Look Both Ways Before You Cross

Looking forward to the new year, but also looking back over the year just passed. Coincidentally, it has been exactly a year since I started this blog.

During that time I have written all of eighty-eight posts (although about 25 are simple quote-and-picture posts). Over the course of the year I have gone through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, reviewed various books on writing, and asked for advice on a myriad of subjects (moving house, staying sane…) which I mostly didn’t get.

I also set goals for myself (see here and here) which I mostly failed to meet, in that I did not finish my WIP by December 31st. But I did make some strides in taking myself more seriously as a writer and doing a bit of would-like-to-be-professional development. As with so many things, Work In Progress.

Among the questions which I have mulled over during the year are whether to keep using my nom de plume (my parents, by some oversight, failed to name me Sinistra at birth) and what precisely it is I am trying to achieve here.


This blog was originally intended as a form of accountability against procrastination, but since no-one is actually holding me accountable but me anyway, that purpose has taken a bit of a back seat.
Procrastination is apparently one of the mysteries of the human condition, as articulated by Paul back in the 50s AD: “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it.” (Romans 7:15, New Living Translation).

Motivation is perhaps key, but I struggle to find a motivation strong enough to overcome tiredness and self-doubt. Duty doesn’t cut it (unlike Frederic, I am not the Slave of Duty); ambition is by no means my strong suit – perhaps I just need to develop more character. Or a means of reminding myself of what it is I stand to lose.

In any case, over the coming year I hope to look more at subjects of interest to more than myself – that is to say, less of the writing, and more of the whatever-I-happen-to-be-obsessed-with-at-the-moment – steampunk, knitting, millinery, sustainability, odd bits of history, or any combination of the above.

Looking back, my most popular post by far (inasmuch as I can tell, since the majority of views are recorded as “homepage/archive”) is Great Wizards of Literature. I blush a little every time I see another hit on it, as it was originally titled Favourite Wizards of Literature, only some were more great than favourite. It wasn’t until after I had clicked ‘publish’ that I realised I had listed one of my own creations as a Great Wizard of Literature.

He isn’t great, really, but he’s doing his best. (If he’s very lucky, he may one day be published.) An excellent example of how not to blow your own trumpet.

You’re doing it wrong.

The gong for Most Under-Appreciated Post (from my point of view, anyway) goes to Mid-Week Quote: Reading, for the play on word(s) if nothing else.

On an entirely unrelated tangent, if your New Year’s Resolution includes being more generous, giving to charity, doing something good for someone else or even (aim high!) saving someone’s life, consider this from Throwim Way Leg, one of the blogs I follow.
Getting an ultrasound machine really will make a life-or-death difference to people in Papua New Guinea. Imagine if your local hospital had no ultrasound, no x-ray, no lab for tests… you get the idea.
And do please feel free to pass the link on to anyone you think might be interested.

Thanking you all for your company in 2013, and looking forward to your company in 2014, I remain,
Sinistra Inksteyne hand250

December: A Sense of Faith

Confession time: I didn’t think when this year began that I’d be able to withstand another year in the Dreaded Day Job. I cried, I begged, I pleaded, I fasted and prayed – and I stayed stuck. It was like fighting with the Tar-Baby – the more I fought the stucker I got (and like the Tar-Baby, He say nuthin’).

Twelve months on, and I’m still at the DDJ, and none of the myriad resignation letters I have composed in thought have yet been set to paper. (A question for any employment lawyers out there: what’s the legal status of an employee who sends in several different resignation letters in one envelope?) But the year has not been wasted.

Resignation Letter

During the year I have worked through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.  (Although I did miss some exercises due to a bout of zombieism bronchitis and I did get a couple of months behind at one point.) This has involved fun things like starting a scrapbook, playing with bubbles and making a jester’s hat. Less enjoyably, there was the dire Week Without Reading. Never Again.

While I haven’t been exactly religious in my observance of the ‘basic tools’ of the Artist’s Way – morning pages and Artist’s Dates – I have used them, and found them useful. One of the best things about the Artist’s Way is that it’s adaptable – not everyone has to do it the same way. It’s alter-to-fit, not One Size Fits All (which it never does).

vintage-teal-dress-alteration

The exercises for Chapter 12 include restorative and expansive tasks like mending something (in my case a summer dress that I can now wear after 18 months in the mending pile) or repotting a plant. I have brought home Bob the Parlour Palm (named after my favourite Simpsons character) and am on the lookout for a larger pot for him.

In the meantime I shall remove the freesia bulbs which ended up in the same pot (long story) and give them a taste of the fridge. For some reason they sprout in autumn, bloom in winter and die off in spring. Are they hemispherically confused?
I dare to dream that bringing Bob home from the DDJ is just the beginning of the longed-for ritual of Cleaning Out The Desk.

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I am becoming unstuck. (Not in the two-sandwiches-short-of-a-picnic way. I think.) I wouldn’t say that the Artist’s Way is the key to creative freedom and the solution to all your problems, but it’s helped me push the boundaries of what I thought possible in my life – and to my delight, some of the boundaries give. (Although they do need to be pushed pretty hard…)

I am glad I did the Artist’s Way, and perhaps someday I shall do it again. But for now, I’m going to look back with gladness – and look forward with hope.