Blog Archives

Yes, I’ve Been Away for a Long Time

christmas_39

Hi there to all those who have stuck with me this past year. To say it’s been crazy is an understatement! Blogging has been one of those things I had to put aside for a while because, well, I just couldn’t make the effort when other life events seemed so much more important. Even my writing has suffered, but not to the point I totally stopped, thank goodness!

Since last October I have moved house to the UK and back, and I have lived without my husband for eight months, not a good thing when we have such a great relationship. We wanted a new life but the British government are assholes and their ridiculous laws archaic, to put it mildly, so we had to make the tough decision to return to South Africa for the time being. Whether it’s permanent, temporary, or temporarily permanent we don’t know yet 🙂

So, due to this upheaval of life and the awful emotional strain I’ve been under, I have not blogged this entire year. I will, however, make a much bigger effort next year. It’s not a new Year’s resolution, by the way, because I don’t believe in those, but it is an intention and those usually work for me.

I want to wish you all a very blessed and merry Christmas. May it be a wonderful, magical time, because who doesn’t want that for Christmas? 2016 promises to be interesting and eventful for me, at least. Let’s set our intentions to make it a powerful, mind-bending one, too, what do you say? So many exciting movies and other global events in the pipeline that I’m looking forward to. Let’s intend for peace to prevail and evil to wan.

Have a great one, guys, and I WILL see you again next year!

 

Advertisements

Don’t Let ‘Stuff’ Get in the Way of Your Writing

Jeff Goins has a point!

Jeff Goins has a point!

I’ve written about the importance of resting and also about finding time, even in a hectic day, to write. But, as we all know, balance is the key to allowing the flow of creativity to remain constant as it reduces that awful guilt when we don’t do at least a little bit of writing every day. It really is okay when you miss a day here and there because there will be days when you can’t stop writing you feel so inspired and energised. But if you’re not inspired don’t stress; there’s nothing like worry to kill the Muse.

But today I’m writing about those things in our lives that take up time that should be dedicated to our beloved craft, and as I write this I am, of course, speaking to myself as much as I’m speaking to you, dear Writer. I can procrastinate brilliantly. Actually, I believe I’ve made it into an art form. The only justification I can give my lax attitude is that I’ve just finished doing an epic rewrite of my last epic fantasy novel in my tetralogy and now it’s time to face the mammoth task of editing. My other three books I’ve written and published in a year. This last one is way overdue because I’ve moved to the UK. Talk about stressful! Unfortunately, I’ve used this as an excuse to take my time with Book 4 (The Sword Bearer’s Ascension) and now I regret procrastinating so fervently. People are waiting impatiently for my last installment and I feel awful about it!

Cover for Book 3

When life gets busy we tend to shift our focus onto the external and neglect the internal. What I mean by that is, as soon as our external environment takes up all our attention we lose touch with that spark inside us that ignites our creativity, our passion for storytelling, our inspiration, our desire to get it down on paper so that we can share it with the world. The external, monotonous, stressful, rushed world – professional and personal relationships, careers, responsibilities – keeps our attention away from what makes our hearts sing with inspiration, that part of us that gives us a reason to get up in the morning.

It is vital to understand that if we do not allow ourselves to be revitalised with the fire of our passions then life becomes meaningless and dull. We have to feed what makes us laugh and dance and sing because then we can deal with the external world – all that ‘stuff’. As a writer, you know that the only place you can find the buzz that makes you get up in the morning is turning inward and basking in the power of creativity. This is where your true life resides, not ‘out there’ but only inside where it’s quiet and peaceful and where all the answers will be found.

This is a lesson I’ve learned since moving to the UK and dealing with the ‘stuff’ that snatches away my attention from that which I love to do. It’s easy to lose sight of what is important (inside) by focusing only on the external world and being drained physically and emotionally by circumstances. I’ve gone days without writing because there’s been so much to do – unpacking, finding work, settling down in a foreign environment, new relationships, missing home and friends and family, etc. ‘Stuff’ got in the way of my passion and I truly resent it, which adds to my stress, which in turn drains me of creative energy.

Find your inspiration within!

Find your inspiration within!

Separating myself from the external and being alone and inward-focused has proven a creative lifesaver. I encourage you to not only find time to write, but to remove yourself from the external world and sit quietly with yourself and remember where your inspiration really comes from. You’ll never find it ‘out there’ only inside you.

I’d love to read your thoughts and if you’ve had similar struggles with the external world draining you of creative energy and stealing your passion and inspiration. If this is still going on in your life then I encourage you to step away and remove yourself to a quiet place where the only thing you can hear is your own heart speaking to you.

Merry Christmas, One and All!

christmas_39

This has been a very challenging year for me and I have unfortunately been a bit lax in blogging, but I have a good reason. I decided on the massive (and insane!) undertaking of moving to another country with my hubby, and I think I’m still recovering!! It’s been a tough six months but I believe I managed it quite well, although some things in my life suffered, like blogging and writing, which I fully intend to remedy in the new year. I have had the time, thankfully, to continue editing the fourth and final book in my epic fantasy tetralogy titled The Sword Bearer’s Ascension, which I am planning to publish before the middle of next year. I also managed to successfully complete NaNoWriMo and almost have an entire new scifi novel to work with when the time is right.

Winner-2014-Facebook-Profile

I haven’t done this for a while, so here goes. A very warm welcome to my newest followers. I hope you find my page and what I have to say enjoyable enough to remain and engage with me and my other fellow writers. Please feel free to share what’s on your mind and what you are working on for 2015 as I, for one, am always interested.

This is just a quick stop before the new year to wish you all a fantastic Christmas or festive season, whichever you prefer. Have a good one and be safe and wise. I’ll be back soon!

When Life Interferes with My Passion

Make time to write every day even if it's just for a few minutes! Feed your soul!

Make time to write every day even if it’s just for a few minutes! Feed your soul!

So, those of you who follow my blog might have noticed that I haven’t written a post for a while. The reason? My job, and I don’t mean writing. I mean that thing I do that pays the bills. And every day I cannot get to my computer and focus on my first love, my passion, my creative outlet, and drug, to put it mildly, makes me grumpy and miserable.

I enjoy teaching ballet, but there comes a time when it all becomes too much, especially when I can’t find time to spend writing or editing for even just a couple of hours. My mood sours, my husband complains I’m not as cute and cuddly as I usually am when I manage to spend a few hours a day feeding my addiction, my hunger to create and unleash what churns inside!

I share my teaching week with another teacher, who is also an international examiner and tutor. As a result of her status, she frequently travels all over the globe  leaving me with more classes to teach and less time to write. The month of March was insanely busy for me as I taught six days a week as opposed to the usual three. Hey, I received an incredible salary at the end of the month so no complaints there, but I can’t help but feel robbed of time with my beloved characters; you know, spending quality time with them in their world.

I know I don’t really have to ask you this, dear Writer, but do you not also feel a sense of separation when you cannot be with your characters, especially those you’ve written four or more books about? For me, it hasn’t only been the last five years of penning their story. No, try thirty-seven years!!! Yup, my epic fantasy tetralogy was born when I was a wee kid, and the story has evolved over all that time, growing, morphing, evolving, until it eventually found its voice in 2009 when I decided to share it with the world. These characters have lived with me practically my entire life, so when I can’t spend time with them every day it feels like I’m ignoring them and my relationship with them suffers. I lose the connection with them and their story, never a good thing when writing an emotionally charged tale!

My writing and blogging have taken a back seat this past month but I hope now to finally kick it up into gear again and finish editing The Sword Bearer’s Ascension: Book 4, the final installment and the end of a thirty-seven year journey. My characters are waiting for me to finish telling their story so that the world can read it, so that they can become part of the hearts and minds of those who choose to read it. I also hope to blog more regularly, and I want to thank all my followers for your support and interest in what I have to say. It means a lot to me that you read this humble blog, and I hope that in some way you are inspired to never stop writing every day no matter what life throws at you.

I have determined to make an effort to write every day even if it’s just for a few minutes. My soul sings when I create; how could I be so cruel and deprive it of  such joy and expression?

I love reading your thoughts. Have you also had times when the mundane necessities of life have interfered with your first passion? Please share!

I am the Featured Author for the Day!

I am the featured author today on a month-long event on Facebook hosted by R&M Fab Book Reviews called the R&M Halloween Spooktacular. I have contributed a guest blog, an excerpt from my upcoming novel, Book 3 in The Sword Bearers series, The Sword Bearer’s Awakening, and, most importantly, there are two fantastic reviews on my books!
I’d love you to go on over and take a look and leave a comment. Here’s the link:

http://rmfabbookreviews.blogspot.com/2012/10/spotlight-on-monique-rockliffe.html

Thanks, and have a fantastic day!

 

So, are You a Writer or What?

“Hmph, a writer!” is what I see in their eyes when I tell them. “Riiiight!” they drawl (pun intended), and that’s the way most conversations go when I meet someone and they ask me what I do.

Ethereal Beauty!

My first intention is to tell them what I’ve always told them because it sounds pretty awesome in the ‘normal’ world: “I’m a ballet teacher and I used to be a professional dancer before that.” “Oh wow,” they say with raised eyebrows and the expected expressions of intense interest and slight envy, and I glow in their awestruck wonder as they ask me about my illustrious career as a dancer, that most magical and unobtainable of professions by most mortals.

So why doesn’t me being an author have the same effect?

Perhaps it’s that I have yet to say it with enough confidence and mysticism as when I tell them I was a dancer on the professional stage – an ethereal ballerina that defied gravity and performed physical acts of such astonishing feats that they could never dream to know how I did it (that was not meant to sound kinky!).

Being a reasonably new author I do not yet possess that same in-your-face confidence as I had as an accomplished dancer. I tend to look at what I’ve written and the smallish success I’ve had so far in comparison to my dancing career when that’s actually a rather silly and self-defacing attitude to have! If I didn’t believe I could be a damn good writer then I wouldn’t have started!

By nature I am a perfectionist. That means that unless I do something to the absolute best of my ability, with every fibre of my being involved, then I don’t want to do it! I continuously learn and read and write and spend hours at my laptop so that I can become better and better at what I love to do, just like when I was a student dancer learning to become what I eventually did in the professional arena.

Now, yes, I’m not yet a Terry Brooks or a David Eddings or a Stephen King, but just like they once did I have made a start and I believe in my abilities and talents to turn myself into the best writer I can be. Simply making that start, sitting down at my laptop and beginning that awesomely powerful act of creating something, makes me a writer, an author, someone to take note of, dammit! – as it is with all writers whether they are newbies or veterans! They deserve recognition and acknowledgement because they have put blood, sweat, and tears into their work!

I recently read a blog by Jeff Goins, the author of You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One). In his blog titled: The Simple Reason You’re Not a Writer (Yet), he mentions asking author Stephen Pressfield when a writer becomes a writer:

“Is it when you get a book deal? When you sell your first thousand copies? When you hit the best sellers list? When do you get to call yourself a writer?

Steve said something I’ll never forget:

‘You are when you say you are. Screw what everyone else says.’”

I love that because it speaks to my heart and where I’m at right now.

Jeff continued to say:

“Steve was right.

I started to act like a writer. A real one, not a wannabe. And all kinds of amazing things happened as a result. Guest posts, book deals, invitations to write for magazines, even cold, hard cash in my pocket — all because I called myself a writer.

Why this works

When you call yourself a writer (or an entrepreneur, an innovator, or whatever), you unlock something inside yourself that wasn’t there before. Here’s what happens:

  1. It gives you confidence. Nobody wants to read work that an amateur writes. No one wants to hire someone who doesn’t believe in himself. Calling yourself a writer helps you do just that.
  2. It makes your work better. Believe it or not, confidence matters. Not just for your self-esteem, but for the quality of work you do. When you start calling yourself something, you raise the stakes. You call your own bluff. And pretty soon, you ante up.
  3. It makes other people believe it, too. Unfortunately, we live in a world enamored of titles. When you tell people, “Writing is just something I do on the side…” you sabotage yourself before you get a chance to prove yourself. Calling yourself a writer is an invitation to the world to take you seriously. It helps you get paid.

So what are you waiting for?

Time to call yourself a writer — and actually believe it.”

Jeff Goins’s Book

In just about every blog I’ve written I’ve spoken about the belief you need to have in yourself in order to create the masterpiece/s that exists inside you just waiting to be unleashed upon the world. I believe confidence in yourself and your craft is paramount to success – even if you are new at it (and even if you’ve been at it for a while!). New doesn’t mean less capable that Brooks, Eddings, or King, it just means you’ve begun where they once did and now you’re on your way to where they are!

Next time someone asks me what I do I will lift my chin, look them in the eye, show them the utter joy that lives inside me every time I create my worlds and characters, and tell them with absolute authority and full belief in myself: “I am a published author. And you?”

Please leave a comment and tell me of your own experiences as an author whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been at this for a while. I’d love to hear from you.

Terry Brooks Image courtesy of Amazon

Don’t Despise the Day of Small Beginnings! A Bio with a Difference.

Stephen King, American author best known for h...

Stephen King, American author best known for his enormously popular horror novels. King was the 2003 recipient of The National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Taken at the 2007 New York Comicon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve had the privilege in my short time of being an author to meet wonderful, generous, unselfish people in the writing industry who have made my journey very precious and memorable. (Author, Blogger Richard Robinson is one such person!)

One of the wisest quotes I’ve ever heard, and some of the best advice, too, is this: “Don’t despise the day of small beginnings.” This is very true for me. I come from a different world – not so different from a creative aspect but a world that requires no language to convey its beauty, love, tragedy, hatred, anger, struggles, wars, pain, suffering, loss, etc, all visually portrayed through the art of dance! When my successful professional dance career came to a close my childhood passion to tell stories, holding friends and family enthralled for hours, resurfaced (or rather, with dance taking a back seat it made its reacquaintance), and I sat down one day and decided to finally write the story that has been growing inside me since its inception in 1978. This fantasy series is my first, and through my characters and the incredible adventures they have, it fully expresses the emotional and mental evolution of my turbulent teenage years into young adulthood, and then into marriage with a man who believes in me like no one else. But now I was faced with an entirely different world, a world of words!!

As a dancer and choreographer everything is visual, so I began this new adventure thinking in pictures and had to train myself to convey it successfully onto paper. I can’t lie – it was hard! But as I relearned the art of creating with words, and as I read – a lot! – it became easier and easier to express myself, and soon my hands were flying across the keyboard and, quite simply, I allowed my heart and soul to express themselves as they saw fit. It became easier, less sluggish and frustrating, but I had to commit fully, give of myself fully, for the magic to happen!

This post (and this blog) is not only about my humble beginnings, but about encouraging and inspiring others to allow themselves the freedom to express their hearts, to give them the inspiration to believe that with a little dedication and a willingness to learn and keep learning (most important) it doesn’t matter how small you start, just so long as you do! As writers we all have stories roiling around inside us – unique, beautiful, breathtaking (even scary!) adventures across time and space – and no matter your origins please, my friends, just begin your journey! There are readers out there waiting for that one story that will change their lives, give them hope, and encourage them to be the amazing, talented people they truly are, telling them it’s okay to believe in themselves. And so the cycle continues.

Wonderful advice from author Stephen King is: Read a lot and write a lot! (Paraphrased) Learn from the brilliance and experience of others – from writing tips and advice to some of the ‘superstar’ authors out there! But please don’t look at another’s success and wallow in self-doubt for you were not created inferior to anyone else. We are all very, very different from each other and that’s why YOUR story will be like nothing the world has ever seen before!

Strive for excellence, and remember: you never stop learning! I learned many things from writing Book 1: The Sword Bearer that I applied in Book 2: The Sword Bearer’s Journey, and while writing Book 2 I learned many new skills I wish I could have used in Book 1. But the goal is to grow, to become better and better with every book, article, short story, blog you write.

If creating with words is your passion (and creating is what every human being is born to do) then please, don’t stop writing!

First image courtesy of: Jon Sullivan at http://www.pdphoto.org

Second image courtesy of  jelaga at stock.xchng http://www.sxc.hu

%d bloggers like this: