Arty: Them Details!

Oh, it’s been a good day. Nay, a great day! I’ve achieved something and as small as that achievement might be when others look at it, I can truly say it’s a big achievement for me.

Hooray! I can finally say that after several attempts over the years to draw an eye that actually resembles an eye, I’ve managed it. Yes, I so did.
Looky here…


Doesn’t it look good? 🙂

This is the first time ever I’ve managed something of this level in terms of eye. I’ve tried a few times before, but never could capture the realism of it. Yes, they looked like eyes, eyes any amateur art hobbyists would draw. And so I’d kind of figured I could never draw something like that. It was a fact. But, recently, I’ve returned from my first ever cruise, and found it astounding that there was an art gallery on board. An art gallery!

So, in the week bobbing around on the Pacific Ocean, I fell back in love with art. I mean, I’ve always loved art, admired artists, and quietly wished I had even an ounce of their talents. The last time I did any art was probably more than a year ago, or maybe two. Ever since the cruise, and seeing all those artworks up close and personal, I couldn’t quite help myself in feeling inspired to try and create a few pieces of my own, challenge my own abilities. Maybe I could push my self.

I have. The last couple of days I’ve been wondering what I’d like to do; paint, draw, try mixed media? What shall I capture: peacocks (a bird I absolutely love), fruits, people (which I barely do because I don’t think I have the talent to make them look real), or just landscapes etc?

I have no idea, but I’ve been browsing Pinterest for inspiration. I’ve pinned pictures of peacocks and fruits, I’ve drooled over eyes!  And today I thought what the hell, let’s try it again. So I sat down with a new art diary, and graphite pencils, searched the net for an eye photograph I could attempt, and off I went. Below are the photos to show my progress; it took me about an hour maybe.

1. Outlining…

2. Trying to figure out shadows…


3. Enhancing shadows and adding details… them lashes, oh that was interesting.

4. The final product… and I couldn’t quiet believe it myself. I’ve done it. Wtf!

5. The image I used for inspiration. M (my husband) thought it was already a drawing by someone else, and I had to tell him no, that it was a B&W photo I was looking at.

Next up: maybe I’ll try fruits… and some more eyes, in case this was a beginners luck thing.

Shorty short: Last Cab to Nowhere


Dana scurried around in the hubbub of the party still in full swing, her head dashing in and out of rooms, under flung cushions and dresses of unknown victims who simply glared at her.

“Excuse me?”

“What is she doing?”

“Too much to drink,” someone laughed as she rushed past them, back out onto the balcony one last time. She stole a look over the rails while she was at it to see if the cab she’d called had arrived. The street revealed no such phenomenon, for it was a phenomena for a cab that arrives on time on a busy Saturday night.

“Dana? Why are you scaring people? You promised to behave” Her best friend, Kaiser smiled at her from his great height, walking out onto the balcony with multiple beer bottle necks secured in his hands. He passed them around and turned his focus back on her. “Your taxi here yet?”

She shook her head and grabbed the beer from his hand, took a thirsty swig and slid the bottle back in his open hand. “You seen my bag?”

“You lost your bag?” His brows rose high.

“My clutch thing.”

“The things without any handles?” he asked.

Dana smiled and nodded.

“Nope, haven’t seen it.”

“I’ve looked everywhere!” She squeaked in panic, stepping away from people looking at her strangely. Guess lifting skirts off seats and sofas, and looking under beds while people were trying to find privacy wasn’t really good etiquette. Then again, in Dana’s opinion, it was highly rude to be trying to do anything indecent in someone else’s apartment. “I’m gonna miss my flight.”

Kaiser held out 50 dollar note. “I don’t even know why you are taking such a late flight. May as well have gone tomorrow morning if all it is, is you trying to escape your family. I’d gladly drop you off myself.”

Dana took the note and shoved it in her jeans. “I have no desire to sit there and listen to people yabber about a woman I could barely stand. I’d rather be on a sunny beachside sipping mojitos than be there for the whole thing.”

“You’re going south, where beaches are few and colder. And you hate mojitos.” He held her back as she went to go past. “You’re one of the beneficiaries.”

“Exactly! Which means it gives my family reason to glue all eyes on me the whole week. No, thank you. Now get out of my way. I have a taxi to catch.”

Kaiser pulled her in a quick hug. “Should I go in your place?”

“If you want.” She kissed him on the cheek. “Don’t sleep with that one, that one or that one.” She laughingly pointed out random guests.

“What about that one?” Kaiser pointed to a woman striding their way with a charming little cherub on her hip.

“That one will have to do.” Dana laughed. Gave a quick hug to Kaiser’s beautiful wife and child and rushed towards the door. “Keep my bag safe for me!”

As Dana got into the lift, she could hear the faint rumble of thunder. ‘Please don’t rain. Please don’t rain.’ She rushed out onto the street, empty as the first giant drops of rain slapped her cheek. She checked her phone as a messaged buzzed: You taxi is 30 seconds away. 30 seconds wasn’t that long, and Dana stared down the street to see if she could spot the headlights. Nothing.

Laughter rolled down with the rain from the balcony and Dana looked up to see Kaiser’s head, a tiny pin in the grey night sky. “You should just cancel!”

Suddenly, a taxi appeared far too quickly beside her on the kerb. She hadn’t even heard it pull up. A window rolled down. “Ms Dana Beecham?” An elderly man with a well kept grey beard bent down to see her on the sidewalk. “You ordered a taxi?”

The rain began with more gusto and she clambered into the back seat. “How did you know my name?”

The man laughed. “I pay attention.”

The glint in his eyes threw her off. It was as if he knew things. Really knew things. Like for example, she felt almost as if he could tell why she was in a hurry to get away.

A lash of lightening ripped across the sky and the power grid failed instantly. The whole street blacked out, and thunder that followed cut Dana off at, ‘Please take me to…’

“I know where to take you, Miss.” He interrupted, a smile on his face. Somehow he reminded her of her late grandfather. She hadn’t seen the man in over two decades, but it was almost as if the eyes were his. “Buckle up.”

With the rumble of the engine, lights came on one by one on all the buildings as they shot by. In disbelief, Dana kept staring out the window till they were well away from the street.

“How did you know where I want to go?” The thought suddenly disturbed her. “I didn’t tell you.”

The cabbie laughed. “As I said, I pay attention.” He pointed recklessly at a navigation system as if to say that was his source of information.

Maybe, thought Dana. Maybe she’d already told the dispatcher when she’d placed the call.

“Please hurry. I’m running a little late.”

He nodded, turning on the radio station to some mellow music. “Not to worry dear. Sit back and relax. I’ll get you there at the right time.”

The street lights flashed by one by one. The last of her drinks finally catching up with her. She hadn’t closed her eyes in ages, and when she did, it was not with the intention to fall asleep.

“Here we are, Miss. Your destination.”

When Dana woke, it was almost dawn and she was no where near the airport. She was exactly where she didn’t want to be. The whole reason why she was meant to be in a flight over Alice Springs. Not sitting outside her Grandma’s home, exactly how she remembered it. Perfect.

Dana turned to the man in shock. “You said you knew where I needed to be?” Her tone highly accusing. The man nodded, got out, pulled out her luggage from the back seat next to her and came around to open her door.

“Yes. And this is where you needed to be. I got lost there for a bit, but no, in the end, I got you here, safe and sound!” He beamed. Her grandfather’s eyes smiled down at her and she couldn’t really get angry at him. Instead, she crossed her arms and refused to get out.

“Don’t you think you are being a little childish?” he asked.

Offended, she was about to protest when the front door opened and her mother in pyjamas walked out, looking at her directly. “Dana! You came.”

The man stepped aside and allowed her to exit the cab. He handed her her bag and walked away.

“How much do I owe you?”

The man smiled. “We can decide that later.” He doffed his hat and slipped into his cab. Before long pulling out as Dana pulled her bag along reluctant. What did he mean by that?

“Hey, Mum.”

“Hey, yourself. Look at you? So skinny.”

Dana couldn’t help but feel the lump in her throat as she eyed the facade. It wasn’t where she needed to be. Was it? All those memories pressed against her mind. All those desperate attempts to get away. And there she was, miraculously about to walk into a home she hadn’t stepped foot in over 5 years for a woman she had loved as much as possible, but hated just the same.

Home sweet home.

Writing: Finding Motivation when all you want to do is the ‘P’ word. 

Procrastinate, that is. Mind you, we don’t normally wake up in the morning saying ‘Hey, I know what I’m gonna do today. And that is do everything else but the thing I should do.’ No, unfortunately it’s the opposite. With the dawning of our day, be it 5AM in the morning (if you are an early bird), or closer to midday, we all wake up thinking, ‘Today is the day. Today is it. I’m gonna do it!’ And about halfway out of bed, you forget your pledge and slip into slippery slopes of getting distracted by this and that, a stray thought that leads you to do one thing after the other till you realize the whole day has been spent and you have slithered back into bed feeling disappointed. Of course, in that last heroic stance you think maybe you should just start that piece now. Just a matter of stretching over and grabbing your tools. But then again, who is going to sleep for you? Right?

I have been fighting and failing to write. Procrastination always gets in the bloody way! And that got me thinking, what is it about this year that has proven to be such a challenge? (Of which there have been a few valid distractions.) Most years I pump out at least a book, and a few scripts, not to mention the many odd things I post here. But 2016 has been that whimsical year. September. Well hello there, how do you do? It’s almost gone too. Meaning only a quarter of the year is left and so much more to write.
Nowadays, I troll social media for inspiration, something to drive me to write. When once I used to be able to write any random thing, this year, despite the many quotes and prompts pinned on Pinterest, my interest in writing as much as I used has dwindled. I’m a sporadic writer. So sporadic indeed that it’s actually started to really bug me. And bug me it does, hence this article.

Every writer has to get in the right headspace to write. Everyone. I know as writers we evolve over time, develop our styles, our voices, our routine. However, what most people won’t admit to is, we evolve into creatures of habit, we seek out comfort zones that will put us in the mood for writing straight away. And these spaces, these sanctuary hold great power over us. It becomes sacred, and the thought of writing else become less and less welcomed.

My space used to be cafes, but mostly I could write anywhere once a sentence or two were spelt. Nowadays, it feels as if something inside is calling for a dedicated writing space. Too long have I gone without that corner sofa in a humming cafe, that isolated-yet-I’m-still-in-public feeling that allowed me to people watch at a safe distance. Writing space. Think about that. It could be your room. It could be that park across the road from work, or the cafe down a couple go blocks. Or it could just be a piece of music that sets your mood.

The point is, find motivation. Do whatever it takes to kick start that brain of yours. Once you start it, it will do its thing. Sometimes, I write a simple micro poetry and post it on Twitter to the same satisfaction I get if I had written a whole chapter for my current work-in-progress (which of course I have quite a few).

Procrastination is a habit my dears. A terrible habit. One that should come with a warning label; ‘Beware! Distractions may cause delay in achievement of ones happiness and desires!’

Or something to that effect. Today’s motivation has been this effort to psyche myself up. From tomorrow, or there off, here is hoping that I can kick some ‘P’ butt and get on with what I need to do. No buts, no ifs. Think of the future. Think of your goal. And keep that gaol in mind. What’s mine for the rest of the year? Finish the book, and a rewrite a script.

There. I said it. 3 months, plenty of distractions. Can I do it? I sure hope so. At least, I’d like to think I’ll try.

Fingers are crossed. So crossed.

Reel World: My little film is showing somewhere!

As it turns out, this year is nearly at its speedy end. It’s later in October and we only have two months left to accomplish anything we set out to do this year. Where’s the time rewinding clock? If only Back to the Future was possible! Seems to be the week for it. At least that’s the buzz this week.
There is however another little buzz in my life, the buzz of a short film I was involved in the making of finally hitting the silver screen across various Australian cities starting today.

I’m nervous and curious, and excited and terrified all at the same time. What’s worse is that due to festivals and other commitments I am not there in the city of Perth observing the audience as they react to the film. As a writer-director, this tends to be the most nerve-wrecking moment. Not the countless hours preparing to shoot, nor the countless hours spent shooting it and cut it etc. No. It’s this, waiting for feedback.

Can I fast forward a couple of hours to hear how the screening went? Haha. That would be something, wouldn’t it?

Here’s the teaser for the film in case you would like to check it: Dhago (Nepali short film)

IMG_6677

I’ll report back to you tomorrow and let you know what the word is on the streets. Wish I could have been there, but alas, it’s still an exciting time!

Writing: Never ending edits

I absolutely get terrified when editing my own works. Absolutely terrified. Not excited as I am when I write. The terror comes from the fact that I know I will be slicing and dicing, in true ‘kill your darlings’ style, and yet, yet, it will still not be perfect enough, flawless. Why? Why must this be such a hard task?!

I know that most writers, myself included love writing. We do. Other people find solace in shopping, in getting pampered, in sitting around by the beach and lounging, etc. the normal stuff you know. Writers find joy in writing. We do it because we love the rush of a new world that captures our imagination: the characters, their flaws, their stories.

We feel elated when we finish our first draft. I still remember the first time I finished my first novel. I think I may have literally done a jumping-giddy-run-on-the-same-spot dance before realizing I was standing in front of med building waiting for my friends to escape their microbiology lab.


But the thing is first draft of anything is always crap. We wouldn’t give it to anyone to read before we have had a chance to run through it and smooth it out somewhat. The real writing happens on the editing table. Which becomes excruciatingly painful to writers starting out, and still quite hard for others who have been through the grill before.

I’m doing a final comb through of ‘Charming Mr Stewart’ before sending it for final edit. Mind you, it has already gone through two rounds of editors. Editing is a job that never finishes, truly. And it’s not just a grammar here and punctuation there. Editing sometimes completely changes the landscape of a story from its first draft. I’m learning to kill my darlings and it’s not easy. If you are writing a piece you want to publish, I guess you have to make sure it’s as good as it can be. So my advice, don’t be in an impatient rush. And the other, DONT BE AFRAID TO DELETE WHAT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE, or what is redundant. Cull, cull, cull.

I must do these myself:

– remove adverbs and replace with verbs (i.e. Words ending in  -ly)

– remove the words ‘very’ and ‘that’ and so many filler words,

And many more. I’m learning the art of editing my own work through examples on pinterest. Hey, it’s been helpful!

Two weeks ago I swept through the whole MS (manuscript) and it shed some weight from 100,000 words plus to under 86,000 words.

Today, I’m starting another sweep based on feedback from beta-readers and have a feeling the story will loose some more weight. I’m not worried about the story becoming skinny, I’m just worried I may loose some aspects of the story if I’m not careful. I mustn’t leave a tale full of holes!

Bit of a nail-biting moment. Yikes.

Writing: What you NEED to be a writer.

You want to be a writer do you? You want to enjoy knowing that people are reading your words, imagining the world in their head that you have crafted? You want to know that people love them? You have tons of story ideas floating around in your head that you could write? Good. Very good. 

But. And yes, there is a but. You need to stop coming up with stories. Stop. There’s is no point in coming up with 1 story, 10 stories, or hundreds. No point if you don’t actually sit down and start writing them. In fact, not good enough if you don’t sit down and finish writing them. Key word there – finish. 

What lies ahead once you have finished writing the first draft can only be described as a bed of needles you have to walk over to reach the other side. I’m being blunt. Why? Well, it’s one thing to dream of being a writer, it’s another to actually attempt it. It’s a difficult journey marred with many disappointments, struggles, doubts, anger and frustration. You will want to give up many times along the way. You will continue to doubt your work. Is it good enough? 

Unfortunately, someone else needs to tell us this.
How do you make sure your writing is of industry standard? How do you know it can hook a reader and keep them till the very ‘end’? Before you decide to even attempt to knock on publishers doors, make sure you do this: read the story from start to finish yourself. I don’t mean this as in you edit as you go. Just read it, as if it’s another book and you are an audience. If you can hold your own interest then be sure you may hold other people’s interest too. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you are a God-gifted writer and someone should offer you a deal already. We all make mistakes. Even the polished writers who have been published multiple times. Here is what you need to do.

Get your story assessed by a professional. Find out if the plot is weak, if your characters are convincing, if there are any logical problems in your MS, if you need to go back and write an entire section, or cut out a whole chunk. You need to FIX these before you can think about polishing/editing your work. Grammar, punctuation and spacing are not your first priority. Your priority first of all is to make sure your story translates as best it can on paper. It’s events, it’s interweaving plots, it’s characters and emotions etc. After that, go over your work a few time yourself. You’d be surprised at the number of mistakes you can correct yourself as a writer. Then, I strongly recommend getting an editor onboard. They will help you iron out your MS and make it look presentable. 

And this is just the one quarter of your job! 

What’s left are some of the most daunting tasks: query agents/publishers, submit your work, wait biting your nails, then if you find representation or a book deal, it’s a whole other part you have to work with others on – planning, layout, cover page, edits, and marketing.
I don’t mean to discourage anyone who wants to write from actually doing it. I just wanted to tell you, stop talking about writing and write. It’s a whole lot of fun whether you intend to get published or just get your family and friends to read them. 

I leave you with these words…

  

Poem: Blind

As I sit here hours milling away slowly,

let me tell you a story of a blind man and his sin.
He sees no colour to the seasons, 

they hold no meaning.

It’s the sounds that tell him season turn,

by the silencing trees and the crunch beneath feet.

It’s the fragrance that sing of spring,

or the bone chilling wind that heralds winter.

He tastes the earth through tangelo

or a glass of red,

but no way can he describe the beauty as we see. 
His eyes are his hands and feet, his ears and his skin. 

He can tell you many things, the way we dare not see,

but he can not read emotions on faces unseen.
Think not to fool a man who gives his friendship blindly. 

That sin is purely yours indeed.

Writing: Ideal Space

Lets face it, if you are one of us who are inclined to write, we are somewhat obessive about how or where we write. Our best writing is done in spaces that are most comfortable. The most inspiring. In order for this, the space needs comfort, the space needs to be beautiful, and most of all, if our idea well is facing drought, it is capable of giving us a bucket of water and telling us to use it wisely.

At the moment, my ‘writing space’ is my bed. My best time to write is just before I fall asleep. In other words, I wish I had a designated space which would be anywhere else but my place of rest. I do have a desk in a literal nook in my room, and it’s just not that inspiring. I am surrounded with blank walls, which really doesn’t help the ‘well’.

I was browsing Facebook the other day and some one had shared a post on she-sheds. What? Of course, this meant I had to find out what in the world this new trend was. When I saw them, oh did I wish I had one of these!


 I mean, look at these divine things. Like a little private cottage you can decorate anyway you like. To suit your own style and needs. I can almost image what mine would look like if I am ever so lucky to have one in the future. I really want one. It can be my ‘writing space’. I don’t care for the trend that suggests these she-sheds are an answer to man-caves. I just love the idea of having a hide away, away from the gadgets, surrounded by items that can inspire me to continue writing.

This is what mine would look like inside. I can see myself sitting by those beautiful windows looking out to nature, the smooth grains of wood where my writing notepad will sit waiting eagerly for me to pour stories on.
What would your ideal writing space look like? 😀

Shorty short: So it comes knocking

Well, well, well. What do I have here? Lol. I was just going through my many notes on my phone just now and found this quirky odd piece I had written a few months ago using a prompt. I was trying to think why I had written such a weird piece only to remember that I was challenging myself to use a prompt. It was ‘demon’ and I obviously didn’t want to write the more obvious demon featuring stories, so here is my entry. It’s not finished yet I feel. I might attempt to round off the story in the next few days. Enjoy!

So it comes knocking

It was after dark. Heath stood staring through the glass of the cafe. He wanted what Byron had. Money, title, and the gorgeous Kiya as his lover. More than anything, he wanted Kiya. It’s what the boy wanted too. He could sense it, squirming inside, begging in a tiny high pitched voice ‘Leave her alone!’ Heath wanted to laugh as he glimpses the dream the boy harboured. Love, ugh, it almost made Heath retch if he were so capable of retching. ‘Shut up and play dead!’ he grumbled, walking through the glass as if it were nothing.

Kiya only noticed him as the mop head slapped across the front of boy’s shoes. She looked up, startled. ‘Oh, it’s only you, Peter. You almost gave me a heart attack.’ She tried laughing.

Heath didn’t say a word. The boy kept screaming, ‘Run, Kiya, run.’ Which was rather amusing seeing as Heath could do whatever he wanted to Kiya and boy wouldn’t be able to budge. Heath had ideas alright. Naughty, nasty ideas, right there on the floor.

‘How’d did you get in?’ She eyed the still locked door of the cafe. Heath shrugged and moved forward.

‘I want you.’

‘What?’

Heath grinned a crooked grin. Boy was flaying inside. He liked the struggle, the power. Heath played a little scenario in boys head, of all the things he was going to do to her.

‘Peter?!’ She called out, holding an arm out. Heath reached for it. ‘Are you okay?’

‘Yes,’ Heath finally spoke, his voice gritty and distant than he had expected.
Kiya hooked her hand through his. Something suddenly burned Heath and he yelled. Kiya’s smile widened.

‘Heath, Heath, Heath.’ She tutted. ‘Let the human go and we can play. Isn’t that what you wanted?’

Kiya suddenly dropped away, and in her place sud, Sunny, Heath’s ex from Hell. The iron from her ring still stung him hard.

‘I’ll get you for this!’ He breathed before her muttered enchantment expelled him from the boy’s body.

‘The boy is mine,’ was the last Heath heard. ‘You can’t do anything right.’

Poem: Whole

Do not let her cry alone,

do not sing the blues

do not call names

in anger that consumes.

She walks with your hate and her fear

no energy left to battle on.

Wish it would stop but knows it won’t

not till her numbered days come.

All her jumbled feelings muddle

all the doubt and worthless bouts.

Do not let her cry alone, no.

For she may never come out whole.

She may never come at all.

(A poem that may not be much, but with it is the truth that you never know the demons one battles alone, so be kind, be wise, and most of all, ask that important question ‘Are you okay?’ It’s not mental health week but here’s to caring anyway.)