This week

By Vita Forest


This week I have been

READING 

  • Wanderlust by Rebecca Solnit
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 

WRITING Not even the beginning

MAKING a Harry Potter trivia game with Lucy (feel free to submit question ideas if you like!)

WALKING with Saskia after the rain.

SKETCHING my balcony garden as my sketch club was cancelled due to the rain.

ATTENDING a meeting about the combined schools concert my school is involved in later in the year.

BRAINSTORMING lots of ideas for stories, choreography and costumes for our item.

TRYING another tack with my 4th grade class for poetry writing (providing them with a starting word for each line) and 

DISCOVERING they were poets!

REMEMBERING how when she was in Year 1, one of my current students poo-pooed one of my suggestions for a song to sing at assembly because it was “a kids’ song”!  They could see the humour in that comment now.

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Hats off to…

By Vita Forest

Hats off to some fabulous blogs

Hats off to some fabulous blogs

Earlier this week I had a surprise.  Jen from A Venturing Girl has nominated me for the Blogger Recognition Award!  Thank you Jen and please check out her lovely blog too.

I only started this blog in July, so am pretty new to the blogosphere, but am enjoying it so much.  It has been a wonderful way to connect with so many people – around the world and here in Sydney, both on and off-line.

Jotterizing started as a place for me to practise writing, to become disciplined, to explore topics of interest and to connect with like-minded people.  You can read more on this here.

Some advice to new bloggers…

  • schedule it into your week/month/whatever time-frame and stick to it.  Give yourself permission to post things that you don’t think are perfect.  This is not your novel, this is your blog – get it out there!
  • be prepared to be surprised – ideas for posts come from the strangest places.  Be open.

It’s been wonderful seeing what others out there are doing too.  So many creative and hardworking individuals.  Thank you for your generosity and bravery.  I’d like to nominate the following blogs for the Blogger Recognition Award:

The Daily Think

A Narcissist writes letters, to himself

susannevalenti

Follow your bliss

Daily (w)rite

Through open lens

The Stone Soup

Things we like

James Radcliffe. com

A little bird tweets

The Renegade Press

Aniket Sharma Photography

Glitchy Artist

Friday Madness

Ann Wood Handmade

If you blog appears in the above list, here are the rules of the Blogger Recognition Award:

  1. Select 15 other blogs you want to give the award to. You cannot nominate yourself or the person who has nominated you
  2. Give a brief story of how your blog got started
  3. Give a piece or two of advice to new bloggers
  4. Thank whoever nominated you, and provide a link to their blog
  5. List those you’ve nominated in the post and comment on their blogs to let them know you’ve nominated them.

If you haven’t seen the blogs above, take a look!  They are great!

 

Crafting with cats

By Vita Forest

It's lucky we are so cute

It’s lucky we are so cute

Visitors often note how tidy my apartment is.  Part of it is aesthetic.  But part of it is necessity – I have two curious cats.  Take today, for example.  Today I tried to craft with cats.  I am attempting to make a little army of elves and fairies for my class.  It is proving difficult.

HOW TO CRAFT WITH CATS

Food tents are essential

Food tents are essential

WHAT YOU NEED

Your usual equipment but also –

a food tent

takeaway food containers

METHOD

  1. If you are painting, get a small-necked jar so the cats cannot fit their heads into it to drink the dirty water.
  2. Only put a tiny amount of paint on the palette and wash up any surplus immediately – paint may be tasty.
  3. Do not leave small pieces of felt on the table.  (While washing the palette – see Step 2, Zadie pounced on a tiny mauve fairy cloak and chewed it into a mangled mess.  Put all cut-out pieces straight into a takeaway food container and secure the lid.
  4. Leave all unpainted tiny wooden dolls in their thick envelope shoved inside a bowl and with the opening folded over.  This prevents any possible fairy-napping.  (Zadie is a well-known fairy-napper.  Folk made last year had to be resettled in new accommodation once they returned from their adventure with the cats.  Now they live on top of the dry goods on a high shelf in the kitchen).

    Cat-free accomodation

    Cat-free accommodation

  5. Once painted, place wooden dolls to dry under a food tent to avoid inquisitive paws.  Note – curious cats may still attempt to push through the mesh and bite along the wire frame.
  6. IMG_3297[1]Attempt to cut patterns out of large piece of felt on the table.  Tussle with a cat while forming scallops with your scissors as she bats the edge of the material.
  7. Fight off cat claws as she tries another tactic and leaps up from below.
  8. Attempt to cut the felt by placing the material inside a plastic bag.
  9. IMG_3291[1]Attempt to distract the cats by rolling a Christmas bell across the floor.
  10. Give up and write a blog post instead.

Stargazing

By Vita Forest

IMG_3060[1]

On a hot Wednesday night, I lay on the floor, my bare feet resting on the sofa.  Zadie (the cat) walked up to me and paddled her feet on my belly before lying on my chest and closing her eyes.  Max came and lay beside me and put his feet up too.

“Ah nice,” he said, looking up at the ceiling.  “Look you can see the stars!”  and you could too – those glowing stars that I had stuck on the ceiling from atop a ladder.  At night they bring a smile to my face when I turn out the light.

We lay there basking in the starlight.

Lucy came and sat beside us, talking to her dad on the phone.

“Lucy you are disturbing our serenity!  Please go and talk somewhere else!”  She grudgingly moved on, accompanied by Zadie.

“You can see the sunset too, ” noticed Max, and it was true, over the top of the sofa, you could see the warm glow on the lamp in the dining room.

“And the moon is square tonight,” we continued.

Ah serenity!

On Thursday, about midday, we were writing a procedure about How to make an origami cup, or How to make a paper cup, or even just, How to make a cup.  Between writing up Step 3 and Step 4, those faster kids who were not helping others came to sit on the floor to wait.  Paulo lay back exhausted from all the thinking and all the writing.  It reminded me of our indoor stargazing from the night before, so I told them the story.

Soon the floor was covered in small people lying on their backs, looking up at the sky.  There was a rectangular moon this time, and even the remains of a spider.

Ah serenity!

Melbourne Micro-story

By Vita Forest

I was here

I was here

Above is my submission for Chart Collective’s “I WAS HERE True micro-stories set where you stand” initiative.  I made the meme yesterday, adding some appropriate theatrical bling by way of a photo of an old dance costume of Lucy’s.

There were a lot of restrictions on this piece of writing (which I like as you may know).  These included:

  • the stories had to be true
  • they had to be set specifically in Melbourne
  • and the real doozy – they could only be up to a total of 300 characters long (that’s right, not words, but characters. 300 words is hard enough).

This last rule meant I did many drafts, and then cut and cut and cut, until I distilled my memory into only three typed lines.  There could be no lazy words, no padding.  This post is already about three times longer than the text could be…

If chosen, they will be printed on posters and displayed near the site where they took place.  I really love this idea, reading stories directly related to the place where you are standing.  They were submitted anonymously, so you have the inside scoop if mine gets picked.

Maybe I should start an online Sydney equivalent – a blogging event about places in Sydney.  Let’s call it Sydney in Sixty (that is 60 words).  Have a go, then reply to this post and send me the link.

What have I learned from blogging? Reflections of a newbie blogger.

By Vita Forest

Having fun with Diptic - how do you make your illustrations?

Having fun with Diptic – how do you make your illustrations?

As a teacher, I spend quite a bit of time reflecting on how lessons went, how successful programs were, how effective certain strategies are with my students.  I thought I would apply the same logic to this blog.

I started this blog in July for a number of reasons:

  • to have a place to do some writing.
  • to make myself write regularly.
  • to explore and experiment.
  • to connect with other people.

This is what I have learned so far…

  • some discipline.  I committed to writing at least one post a week and have done that.  Instead of writing being something I did when everything else was finished, and if I had any energy left, I have prioritized my writing and built a kind of routine.
  • it doesn’t have to be perfect.  James Clear has written some very good articles about creativity and the fact that you need to do a body of work.  Sometimes it won’t be amazing, but producing something regularly is much more effective than waiting for inspiration to hit. I have become more fearless and open and hit that Publish button with relish.
  • sometimes it’s good to have constraints.  (Actually make that all the time).  Whether it’s word limits, time constraints, or a very particular designated topic in a blogging event, limitations of some kind seem to bring focus, and paradoxically, they free up the mind from the paralysis of the open-ended. (So far I have participated in two blogging events, producing An unfortunate meeting with a fairy and He loves me, he loves me not… )
  • unexpected topics have a way of cropping up.  I thought I had to have everything mapped out, but sometimes I start writing about one thing and it turns into something else.  And that is OK.
  • how to make visuals I get to create my own images (mainly photos doctored in Diptic).  This is another way to be creative that I hadn’t expected.
  • feedback and community are fantastic.  I have now completed two novels.  I send them out (occasionally) and wait indefinitely to get any response from agents or publishers.  Sometimes it has been positive, but more often its impersonal, months later and in the form of standard rejection letters.  Blogging is a way to instantly connect with people from all around the world, and I really appreciate people taking the time to read, Like and respond to my work.  It’s so helpful (and I have to say I get a buzz out of it!)  Maybe one day, someone will publish my novels, but until then, I’m loving the blogging.

Now I’m going to try and transfer some of my newfound discipline to the rather tedious and often soul-destroying task of sending out my second novel to agents and publishers.  Because nothing will happen if I don’t DO something.

So that is what this newbie blogger has learned so far.  How about you?  What have you learned from blogging?

 

He loves me, he loves me not…

By Vita Forest

This week I am trying something new.  I’m participating in a blogging event for The Creativity Carnival.  Shafali provides one of her artworks as a cue and bloggers respond however they like.  Here is this week’s artwork and here is a short piece of fiction in response.  Hope you enjoy…

Creativity Carnival: Handcuffs

Handcuffs - A pen and ink drawing for the Creativity Carnival Edition 6.

See, he does love her.  He brought her roses.  Who needs words when the florist is happy, he is happy, her friends are happy?

“Oh!” they coo, “You two are so sweet!”

He brandishes them in front of her like a dare.  A dozen red roses wrapped in the softest blue tissue paper.  Her friends perch on bar stools and sip cold dry wine that fogs the glasses that cradle it.  And praise him.

While she can only think, “Now I have to find a vase…”

He knew they would be there.  He knew they would forgive him for her.  But perhaps forgive is too strong a word.

Adjust.

Adjust to the new normal.  Because, come on, – what does she really have to complain about?

Beautiful home.  The best restaurants.  The best holidays.  Trips to the snow, the reef, the opera.  Who wouldn’t want it?

She folds herself into ever more complicated shapes.  She twists her head around so that she can look the other way.  She makes herself smaller and smaller, breaking the bones in her toes so she can fit inside this tiny jeweled box.  She stops breathing to take up less room.  She lets go of her own hand and casts herself adrift.  What if?  She forgives.  She cries alone.  She does not tell anyone.

A shriek of raucous laughter brings her back.  He leans over casually and refills the glasses, adding just the right anecdote, just the right amount of fizz.

She slides a stalk from the bunch and peers into the severed end, into the tiny circle of its inner core.  It’s edged with green, golden inside.  Golden.

“What?!”

Her friends turn in astonishment.  Shock on their faces.  His face is impassive but deadly.  She knows that look.  They watch as she clenches the stalk tighter and tighter.  White knuckle grip.  Her own blood dripping onto the floor.