Writer’s Rite of Passage: Rejection Slips

Racing at the Bellingham Maze

Racing at the Bellingham Maze

In March I sent a story idea, and an example of my writing, to the editor of a local newspaper, and received my first rejection as a writer. The full story on my first attempt to kick start my writing career is here. Come June, I was overdue for a second attempt.

Becoming a Travel Writer

I can’t believe it’s taken me three months to send my writing to someone else, and not because I’ve been too scared, but because I’ve been too busy writing my novel. Last week in a misguided attempt to boost my ego and my cash flow I thought I’d try again. This time I sent an insightful, witty and tightly written travel article to the editor of the travel section of a national newspaper. I swear, this article is excellent, so good in fact that I may pop it on my website some time. It’s about the annual Hipica, or horse parade in Granada, Nicaragua, a fabulous fiesta we went to in 2007.

In the back of my mind I knew the Granada Hipica wasn’t the kind of thing they cover in this type of publication, but I really felt it was a great story, and I want people to know about this unspoiled and little visited part of the world and the ‘horsey party’ as I saw it described. Now I’m thinking that if I want to be a travel writer in the popular press I’ll have to write about Disneyland and mainstream stuff like that. I can only hope that there is a market for travel writers who get off the beaten track and that I’ll tap into it one day.

For the record, here’s my second rejection email

“Thanks for the offer Annabel,

This story is too specific to an event that even you admit in the copy is pretty much unheard of.

For Granada I’d be more likely to accept a piece along the lines of 72 hours in Granada, where to stay, what to eat, what to see, must dos etc. That kind of thing.”
(Name and address withheld)

Keep on Moving

What a great rejection slip. Notice once again that the editor didn’t say anything like “get lost loser and stop bothering me.”

By the way, I’m still corresponding with the ed in question who’s a lovely man and has been very helpful. I’ve promised to rewrite my travel article on Granada as per his suggestions and hope that I can make it to his liking this time. In my mind I’m thinking of it as my first commissioned piece even though as my dear hubby pointed out the editor doesn’t know that.

Am I deluded?

Maybe but I haven’t got enough rejection emails yet: it’ll take a lot more than two to deflect me from my dream!

Thanks for reading, feel free to add your comments below and don’t forget to subscribe by email now if you haven’t already so you don’t miss out.

Good luck with all your plans!

How To Listen To Kids

Candy Family Communication Problems

Happy, Chatty Candy Kids

Happy, Chatty Candy Kids

I’ll be the first to admit that often I don’t really listen to my kids. In the mornings they’ll be chirping away merrily about this and that while I prepare sandwiches, make breakfast, look for clothes and add to the shopping list, usually all at the same time. When I’m able to make a conscious effort to really listen to them, sometimes what I hear surprises me.

This morning my second born son, aged seven, forgot to take his violin to school despite being reminded in the morning.

“Oh dear, how many times did I ask you if you’d put the violin in the car?”

I irritatingly asked.

Poor kid, he already felt bad about it and I needn’t have made him feel worse. So I couldn’t argue when he replied:

“Twice, but I didn’t hear you.”

My four year old has an interesting way of thinking too and is showing an early grasp of maths since she loves to count with her fingers. The other day someone asked what time it is and I said it was three thirty.
“How much is thirty?” she asked.

“Well,” I stupidly explained, “thirty minutes is half an hour so it’s half past three.”

“No!” She bellowed, holding her tiny paws in the air and clearly infuriated with this answer.

“How many is it in fingers?”

Yes, it’s definitely time for me to listen more closely and think like a kid myself.

Thanks for reading, feel free to add your comments below and don’t forget to subscribe by email now if you haven’t already so you don’t miss out.

Good luck with all your plans!

What Can You Give Up To Live Your Dream?

What We Can Happily Live Without

Our Wheels in Costa Rica

Our Wheels in Costa Rica: not flash but they went round

Flash Cars
We have an old no-name type car. Who gives a flying fart anyway? However, don’t let your kids use your car as a climbing frame like we did in Costa Rica or the roof rack will fall off one day while you’re driving along. Ooops.

Fancy Clothes
This year I’m attempting to spend 12 months without buying any clothes for myself. I’ve had to get slippers and a dressing gown to cope with the winter here and a wetsuit for surfing in the cooler climes, but apart from that, nothing for myself, just a few odds and ends for the kids. I swear I’m not dressing in rags either and most of the time I even look quite presentable, at least by my standards. Come November I’ll be splashing out on a couple of new dresses and t-shirts for the summer. Roll on summer.

Fine Food
In order to maximise my writing time we rotate our meals more or less according to a fortnightly menu of family favorites which are quick to make and enjoyed by all. I think this is the biggest sacrifice actually as I love food and would enjoy having more time to cook it. But something has to give and when it comes down to it, I’d prefer to be writing, walking, surfing or spending time with the hubby or kids than cooking.

A Home of Our Own
We’re renting a house and will do so for a year of more. It’s comfy but it doesn’t have all the finishing touches and personality we had in our own home. My dream home’s on hold.

Beauty Treats
Expensive face creams, facials, pedicures, massages, spa treatments are now just the subject of the odd fantasy. Cheaper products and diy pedicures seem to be just as good anyway.

I’d love to hear what you could or couldn’t live without.

Thanks for reading, please add your comments below and don’t forget to subscribe by email now if you haven’t already so you don’t miss out.

Good luck with all your plans!

More Travel Inspiration

How we used our savings to fund a dream trip to Central America: Live your dream in material world.

>> Follow your dream: you only live once.

Live Your Dream in a Material World

The sum total of our possessions: three kids and 11 bags (not all pictured.)

2007: The sum total of our possessions: three kids and 11 bags (not all pictured.)

Things I’ve Given Up To Live My Dream

Giving things up sounds like such miserable, hair shirt stuff, but even the thought of writing this article makes me happy. Somehow downsizing my life so that I can achieve my life goals isn’t much of a sacrifice at all. In fact, it’s liberated me. Granted I’ve had some practice in this area over the last year or two and gone to extremes that some people couldn’t. Here’s the story.

Dream of Travel: the Perfect Excuse to Declutter Our Lives

In 2007 my husband and I sold our lovely home on beautiful Waiheke Island, New Zealand, in order to finance a trip to Central America. We got rid of most of our other belongings too and broke our kids’ little hearts by selling, giving away or simply binning most of their toys. The Candy kids were just two, five and eight at the time, so they got over it. We did put some personal stuff like photos, baby books and a few favourite toys, into storage in New Zealand, but during our time in Central America and Costa Rica, where we lived for a year, we had very little compared to what we had in New Zealand.

Coati in our garden, Costa Rica

Coati in our garden, Costa Rica

Although we ended up spending 18 months in Central America, there wasn’t much we missed in the way of creature comforts apart from a comfy sofa. Books and clothes came to us by swapping, borrowing or second hand. We had minimal furniture and our walls were bare but there was plenty to entertain us. Every house we lived in had spectacular views and a swimming pool. Toucans visited our garden daily, occasionally monkeys or coatis popped by and a plethora of amazing outsized insects diverted us on a regular basis.

Work Out What Really Makes You Happy in Life

Now we live in Queensland, Australia and I’m pursuing writing full-time. I’m more or less resigned to a life of less since writing isn’t usually well paid, but somehow that doesn’t bother me any more. I’d prefer to be happy and fulfilled than have all the mod cons some people work long hours for, often in jobs they don’t even enjoy.

We’re blessed to live in a good house in a gorgeous area, surrounded by clean, safe beaches and with plenty of free activities on tap to keep us busy. But we’ve definitely made sacrifices and will continue to do so happily ~ unless an unexpected and extremely large windfall comes our way in which case we’d probably get rid of everything again and spend a year in Africa.

Thanks for reading, please add your comments below and don’t forget to subscribe by email now if you haven’t already so you don’t miss out.

Good luck with all your plans!

For More Inspiration Read

>> Follow Your Dream: You Only Live Once.

>> What Can You Give Up To Live Your Dream?

Wicked Winter on the Sunshine Coast, Australia

Martin Fingland of Geckoes Wildlife with a Shy Snake

Martin Fingland of Geckoes Wildlife with a Shy Snake

I’ve written recently that winter on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia doesn’t really get cold. Sorry, folks, I take it all back. It’s now wickedly chilly and some mornings I’m sitting here with socks, slippers, all my clothes and the pink fluffy dressing gown I couldn’t live without over the top. Hot stuff I know.

My eleven year old son, who’s a great source of Australian news, says winters aren’t usually this cold on the Sunshine Coast. Apparently temperatures have been as low as 5°C (41°F) and oil and fan heaters are selling fast. But when you’re out in the sun it’s fine.

Free Entertainment in Noosa

We had a good day out a couple of weekends ago at a water festival at the Noosa Regional Botanical Gardens on Lake McDonald where fish, ducks and turtles abound. It was another fabulous free Noosa event, this one aimed at teaching us how important our waterways are to the environment and why we need to keep them clean, a message which wasn’t lost on us.

The wildlife presentation by Geckoes Wildlife was a highlight and if you like the idea of someone turning up to your kid’s birthday party with a bat, a toad and a ten foot python they’re the people to call.

How to Kill a Cane Toad Humanely

After living in Costa Rica, my kids did know that cane toads, the amphibian scourge of Australia, were imported here from Central America but how to kill them humanely was news to us. Apparently it’s okay to kill cane toads in Australia because they aren’t native but were brought here to eat beetles that were eating the sugar cane. Cane toads are bad news for the Australian eco-system because they breed fast, eat native fauna and, being naturally toxic, they kill native animals who eat them thinking they’re a frog.

So here’s how to kill a cane toad humanely, because the man from Geckoes Wildlife says it’s just not kind to go at them with a baseball bat. Read carefully now, this could come in useful some day. First catch the cane toads in a plastic bag and pop them in the fridge until they fall into hibernation. Then put them in the deep freezer where they will die painlessly. Now don’t forget to use the dead cane toad to fertilise your garden.

Well, I’m always interested to learn new things and I like to think I’m open to new experiences too, but I can’t imagine trying this out so I probably haven’t lived in Australia long enough yet.

Feeling Sick? Relax, Enjoy the Photos of Lake McDonald and the Festival

Noosa District Concert Band in the Amphitheatre

Noosa District Concert Band in the Amphitheatre

A Geckoes Wildlife Presentation with Martin Fingland and a Cane Toad: Educational and Entertaining

A Geckoes Wildlife Presentation with Martin Fingland and an undesirable cane toad: Educational and Entertaining

View Across Lake MacDonald During a Free Boat Tour

View Across Lake MacDonald During a Free Boat Tour

Martin and a Fruit Bat

Martin and a Fruit Bat: I love bats and apparently humans are more closely related to bats than to monkeys. Look at it's arm and hand with five fingers and its cute furry face. Sweet.

Thanks for reading, please add your comments below and don’t forget to subscribe by email now if you haven’t already so you don’t miss out.

Good luck with all your plans!

Changing Crappiness Into Happiness

Inspirational People and the Key to Happiness

Kookaburra in Noosa National Park

Kookaburra in Noosa National Park

I recently went to an inspirational talk by cancer survivor, young mum, triathlete and fellow Noosa resident, Sam Naudin. Over the past two years she’s had a tumultuous journey which included being diagnosed with breast cancer and subsequently undergoing a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. As if this wasn’t bad enough her long term relationship ended and suddenly she was a solo mum with two children under four years old dependent on her.

Faced with a big helping of crap like that, lesser individuals might have given up and opted to spend the next year or so curled up on the couch watching reruns of dreary sitcoms while consuming vast amounts of chocolate. But not Sam. Despite being left with  lympoma, when her medical treatment was over, she decided to get fit and raise money for charity. Her dream soon escalated into completing a half-marathon, cycling 100 kilometers and finally a triathlon.

I have to say, it sounds exhausting but it certainly is inspirational stuff and makes me wonder what events catalyse people to get off their bums and do something. So often it’s a brush with death, either our own or that of a loved one, that motivates us to live our dream and be the best we can be. Only when faced with the inevitability of our own mortality does life takes on more meaning and vibrancy. Let’s not wait for a stark reminder, let’s live life to the full right now and enjoy what we have today.

Put a positive spin on things.

The other inspirational part of this story is that it really illustrates how much we’re in charge of our own destiny. Fate dealt Sam a rough hand but she was still able to choose how she played it. Either she could go with the flow, become a powerless victim and sit around feeling sorry for herself, or she could give fate the finger and carry on her amazing journey through life.

Like Sam, when something bad happens I’m going to look on the bright side, try to laugh it off, and not dwell on it. We do have control over our feelings and I’m working on choosing to feel happy, valuable, satisfied and involved. Here’s to Sam’s good health and a living life positively.

Thanks for reading, feel free to add your comments below.

Good luck with all your travel plans!

Puberty Bites: Talking About Puberty With Kids

We all need to laugh more and here’s something that amused me last week.

Being a Parent’s Hard But We’re Doing the Best We Can

Apparently Unrelated Image of Native Australian Long-Necked Turtle

Apparently Unrelated Native Australian Long-Necked Turtle

Two of the cardinal rules for good parenting are not to stereotype your children and not to compare them, however, I’ve noticed that my older son, aged 11, is often quiet, serious and thoughtful whereas my younger son, aged seven, is boisterous, irreverent and irrepressible.

Take the drama show they were in yesterday as an example. The older son concentrated, spoke well and put on a fine performance while the younger son managed to fit his lines in around much improvised face pulling, fidgeting and theatrical bum scratching.

How to Discuss Sexual Development With Your Kids

Another example of their differences presented itself via illustrations of a developing penis in the wonderful book, Puberty Boy which we recently borrowed from the library. Of course, the book was borrowed for the oldest son but he showed little interest in and in fact he appeared not to read it at all, although he did come dashing out of the loo a few days later looking delighted and claiming:
“Mummy, I’ve got hairs growing on my penis.”

My younger son looked at the book too, cast his beady eye over the penis diagrams and, eyes gleaming, asked:
“Mummy, have you got a book like this about girls?”

Thanks for reading, feel free to add your comments below and don’t forget to subscribe by email now if you haven’t already so you don’t miss out.

Good luck with all your plans!