Tuesday, 24 September 2013

My Y2K Baby

This time in 2000, I was nine months pregnant, nervous and excited.

In a routine visit to my midwife the week before, I had discovered to my amazement that my baby had done a complete 180 and was now sitting in a breach position inside my belly.  Thinking back, she had been super-active that week, so I really shouldn't have been surprised.  I think at that point nothing would have surprised me.  I had suffered with Hyperemisis Gravidarum throughout my pregnancy, so it hadn't exactly been a cake-walk.  I had spent four months off work, losing kilo after kilo, and at times wondering if someone had made a mistake - I wasn't actually pregnant, I was dying.  At times it definitely felt like I was.  But I had made it past all of that, and finally started gaining weight again at 6 months pregnant - yay!  I finally looked pregnant!  So, after all that, when I was told that my baby was breach and that I would have to come in on my due date to have a c-section, I took it all in my stride.  Nothing else with this pregnancy had gone to plan, so why should the birth be any different?  Those around me said "Oh, you must be disappointed to not be having a natural birth.".  Wrong again.  At that point, all I cared about was having a happy, healthy baby.  How the baby got into this world was just a minor detail.

On Monday, 25 September 2000, hubby and I arrived at Simpsons Maternity Hospital in Edinburgh, Scotland, two bundles of nervous energy.  I remember being asked to keep still as the epidural/spinal block was injected - I was so excited, I was shaking.  Hubby went away to don surgical scrubs for his entry into the delivery room. When he came back, he had squeezed his size Large self into a size Medium pair of surgical trousers and top, with fetching hat.  Apparently, that was the only size left.  He was afraid when he sat down he would split his trousers.  Of course, I was oblivious.

At 11.50am, our 8lb 4oz bundle of joy was finally delivered.  She was born with one leg stretched up in front of her face and the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck.  She cried almost immediately and I remember being so relieved.  As they lay her down beside me, the first thing I noticed was her thick shock of shaggy black hair.  That explained the heartburn.

Up until that point, we had not agreed on a name - I wanted Georgia, but hubby was still not convinced.  When the doctor settled a swaddled up bundle of baby girl into my hubby's arms and asked him what her name was, he immediately said "Georgia".  We fell in love with her from that first moment. 

As the months flew by, the shock of dark hair was replaced by downy blonde locks, which grew to curl around her ears and then down her back.  She was cheeky, fun, loving and fond of the colour purple and her stuffed bear, Wah-Wah.  When Cameron was born 3 and a half years later, it took her a few days to get used to the idea.
"This is Cameron - he's your baby brother." we said. 
She looked him over dubiously, finally frowning up at us in all her three and a half year old seriousness. 
"I wanted a puppy."

From dubious beginnings, she went on to show extreme love and patience.  She loved him as if he were one of her dolls, tucking him in and watching over him when he slept, playing with him when he was awake.  She was always attentive and very loyal.

Tomorrow, she turns thirteen.  Our baby girl will be a teenager.  Where did the time go?  Tonight, we went out to dinner to celebrate, and I found myself looking at her with new eyes.  She is beautiful, she is funny, she is sassy and she is ours.  We are so blessed.

I'm going to try to hang onto that as we traverse the teenage years together.  Wish us luck...


February 2011
12th Birthday - 25 September 2012

July 2013

~ Amanda 

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

My Personal Philosophy

I often get asked how I manage to fit everything in.  Honestly?  I don't know myself.  So, in the interests of self-discovery, let me sit and think about that, while the house is nice and quiet and everyone else is in bed.

Some time later...

I guess, drilling down into it, I am an "active relaxer".  You won't (very often) find me laxed out on the couch, watching TV.  I usually do minimum two things at a time (watch TV/read a book, watch TV/do some beading, help kids with homework/do some beading, listen to music/bash some metal into shape, write/listen to music).  Often it's more than two.  My own personal sense of satisfaction comes from collapsing into bed each night and doing a mental inventory of what I've achieved that day.  I don't mind being tired the next day (hell, these days I'm used to it and expect it), as long as I've got something to show for it. 

"Geez, I'm exhausted - but look at the pretty ring I made!" or "Man, I'm shattered, but at least I finished that chapter!".  That's my own personal measure of success - getting somewhere.  Even if it's just something small, it's a step forward.

Ain't nothing so satisfying as taking a step forward!

I guess I have low standards, in a way.  I don't mind that what I achieved today was go to work, help my daughter with her new temporary hair extension (she's 12 - it's a Big Thing), start the housework (too tired to finish it), do a couple of favours for a couple of friends, clean up the kitchen and work for a couple of hours on a custom order necklace (embroidering seed beads onto lace).  That's fine - that's something, right?  Tomorrow, I'll have a whole new set of tasks.  By the end of the week, I'll have finished this custom necklace and then I can start on the pink sapphire and sterling silver earrings for my daughter's birthday.  Or write the synopsis for my new writing project.  Or tidy up my studio.  Or And a hundred other things.

Baby steps.  I just want to fall into bed tonight and know that today, I made progress - I got somewhere.  I used my time wisely.

 ~ Amanda

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Q & A Time!

I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because the trapdoor in my house that takes me to my quiet place is broken and I didn't trust myself to proof-read under the current circumstances (world war three going on around me right now - thanks kids). Ugh. What are the odds?

I was struggling for a blog post this week, so I thought I'd throw it over to you all to ask me anything you liked. Ten points to me for delegating, right? So here's what you wanted to know:

How much of your story lines are completely fictional and how much are drawn from your own life experiences? (Danielle)

One hundred percent of my stories are fictional, plot-wise.  There are facets here and there that are drawn from my own experiences, but usually they are tweaked and moulded so much to fit the story that I can barely recognise them myself!

What do you think people search for when they're reading a book?  How does what you write help them find it? (Danielle)

Honestly? I have no idea what people are looking for. I basically write a story I would want to read myself. If others like it too, that's great!  I've found that if I try to see it from outside of my own perspective, it just clouds things until I lose my focus completely.  You can’t be all things to all people, you have to be true to yourself and trust your judgment.

What advice would you give to people who "run out of creativity" when writing? (Danielle)

I think trying to find an answer to this one is like trying to nail jelly to a tree!  I have a feeling it’s different for everyone.  For me, when I get creatively blocked, I’ve learnt that distance works wonders.  I walk away.  I do other things.  Usually, the answer comes to me.  Don’t get me wrong – it isn’t easy, in fact it bugs the hell out of me.  I’m no quitter!  But sometimes being too close to a problem stops you seeing the solution (the whole forest/trees scenario).  I think the trick is not to take too much distance – if it hasn’t come to me within a week, I try to skirt the problem and carry on with the story.  Too much distance creates its own issues.  Like I said though, the solution may be different for everyone.

How do you create your characters? Are they (loosely) based on people you know/tv/movie characters, or are they totally from your imagination, or both? (Vicki)

This question is multi-faceted, and so is the answer.  The characters mostly come from my imagination, but what sparks my imagination can vary.  Sometimes a particular facet of a movie or TV characters personality will fire me up and I build an entirely new character from that one facet.  Sometimes a character is created to be the complete opposite of another character, just to make things interesting.  I’ve never yet created a character from someone I actually know, although sometimes things friends/family say can find their way into the mouths of my characters (shhhhhh!).

Views on the 10 most influential books, movies in your life. (Scott)

Pretty sure this was meant as tongue-in-cheek (thanks Scott!).  Since this blog post would be super long if I decided to detail each title with my views, I’m going to skirt the question slightly and just answer what my top ten are. 

Books (in no particular order): 
Outlander series (Diana Gabaldon)
The Heart and the Fist (Eric Greitens)
Lifes That Way (Jim Beaver)
Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)
The Magic Faraway Tree (Enid Blyton)
The Time Travellers Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
A Thousand Acres (Jane Smiley)
An Angel at my Table (Janet Frame)
A Game of Cards (Witi Ihimaera).  
(I know that last one is a cheat because it’s only a short story, but it’s still a fave!)

I can’t dwindle it down to 10 (I can’t even dwindle it down to 100!).  I have 30+ years of movie-watching behind me…where does one even begin?  Let's just say I'm a big fan of movies.  I prefer action movies to rom-coms, but there are some exceptions where I go all girly and can't watch without a box of tissues beside me.  I like gritty films and dark humour.  Not a huge fan of comedy for it's own sake.  Hate slapstick.  Love heist movies.

Do you insert yourself into your characters, live the story with them, and develop the plot/characters/emotional trails from feeling what they feel? Or are you completely bipartisan!? Do you feel the emotions you are writing about?  (Leanne)

Another great question!  Whew, this is harder than I thought!  Firstly, I mostly plot the story out before I begin to write (if not totally, then at least loosely), so I know where the characters are going before I start (to some degree).  As to whether I feel the emotions as I write them?  Absolutely.  I don’t think it’s possible for me to detach myself emotionally – I think if I did, my writing style would be very different.  I know that when I get to a particularly emotional part of the story – when the plot has come to a head and its make or break time for the characters – it can get emotionally draining for me, too.  I liken it to listening to a friend tell you their woes – you love them, you can’t listen to what they’re saying without becoming emotionally invested yourself.  At least, I can’t.

Have you written about how you were "discovered" yet? Or when/how you decided to take the plunge from 'spare-time' to 'I'm finishing this book and it will be awesome dangit!' writing? (Maria)

I think this first question has already been covered in the newspaper article that came out in May, but as to the second question?  The contract I signed with my publisher, then the looming deadline, pretty much took care of the “finishing” part.

So thanks to you all for playing - hope this was sufficient to satisfy your curiosity!

Don't forget to visit my new website, too - www.amandadick.com.  And if you have any comments and don't want to use this blog to air them, you are welcome to pop back over to my Facebook page instead.

~ Amanda