And tentatively…

I think I have my mojo back.

I used to be able to write thousands of words in a day but recently I’ve experienced a bit of a slump in my writing. So, at first I wanted to throw in the towel and declare myself bust, but then, with the encouragement of Aheila from the Writeahoclic’s blog and my own nagging persistence, I dragged myself into a series of self imposed goals. They weren’t terribly hard to reach, but they weren’t for the faint hearted either.

Now, I’m not someone who likes to blow the horn prematurely, but I think, I suspect, I hope that I might’ve dragged myself out of the slump. This morning, in an hour’s session, I sat down and wrote 1700 words. They just came out of nowhere with snappy dialogue, some irritated characters and a love for the story which I was writing it in. And I can tell you, when I looked at my word count, I felt good. I felt great actually because I felt as if I had once again proven to myself that I can do it.

But, it did bring home a few things that I listed earlier and that is that writing is a discipline. That you need to sit down and practice what you do. With NaNoWriMo around the corner I can’t help but feel that it’s very important for people to start practicing. They don’t need to type out 1667 words a day – but they should maybe think of doing at least 1000. Like jogging, you need to be writing fit to do it well.

And, I realized it’s very important to write with characters that you like, even if nobody else does. Love your story, love your words. They are yours and nobody else’s. Something I realized when I was younger was that if didn’t write my stories, if didn’t put my characters to paper, nobody else will. Because they are mine, and if I wanted other people to learn to love them as much as I did, I had to tell people about them. And I could only do that by writing.

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No, Harry No.

I almost got a dog tonight.

Almost.

Few months ago, my Bull Terrier passed away. I didn’t share this, because it had been in a very rough time for me. I had a very important job interview scheduled on the day that my brother decided to have The Deed done and… Yes. It had been a terrible time, accentuated by the fact that my dog was losing a year long battle with brain cancer. The weekend before he passed on he had had a series of massive and terrible seizures. He lost his dignity so to speak and that terrible weekend, as I watched him lying in his own mess, shaking, I realized that I can do him a favour that very few people have the privilege to have.

I can give him a dignified end.

So, The Deed was done and my old sausage dog was left alone on a very big yard. She had never been terribly worked up about my other dog, but – as time went by, I began to realize that she was really, very lonely. Now that I’ve started working, I can see the toll of what being an only dog is like. And, it’s not really fair towards her. So, I’ve been keeping an eye out for another dog, without really looking for one actively. My family knew that I was doing this, but decided not to comment. When the right animal came my way, I would take it. If it doesn’t, I will wait.

On Sunday, my mother came to me with a proposition or rather a story. People that she knew had acquired a schnauzer (at that time, I wasn’t sure whether it was a miniature, standard or giant) and was looking for a good home for it. They didn’t tell me whether it was male or female, but they did tell me that it was well trained. So, squaring my courage, I decided to go and have a look at the dog, thinking with a rush of excitement, that this might well be my next companion.

As it turned out, the venture was a complete bust. The dog, Harry, was male – and I actually want a female dog. He hyper, he bit (nibble really) people, he knocked little kids over and I could see him jumping on my old sausage dog and hurting her. He wasn’t trained to heal, he wasn’t trained to sit… He wasn’t really trained at all. Normally, I wouldn’t have minded taking a dog like this, because you can work with animals like this. But – I’m very busy at the moment, as it my brother who would become co-owner. And, we both have certain ideas of what we want in a dog and a schnauzer somehow never quite fit into the picture.

So it was with a touch of regret and relief (if the two can be felt together) that I said no to Harry. Repeatedly because he didn’t listen, but only once to his current owner.

He is not the dog for me.

Though I hope that he finds a good home.

They don’t make them like they used to…

Cartoons have changed.

I’ve come to realize that the days of the old Batman cartoons, of Duck Tales or Tail Spin, or Gummi Bears were forever lost and in their stead a new era of cartoons which features loud mouthed characters, stupid adults and badly drawn worlds. Cartoons weren’t… Real anymore. Somewhere between the creation of Cow and Chicken and Spongebob Squarepants something died. Something precious.

I found an old movie from a cartoon series that I vaguely remembered watching (Gargoyles). I can’t really tell you what happened in the series, it was only the name that leapt out at me as I browsed through the cheap DVD section, but when I looked at the disk I found myself smiling as I remembered vaguely, being very content and impressed with the content. I hesitantly bought it for my nieces (aged 7 and 4) but decided to watch it myself first to see whether I agreed with the content matter. Call me old fashioned, but I feel very strongly there are certain things my sister’s kids must not see.

I thought that watching the movie would be a chore but as it turned out, I was wrong.

I loved it.

The characters were noble and good. The bad guys vile and scheming. They were beautifully drawn, the voice acting not over done, and the jokes calm but good. There were no shouting, no silliness, no snotty teenagers besting their parents. There was good, fighting evil and winning. There was friendship, heartache and a promise that no matter how bad things were, they will always get better. There was deception but ultimately, the righteous won.

It made me sad though, because I realized that this is like a relic from a lost time that the cartoons that they made today just didn’t have any of this in anymore. As technology advanced, quality died. And it will most probably not be resurrected.

But, at least it will be preserved. In cheap DVDs and in the hearts of those who remember them. I have decided to try and find more of these relics, so that I can show them to my nieces and try and teach them what these cartoons taught me. Because their lessons were many and they made me smile, without making me cringe and shudder, wondering what was happening to our world and kids today.

Editing. Grr.

Editing.

Something all writers and potential writers do, but something I do feel that I somehow didn’t sign up for. I did a massive amount of editing last night on a chapter in my Kim Possible fan fiction story, The Healer’s Touch and I have to admit, it really broke my speed. I had it in my inbox for two days before I finally worked myself up to looking at it. The problem was that I had had trouble starting it, and knew very well that it was going to need some major work to complete it.

Luckily though – I have an amazing (two actually) Betas, who got my work up to speed and ironed out the bits that I had trouble with.

The problem still remained that I would have to do some editing on my own, putting the finishing touches on a piece of work I couldn’t round off the first time. It was a long, agonizing process, hindered by a terribly critical Inner Editor who had taken offence from a somewhat bad and critical review on the last chapter. I struggled with it, turned it around, almost took out half of it until I realized that I would have to replace the words that I took.

From seemikedraw.wordpress.comAnd then out of desperation, to try and determine where I thought I had gone so horribly wrong, I decided to read it to myself. I sat in my quiet room, almost close to midnight, and played around. I did voices. I did accents. I read with the motion I knew the characters were speaking and quiet suddenly, everything seemed better. The flow was good, comfortable. The dialogue intense, but easy at the same time. As I ironed out the last of the bits, I realized that it wasn’t my Inner Editor speaking to me, but my Inner Critic, someone whom I feel should be ignored at all costs.

You see, editing is necessary, but so is having faith in yourself and faith in your writing. So when you struggle, I have a hint that I can maybe give you, perhaps even a piece of advice.

Sit back. Read it. Aloud. Maybe even in a Scottish Accent.

You’ll hear then what makes sense, feel on your own tongue what doesn’t. And remember, that it’s your story. If you’ve received one bad review in 15, know that that’s just one. There were 14 other people who did like your work. J

Editing is necessary, but it shouldn’t be a chore and certainly shouldn’t be an excuse to dish your own work.

Being Basjan – Part 3

And quite suddenly, a year had passed.

Exactly a year.

365 days ago, I had left my home early in the morning to go and collect my horse. The scruffy horse who had cowered away in a corner whenever anybody tried to get near him. The horse who would not let me catch him and used to run away from me for hours. The horse whose coat was dry and his skin flaky. The horse whose feet were in a mess.

The horse, who became mine and changed my life.

A lot has changed in the past year. It had been an interesting time for me, adjusting from a life abroad where I worked as a professional in my profession to a life here, in this country with all its politics, where I worked as a waitress for twelve months. It had had its ups and its incredible downs but one thing had remained in place, had settled me and anchored my soul.

Basjan.

My horse had changed as much as my life has in the past few weeks. Gone was the frightened animal that I had gone to collect from his previous owner and in its place was a steady horse, with a quick grasp on matters, a strange sense of humour and a gentleness that was so fragile, yet so precious. He wasn’t scared of me anymore, didn’t shy away when I went to him. When I got Basjan, he was tired and thin, with a series of bad habits I thought I would never get out of him. I made my mistakes and he made his and at some point, when I had shattered his comfort zone by accident, I found myself wondering if I had made the right decision to buy him, whether I was doing more harm than good.

But, we learned together and I believe that we triumphed at the end.

Basjan was now an energetic, stocky horse who was incredibly quick on his feet and absolutely loved running. I had discovered that both he and I liked using voice commands a lot more than we did the physical aids of hands and heels. I trained him to stand on command (and stand he will until I ‘unstood’ him). It had proved invaluable when I had to go and catch him in the field, where one (or sometimes two) clear ‘stand’ commands would get him to patiently wait for me to mount. I could ride him without a saddle and a bridle, guiding him with my voice and touch alone.

He had learned that I won’t hurt him and in turn I had learned that his fear would always be something to consider. Whatever had been done to him in the past would never leave him and that sometimes, we will have bad days but that they were no reflection of his trust in me, only of his trust in people. And I had learned that I could trust him, that he would never do something intentionally to hurt me.

He wasn’t the horse which I had seen myself buying, but he was the horse that I needed. When my Other Half met him, it was remarked that I couldn’t have found a horse that was more like me if I had put out an add. As it turned out, Basjan and I were very much alike, our moods, our emotions, our perception of other people and I think that in the end, that was what had made me willing to work with him and able to for that matter. I treated him as I wanted to be treated. I respected him as I wanted to be respected.

You see, when I was younger, I mused that horse riding was build on three corners. Trust, Love and Respect. I’ve seen a lot of things in the 15 years that I have been riding and I have realized that very few people realize that, that you cannot be a good horsewoman or man if you didn’t respect the animals that you worked with. In turn then, they wouldn’t trust you and if they could not trust you, they could not love you and, that – that defeated the whole object of the exercise.

I have never seen myself as a horse’s master, but his equal and his other part. These strong beasts allow us to ride them, to work with them and they put their trust in us to ride them in places where they won’t be in danger. In turn they ask a tiny bit of our soul, which is why for those who truly understand what I’m talking of, it is so hard to be apart from them, why you’ll always find a bit of yourself yearning to be where they are.

Basjan holds my soul. Not all of it of course, but a tiny part, a precious part which I cannot live without and in a strange way, he’s not mine – but I am his.