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I’m back!

I took September off from blogging and all social media to see if I can get my writer-self recharged and get a couple of projects done. I think I did well enough.

So, anyone know why I had almost a thousand spam comments when I returned? I checked out the first page of nonsense and then just deleted everything. If, by accident, your comment had ended up in the spam folder and thus got deleted, just resubmit it or – if it’s something you’d like to ask me but it doesn’t really fit with a specific post – check out my contact page and send me a message.

I also have a month’s worth of comments to answer and people’s blogs to visit. I have lots to do on my other social media networks that make me want to take another vacation 😉

Just before I went dark, I finished up the Basics of Author Online Presence Challenge over on Writer to Writers and I did a couple of beta reading stuff. And then I went dark for a month…

What did I learn in my month away from the internet?

Social media and blogging is addictive. Sure, we know we have to incorporate it into our lives because there’s no networking without it. But maybe there’s a way to do all of that and still keep my quiet space? I have a few ideas…

What did I get out of all of this time away from the internet?

In the last month I wrote a couple of stories (rewrote them, edited them and proofread them) for a competition and I even wrote a couple of reviews on the books I read. I feel calmer and I was a lot more creative than usual. I read a couple of writing craft books and incorporated the important stuff into my writing.

I got over the weird block I had about writing in Afrikaans.  It turns out winning my award last year created unrealistic expectations (in my own head) that quietly sabotaged my writing. Once I figured out what was going on, I was able to work on it. Now my collection of short stories is ready to be judged and hopefully published.

Honestly, I think I should take more months off during the year. Perhaps every month involved with a solstice or equinox? Mm… taking June, September, December and March off to focus on fiction sounds almost too good to be true. But maybe that’s what my writing-self needs?

So what’s in store for this month?

I’m not going to do any #TwistedTaleTuesday or #FolkloreThursday this month – I’m doing three bloghops and that’s just a little too much work to do with research posts and still focusing on what’s important (writing). There’ll be regular Sunday posts, though.

I’ve gotten so much reading done – and writing reviews for each book – that I’ve decided to post reviews on Goodreads every Friday from now on. I’m going to add more shelves (writing craft, folklore, short stories, and non-fiction) to my existing ones (young adult, middle grade, read, and reading) to make it easier to navigate my reviews. I hope you enjoy them! I think a person’s shelves tells a lot about them…

So what happened in my real life? Besides the usual…

Did I tell you I got two young fillies last month? Not yet? Well, they are just over a year old and sadly neglected (they got food and water but not much else, left to fend for themselves on a farm full of wildebeest). It’s been quite an experience teaching them to trust humans and to eat the special food meant for them, to not eat their temporary stable (they’d go nuts if they had to actually be stabled so they’re roaming free in a small encampment full of trees and lots of grass) and to stop trying to escape to “greener” pastures. I’ve been running around like a crazy person (at least I’m exercising!), though I think my Rottweilers, especially Antonio, have helped them to adjust to their new circumstances a lot quicker than they would have otherwise. Every morning Tony runs parallel to them, only an electric fence separating them, and the horses enjoy spending time with him. This is good for Tony: after Emmett’s death last December he’s been a little depressed, not wanting to go outside and play at all. So in a sense, the horses are actually Tony’s… Cal likes them well enough, though I’m sure he’s stalking them like prey. At least he prefers his food cooked 😉

If that’s not enough real-life adventure for a month, someone tried to burn my property to the ground. Yeah, by the time the fire brigade arrived we’d been able to stop it short of where the electric fence around the inner perimeter (where the house and dogs are) starts. The fear when the eucalyptus trees caught fire… I can’t describe that feeling properly. But that wall of fire they briefly created… I just knew that if they burned, all the other trees would too. Especially the acacias. Thankfully it is flowering time and the trees weren’t dry enough to burn properly. There’s a lot of damage done, but lots of compost, water and redoing the electric fence outside is a good a place as any to start fixing things.

These adventures might even make it into stories in their own way.

The IWSG question this month is whether personal information makes it into a story/character intentionally/by accident. I think that as writers we dig deep into our own feelings and experiences as we write, whether it’s about fairies living on the moon and attacking everyone else or about someone dying slowly, we look inward for answers and how our characters will act. So yes: whether by accident or intent, pieces of ourselves end up on the page.

I hope you had a great September and that you enjoyed the peek behind the curtain of this writer’s life. As a writer, do you find pieces of yourself on the page? As a reader, can you pick up on which parts are real in a book? Have you ever taken time off from the internet? Comments are always welcome.

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