Writing Challenges

March 4, 2019 at 8:29 pm | Posted in Australia, Mental Health, Publishing, self-publishing, Writing, Writing and Life | 16 Comments
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When I discovered I really could write creative fiction back in 2005 at the age of fifty-seven, a flood-gate opened and words poured from my pen (I write my drafts by hand). I lost count of the number of short stories, poems, articles and memoir items I wrote over the following few years. And then I decided to write a novel, aimed at 10-16-year-olds, and things changed.

 

I wrote the following reflection in July 2011, when that first novel was about to go out into the world:

 

It took me four years to write Ben’s Challenge. All the way through, from the idea (it was originally going to be a short story) to the completion I had to battle to get it done. No, it’s not that I can’t write, or that it took many revisions, or that I didn’t know where the story was going and what I wanted it to do. And it’s not that I don’t know my grammar, punctuation and spelling either – I grew up in an era when schools taught that kind of thing. No, the problem was deeper than any or all of those.

My problem was a lack of confidence in myself, which manifested itself in many ways. The main issue I had to overcome was procrastination; after all, if I didn’t write, nobody could say it was rubbish, could they – and that included myself.

A life-long struggle with depression also helped make my self-doubts into mountains I was certain I couldn’t climb. Even when my critique group expressed admiration for my style of writing and for the story, I wasn’t able to relax and go with the flow.

Funnily enough, it was during my eighteen months of treatments for breast cancer that I wrote the most easily and with the most confidence. I suppose writing was no longer my sole focus, so I took the pressure off myself. My doubts became background noise, which I could often ignore. . .

 

After publishing Ben’s Challenge, it took me a couple of years to start on my next novel, this one for Young Adults. I had to work up the courage to see if the first book was just a one-off or if I was a “real writer”. As I had in writing that first one, I battled through self-doubt, bouts of depression and procrastination – again in spite of my writing critique partners’ and my husband’s support and encouragement. One period of not writing lasted for a whole year. As a result, it again took about four years before the book was finished. Thursday’s Child was published in February 2018 and those who have read it say it is an amazing and wonderful story – even better than the first one.

I have an idea for a follow-up to Thursday’s Child – a strong story line and again, challenging themes. I have written a few chapters, but am struggling to get moving on it. There always seems to be something more important to do – that’s the usual problem of procrastination, I suppose. You’d think that, after two well-received books, I would have confidence in myself; that the words would flow as they did fourteen years ago, but they don’t. I am scared that I won’t be able to pull it off again.

I know that if I really want the story to see the light of day, I must, as with the other stories, fight my way through the self-doubts, the fear and insecurity, and get on with the job. Or maybe I’ll just wait until after I’ve delivered my part of a panel presentation on self-publishing at the Newcastle Writers’ Festival in a month’s time. Then I’ll get stuck into it. Oh, that sounds like more procrastination though, doesn’t it? Mmmmm…

 

Linda Visman, 4th March 2019

 

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Heroism

July 9, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Posted in Experiences, Family, Health, Mental Health | 4 Comments
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“Some talk of Alexander

and some of Hercules,

Of Hector and Lysander

and such great names as these;

But of all the world’s great heroes

there’s none that can compare…”

from the marching song, ” The British Grenadiers”)

Hero: a man of distinguished courage or performance, admired for his noble qualities. (The Macquarie Dictionary)

In modern usage, the term ‘hero’ has been debased. It is thrown out today in many places as well as on the battlefield – on the football field and the swimming pool and in situations where no ‘heroism’ has been exhibited,.

In some cases, the term can be appropriate, as in when someone has overcome some great physical, emotional or spiritual adversity. However, in the main, the ‘noble’ aspect has been omitted, and hero status is granted to many who do not deserve it. This has led to real heroes being undervalued.

Noble: of an exalted moral character or excellence (ibid.)

That is the aspect that has been omitted in today’s definition – morality; doing the right thing, especially in the face of various pressures, which also brings in the aspect of courage.

My father is 91. He is a very independent man with a hugely strong will. He is also a loving and caring man. He is blind and now, after another bout of pneumonia, he is weak and frail.

However he has come though many crises in his life: five years as a fighter pilot in WWII; making the decision to bring his family to Australia for a better life.

Dad – August 2007

He has also had many health crises: he almost died of pneumonia as a 4-year-old; he almost died of polio when he was 40; he almost died of severe and multiple infections when he was 97. Every time, he was given up for dead by those who treated him.

And every time, he made the conscious or unconscious decision that he would live. He did it again last week. He has come through all these challenges with grace and dignity.

But this time, as well as being weak and blind, Dad is well advanced in the memory loss of Alzheimers. He wants, more than anything, to go home, to the home he built for us, his beloved wife and family, almost sixty years ago. But there is nobody able to care for him 24 hours a day, and he needs that care now.

He still has his intellect thank goodness, and today, he made a momentous decision. He agreed that he must go into a care facility.

We hope that he will remember that decision tomorrow, but even if he doesn’t, he has made it at a time when he knew the facts. He made it, with grace and dignity,  for the benefit of his family, and against all that he wants to do.

That, to me, is a heroic decision. He is my hero and my inspiration.

You may also like to read this previous post The Long Goodbye

© Linda Visman 9th July, 2012

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