island.

I have been writing  about the  Rivulet, the small river which can become mighty torrent. It runs off kunanyi, Mount Wellington, which towers over the city. I wrote about its long history of association with people, from the mouheneener people who  lived and walked by it for nearly ten thousand years, to the white British colonialists who arrived to use what they then called Van Diemen’s Land as a jail for their unwanted prisoners. I wrote next about how the Rivulet was misused by the new settlers – it powered their factories but it was used as a waste disposal for all the often toxic by-products, and it was used as a sewer, over five hundred toilets discharging directly into it. By 1912 action was taken and a proper sewerage system was put in place. Now the Rivulet, the parts which are not culverted beneath the city, provides a pleasant parkland for a riverside walk.

Here is the next part, I have repeated the past few lines of part 2 to put what I am writing here into context. If you notice any mistakes or errors, please do let me know!

There is a riverside walk which is delightful;  we loved our amble along its course and  we saw plenty of birds, on the water, on the grass, in the shrubs and trees; sadly we didn’t see any platypus which live in the Rivulet. Further up there is a wonderful range of Tasmanian creatures, devils, quolls, wombats and Bennett’s wallabies… we saw no sign of any of these!. We were not the only ones to enjoy the walk on that day in February; there was a constant stream of walkers, joggers, pram pushers, bike riders, people young and old – people who obviously lived in the area and visitors like us. Before white people came to this place, the first people would have followed this same path from the mountain to the river, going back generations.

I hope I have made this sound idyllic, a credit to the city, an insight into history, and the people who have lived and worked here. I hope I have encouraged you to wander along its banks as we did, should you be so fortunate to visit the city.

I hope also that you will now share my disbelief, horror, and outrage, when I mention that a programme of ‘tidying’ up has been going on which has included council workers spraying chemicals, including glyphosate, along the banks of the Rivulet, chemicals to kill weeds. It is important, of course it is to keep the banks clear – there have been terrible floods in the past – but using toxic sprays in this sensitive and important area? Risking the lives of the animals – birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians and mammals who live here, and risking the health of the people who enjoy the area – is that right? Is it ethical? Is it sensible or safe? I suggest the answer to these questions is no… A resounding no.

I am going to write to the city council asking if this is their policy, and if it is to consider changing it. It impacts not just on the local people and wild life – but it may impact directly on a burgeoning industry – tourism. There are various other ecological wars being fought in and around the beautiful state of Tasmania – the use of toxic weed killers and herbicides is not attractive to potential visitors! It’s very wrong, and it’s also very stupid.

© Lois Elsden

Here are links to parts 1 and 2:

https://loiselden.com/2017/10/29/the-hobart-rivulet-1/

https://loiselden.com/2017/10/30/the-hobart-rivulet-2/

 

 

The spoon of redemption

Many years ago when I had a day job, there was a member of the team, a senior member who was a lovely person but had a tendency to mix metaphors, adopt Mr Spooner’s way of expressing himself, and generally not always hear what was coming out of their mouth! I know I have shared some of these before, but I can’t help but laugh when I look at them again.

I haven’t include the most spectacular flights of linguistic creativeness ( “a gunpowder plot boy” – who knows what was meant? An anarchist? He liked playing with fire? Who now knows?) but here is just a selection:

  1. Bend over backwards and make a rod for your own back
  2. bushy eyed and bright tailed
  3. Can’t see the light for the trees
  4. Handed a spoon to redeem himself
  5. He sets himself up as a tangent
  6. I don’t want this to go between these two walls
  7. It’s good to have bolts and braces
  8. Lying out of his seat.
  9. Oh that old cherry (chestnut)
  10. Smoke on your face (egg on your face)
  11. Speaking hand on head
  12. That was a bit below the table (below the belt)
  13. The ears have walls
  14. Thorn in the ointment
  15. You could cut the ice with a knife

What a lot of words

One more day of freedom before the tyranny of the National Novel Writing Month takes over! The idea is simple, you challenge yourself to write 50,000 words in the month of November; the original idea was fifty thousand words of a new novel, but that has modified slightly – I guess because people have so many and varied writing projects, so now it is 50,000 new words!

I’d thought about doing it for a couple of years, but had jibbed, thinking it impossible. However, in 2013 I took the plunge – and to my amazement was successful! I’ve done it every year since, but I think this may be my last; I have so many projects, I don’t think I can do them and NaNo as well, but we will see.

  • 2013: ‘Radwinter’  genealogical mystery. 73026 words
  • 2014: ‘Raddy and Syl’ – genealogical mystery: Thomas has traced his paternal ancestors to 1830’s war-torn Europe; he has followed his maternal line and found murder and betrayal. Now he needs to look closer to home, to discover the truth about the people who brought him up, Edward and Sylvia Radwinter, Raddy and Syl, in order to find out who he really is. 50,092 words
  • 2015: ‘Earthquake’  – genealogical mystery:  stalker stalked… maybe… 53030 words
  • 2016: ‘And the river’ – memoir: This is a meander, not sure where it is going or what will be seen, from it or in it… This began as a story of my life and that of my family, told through the rivers I have been connected with… as with real rivers, it went its own way and covered a lot of ground… and it hasn’t yet reached its end! 51282 words

I plan to continue my story of Gus, the mysterious lonely man who wanders the salt marshes, but I also have the story of Theo, the Danish singer who ends up in my fictitious town of Easthope… I will have to wait until November 1st to see what happens!

If you want to read my genealogical mysteries, plus Magick which I worked on through Camp NaNo in 2014, here is a link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/RADWINTER-5-Book-Series/dp/B072HTG366/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1509408292&sr=8-7&keywords=lois+elsden

The Hobart Rivulet (2)

I have been writing something about the Hobart Rivulet, the small river which can become mighty torrent which runs off kunanyi, Mount Wellington, which towers over Hobart in Tasmania. I wrote about its long history of association with people, from the mouheneener people who  lived and walked by it for nearly ten thousand years, to the white British colonialists who arrived to use what they then called Van Diemen’s Land as a jail for their unwanted prisoners.  Here is the next part, what happened as Hobarton developed into the city of Hobart – if you notice any mistakes or errors, please do let me know!

In the early days the Rivulet served many purposes apart from providing water for drinking, for power and for domestic and industrial purposes; it was used to transport people and goods, and it was also used – (as so many watercourses worldwide in the past and still today) as a sewer. This dire situation was inevitable, despite Lieutenant Governor David Collins (the founding Lieutenant Governor of the Colony of Van Diemen’s Land) best efforts; the day after he landed in February 1804, he gave out that no-on was to pollute the river at all, in any way, by any means.

However, his fine words and sensible pronouncements were soon ignored; it wasn’t just domestic sewerage (the Rivulet was declared a sewer in 1843) but as industry increased, especially with the introduction of steam-powered machines, other waste, including from tanneries, quarries and sawmills – as well as the original flour mill  –  along the Rivulet rendered it so foul that people living nearby complained. Various not very successful efforts were made to improve it the situation, but didn’t prevent several typhoid epidemics breaking out during the latter part of then nineteenth century. Action was only taken in 1912 – almost within living memory, when a drainage and sewerage system was introduced.

As the city grew bridges were built over it at key points until it became necessary, or was deemed necessary to send the water through pipes and tunnels under the buildings and streets of the state capital. When we visited we noticed this as we walked around the city, we kept finding bridges over the hidden river, and could sometimes glimpse it as it ran towards its meeting with the Derwent. It seemed sad to see it, sometimes having to peep through a little viewpoint from above, spoiled with rubbish and bits of branch and twig, leaves and grass choking it.

The Rivulet is four and a half miles long, and descends over one thousand seven hundred and eighty feet from its birthplace on the mountain. There is a riverside walk which is delightful; as I mentioned it we loved our amble along its course until it disappeared under Molle Street. We saw plenty of birds, on the water, on the grass, in the shrubs and trees, but we sadly didn’t see any platypus which live in the Rivulet; apparently further up there is a wonderful range of Tasmanian creatures, devils, quolls, wombats and Bennett’s wallabies… we saw no sign of any of these!. We were not the only ones to enjoy the walk on that day in February; there was a constant stream of walkers, joggers, pram pushers, bike riders, people young and old – people who obviously lived in the area and visitors like us. Before white people came to this place, the first people would have followed this same path from the mountain to the river, going back generations.

Here is a link to part 1:

https://loiselden.com/2017/10/29/the-hobart-rivulet-1/

Why write? 2

Two days ago I shared something I’d come across  on Facebook – I can’t remember where it was now, but it was people’s response to a question about why people write, what motivates them. There were some  interesting answers, some to the point – ‘because I want to/because I have to/ it’s what I do/it’s who I am’ and others with a particular purpose in mind, such as political or religious reasons, or as a sort of therapy.

I was intrigued by it and put the answers into different groups, just out of curiosity! Here is a selection I grouped together of people who feel that writing is just a fundamental part of who they are:

  • It is like eating and breathing
  • Just something I do
  • Something connected to my very essence
  • I write because it’s impossible for me not to — it’s a deep-rooted part of me
  • Because writing is the only thing in my life. It’s how I exist, how I interact with the world (and change it)
  • Because I am
  • Because I cannot not write
  • I write to share the stories in my head, and to escape reality
  • The voices in my head won’t shut up. Just kidding. I have a desperate need to get words on paper/screen & share w/the world
  • Because there is no possible way I could ever give up writing again
  • I can’t not write. I tried to give up the hobby a while ago, keep coming back for me. Finally getting better at it. Writing is hard
  • I write because there are stories in my head and they need out. I have always had this need to write and will always have it
  • Because I have to….
  • I write Bc I always have. It’s inside of me
  • To talk with the world, no matter what corner it is
  • I write because I owe it to my ideas. To my characters. To the worlds I have created. I write for myself. I live in my stories
  • Because the voices tell me to. 🙂
  • Because otherwise I’d just be a raving lunatic who got lost in her own made up worlds. Writing them keeps me sane… Ish
  • Words are powerful ~ Can use to share & connect us all. Helps me make sense of what’s inside & out to join my 2 worlds
  • For my characters, I suppose. It’d be a waste if they only lived in my head. 😊My dream is to let them live through others😊

It’s interesting to me as a writer, how many people have such vivid characters ‘living in their head’… I understand that! I guess my most ‘real’ character is Thomas Radwinter… here’s a link to my books about him:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/RADWINTER-5-Book-Series/dp/B072HTG366/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1509355043&sr=8-7&keywords=lois+elsden

The month of carnival

The air has changed… it’s not just that tonight was cold, a clear sky and a frostiness about, something in the quality has changed – autumn to winter.  We were walking out at about 9:30 and it was almost a scent, almost the feel of the night on our cheeks and noses… the air has changed.

After tonight there will only be one more day of October, so here is something from Helen Hunt Jackson who was born this month one hundred and eighty-seven years ago:

A Calendar Of Sonnets: October 

The month of carnival of all the year,
When Nature lets the wild earth go its way,
And spend whole seasons on a single day.
The spring-time holds her white and purple dear;
October, lavish, flaunts them far and near;
The summer charily her reds doth lay
Like jewels on her costliest array;
October, scornful, burns them on a bier.
The winter hoards his pearls of frost in sign
Of kingdom: whiter pearls than winter knew,
Oar empress wore, in Egypt’s ancient line,
October, feasting ‘neath her dome of blue,
Drinks at a single draught, slow filtered through
Sunshiny air, as in a tingling wine!

Helen Hunt Jackson: 1830-1885