Writer’s Journey with Vicky Adin

Today I have historical author and genealogist, Vicky Adin sharing her creative journey as a writer. Thank you for sharing your love of history and writing Vicky.

What, where, why?

Two separate incidents started me thinking this week. The first was a post by Nora Roberts on “Here’s how I work”.after she became embroiled in an appalling plagiarism mess involving 85 books and 36 authors. That alone is bad enough, but the fallout generated questions surrounding her methods, output and honesty. Nora took to the web to explain herself. I find it sad she feels she has to justify herself at all, but I was extremely interested in her methodology.

Now, in no way do I wish to compare myself with Nora Roberts, but I was pleased to read she, too, spends time ‘staring into space’ and ‘looking stuff up’. I wonder if that is a common trait among authors? I write historical fiction and I ‘stare’ and ‘look things up’ all the time, and while she didn’t use the word pantser, she starts at the beginning and keeps going until she reaches the end, which is also what I do.

In contrast, I tend to re-read what I wrote yesterday, fiddle with it a little bit if something jumps out that says ‘fix me’ and then I carry on. I let the story unfold in my head as I write or sometimes the characters have to have their say about the directions I’m taking. When I’m writing (and I don’t produce more than one book in a year) then I write every day solidly. While the book is away being edited, I work on the marketing and promotion. No-one, it seems, can sell books without a profile and it takes work to keep up that profile and books before the readers’ eyes. Once the editing stage is complete and the book released, then it’s back to writing again. There’s always a new story to delve into.

Which leads me to the other aspect of my writing I often get asked about. Where do I get my ideas? For me, that is easy. I’m a genealogist. I love digging into the past, searching through records, and reading old newspapers online. From that, an enormous number of ideas pop up. Tiny snippets of information will lead to a whole story line. A job – lacemaker, sugar boiler, costume maker, journalist, soldier – can often become the starting point. Other times, it’s the location: Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, but I always end up in New Zealand. On one occasion I found an article about the discovery of a long, lost painting by a Cornish artist hidden behind another painting. The research into the art world of the time was fascinating, and when I discovered links to New Zealand, the story fell into place.

My wonderful husband recognises when I’m in the zone and doesn’t disturb me other than to bring me coffee or wine (depending on the time of day) until I’m back in his world again. Often when we are driving anywhere, silence descends as my mind drifts off into whatever world or era I’m writing about at that time. I do an enormous amount of research to ensure the facts are correct and then wrap the stories of everyday life around the events of the time.

I love history, I love people and I love writing. I love my job. It’s a perfect combination.

Vicky

A fan of historical novels since her teenage years, Vicky Adin writes New Zealand based stories about the tribulations and successes of the people creating history as it happened. As a genealogist, she uncovers some amazing stories of fortitude and endurance and of love and hope. She combines her love of research and writing to weave together family sagas in a way that brings the past to life. Her books vary in format from dual-timeline. She waits for the characters to tell her how the story will unfold. Married to her greatest supporter and best friend for nearly five decades, Vicky has two children and four grandchildren. She holds a MA(Hons) in English and Education and enjoys travelling – especially caravanning and cruising; the opposite of experiences. Her writing has been compared to Catherine Cookson’s stories. Check out her website, books on Amazon, Goodreads, Kobo, facebook, and Instagram.

 

 

 

Creative Journey with Louise

Today I have a special guest, Louise Lyndon sharing her incredibly creative journey, from nail decorating, to writing, to making journals (which are stunning!), and how that has nurtured her. She’s one very talented lady. Thank you for sharing your journey Louise.

I’ve always been creative. In fact, in my family, for as long as I can remember, I’ve been known as the ‘creative one’. And I wore that title proudly. After all, I love using my imagination. I love to create – be it characters in a story I’m writing, nails I’m painting, or journals I’m making. I didn’t think much of that title because being a creative is who I am. It’s in my blood. Louise's notebook.jpg

However, I never realised, until recently (perhaps in the last five or so years) that being creative, at least for me, is so much more than producing an end product. It’s been a lifeline. It has saved me on so many different levels. You see, I have bipolar type 2 disorder. My illness is characterised mainly by depressive moods. While I am on medication (which helps) I also must help myself. I need to find ways to ‘get out of my head’ and break the cycle of negative self-talk that often fills my head. I’ve tried everything – yoga, meditation, keeping a positive list. The only thing that seems to work is sitting down and occupying my hands (and mind) by creating something. It allows me some breathing space, some downtime. And not only does it quiet the talk in my head while I’m doing a project it remains quiet often for days, sometimes months.

Handmade journal.jpgA little while ago I asked my mum could she remember when she started to see the ‘creative’ in me (aside from the usual finger painting toddlers do!). She nodded and said, ‘Just after your father died.’ I was four. So perhaps, without ever realising it, I’ve always used creativity to get me through some of my darkest moments.

Louise grew up in country Victoria, Australia, before moving to England, where for sixteen years she soaked up the vibrancy of London and the medieval history of England. She has since returned to Australia and now lives in Melbourne. In 2013, Louise won first prize in the Crested Butte Sandy Writing contest – Historical category for her story, The Promise, which is now called, Of Love and Vengeance. When not writing, she can be found either covered in mud, crawling under barbed wire and hoisting herself over twelve foot walls, or up to her elbows in vintage paper, glue, and ribbon handcrafting journals. Check out her books and handmade journals.

Missing Goals

I missed my writing goal the other day. I wanted to write 5k, but I didn’t make it. Right at this point it was easy to get down that I missed my goal. I didn’t hit my target. I’m now behind. There’s a big but coming here.

But…

How does the situation look if I focus on what I did do? That day I managed to write 4k. And that is a pretty good effort for me at the moment, because the other thing to remember is to take in to account other factors which influence how much I write. Life needs to be lived, and it’s natural for it to get in the way of writing. Sometimes it’s best not to fight this, and to go with the flow, and work with what you’ve got. Writing this many words in one day was a fantastic effort. And this is most definitely a silver lining. Sometimes it doesn’t matter if a goal is missed, as that can create a negative mindset. By focussing on what I did manage to write, I know that the story has progressed, and I’m closer to finishing.

There is a bigger picture, to always keep in mind too. They day before I wrote 6k, when my goal was 5k. So, I can sort of pinch the 1k from the previous day and use it today, and remind myself that I’m on track.

It’s helpful to be mindful like this to ensure that I don’t get down when writing, thinking I can do more. Or getting hung up on the 1k I didn’t write today. Especially when I went 1k over yesterday – and even if I hadn’t. When that happens, it’s too easy to translate into a writing block, and then no words are written. Being mindful means that I’m thinking positive. I avoid creating a block for myself, and I keep on writing. Plus, no matter the word count, the story is being written, and that is what ultimately counts.

Then the next day, I wanted to write 5k, but I only wrote 2k. Life did get in the way that day. On paper, I’m behind in my writing goal, but really, overall, in three days I’ve written 11k, and I’m cruising towards the half-way point – those 2k helped to push that bit closer. And I could only write those 2k because I had a positive mindset.

It’s easy to get down about missing a goal, but what’s achieved during the process can be a silver lining.

Lilliana

Act of Kindness

An act of kindness to a stranger is a lost art. Recently, it’s something I spontaneously decided to do. By giving a jar of pickled onions to someone. Odd right. So how did this come around?

I don’t like pickled onions. At all. Seriously, I don’t know why anyone would. My dad would loved them, and so we would make them for him. He thought that they were pretty good because they were also made for him by his daughters. Pickled onions aren’t hard to make. I had an ex who loved them and so I made him some, because I wanted to see if I could, and why not make him something he’d enjoy right. Recently, when I was getting some work done in my bathrooms, the tiler mentioned he liked them, and the ones he was eating (straight out for the jar for his lunch that day) cost what he thought was a lot.

I don’t know why, but I thought you know what, I could make up some for him. It won’t cost much, and it won’t take long. And I was in a cooking mode, by doing some pickling it would mix things up. Plus, I would get to brush up my skills. It also gave me a chance to check in with my sisters about what recipe to use (Golden Wattle cook book wins again!).

When tears were running down my cheeks from peeling a kilo of pickling onions I did have a moment of why am I doing this? But when popping those little suckers into the jar, and jiggling them around to squeeze them in tight, there were a lot of reasons why, all of them good. And it was all reinforced when I gave the jar to the tiler, recipe written on the jar so he can make them in the future which he reckoned he would. He was very happy with the prospect of eating a kilo of pickled onions – in a month’s time! That’s why. There were no strings attached. I wasn’t hoping for anything, it was completely random. While my eyes stung with onion fumes, it was fun to see if I could still pickle onions, and to do it on a budget. If you’re going to pickle onions, especially for someone else, it becomes worth it as while I don’t like to eat them, the person receiving does, and it gives them a nice surprise. There’s something about pickled onions I never knew about! Those who like them love to get them as homemade gifts!

What act of kindness have you done when you might not have liked the gift but knew the person you were giving it to would?

New Recipes

I’m taking a break from writing so I can re-fill my creative well. With a little more time available I’ve turned to cooking. Cooking is a day to day chore, but does it have to be? How can I make this more interesting for me? Well I enjoy cooking for bubs so that helps. And I want to look after myself, so another helpful perspective to remember. I also like trying new recipes, bingo!

As I’m deciding on what recipe to try next, then how to change the recipe to suit my diet, and then the actual process of cooking, I realise this is another form of creativity, and it’s also helping to nurture me (and bubs) but also it nurtures my creativity too. So there’s lots of wins going on here.corn chowder

beef and vegetables
Beef and Veg for Bubs

By trying a new recipe I’m exploring the unknown, like I do when writing but I’m using different creative muscles. This means my writing muscles can have a break, and I work out a new set of muscles. And I’m still being creative, which is something I love to do.

While I’m expressing my creativity differently I feed my soul in a new way. This will then influence my writing when I get back to it, how I don’t know, but at least I’m setting myself up the best way I can. The only downside, is that I love baking cakes, which is not good for my waistline!

A simple but effective way to help with creative flow, at least for me. All from simply cooking, a day to day necessity.

Share below how cooking influences your creativity.

Welcome 2019!

Happy New Year!

May 2019 shine bright for you.

To welcome in the New Year, I’ve made my own little decoration. The other week I did some marbling with my niece and so decided to use that as a background for 2019. A little bit of fun! Let the adventure begin…

This year, I’ve come up with my usual word to guide me through the year. The word for 2019 is Adventure. I’m sure there are many adventures ahead for me this year, which I hope to embrace with confidence, curiosity and an open mind.

I’m excited with the adventures that have already begun, and those that are continuing in to the New Year. Who knows what unexpected ones will start, and I look forward to them. I’m putting on my adventurer’s hat, and heading off into the unknown of the new year of 2019!

Lilliana

Freestyle

When painting to date I’ve had an image to use as a guide. This time, when painting a seascape, while I did have an image to work with, the muse led me and I went freestyle. I think this is what I like to do the most when creating, ‘fly by the seat of my pants,’ or ‘go with the flow’. It’s risky, as maybe the painting produced won’t be any good. Or maybe it will. Reward comes with a little risk.

This is the first time I’ve managed to do that with my painting.

Because I can’t track this process visually with my writing, I find it fascinating to look at the image I was working on and compare it to the final painting.

I don’t think I could’ve planed this if I tried.

And I have no idea where the inspiration came from. Perhaps my muse was guiding me. Or my intuition. Or because I was relaxed and having fun, I just went with the creative flow, and suspended all of my expectations of having a finished piece of a certain standard. Maybe all of the above.

Anyway, below the image that I worked from. And a photo of the final painting. Very different.

This is the magic of creating.

Cp1Kn+r0TXCLQSfpltnzWw      NVjRY9YWRom00OJYtfCPVg

Signature

I’ve taken the step and have signed my painting. Seascape is the first painting I’ve signed! (I’m disregarding the paintings done at school)

It’s long overdue, I have finally signed my most recent painting. It is a big deal. For one, I never felt a painting was feeling finished enough to sign. And two, how was I going to sign my name?

Isn’t it interesting what I was hung up on? What did it matter how I signed my name? As long as I signed it. I thought about writing my initials, or my full name, or a shortened version of my name. Then I realised it didn’t matter.

What mattered was that I took the step to sign my artwork. Because in doing so, I was saying to the world, but more importantly to myself, that I am happy, proud, and content with what I’ve created. And I am just that with this seascape. My signature might change with time, but of course that won’t matter. It’s all part of my development as an artist.

Driven to finally take the step of signing my name on my painting I realised I didn’t know what brush to use. Or what colour. These details do sort of matter. I asked my teacher. The colour didn’t have to be black, but a colour used in the painting. So I used a blue tone. I borrowed the teachers brush. I didn’t have a brush that was thin enough. Then I jumped in. I didn’t practise. I simply signed my name. And I think that it’s the best part of this painting.

I look forward to signing many more paintings.

 

Tinkering

I’ve painted enough to know to try and be mindful of overworking the image. It can be difficult to know when to stop, and consider if the painting is finished or needs to be left for a while. This also applies to tinkering.

When tinkering too much the painting can be changed in way that wasn’t wanted. A bit different to overworking. Tinkering is the adding another bird in the sky, or flower in the field, or apple on the tree, when the painting may well have not needed these extra additions.

The same can happen when writing, and editing. The life of the story can be altered in a way that was unintended. Not a big deal if the result is liked, but it’s a problem if the new direction ends up in a dead-end, or the wrong way. Then it’s a lot more work to get the manuscript back on track.

But when to stop? This is when it’s helpful to check in with yourself and ask question like; is what I’m doing improving the work?

I didn’t do so much tinkering when doing my last painting of a seascape, but it was something the teacher kept mentioning during the class. Stop tinkering! And I got what he was saying. Maybe that’s why I didn’t tinker so much. It’s another tool I can have ready to use when I’m painting. I can even extend this to editing a manuscript. There becomes a point when words are being changed but not necessarily adding to the story. At this point I need to stop tinkering. Leave the project, and either come back later, or consider that it may be as good as it’s going to be and release it into the world.

Stop tinkering! Is now something I’ll have in mind to help guide me through the painting of my next canvas and other creative projects.

Lilliana