Writing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In the first half of 2012 I commenced university study in a professional writing course. I did two units and I passed both but felt I didn’t want to do any more. It is not cheap and it is a lot of work and pressure.
Mid year break came along and I had some time off to reflect. I decided I WILL do the last two units this semester (which starts today). I am studying online and it requires some discipline to keep at it.
Last semester one of the activities was about grammar. I did a lot of research and thought I had it sorted but I only got 4.5 out of 10 marks! No doubt there is some debate in writing circles about what is right and wrong in grammar. I reviewed my work and I could see the mistakes I made but I still don’t feel confident in it.
I decided that I need to take this more seriously. I NEED TO LEARN! I can see that writing is like any other creative pursuit where skill is developed over time. If I want to be a professional in this field then I will have to put in the effort to lift my standard in writing. Can I keep up the motivation? I hope so – it is up to me.
In December 1982 our family moved from Melbourne, Victoria to Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. The photos you see are from around that time. It is situated about 400 km east of Broome and is about 2,524 km from the state capital of Perth. The population was predominantly Indigenous and we came there to work in the community store. My former husband was there to help the manager as storeman. In 2006 the population of the Fitzroy Crossing town-site had grown to around 1,500, with a further 2,000 or so people living in up to 50 Aboriginal communities and out-stations in the region. The main industries in the area are tourism, cattle stations and mining.
Prior to European occupation Fitzroy Crossing and the lands and valleys around it were the home for a number of Aboriginal language groups including the main group, the Bunuba People. Other groups include the Gooniyandi people, the Nyigina and the Walmakarri people.
Many Baobab trees grow in the area
calm before the storm
I discovered I was pregnant not long after arriving from the long car journey from Perth. It was good news and we settled into the community fairly quickly. I assisted the adult Indigenous women with some classes in reading and writing. I had no earlier experience in teaching however I learnt on the job.
The lack of resources tends to make us more creative. We did activities together and then wrote stories about them in their own words. The women already spoke 3-4 different languages and were very capable of taking on one more. They were very keen to learn. Some of the ‘students’ had suffered leprosy in the past and as a result, some of their fingers were missing or disabled. This created a challenge in learning how to use a pen or pencil for the first time however they showed great determination.
This experience started me on my journey of writing and involvement in adult education for many years following. The countryside is stunning with its vast contrasts in colour and extremes in temperature and tropical downpours in the rainy season (October to April).
Fitzroy Crossing floods during the rainy season
Living in the region was a really memorable experience. I am sure I will still be telling stories about it when I am in my rocking chair :-) Some life experiences are like that, aren’t they?
Sources: Photos are my own and some of the information I gleaned from Wikipedia.
Today I officially enrolled in my writing course. I didn’t realise I could do it online. I had waited for a letter in the post!
I will be doing four units over twelve months. It is an online course with no face-to-face contact. I didn’t research the course very thoroughly so there is a little apprehension. It is much easier to take on a challenge if it is what I want - so I hope I got it right :-)
The course consists of four units and they are:
- Writing Technical, Scientific and Business Reports
- Writing Applications, Tenders and Proposals
- Production, Editing and Design
- Communication Practices.
They DO sound interesting! I did similar work during my career with the Government so hopefully it won’t be too challenging. A little bit of challenge is ok but not too much!
People ask me why I don’t do a Creative Writing class. There are a few reasons, with the main one being I am not comfortable in that area. To be creative I would have to loosen up a bit, let my imagination flow, get totally absorbed in the process – I find that to be a bit scary. Also, the course I have chosen may offer earning potential down the track, without having to write a novel!
I read more non-fiction books. I like my books to be about real people and real stories. That is why I like to read autobiographies. I sometimes enjoy a good detective novel or mysteries for a change. I am now re-reading “1984″ as my son downloaded it onto the Kindle he very kindly gave me for my birthday. I find it interesting (and a bit gloomy) to be looking back at 1984 and not looking toward the future. It was first published in 1949 and written by George Orwell.
Anyway, I can’t wait to get started on my study in February. I only work part-time so it won’t be a problem finding time to do the work.
I actually started a Uni course with this same university in 1985. I withdrew from it due to the demands of being a single-parent of three young sons. I never dreamed that the opportunity would arise again and I am really grateful for the opportunity.
Have a great day!
- Monday’s Creative Writing Prompt Based on 2012 (savvywritingcareers.wordpress.com)
- New Blog Development (kristinbergenewriter.wordpress.com)
- The Want to Write (coffurge.wordpress.com)
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What a loaded question this one is! It is true that we are encouraged to keep on going, no matter what. I said that myself in a recent blog.
Do you remember a woman rower in the Olympics in recent years - she stopped rowing and let the other members of her team down? There was outrage at the time. It spoke to me though because, even though I am not into rowing, I sometimes get to a point where I feel I can’t do it anymore. I don’t want to keeping rowing. I remember being advised that rest was not what I needed when I felt like that, and it wouldn’t do me any good to STOP! Most often I listen to that voice and keep going and most often I feel better for it.
In 2010 I said to my partner, “I really can’t do this anymore”, referring to my full-time, stressful job. The time felt right and still does. It was a good decision for my physical and mental health and general well-being. So what made it ok to stop then?
Well, I think all the ducks lined up – so to speak! These included:
- reaching 55 and being able to access my superannuation
- the property market was just right at the time and I sold my house and had enough to purchase a smaller house
- the job I was doing had changed so much – I was the last one left in our section and big changes were happening
- moving to the country enabled us to down-size and reduce our expenses
- living near the beach had to be a positive influence on our health and well-being
- having time to pursue my writing is really valuable
So, I made the move, and I still need remind myself to keep actively involved in life. I have found some part-time work and will be doing a writing course in the new year. It was a big risk in many ways and I do miss the friends I had in Perth. The risk was minimised though because we gave it lots of thought and looked at the positives and negatives very honestly.
One of my favourite sayings is a good test as well: “Am I moving away from a bad situation or am I moving towards a BETTER situation?”
For me, it is not good to quit if I am only running away – I need to be heading somewhere with a purpose and a positive attitude.
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We make decisions about hundreds of things each day. We don’t even think about it, most often. However there are some points in our lives where we make a significant choice to go in a certain direction. Today, I reflect on some of those decisions.
- In my first decade I decided what (Aussie Rules) football teams I supported and the ones I liked least of all.
- In high school I had the choice of a commercial or professional stream of study. Commercial meant typing and short-hand that didn’t appeal to me at all – those big clunky, noisy typewriters were scary!
- I left school before completing my final year due to the fear that I might not do as well as some of my class-mates and that was a fate worse than death! It seemed better not to try than to fail. I still have dreams about that today.
- Due to studying the professional stream, my career options were narrowed considerably (or so it seemed at the time, living in a small rural town). The most obvious options included teaching or nursing. Teaching didn’t appeal to me at all. My Mum was a nurse, so it seemed a good idea to follow in her foot-steps.
- I applied to various hospitals for a place as a student nurse. A hospital in Melbourne invited me to take up a place to train as a nurse.
- After considering the nursing option, I decided I couldn’t handle the strict discipline in a nurses’ home (where I would have to live) and I would be too scared to travel on the trains late at night if I was doing shift work. Logical? I am not sure about that but it was very real then. Today I can see that nursing wouldn’t have been a good career for me.
- My next major decision was to get married at 18. Looking back, I was much too young, however, I had three wonderful sons as a result of that marriage (the marriage lasted 12 years – not a bad effort).
- My three sons were born in my twenties. Some of my friends travelled and did all manner of interesting things like going to University. That decade of my life was dedicated to being a mum and a home-maker and I threw myself into it.
- In my thirtieth year I decided to pick up on my studies once again. I chose to do a Year 12 English class via correspondence. I chose English because it was always my best subject.
- My husband and I chose to leave behind our friends and families and worked in some remote Aboriginal Communities in Northern Australia.
- In these communities I had the opportunity to pass on some of my English language skills to multi-lingual Indigenous women.
- I loved being a student again and really embraced it and achieved university entry. I chose English and Intercultural Studies.
The choices made over the years are a tapestry of my life with the common theme of the English Language important in each decade and it continues to be so. Next year I am enrolled to do a course called “Writing for Professionals”. I hope that is a good choice. It is not about creative writing but it covers aspects to do with publishing and editing and much more. I will attach a link if you are interested in having a look at it: Graduate Certificate in Professional Writing
I have no regrets about the path my life has taken thus far and the decisions I have made. Life is an exciting adventure day by day and one can never expect what lies around the corner!
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Yesterday I picked up a book in my bookcase called “Live the Life you Love – in ten easy step-by-step lessons”. It is written by Barbara Sher and published by Hodder& Stoughton. I only read a few pages and it really opened up my mind about something important to me.
Lesson 1 is “What motivates you?” This exercise asks the reader to look at a time in childhood where we were being creative and sought affirmation from someone, such as a parent or sibling. We are then encouraged to think about what response we got to our need for affirmation or encouragement at that time.
I remember when I was a young girl and I was obsessed with the music I heard on the radio. I decided I wanted to write lyrics for a living when I grew up. I felt I had found my vocation!
So, what happened to this childish wish? I showed a family member the words I had written for a new song and shared my dream with them. They didn’t believe I wrote it. They said I must have copied it from somewhere and that I couldn’t possibly have written it. No further discussion was entered into! I accepted the “fact” that I must be wrong and didn’t ever try to write another song. I didn’t question the response.
So, how could the response have been different? Well, if I was the parent at that time, hopefully I would have given praise and perhaps suggested starting a little book of songs and encouraged further efforts. As an adult now, how do I encourage myself to do well? Do I give up easily if I am not supported? Can I support myself more? Interesting questions worth thinking about.
How do you support your own writing efforts or personal goals? Do you rely on others to praise your work? What sort of encouragement would work well for you – in your writing or other aspects of your life. We are all different and no doubt the environment we grew up in can still impact on us today.
Food for thought :-)
- Aha Moments (cre8tivegang.wordpress.com)
In around 1986 I was accepted into the WA College of Advanced Education (now called Edith Cowan University) to undertake a Diploma in Arts with two majors – Aboriginal and Intercultural Studies and English Literature. There were no fees at the time except for purchasing my text books. I had turned thirty, had three young sons to look after and the amazing opportunity to study. It was only part-time so I needed child-care for two lectures a week. The childcare was subsidized and was affordable.
I clearly remember the excitement and gratefulness I felt for this opportunity. Life was good :-). I had done ok at school but I left early at 17 and I found work, got married at 18 years and then had my three sons in my twenties. My marriage broke up in 1985 when I was 30 and my world was turned upside down.
In the last year of my marriage I did some correspondence studies to gain access to Uni. I worked with Indigenous women in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, teaching them English and we
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had no resources and so had to develop our own. This is what sparked my interest in further study.
I can’t explain the exhilaration I felt at such an opportunity being available to me. I loved everything I learnt and couldn’t get enough of it. I clearly remember one day as I was walking back to my car (a HR Holden station wagon over 20 years old at the time) I was thinking just how fortunate I was to have this opportunity.
This past week I revisited the University for a couple of days as a part-time staff member. Who would have thought my life would have turned out like it did. I wanted to share with the people I met but there was no way to explain all the changes over the past 25 years. I was one of the first students in the first classrooms that were built there. Now it is like a metropolis with thousands of students and acres of buildings. It was alive and exciting however the contrast to 1985 was lost on everyone but me.
This caused me to reflect how our memories are very much our own. We hold a picture and a feeling inside that is unique to us at that place and time. I started to understand my parents generation and their talk of the past and how we cannot imagine what it was like. Our time on Earth is but a blink of an eye in the history of the world but it is a very special time for each one of us.
cheers for now
Around the globe there are millions of people going to work every day and night. Why? (apart from the money we need to survive)
How many of these people actually enjoy their work? How many people are stressed, anxious or depressed about their jobs?
When I first joined the workforce at seventeen, I felt quite distressed about the impact it was having on me. I went to see a doctor because I couldn’t understand what was wrong with me. He was an older man and he told me, “that is just what life is. I get up each morning and go home each night, just like you do…” I think he was saying “Get over it. That’s life! ” I always remember him when I question our economic system that requires a good percentage of us to work and pay taxes for the infrastructure we enjoy.
I have included a link of a great blogger EOF737 (Elizabeth) who got me to thinking about work and what we could do with our lives if we didn’t have to work. I hope you will have a read - all Elizabeth’s posts are inspiring.
So I started out thinking about NOT WORKING and in contrast, the great things about having some work. In a good work scenario (I know not all workplaces are good) I enjoy such things as:
- the social aspect – conversations with a diverse range of people
- money – this is an obvious one – it provides a buffer against stress and struggle
- a sense of being of value for what I can do
- the chance to do something completely different from I would if I was at home all the time
- a sense of belonging to something bigger
- the chance to quiet a busy mind of personal stuff - refuge from the questions about why are we here
- a purpose for getting up in the morning
- something else to talk about after the day at work
- learn new things – keep the brain active
- a chance to dress up
- the reassurance of the self-esteem
Most of these things are intangible and we don’t notice them until they are not there. So, I reluctantly conclude that going to work can be good for us :-) Can you suggest any other reasons why work is GOOD for us?
The tree-fern just outside the gym is a pleasant sight
For those who saw my previous two blogs, I can tell you today that I was successful in winning the job I had applied for! I am really happy about that outcome. They called me back for a second interview and I was able to make use of my reflections following the first interview. They rang this morning with the good news :-)
Today’s blog – Exercise
In one week tomorrow, my son is getting married to the love of his life and we are all very excited about it. What has this to do with exercise, you might ask? Well, a lot, when you consider I had put on 3 kg since I had last tried on the wedding outfit. I even went out and bought another dress, just in case I couldn’t fit into the other one. (I can now wear the other one to my new job!)
I considered my options and decided to test the theory that if I burn more energy than what I consume, I would, in fact, lose weight! I heard this theory decades ago but it wasn’t a very inviting option as I would have to get up and do something physical! :-)
At the complex where I live, there is a mini-gymnasium. I decided three weeks ago to watch my diet and do half an hour’s exercise each day. Would you believe that I am actually enjoying it? Not only that, I have lost the weight and now fit into the lovely dress that was kindly lent to me by a good friend.
Now, I don’t make any promises that I will continue using the gym, but you never know, I may find it habit-forming.
All for now
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This blog follows on from yesterday’s about job interviews.
I had my job interview this morning and now I am reflecting on how I could have improved my performance. Below are some of my reflections that may be useful next time.
1. I didn’t have a really good handle on the nuts and bolts of the job. I should have asked a lot more questions when I rang up to ask about the vacancy. I could then be more specific in my responses and be relevant to the job role.
2. I was taken by surprise with one panel member participating via video conference. This made it a little difficult to make eye contact and respond to that panel member.
3. I should have asked how much time they expected the interview to go for. I could have given a lot more information than I did, but I didn’t want to overdo it either. If I knew how much time I had I could have paced myself better.
4. I didn’t refer to any of the information I prepared beforehand, however, it was still worth doing as it made me do more research and think more deeply about my answers.
5. There is a lot to think about – with each response I tried to use relevant examples but I also wanted to use more recent examples. Some of my answers related to jobs I had much earlier in my career. It is a bit like studying for an exam – do I go into great depth on one topic or do I broadly touch on a range of examples?
In summary, I did the best I could with what I know. I will now try to let go and await a phone call or letter in the post. If I am not successful, the experience wasn’t wasted - life (and job interviews) involves ongoing learning and growing :-) Nothing is lost!
- Job Interviews (allaboutwordswa.wordpress.com)