Sparks & Words

I’ve been undertaking a summer school unit for my Masters, partly to keep going and partly as an experiment. Brisbane, without air conditioning, is not the place to undertake summer study. Unless, I really need to, no more summer school. It’s now done and I’m in a state of bliss with three weeks of no “have to study” state of mind.

A blog post by one friend and a reminder of a challenge another is doing combined with, dare I say, an epiphany sees this post push itself through and ahead of some other posts about my love of the letters that make up words.

The return to study has been both a challenge and an inspiration for me. This post about overcoming obstacles by Nicole Cody (go, read it, I’ll wait) hit me hard as I too have had to fumble and make my way through a fog for so long, I can’t remember a time in my life not having it. I do know by the middle of 2013, I was at a point of losing my ability to read. What used to take me a week to read was taking over a month and each time it was a struggle. I suspect if my stubbornness wasn’t so strong I’d have given up entirely. Slowly, I have reclaimed my brain use and the relief is great but so is a self-doubt and mistrust of its return. Will it stay? When will I lose it again? Can I trust it will be here for me?

As I regained a sense of clarity of thought, I commenced my studies, just one at a time, a dipping my toe in, “in case my brain goes away again”. I’m now three subjects in and I’m shocked by my marks. Not how bad, but how good. I keep pinching myself, thinking the bubble will burst. But, with three subjects done, I am admitting to myself, perhaps, just perhaps my brain really is back and is actually working again.

Also coming back are creative words, even sentences. Which build to paragraphs and I hope to full stories. I’ve missed writing. I’ve been frustrated and despondent and many times at a loss as to how to overcome it. There are words stuck in my head but they’ve been lost for some time. This is where another friend’s challenge has come into it. For the past six months, Peter Ball has been writing every day using a number chart to mark off his achievements. I know many who use variations of this, for writing or other tasks. Even I’ve used it in the past when on a (usually academic) deadline. I’m travelling again tomorrow, but only for a few days, and on my return I’m setting myself up to undertake this. As he says, even a sentence can count. I have to tell myself it is okay to not keep going when I have my bad week of health, but if I can manage even that, I’ll be pleased.

Thank goodness for friends who help shine lights on the path.


Many lifetimes ago I worked in an academic library (and enjoyed it) but life took some unplanned turns and I became a teacher. More twists and health turns of life saw teaching become problematic and me needing to take time off. Over the past year or so, a desire to find a way to juggle writing, health and a day job, I’ve come to realise the circumstances that saw me leave libraries has passed.

I now find myself done with my first subject in over a decade after enrolling in February as an external student in the Masters of Library and Information Management at the University of South Australia. There have been a lot of new experiences and at times it has felt like the learning curve has been a sheer cliff face. Also, a lot of reminding myself I’ve done this degree thing (twice) and it’s like riding a horse….

I now have a mid-year break and creative writing has come back to the fore. I’ll be glad once I’ve learnt the juggling act of creative vs academic writing as they’ve never truly competed with each other before. My priority for the next six weeks is creative words. They’ve been sitting staring, or in some cases glaring, at me tapping their appendages.

And this is where serendipity plays its hand. On Facebook a friend mentioned she was going to focus her own writing by doing Six in Six and one by one a group of us raised our hands and went “me too!”.

For the next six weeks, I’ll have a focus. For me it’s more a mix of some chapters towards a work in progress novel and also a foray into short story writing. I’m more a novella length girl but a couple of things have grabbed my attention enough to make me wonder if my brain will concede “short” = 3,000 words (instead of my more usual 15,000).

I’m looking forward to this challenge. Thanks to health issues, this is something I’ve been waiting a long time for – the ability to focus and write. Between my return to university and this challenge, my brain is slowly showing me it is working again. Something I am eternally grateful for.