Fungilicious

Winter brings lots of interesting and sometimes strange fungi to life. They pop up in unusual places, in odd shapes, colours and sizes. I find them fascinating. They have their own ethereal beauty, so delicate and yet so vigorous. A nearby town is well-known for its magic mushrooms. I haven’t tried them so I can’t comment on the effects, but every year the mushies are on the news.

Toadstool

Toadstool

Fairy High Rise

Fairy High Rise

Banksia fungus

Banksia fungus

 

Shiny Toadstool

Shiny Toadstool

 

A host of brown fungi

A host of brown fungi

A cluster

A cluster

 

Purple delight

Purple delight

Bunbury Art Walk

Art Walk

In January, six Western Australian artists painted six murals on external walls throughout Bunbury, creating an exciting and amazing Art Walk. Some are hidden down alleyways, others are high on buildings and all can be viewed and enjoyed at anytime. Re.Discover was started in Bunbury by Andrew Frazer and “is an artist run project created to cultivate creativity and to activate feet on the streets of Bunbury’s CBD”.

Art by Stormie Mills

Art by Stormie Mills

Art by KYLE HUGHES-ODGERS

Art by KYLE HUGHES-ODGERS

Art by Anya Brock

Anya Brock

Art by Jodee Knowles

Jodee Knowles

Art by Andrew Frazer

Andrew Frazer

Art by Tim Howe

Tim Howe

Writing Characters: Enjoy the Ride

I wrote this article for The Write Turn website/blog and decided to share.  The original The Write Turn page has disappeared into wherever dead webpages go. Another site with the same name is in its place.

 

Enjoy the Ride

I’m not a planner. I don’t sit down and write a long description and background for my characters. I don’t describe them or dress them. I’ve tried to, but they just appear in my head fully formed and they usually have their own agenda. Characters have minds of their own and there is no point trying to force them to do what you want. Trust me, you won’t win. I’ve had a minor character become a major and much-loved part of a story. He took over and had to be part of the action. Characters know what’s happening and know where the story is heading. So be flexible. Listen to your subconscious and don’t be afraid to try something new.

Take the writing journey with your characters, don’t go solo. It’s a bit like heading off to a new city with no map or GPS and just winging it. Yep you’ll get lost, but you’ll have an adventure on the way and eventually (hopefully) you’ll end up at your destination. Writing is like that. I’ve had whole stories change because of something I’ve read or heard. And I mean change as in veering off at high-speed into the abyss with me hanging on wondering what the hell happened. The characters job is to take you and hopefully countless readers on that enjoyable high-speed journey. It’s a ride you won’t regret, even if sometimes you might want to throw your laptop through the window. It’s important to be open to change and be prepared to let that carefully constructed plan fall to pieces. You will learn as you go. Don’t forget to read. Be patient, don’t rush the finished product and don’t send it out until you’ve let it sit for a while and then reread it. Hell read it to your dog or cat, they won’t care about your bad grammar, but you might pick up mistakes and it helps with editing.

Writing should be enjoyable and not something you have to force, even when inspiration flees. Relax. Reread. Don’t panic (unless you have a deadline, then feel free to panic). See what your character is up to. They will eventually take you by the hand and pull you back into their world. You can always kill them off if you don’t like what they have to say and even resurrect them when you realise you miss them. 

Dialogue makes a character real and their response to settings and situations is more important than a physical description.  Creating strong characters is an art and something which is honed over time. Practice your art whenever you can. Eavesdrop on conversations and imagine the people behind the words. Can you create a character around someone in a supermarket? I made the mistake of going to a Hi-Fi shop during the Christmas sales. What an eye-opener. I didn’t expect such colourful language in a queue, especially not aimed at children. But it’s something that stuck in my head and may reanimate in another form later on.

See the world through a writer’s eyes and grasp the possibilities.

 

 

Catching Leprechauns

My Granda lived to be 90 and he was a great character. He was a brilliant story teller and was always telling us stories about his grandfather James P, who he adored.

In his younger days. The gentleman on the left

In his younger days. The gentleman on the left

When my Granda was 4, his dad died of TB, leaving a widow with four young boys. Her dad went over to England and brought them all home to Ireland. James P had travelled to America in the 1800’s, he was there during the civil war and had worked on a paddle steamer. I wish we had a photo of him, because he sounded like an amazing man. His house passed to his daughter and then my Granda. My mother and her siblings were all born in it. One of my favourite stories was when James P was out ploughing his fields and he spied a leprechaun under a tree. Sneaking up he managed to catch it and demanded to know where the gold was hidden. The leprechaun promised to show him and led him through the field to the secret stash. James P holding tight, because he knew how sneaky leprechauns could be.

The leprechaun noticed that the bull had escaped and shouted to warn James P. Looking over his shoulder all he saw was the plough horses nibbling grass and no sign of the bull. Yep he’d been tricked and the leprechaun was gone. He never did catch another.

I spent ages looking out for leprechauns and fairies when I was little. There were a few fairy trees on my Granda’s land, but I never saw any either.

It’s a Dog’s Life

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Stella woke me at 4.30 to go outside. Now I’m up drinking coffee and she’s flaked out on the sofa.
Wes is close by, trying to make his and Stella’s beds into one bed. He’s not
having much luck.

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Stella checking out Wes, she’s gone back to sleep.

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I’d like to go back to sleep too, but it’s Monday. Time to get ready for work and school.

Wet Dog day

WES

Wes is our almost 16-year-old Doberman cross dog. He’s deaf and almost blind, but he can tell the time. Everyday he heads to the backdoor about 4.30ish so he can go outside to his food bowl – just in case we happen to forget to feed him. Yesterday I let him into the pool area with me so he could have a sniff around. I’d just thought I hope Stella doesn’t knock him in. When I heard a splash. He’d managed to fall in the deep end by himself. Poor fella, must have been a huge shock. He swam to the shallow end, but couldn’t get out so I had to strip off and get in – did I mention it’s winter here! Anyway it wasn’t too cold and no harm done to Wes. I had to chase him around the yard with a towel and try to dry him off, he wasn’t keen on the towel.
Today he went for his annual vet check. There were two other fifteen-year-old dogs there too. Must’ve been seniors day ;) Vet gave him the once over and he’s in great health for such an old dog. His teeth and weight are perfect, one side of his head is a bit odd. The muscle has completely wasted away. He has a bit of arthritis and I have to give him an injection for it once a week for the next three weeks. Vet expects to see him again in a year.

Stella thinks she's a cat

Stella thinks she’s a cat

Done and Dusted

Yesterday I had my thesis printed, bound and then drove up the hill to the university to hand the three copies in. Caught my supervisor as she was departing and we had a quick flick through. It came out really well. But when I was signing the declaration I realised I’d cocked up the contents page. The numbers had disappeared the night before, I have no idea what I did. Then the margins went a bit crazy. I spent the evening sipping Shiraz and trying to sort it out. Hopefully the examiners won’t notice as it’s just the Roman Numerals at the start. Anyway it was sent off yesterday so now I just have to wait.
To celebrate I went out to lunch with my supervisor, two dear friends/honours students and another lecturer. We had a lovely wee drop of sparkling south-west wine from St Aidan’s Winery. Lunch was delicious soup and then two of us lingered over coffee and dessert, the others returned to uni.
It is rather strange being finished. A mixture of emotions from relief to oh shit it’s done I’m finished. I’ve been writing and thinking about this for eighteen months it’s very strange not to have to think about characters and theory and research. Very strange indeed.

First Day of Winter

Today was the first day of Winter down under. Although not sure if it can be counted as winter at the top end. It’s in the 30s in Darwin. Way down here, not too far from Antarctica, winter held off for the day. It was warm enough to wander around town in a tshirt much to my surprise. I ended up carrying my coat, just in case… I did go to the cinema with my husband, we saw A Million Ways to Die, some funny jokes, some laughs and some very boring bits. The beautiful scenery of Monument Valley made up for it. I think I’ll put it on my huge list of places to visit. After the movie we went for lunch, it’s great not studying :) It’s a long weekend here in WA, so tomorrow I’ll put the second coat of paint on the toilet walls. The first coat went on about six weeks ago, but I’ve been too busy to finish it. I’ll not know what to do with myself – all this free time. I have some sofa cushions to cover too, bought the material a few years ago! Might be busy for the next few weeks.

Finished …. Almost

I think I’m finished. It’s been a long and torturous journey at times, but I’ve made it to the end. I’ll email the finished product to my supervisor and probably do the final edit and submit next week.
The last few weekends I’ve been heading to the uni library to study in the quiet. Not this weekend :) I think I might go to the movies and maybe tomorrow we can go out for lunch.
This painting is by my cousin Seamus he’s kindly allowed me to use it on the cover of my thesis.
Seamus Og painting

The Last Week

It really is the last week on my Honours journey. Friday is the due date. Am I ready? No. It’s weird because this time last year I was getting ready to present my proposal (I think I’d rather do the big swing again!) and now I’m getting ready to submit my thesis. I’ve emailed my supervisor my draft, no doubt this week will be spent editing and panicking. Fortunately my dear friend Luke, kindly formatted the whole document for me today, so that at least is done.
I have to hand in four bound documents, two which go to the examiners. Once they’ve read it, their mark is averaged and that is the end of uni. Unless I do Phd….