Ten Years Ago… A retrospective.

This time ten years ago, I was alone in a hospital room. I was scared. I was nervous. I was tired as hell. I was hungry. I was cold and feeling very very lonely.

This time ten years ago, I was almost double my current weight. My hair was double its current length. I had significantly less piercings. I had no tattoos.

Exactly this time ten years ago, I was writing in a journal, now long lost in a myriad of house-moves. I was writing what may well have been the most important letter of my life.

It was a letter to my then unborn daughter.

I was young. I was single. I was unemployed. I was a burden on society and my family, and I was very very pregnant.

I wanted to tell my daughter all of my mistakes in life up until that point, knowing that there would have been more to come. I wanted to tell her so that she would not have to make them, knowing she would have plenty of her own. This time ten years ago, what it meant to be a parent finally started to fall into place for me.

I wanted to tell her that no matter what anyone might say to her, that she was most definitely wanted. That no matter how people judged her and her family, she was exactly where she was supposed to be in life. That she was loved. I wanted to tell her that she was my daughter and that nothing would come between that.

Ten years ago I could not have foreseen the tumultuous lives we have both led. I could have seen that mistakes of mine would come between us, that she would stay within the family, but not with me, for a little while at least. I was not aware that there would be times when I would question my own motives in keeping her, and that these would be triumphed by the times when I held her so close I never thought I’d let her go.

Ten years ago, there was a beating heart besides my own inside me. Now it walks the world, albeit at the end of my hand. In know in the not too distant future I am going to have to let it go so that she can walk the world on her own.

Ten years ago I could not have guessed that in ten years time we would be where we are, in a loving home where we are safe and feel wanted and loved. I could not have guessed I would be proud of the little baby who kicked at my sides, aching for more room.

I hope that in ten years time I will be able to look into my daughter’s eyes and say that I did my best, as I see her off into the world. I hope I have the strength to do so without crying. I hope I will not have been so hardened by the world that I will not dare to cry either.

Ten years… it’s a long time.

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Promo Flier.

Promo Flier.

Just a little bit of background to this image.

I am currently studying through Open Universities Australia at Curtin University in the Internet Studies Department (curiously enough, Western Australia is the only state to have a dedicated Internet Studies department!). I am working towards a Bachelor of Arts in Internet Communications, which is to say I will have a degree which a lot of techies will laugh at because it’s not a science degree and a lot of artsies will laugh at because it’s not a “real” arts degree. But you know what? This has been one of the biggest rollercoasters of my life. I am now in my second year of three full-time. I have never been so challenged or felt so accomplished when I see a good grade on my assignments. There have been failings, sure, but on the whole they have been minor (except for that one eeeeeeevil time with the Unit-that-shall-not-be-named but that will be fixed next study period).

Yes, my work load averages out to be rather minor. It’s by no stretch of the imagination a law degree. However, in order to be at the top of my game, I need to know what is going on in the world of social media and the like. As it’s an ever evolving field of study, there’s a fair amount of online reading that needs to be done. Up until now, all the “creative” work for any of my units has been done through a program called Comic Life (they can be seen here and here), so it was time for something different.

I have been involved in a couple of conferences this year already. The first was Swancon 2012, where I got “included” (read: held at gun-point by someone I once though of as a dear friend) on a panel about Firefly ten years later, with absolutely no preparation time whatsoever! I swam rather than sinking. The second was the Media140 event, which I was self-appointed Tweet-Queen. Again, swam rather than sinking. The third has been the Net204/504 CommUnity online conference about communities and networks online (strangely enough) which, granted, has been for university. However, when my tutor posted in the study group that we had been approached by the co-working, collaborative group setting up in Perth, SpaceCubed,  to hold a physical addition to our online conference, I thought it was too good an opportunity to pass up. There was a bit of a delay, as we needed minimum numbers and there was a general buzz as logistics were set up. I may have gotten a teeny tiny bit worked up about it, given that this is exactly the sort of collaboration I hope to make professional relationships with in the coming years. I guess I caught the eye of the tutor, because she has asked me to organise the event. Well, I may have been the only person putting their hand up.

So, I have had to face a fear: Photoshop. By face, I mean find ways around dealing with. You see, Photoshop and I do not have the chummiest of relationships. We love to hate one another. So, instead I use Seashore. By use, I mean go through each menu option until I find something that works, employing the old “Command+Z” if it doesn’t (yes, I’m on a Mac. So what?). Now, I am not the most artistic of people. Not by a long shot, so when I stepped away from my trials of the flier and was okay with what I had at that point, I was actually pretty happy, especially given that I had managed it with minimum hair pulling, teeth gnashing and general furniture destruction of frustration. Needless to say, the final edition which you see above is the culmination of years of trial and error (mostly error) and a day and a half of near-enough-to-say-it-happened keyboard/head/banging action.

Yes, there are some out there who could have achieved this in a matter of minutes. You know what? Power to them. I couldn’t have. Yes, I used some fairly rudimentary editing “skills” (what? a mallet is a skill, right?) to make it work. But I came out of it unscathed. My computer is all in one piece, and not a single piece of furniture was harmed in the making of this flier.

Down Days.

You’re sitting in front of the computer. You can see the incessant flicker of the cursor. It’s taunting you. Just sitting there on an otherwise blank page. Like a beacon alerting you the rocky cliffs. Like a Siren, calling you to your demise. The clock ticks away the seconds. You blink. Another minute has passed. You’re still sitting there, staring at a blank screen with nothing to write.

These days don’t come so frequently for me, thank goodness. When they do, it’s not so much not having anything to write about, as not being able to pick the one thing I do want to write about. It’s not a block, so much as as unstoppable flood threatening to take over my screen with a jumble of words and little sense. So what do we do about it?

 

There are literally over ten million sites to assist with writer’s block, according to the Google gods and supposedly over twenty-one million on writer’s flood. Not too many of them really cover how to stem the flow to a useable trickle. I try and write down the ideas that come to my mind in a list. This ends up becoming an explosion of a mind map covering the entire notebook. Not so easy to turn into a piece of prose for others to read… unless I scan the pages and publish them. Then you all have to try and make sense of my chicken scratchings for yourselves.

Instead, I am trying to keep up with the ideas as they flow into my mind. Write until the flow for that train of thought stops, move on to the next. It is for that reason I have a lot of half-fleshed out text files saved on my computer. Bits and pieces that in a non-digital frame would have been scraps of paper stuffed into a bulging notebook. I would have been comparable to William S. Burroughs and his cut and clip format for making stories. Except, not physically published… and significantly less drug use… and talking typewriters…

So the digital form of scraps of paper have become text files scattered over a desktop. They sit there like a chrysalis, waiting. Paused in suspended animation, for the day that moment of magical metamorphosis takes place and they can fly free, except these digital butterflies have a much longer lifespan than just a few days. Their glory may only last that long, but they exist forever in the backlogs of the Web waiting, like a corpse to be reanimated by a necromancer’s incantations, or smiled upon by the Google Gods once more.

So for now, I shall go back to my digital scraps and see what I can make of them. I might leave them for the rainy days when inspiration is low and attention can be mustered. Alternatively, I might leave them as a digital breadcrumb trail to the gingerbread house of Ideas…