Her Hands

I’m preparing for a visit from my sister. She lives across the other side of the country and she and I are both finding that as we get older, we are softer to one another. More compassionate about the challenges we face, more cognisant of the similarities than all the differences. I find myself seeing my sister through our mother’s eyes. With a special kind of maternal love and tenderness; a kindness that evaded me in my younger years.  I think we recognise that without our mother, we are the only ones who can bring Mum’s loveliness back. By being her hands, her heart… for each other.

At the local grocer’s, I was looking at the fresh cut flowers, mentally relishing the names of all the flowers Mum loved. I saw the Alstromarias, the Roses (blush pink for the wedding dress she sewed my sister) and the Leukodendrons.  I could almost hear my mother’s voice, patiently showing me how to trim the stems, why we do; chatting as she arranged stems lovingly in a vase. She loved flowers.  I bought the pink roses, the pink and plum-toned Alstromarias she favoured in her garden (they last such a long time, she would say… a brilliant cut flower) and the green and deep burgundy Leukodendrons.  I bought them on behalf of my Mumma, a tribute of her love for my sister.

Earlier, at the hospital pharmacy, my eye was drawn to all the things that Trissy would love. I chose some sugar free jubes, smiling at the memory of how Mum used to squash jubes and marshmallows between thumb and forefinger before popping them into her mouth with a flourish. I chose some jelly beans, because Mum liked them too, she kept them in her handbag and would sneak a few in at an opportune moment. I chose some soap that smelled of Guava, a strong childhood memory portal, that scent.

I feel my Mumma close to me today, as I get ready to see her other girl. My sister and I will chat all weekend about her, about life and love and motherhood and all-the-things.  I look at my hands, looking more and more like I remember hers. The same lines. The same textures and contours. I like that. Her hands, my hands.

Just for a while this weekend; the strength of longing of two girls for their Mum will be satiated by some time spent with someone who understands. Like no other person could.

In the presence of what remains. Each other; sisters, daughters.

Mum’s hands, Mum’s heart.

Celebrating 100 Posts

Really?  I’ve written a hundred posts?

Maybe it snuck up on me because I get to drive a speedy little mean keyboard machine.  It goes so much faster than the laptop I was driving earlier. It’s a slim little silver number my hubster got me for Christmas.  Oh, I LOVE IT (Thanks BobbyD).  The WordPress dashboard on it lets me know everything I need to know about my cruising altitude, my readers, almost everything I could wish to know about my blog.  And today when I opened my dashboard to post, it said:

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 9.07.50 am
So this is Numero Cento! I reckon, that’s cause for celebration!

My blog was born on May 15th, 2014 (I backdated seven posts I had written earlier) .  I never actually intended to start a blog. I had thought the course I was enrolling in was going to teach me about the art of writing for blogs.  I had previously accepted a little blog writing gig and I wanted to get it right.  But I soon realised that the purpose of the Blog with Pip course is about more than just the writing. It’s about learning how to create your own and the importance of community in blogging.  So I did create one!  This was my first blog post. And whoosh!  A hundy posts, in four months!  And finding all of you! Woot!

I’m super happy about reaching a hundy, because one of the reasons I have always told myself I can’t write a book is that I didn’t think I could write that much.  I know quantity is not everything, but SMASH goes one of my barriers. Yes! Knowing I can write that many words is pretty exciting.  Each of my posts is an average of 800 words.  That’s 80,000 words right there!

If you’ve been with me from the start, or if you are one of the brave souls who has explored all of my blog, that’s a HUGE reading achievement and great loyalty!  Thank you so much!

Am I being ridiculous thinking maybe, just maybe… I could write me a book!? I’m thinking, with an equal amount of discipline, I could maybe get some of my book writing ideas out.  Maybe?  A bit of writing every day….   hmmm?  I’ll let you know how that goes!  I did a little bit of googling about word counts.  If you, too have some books slow-burning their plot turnings through your brain, you might find this interesting too.

Bree Ogden from The Lit Reactor says this:

“Adult Fiction:  Anything above 70k but less than 115k (science fiction and fantasy tend to run up around 100k-115k words). The sweet spot for adult is about 90k.

Middle Grade:  With fun, lighthearted, simple middle grade you’ll want to stay around the 20k-30k word count range. The average middle grade is 30k-40k. Upper middle grade can hit in the 50k word count range (possibly longer, if it’s something really special).

Young Adult:  Young adult fiction allows for a lot of flexibility in word count. And as you’ve probably guessed… it is sitting pretty right in between middle grade and adult. YA manuscripts can have a word count anywhere from 55k to 90k.  

Picture Books:  Picture books are generally less than 1000 words. About 500-700 words is perfect.

Also remember (because there are a bunch of new novel imprints opening their doors), a novella is 40k or less.

Pro tip: Try not to completely tether yourself to word counts. Let your writing take you where you need to go. But use good intuition and follow some of the rules.”

I am writing as often as I can because building a writing discipline is at the heart of most Writers’ advice about the business of writing books.  I read this recently and saved it, because I think it’s so true.
“There are enormously talented people around but the problem is getting organized to use your talents. A lot of people lose it, they just lose it. Life starts turning somersaults over your back and the next thing you know you’re confronting things that seem to you more important than getting organized to do your writing. And if you can’t get organized, then you can kiss your talent goodbye. It happens in so many cases, it’s almost a loss, as though you have a field of flowers and were never able to collect them.”
Bernard Malamud

I think it’s a stretch to think I fall into ‘enormously talented’ category, but I love to write.  Love it. So why not me, too? I’ve wanted to write books since I was a tot.  I read my first book at three. And I was hooked by the magic of it all. Might be time to start picking some of those flowers.

For some novice writers, the road to a writing discipline might be a diary, or a short story series, or poetry or even their first novel itself.  For me, it’s blogging.  I have connection with a real audience, lots to say, and a format for saying it.  It encourages me, gives me confidence.  When you read my blog entries, I feel like writing more.  When you comment, well, that there is blogger’s gold. Pure loveliness.  A shot of ‘keep going’ straight into the brain!

Chronic-ills of Rach, Happy Bloggiversary.  We made one hundred!

If you are new here, you might want to check out some of my favourite posts from the last four months:
She’s Around Me Now (the discovery that my ‘writing self’ was back)
In The Event of my Demise (my strange sort of poem delivering post-mortem instructions for my hubster)
His Heart (all about my man’s heart issues)  and
Grief Music (sudden upsurges of grief, music, and the loss of my Mum)

Look at what my boy made me!  The. BEST stiffificate EVER.  I am a full hearted mumma!

…and here’s a little bit of schmaltzy, happy music from Phil Collins.  This is how I feel today!