On Being the Middle Child

Apparently yesterday, Sunday 2 April, was middle child day. Living in the southern hemisphere as I do, I’ve only just found out about this. We’re already more than half way through Monday as I write.

However, the whole concept of middle child fascinates me for two reasons, the most obvious one being that I am a middle child. I’ve read so many things about the negative side of being a middle child, especially of feeling left out, but that hasn’t been my case at all. I loved being a middle child. The family position proved very advantageous to me.

You see, while the other two were being doted on by our parents, as middle child I was left to be independent and free. There were plenty of times, especially during my teenage years, when I was grateful for my parents not really knowing what I was up to. And then, if I wanted to curl up with a book on my own, no one actually noticed.

The other reason I was interested to learn about middle child day is related to one of my current writing projects. I’m exploring what life was like for me in the 1950s and 1960s through the eyes of a middle child. The revisiting old memories is proving lots of fun.

So, to all middle children out there, I hope you had a happy day. I’d love to hear about your middle child experiences and whether it was a positive or not-so-positive experience for you.mice-395831_960_720

Preparing for Non-Fiction Print Publication

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When you self-publishthe research and writing are the easy parts. The real work begins after the last full-stop is placed on the page.

First there is the editing. I was fortunate to have funding this time and so for the last year I’ve worked with a wonderful mentor / editor throughout the writing. This had many advantages as I learned how to correct my mistakes as I wrote. The final edit was certainly made easier because of this. Consistency was an early challenge, making sure that things such as dates, numbers, titles and punctuation were treated the same way throughout the book. However, the regular monthly contact with my editor soon helped me iron out all my early irregularities.

Citing references was another challenging process, especially as I wasn’t as thorough as I should have been in the early stages. Then there were the photos, deciding which to use and whether I had permission to do so. Some fell into the too-hard basket and as my self-imposed publishing deadline approached I omitted them.

Eventually I felt my work was done, just days before I was due to deliver the manuscript to the designer at the printery. But that is another story.

A Middle Child Considers Riding a Bike

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The life of a middle child can be somewhat solitary, especially when your brother is nine years older than you and your sister not yet old enough to be an interesting playmate. I found my own amusements, one of those learning to ride a bike and being able to venture forth alone into the wider world. Most of my early years play was on my own, my only company my own imagination. One day, probably about the age of six, I was investigating the darkest corners of our old overcrowded shed, when my curiosity rested on Mum’s old bike resting in the corner.

The bike and I weren’t complete strangers. When I was much smaller I’d travelled around town with my mother, perched in a tiny seat above the back wheel behind her. At first she’d pick me up and place me in the seat, but eventually I preferred climbing up on my own without her help. My instructions were clear when riding in that seat – hold on tight to the seat and don’t let go. There were no child safety restraints in the 50s. I must also sit still, very still, otherwise my mother might wobble and we’d both crash to the ground. So I sat in obedience, part terrified, part thrilled by moving effortlessly through the air, my feet far above the ground, my feet resting on little footrests to avoid them straying into the spokes.

The risks seemed high – mangled feet, falling from my perch, or movement that caused my mother to wobble and crash – all enough to keep my four year old body rigid with fear. Yet the excitement was even greater. I felt so grownup to be moving on wheels and so envious of my mother’s riding skill. I’d laugh and declare to the world that I was king of the castle.

New Book, New Writing

Two years can disappear as fast as water rushing down a plug hole when you’re immersed in a writing project. That is an excuse, not an explanation, for my absence here. Now that my writing project is finished and my transition to full-time writer is complete I’m excited about renewing my presence here.

The social history project mentioned in my previous post back in 2015 has come to an end and the book, Down at the Baths is about to be launched next week. I’ll post a sneak preview of the cover here and more details about it will follow shortly.

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New projects are lined up and my writing life is looking exciting – to me anyway. I’m looking forward to sharing it with you

New Year, New Writing

Time seems to pass so quickly, they say it’s a sign of getting older. But, somehow 2014 disappeared, in a flourish I might add, and the new year is already into its fifth day here in New Zealand. That has been just enough time to start getting my writing life back on track, to set a few priorities and prepare to put it all in action.
I’ve been floating around a little over the last twelve months. Writing needs commitment and mine took a holiday. My writing progress has been higgledy-piggledy for the last year, blame too much immersion in a couple of delightfully time wasting online projects. But the time has come to be strong, to move forward with the writing I always intended to do.
The first of those projects is a return to more shaping and crafting, more challenges in the way of writing longer pieces and submitting them somewhere. The first piece is well under way, meandering toward a probable submission to a new New Zealand journal – non-paying, but oh the thrill if it’s accepted.
The other major 2015 project is my proposed local social history book. Research has been on hold for over a month and I need to give myself a shake up and reappear at the library archives.
So there it is, 2015 is officially labelled a writing year for me and I’m rather excited. Hopefully I’ll be more regular in sharing along the way. Happy New Year to you all.

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Blending Your Stories with those of Your Community

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As we know, writing life stories is popular at the moment, recording stories from our past so they are not lost to future generations. We may all think we have nothing special to tell but, from experience, what we find everyday and uneventful, others find fascinating.

Have you ever considered blending your stories with those of your community? Social stories give a reader so much information about the past. Take the hotel in the photo above for example. There are many stories I could tell about this building, from my own family and personal experience back to fascinating things I’ve learned about its history.

All communities have buildings that have been demolished, replaced with more modern constructions. There are also buildings that may be in danger of vanishing some time in the near future. If the stories relating to these buildings are not recorded, part of your community social history is lost.

Why not blend your own stories with those of your community. Start writing them down while you can.

What Do Driftwood and Writers Have in Common?

The last few weeks I’ve wandered a few deserted winter beaches here in New Zealand, letting my thoughts wander where they will. As I sat in the car one rainy day, looking over the driftwood on the stony beach, my mind started thinking about the stories of the wood. Each of those pieces had their own story – their own starting point and the adventure they’d taken down the river into the harbour.

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I picked up my pen and started to write, having no idea where my thoughts would take me. I imagined how each piece of driftwood had cast it’s story into the ocean before being washed up onto the beach.

Isn’t that what we do as writers? We release the stories that lay deep within us, letting them free to find their own landing place in the world. Don’t hold of your stories too long. Cast them out for others to read before it is too late and you too become beached in your final resting place.

Make a start today, start writing your stories. There are others out here who would love to read them.