I’m back from Thailand, my life is slowly returning to some semblance of order and I HAVE blogged. Today though, I’m talking about the ‘lost girls’ for whom I write. Because that’s a blog primarily about writing, I’ve left it over at my new ‘strictly writing’ blog, which is here: www.rebbloomer.wordpress.com
I’ve heard it said, that if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. In essence this is true; but when it comes to the particulars of doing what you love, people (especially young people) often run into trouble. The reason for this, is that doing what you love and therefore never working implies two things:
- You must, automatically, naturally, inherently, know what you love.
- Work is a bad/unhappy thing.
Let’s deal with the first problem first. Knowing what you love. It’s easy to identify what you love when you’ve lived a bit; when life has involved more than school and an adolescent boyfriend. When you know yourself choosing a love is easier. But what of the young who’ve had their heads filled with the passionate words of tree-changers and change-your-lifers? How are they to know what they love at eighteen years of age? And will it be an eternal love, or just a short-lived passion? At eighteen, life is still the great unknown. Of all that’s out there, how do you choose what you love?
When asked to determine what they love, or when told to only work at what they love, many young adults fall into a state of terminal indecision which, on occasion, leads to terrible feelings of inadequacy and sometimes depression. Why? Because they’ve yet to identify true loves and real passions. How, they wonder, can I not know what I love? The answer is simple; they just don’t. Generally teens and young adults haven’t done or tried enough to know what they love.
Of late, this has been a hot topic of conversation between myself and my young people. Finally, a solution occurred to me. “You just have to try stuff,” I explained. “Jeez, I didn’t know I hated being a secretary until I tried being one. Sometimes you have to get in and mess around a bit. You have to know what you don’t like in order to home in on what you do like.” That’s the thing, sometimes finding what we love doing, is simply a process of elimination.
Naturally, there are exceptions to this rule. I have a very talented artist friend. Her parents (both of them) were artists and her grandparents, if not artists, were artistic. She’s known all of her life, where her talents lay and I am inordinately jealous of the kind of security that must have given her as she grew and explored the world.
For the rest of us, we just have to figure it out.
Now, about work. Work is not an innately bad concept. It’s just something you have to do sometimes. Sometimes, even what you love, can be hard work. Parents know I’m I’m telling the truth. We love our kids with an abiding passion, but there are days when we’d swap them for ten minutes of quiet and an instant coffee.
For me, writing is this way. I love certain stages of the writing process. In fact, I go so far as to compare the early stages of writing with the act of falling in love (you can read that particular rave here). There are other stages though, that I would happily delegate. The query/submission process is one. The editing is another. I realise these are important processes and I know they make the final product so much better and more valuable, but honestly, there’s nothing fun about it. It’s work; straight-out, flat-out, no-doubt-about-it, hard, grinding work. I live through the work so I can get back to the good bits, to the things I love about my job. I do the work necessary to make the final product perfect; to make it something I can love.
So here’s the lowdown on the whole ‘do what you love’ conundrum.
- You must actively seek what you love. This is generally a process of elimination.
- All work requires that you actually work. If it didn’t, it would be called play.
- Parents: STOP telling your kids to do what they love. Encourage them instead to do something. When they hate doing that something, then encourage them to do something else. This is what I like to call ‘failing forward’. Eventually they’ll stumble upon what they do love then…Viola, the cliche becomes a truth!
In short, I think the cliche should say Find what you love and the work will be fulfilling…
The ladies at my writers group today, pointed out that it’s been a long time since last I blogged. My apologies, I’ve been a bit busy. In the last few weeks, I’ve done a number of workshops for Logan City Libraries, where I had a great time and learned a few things.
I’m learning new things everywhere lately, whether it’s from my son who is a walking encyclopedia, new aspects of my daughter or interesting tidbits from my writers group.
At my writers group recently, one of the members explained the process of accessing different ideas,perhaps from a different hemisphere of the brain. The process for doing this is really simple and I encourage you to try it out, just for something different.
First- Write your name at the top of a page and
Second- Number two columns on the page from one to ten
Third – Using your dominant hand, write a list of personal characteristics in the first column.
Fourth – Cover that column of writing
Fifth – Using your non-dominant hand (in my case my left hand), write a list of personal attributes in the next column
Sixth – Compare the columns
At first I thought this was one of those self-fulfilling things. People are convinced the columns will be different, therefore they are. Today, I sat down and tried it out myself. The column from my left hand was completely different from the column my right hand produced (and I’m not just talking about the handwriting either).
I’m thinking now, that this activity will be particularly useful on Saturday when I present my workshop on Characterisation for the Queensland Writers Centre. Imagine doing this with a character’s name rather than your own, or even answering character interview questions with both hands. You could end up with a much more well-rounded character. I like it. I think I’ll try it 🙂
By the way, if you’re looking for a workshop on characterisation, I’ll be in the State Library, upstairs at the Writers Centre from ten am on Saturday morning. Look forward to seeing you there!
I watched a program last night wherein it was reported that a local council had banned children from drawing in chalk on the footpath outside a local cafe. The cafe had been providing the kids with chalk in an effort to keep them busy and happy while their parents got their cafe experience. After the report, a presenter commented, “Would they rather kids happily drawing with chalk or whingeing and whining in the cafe because they don’t want to be there?”
Frankly, I think the council is being ludicrous but that’s not the point. The point is kids don’t like cafes (hell, in general I don’t like cafes, they’re pretentious, boring and overpriced). You can tell kids don’t like cafes because of the frikkin’ whingeing and whining. Sooo, here’s an idea; instead of treating your kids like they’re accidental attachments to your formerly kid-free, cafe-hopping existence, consider them beings you brought into the world because you were ready for a change in lifestyle. Get your coffee to go, walk your kids to the local park (take your friends with you if you like)and set them loose on the playground while you get your caffeine fix.
There will be three advantages to doing this. Firstly, your kids will get some running around and exercise into their day which will wear them out a little, thus making your life easier when you get home. Second, the childless people in the cafe will dislike you less. Lastly, you’ll get brownie points for being a good parent.
Try it out, see how it goes.
Well, me too. It didn’t take me fifty years to meet my sister though, only twenty-one. Because I have had the chance to meet my sister this way, I’m always fascinated by how other people deal with this kind of information. I noticed that Oprah had questions for her mother. Questions that revolved around how the baby came to be and why she was adopted out. Questions with fairly obvious answers if you consider the times during which the adoption happened.
I never had those questions. Maybe I never had them because my mum volunteered information. Maybe I never had them because I don’t care. How my sister came to be adopted is not the best part of the story. How she came back, is the bit I like. The fact that she remains, is my favourite thing yet.
I visited my sister recently, and, typical of us, we spent the entire time laughing, joking and telling stories. For me, being around Jules is like taking a giant big lungful of laughing gas. Not because she’s a clown (although she is pretty funny), mostly because just being around her makes me inordinately happy, joyous even. I’m thrilled, every time, that I get to be around her. Is it some kind of hero worship that I would have gotten over had we grown up together? Maybe, she is pretty heroic. Is it that I now have a possible genetic match should I ever need a bone graft or a kidney transplant? Hmmm. Is it because when I’m with her, I get to be the younger sibling? It is kinda nice.
Whatever the reason, I love it and I have no further questions.
People often talk about how difficult it is to move into a different culture. I’ve never had that problem, in fact I’ve found the opposite to be true. I pick up accents like other people pick up souvenir teaspoons. Entirely new languages don’t even daunt me too badly. New dress codes, religious beliefs, diets, modes of transport, forms of handwriting…no worries. Been there, done that.
There is one problem though, the ease itself. In moving to the Gold Coast recently, I found myself happily ensconced in a new community. I make new friends relatively easily too. This new community though, is glitzier, more youth oriented and more inclined toward gold sandals, than I have ever been. So it shouldn’t have surprised me that when having coffee with a new friend recently, she said “So I’ve been offered some discount rates on botox. My friend Sharon** and I are going to get it done this afternoon. Wanna come?”
Do you know, I almost said “yes”? In my new world, this is what women do. They get haircuts and they get botox. They exercise where nobody can see them, until they think they look good enough to be seen. So it wouldn’t have been odd for me to say “Sure, just let me grab my kryptonite credit card and I’ll be there in ten.” It was odd for me to say “Nah, I think I’m right for now thanks. You have fun though.” I could tell I’d surprised her by the look on her face.
I’m thinking now, that it’s not the change of culture that is difficult, it’s the maintenance of self as you do so which can be come an issue. Well, maintenance of self and maintenance of facial expression!
**not her real name!
My life is often interesting in the way seemingly disparate things will suddenly come together to make blinding, perfect, sense. This happened recently when I was in the middle of reading The Sixth Wave, a great book by James Bradfield Moody and Bianca Nogrady. While I was reading, I happened to get a phone call from one of my brothers.
My brothers work together in a company owned by the eldest, that turns landfill gas into electricity. They both began their careers as electricians and have, over the course of their lives, collected enough cleverness, ingenuity and guts to create this company. I love it when the eldest one rings to ask me science-nerd questions, when he’s theorising about a new possibility or idea and needs someone geeky enough to join him for the ride.
I love it even more when he surprises me with his brilliant attitude. When I told him about The Sixth Wave, and the definition of ‘institutions’ therein, he related this immediately to current process of marketing landfill gas technology.
According to Adam (brother in question), the traditional way for companies to sell landfill gas technologies to their customers is basically to say “You’ve got this terrible problem, let me sell you a way to fix it.” Adam’s way, which reflects his mindset perfectly, is to say “You’ve got this fantastic resource, let me help you utilise it.” It’s a shift in attitude that completely changes the outcome. We’ve moved from eliminating a problem, to maximising the productivity of a resource.
It was this attitude of his that led us to the next conversational topic; a new process and mechanism he’s helping to research and produce, that might well revolutionise his industry. He’s so excited by the concept, it’s like listening to a kid talk about Christmas. The best part of this conversation for me, was to hear him say “Right now, I don’t even care if it doesn’t work. At the moment I’m thrilled just to be doing this. It’s amazing stuff!”
We have this in common, all three of my siblings and I. We love the adventure of learning something new. Change has never scared us. Our dignity is not bruised when we’re proven wrong and required to change our minds. In fact, sometimes changing our minds, changing the angle from which we approach an issue, well, that changes processes and processes can change the world.