Hello. I am still here. Poor Too Askew is getting a little neglected in its old age. I’m doing a bit of blogging over at Pretty Paper Things and my own brand spanking new site krissybradfield.com (for my writerly pursuits).

Spring has definitely sprung. Its currently 29C. Nice and warm. After months and months of cold I’m starting to remember what warm weather feels like. Of course it will be stifling hot in no time and I will be dreaming of the bitter cold of winter. For now, I am enjoying spring.

Things that have happened recently:
– Sweet Jasper passed away on August 2nd. I miss her every day.
– I caught hand, foot and mouth disease. It was awful.
– I had food poisoning last weekend which was just atrocious.
– I’m sick of being sick.
– I caught up on a whole season of Grey’s Anatomy over the last few weeks. Can’t believe I didn’t watch last season as it happened. Speaking of TV shows, how awesome is Bunheads! It’s like watching a dancier version of the Gilmore Girls. Well kinda.
– We’re planning a few days away down south. This can’t come soon enough.
– Mum had bilateral knee replacement a month ago. She’s already up and walking without crutches. Amazing, right?

Here are some recent photos:

Til next time old blog.

Nature – What we did on the weekend

Tony and I spent the day out in the Swan Valley on Saturday. It was really nice to get away from the house for a while, to a place that neither of us had been. Going on a Saturday had it’s benefits too. It was quiet out in the bush. I dare say that it would have been a lot busier yesterday with all the Sunday drivers and picnickers to contend with.

I wrote this while standing on the banks of Avon River in the Walyunga National Park (pic 2).

There is no sound here. No bird calls. No crunching of twigs underfoot. No cars. No phone. There is nothing. Not even the river that runs past speaks. It winds its way inaudibly through the grimy tone on tone greenness. It doesn’t bubble. It doesn’t foam. It meanders past unaware of me on the bank, confused and overwhelmed by the quiet. Not even the rain that is falling makes a sound. Drops land silently on my shoulder and on the leaves by my feet. Burnished brown and red cups now hold perfect puddles. I feel this place deep in my soul. It speaks without words and I hear it as surely as I hear him turn to leave.

So yesterday I finished writing my first book

I finished the first draft of my first book yesterday. Five chapters have already been edited with another ten in my lovely proofreader/editor’s inbox. I just wanted to share a few observations while I’m still caught up in the moment.

  1. Writing a book is hard. Harder than I ever imagined, in fact. It’s so very different to the writing I do for my job (web copy, feature articles etc). The writing I do for money requires me to me factual and to the point. The fewer the words the better. With fiction, you need to be descriptive. It took some practice but I finally stopped looking at the word count and just let it all come out.
  2. I’m in mourning. It sounds stupid but as soon as I wrote the final sentence I felt an overwhelming sadness. The characters that I dreamed up have lived their lives. They’ve had their adventures and they’ve shared what I intended for them to share. They have become a part of me, and perhaps were always there, but I’ll miss interacting with them.
  3. It helps to have an overactive imagination. I saw every single scene unfold in my head before I wrote it. I’m a prolific daydreamer. I’m even daydreaming while writing this.
  4. I could never have done this if it wasn’t for 750words.com. Fact. That site helped me immeasurably. I’m on day 309 and I’ve written 308,239 words. I’ve drafted a trilogy, a novella (my next project) and the book I’ve just finished. You want to know how I did it? I just sat down and wrote. There’s no secret, no magic key. If you want to be a writer, you write. Full stop.
  5. There will always be fear. I have a quote on my desktop that reads, “The writer must be in it. He can’t be to one side of it, ever. He has to be endangered by it. His own attitudes have to be tested in it. The best work that anybody ever writes is the work that is on the verge of embarrassing him, always.” – Arthur Miller. This pretty much summed up my fear of having people actually read what I’ve written. I’m perpetually embarrassed.
  6. There is nothing in the world I’d rather do. I know that now. I want to spend my life writing books. I love it that much. Of course bills and living expenses dictate that I can’t right now, but I will. One day.

Next step, editing, then the fun will really begin!

One Year

Rest in Peace Benny

It’s a year ago today, to the minute, that we said goodbye to Benny. I have reminders of him up in the house, on my monitor, in my bookshelf but what I wouldn’t do for just one more pat or smoosh of his sweet little face. It feels like he is close by. Sometimes I even think I hear him breathing, sighing in his sleep the way he used to do when he lay at my feet. I miss him so much. I hope he is happy in heaven.

Why the death of MCA hurts so much

The world lost Adam (MCA) Yauch on Friday 4th May. Unless you’re a Beastie Boys fan this may not mean much. I get it, celebrities die like the rest of us, but this one hit me hard.

I’ve been reading so many blogs, Facebook comments, forum posts and commentary about it and it seems we BB fans are pretty similar. Most of us have loved them since the 80’s. They’ve provided the soundtrack to many life experiences. We matured. They matured. We grew up, together.

Adam Yauch and the Beastie Boys affected my life because it’s through them that I went on the discover and explore the worlds of hip hop and punk. Their music sustained me. It was my lifeline when I was living in a strange land. It was the soundtrack to my teens, twenties, thirties. I waited with baited breath for new releases and listened to the old stuff over and over. It stings to think there will be no more of Yauch’s gritty, gravelly lyrics. Yeah, there’s been tears. Lots of them.

I was thinking about why this death in particular is so hard and I think I’ve come up with a reason, or at least the fragile beginnings of one. As we get older we need to start coming to terms with the fact that losing people, the ones that have influenced us, the ones who have shaped us, even the ones we never even knew, is going to be becoming a regular occurrence. It’s life, yes. Death walks hand in hand with life, but that doesn’t make it fair and it doesn’t make it hurt less. Adam was only 10 years older than me and the idea that he – someone who gave so much to the world – is gone, is a thought that scares the shit out of me. It makes me question my legacy and what I will leave behind. It makes me confront my own mortality.

I think about a world without MCA in it and it doesn’t seem fair. Cancer is such an asshole.

Rest in Peace Adam.

My work in progress

My writing this month has been centered around a new world with new characters. It’s a YA that I’ve been working on and I need to get the first five chapters finished and polished in less than a month. It’s for this. If you’re a YA author you need to check it out.

I just finished up writing for today when I got a case of the guilts. I started to think about my other characters and Book 1 & 2 of the trilogy that I have been working on since 2009. I haven’t spent time with these characters since NaNoWriMo finished and I can feel them, deep inside, where I’ve locked them up so I can complete something else.

It’s an odd feeling knowing that there are other stories waiting to be written. Or completed. Characters that are sitting patiently (or in some cases very impatiently) waiting to be written into scenes again. I wish I could work on everything all at once but I know that it would do my head in. Straddling different worlds, different genres, just isn’t a good idea.

I love writing. I love being a writer. I will love it more when I finally have a book, any book, finished. I love molding characters and gently coaxing them into situations. The hard part for me seems to be pulling everything together. So I’ve essentially blocked out the next few weeks and I will be working on getting Chapters 1-5 finished. It’s daunting y’know? But I’ll push through.

Remembering Wellington

Half a year ago Tony and I went to New Zealand. It’s hard to image that it actually happened really. It seems like so long ago.

I was having an issue with blogging back then and I really didn’t share anything about our trip, including the masses of photos that we took. But I thought I would begin to rectify that with a look at a little cemetery that was behind the first hotel we stayed in – The Bolton (as an aside I am never staying in a hotel that doesn’t have five stars – seriously. We stayed in two during our trip and wow, just wow).

The cemetery was the burial place for a lot of Wellington’s earliest settlers and I spent a good chunk of time going from headstone to headstone reading about their lives and their deaths. It was sad but fascinating.

So here we go. Here’s a look at the Bolton Street Memorial Park.

Bolton Street Memorial Park - Cemetary

Bolton Street Memorial Park - Cemetary

Bolton Street Memorial Park - Cemetary

Bolton Street Memorial Park - Cemetary

Bolton Street Memorial Park - Cemetary

Bolton Street Memorial Park - Cemetary

Bolton Street Memorial Park - Cemetary

So, what’s with the beard thing?

Peter Russell Clarke

Beards, beards everywhere!

You can’t flail around on a busy street without hitting a hipster with a beard. Am I right? I’ve got to be honest with you, I’ve never really gotten the whole beard thing. I’ve just spent the last hour analysing why this might be and I keep arriving at the same conclusion. Here, let me share it with you.

You see, I was born in the 70’s and my formative years were in the 80’s. Child psychologists will tell you that you gather a lot of your ‘baggage’ during from this period because it’s when you are the most moldable. You experience things, they scare the shit out of you, and you ‘live’ (if you can call it that) for 37 years with a fear of ducks. And I should know.

Now the 70’s and 80’s were decades of serious facial hair worship championed, in my world, by men such as Peter (G’Day) Russell (G’Day) Clarke (see above photo), Bill Oddie and my math teacher, Mr Baker. All three were amply bearded and super scary so consequently beards, to this day, conjure memories of swearing and cheese, giant kittens prowling the streets of London and never, ever knowing what x is equal to.

Beards are not whimsical to me. They are not an accessory. They are not twee. They are serious business feller and you should be prepared for some cold hard facts before you start manicuring your follicles.

Here are five solid reasons not to have a beard

1. Beards are itchy. And they don’t just itch you; they itch your special friend too.
2. Beards look really hot. As in your face looks like it’s 25 degrees hotter than the rest of your body. Unless you’re in the Arctic. The Arctic is one of two regions were beards are acceptable. The Antarctic is the other.
3. Beards make you look older. Want to age a decade? Grow a beard. Is that your intention? OK then.
4. Beards attract all kinds of food remnants, which in turn attract vermin. When I leave food on my kitchen counter it attracts cockroaches. You don’t want cockroaches squatting in your beard do you? I didn’t think so.
5. Beards make you look dodgy. What are you trying to hide guy?

The end is nigh

The problem with beards is they have gone the way of visible thongs, faux hawks and Rickrolling – they’ve been embraced by the great unwashed. Once any social phenomenon has that kind of uptake you know it’s coolness currency is devalued.

I’m lucky. I know a trend is over when I hear the woman at the deli talking to a random customer about it. She’s my ugg boot wearing, frosted tip coiffing cultural thermometer. And she’s never, ever wrong.