Weird gifts

This was a weird gift

Inspired by a tweet a month or so ago by Rick O’Shea, about ridiculous art purchases, I decided to release images of possibly one of the strangest gifts I’ve ever been given – a two headed stuffed duck. Now, I love this little fella (and so does @Katyod); he sits in my writing room, happily looking down on me as I work. I like to think he’s spurring me on. But, of course, he got a mixed reaction on Twitter…after all, he’s not quite ‘normal’.

The funny thing is, the reaction I got to this little fella (feel free to suggest a name!) was akin to the reaction I get when I say I’m a writer. Especially when you’re an, as yet, unpublished author. Set in whatever backdrop you like (a party, a shop, a reunion), I’m sure this conversation will resonate with many of you:

“What do you do?”

“I’m a writer.”

“Oh, wow! have I heard of you? Do you have anything published?”

“No, not yet but…”

“Oh. You must be mad!”

*Interested party skulks away*

There’s no denying that writing is a weird gift…after all, you lock yourself away in a room, making up worlds and people, hoping someone other than you/your other half/your retired neighbour will read it one day. You feel driven by the characters, the plot, the twists at the end. You spend nights dreaming about plot blips and days dreaming about a publishing deal. And once you get the publishing deal, you start dreaming of deadlines and starting something completely new.

But lightheartedness aside, this ‘weirdness’ is not limited to writers; and there can be a dark side to creative talent. It’s well known that many of the world’s most creative minds (whether in film, science, art, sculpture, writing, comedy, etc) also suffer from some form of depression/social difficulties/addictions/phobias. Of course, just as many creative folk don’t – but there’s still no denying that creativity and the darker side of the brain may be linked.

Mslexia is currently conducting a survey on creativity and mental health – there are only twelve questions to answer and I think the answers will be enlightening. So, help us to understand the weird gifts we have and click here to take part (deadline Sunday, February 12th).

New beginnings

Our daffodils are nearly out!

It’s the start of the year; a time when everyone, especially writers, thinks about what they want to achieve in the twelve months ahead. There are the usual goals, like giving stuff up we don’t want to (chocolate, wine, meals out) and then there’s the unachievable goals like ‘write a novel in six days’ (while also being the best mum/wife/cook/electrician in the world).

Instead of making goals or resolutions this year, I’ve decided to focus solely on priorities. It feels less intimidating; and if I stray, I can take a peek and get back on track without stressing about the missing bits and feeling like a failure. So, my 2012 priorities are:

1. Writingfor enjoyment as well as publication, with more submissions thrown in.

2. Healthkeep up the outdoors shenanigans and worry less over the little things; they’ll take care of themselves.

3. Funmaking stuff and doing stuff, from knitting to piano, festivals to fishing. And lots of it.

4. Making moneywe’re never going to starve.

I’ve come a long way from the old, corporate me and if I learned anything over the last year, it was that rushing gets you nowhere. Like this skeleton leaf I found in the garden today, I’m going to take my time and let things happen a bit more naturally in 2012.

How will you make 2012 your best year yet?

Nature doesn't hurry - neither will I