Freedom my friend, freedom…

I wake up in the morning. My eyes are still heavy with sleep and I sleepily stumble to the living room. There it is, every morning, my trusted 8cm, tobacco filled friend. Before food, before water, before shower, before anything really, the two of us need to have a serious conversation. Why? We haven’t spoken for a while, 8 hours average. Time to catch up. My friend is never absent, because I make it so. Now comes the ritual of flipping open the pack, sliding out a cigarette, searching for my lighter and stepping outside. I curl my legs onto the camping chair where we usually meet and I light him up. I give him a voice.

What do we talk about? Well I talk, he listens. I think, I hope. I take a drag and I am relieved, or am I? Not sure, my heart is beating a little faster. I go through my day, things I need to attend to, things I’m not in the mood for. I need to remember to buy another pack before work, don’t want to run out of smokes later today. I might meet up with Melissa (we’ll call her that for the purpose of this article, she is my best friend who smokes like I do, constantly) and when that happens I always need more. I stub out the cigarette bud and head to make a cup of coffee, lazily lounging about until the water comes to the boil. I pour a cup, mmmm a cigarette would be good with this. I head out to the camping chair again. I greet the neighbour who waves back at me with a smoke dangling between her fingers. See, I’m not all bad.

After a hour I am ready for work. I have another one before I head out the door. When I am in the car, I double-check my handbag to make sure my cigarettes and lighter are firmly in their place. Great, cigarettes, wallet, cell (notice the order). I leave for work (a very casual working environment) and have another one outside before I go in. ‘Hi, Hi, Hello all round, what’s up, what’s been happening’, etc. is what I say. I boot up my computer and it’s time for another coffee. I make one. I check my emails. One says that someone might be interested in purchasing a property (oh yeah, I’m a broker), I get excited, I tell my boss then go out for a fag, because I’m excited you see.

Melissa calls me and arranges lunch at our favourite restaurant where smokers are not frowned upon. The food isn’t great and the place smells like back alley but hey, we can relax here, we can smoke and chat and bitch and moan. So before lunch I have probably another 4 cigarettes, after replying to that exciting email of course.

Now it’s time for lunch. I am there first. A smoke because I’m waiting, I am not sure what else to do. She arrives. We are at that restaurant remember? The one that smells a little foul?  We light one after the other, unable to REALLY taste our meal, but it really doesn’t matter, because we are having a glorious time. We cough in between sentences and get serious about quitting these bad boys. ‘We really have to quit. Yeah, you have to be READY though. I just can’t do it now with the shit at work and all’. Blah Blah Blah

We discuss, AS we are inhaling the toxins, how much better we would be able to work out if we quit, we would be able to breathe better and have more energy. Then we fall back to talking about movies, or actors, or the book I’m trying to finish. Then we agree that most people who are creative have a horrible vice, all great artists were drug addicts (sometimes the news proves us right). So now we pay the bill and I am lucky enough to not have to work from the office so I head home.

I do some work online, have a smoke and head out to gym. I am ready to face the beast with a wicked playlist in hand (INXS, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Annie Lennox, Mumford and Sons). On the treadmill things go okay at first, until I turn it up a notch. I struggle to breathe properly so I find it hard to get a rhythm going, I turn the speed back down and convince myself that walking is better for me anyway. I don’t really have the energy to do a full session so I stay 20 minutes (that’s not bad right?) and head home.

I have to write. I’m only on chapter 3 and I WANT to finish this book in the next three months. I have a smoke and think about the book, the characters, the plot. I write a little. I go to the loo and check myself out in the mirror, my face specifically, or even more specifically, the lines forming around and under and between my eyes. What the $^#&, I’m only 30! I have a smoke.

I’m done with work and decide to turn on the television, Crime Channel (my favourite, and inspiration for my novel, weird I know). I watch, I smoke, I think about my book. I need to write but I’m not completely ‘in that space’ now and I need to see who murdered this old lady, what a psycho. I wonder what’s wrong with some people. I think about all the evil people out in the world. It didn’t matter whether we wanted to believe that everything and everyone is sweet good goodness, that just wasn’t the case.

My evening is spent drinking coffee, smoking and reading. I read a lot. I enjoy sitting on the balcony on my camping chair with my smokes and my coffee and my book. Me and my 3 Goodfellas. I love reading, I adore it, I cannot get enough. It’s around 10pm and I need to brush my teeth. I do that, then have another smoke, standing out on the balcony, the wind throwing branch shadows from the trees onto the opposite wall. It looks and feels scary but I like it for some reason. The wind makes things come alive. I don’t want to go to bed yet, I’ll have another one.

For about ten years I have smoked roughly 20 cigarettes every day, more when I went to a party. At roughly 10 minutes per cigarette that makes 200 minutes per day (3.3 HOURS) of being unproductive WHILE killing myself. What a combo! Even though it didn’t seem like it, I was desperate to quit. Desperate with absolutely no faith in myself.

I have been smoke free for almost three weeks now. Granted, I had assistance (Champix). More than the health benefits, the thing I am happiest about, the biggest gain for me, is the freedom. I can go to any restaurant, I don’t need to freak out if there’s only one left. I don’t dread going for dinner with that couple because they don’t smoke (yeah, ridiculous). I don’t lie in bed at night worrying about cancer (I often did and it killed me, haha). I don’t need cigarettes to be creative. I don’t need cigarettes to have a conversation. I don’t need cigarettes when I’m sad or excited. I don’t need cigarettes to feel confident or sexy or busy. I DON”T NEED CIGARETTES!

So, I know, it’s only been 3 weeks, don’t count my chickens. All I wanted you to know, if you are still trapped, is that the FREEDOM is the KEY. The FREEDOM is the pay-off. The FREEDOM.

“You have freedom when you’re easy in your harness” – Robert Frost

Lions, Pythons and Ice Cold Beers

First of all, a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of you out there. I hope that when you read this, you have just woken up from a holiday nap and that you are not yet consumed by the engine of every day work.

I am writing this post from my parents’ home in Namibia. A medium-sized beach home community on the coast called Longbeach. It’s 4pm, the colour of the sky is a rich dark grey, the north wind is causing choppy waters and large container vessels are lying silently out in the big old Atlantic.

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I managed to enjoy quite a few things during the festive season. Since not all of you have had the opportunity to travel to Africa, I thought I would share some of the moments with you. A camping trip to Erindi Game Reserve (www.erindi.com) left us with some amazing images. Lazy lions stretching out in the cool afternoon (one of the males sneeking a feel, typical).

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Four Kudu bulls huddling together, a large bug devouring a not-so-large bug (freaky shadow) and a huge elephant (or the rear end of one at least).

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A short trip to our family farm produced an encounter with a python which is rarely seen. We got extremely close, absolutely worth it. Lying dead still, its skin glimmering in the sunlight, this big boy is not known to have caused many human fatalities, but best to keep your wits about you.

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I have always found giraffes

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Other than that, I enjoyed some time with the best friends and fiancé a girl could ask for.  Ice cold beers, braais (barbeque) and long naps. I feel rejuvenated and absolutely ready for 2014!

In 2013 NaNoWriMo helped me to write in the region of 22 000 words of my novel. Not the 50 000 as aimed for, but I’m happy with the result. Time to finish this bad boy!

xxxx

Dear Madiba, may your rest be as peaceful as you were.

Today is truly a sad moment as we mourn the loss of the great Nelson Mandela. As African souls, he will forever be imprinted in our hearts for the man and leader that he was.  May what he stood for never be forgotten. You were a true human being and we will celebrate you until the end of time.

Rest in peace Madiba. You live in our hearts and we thank you.

Image: ecr.co.za

Image: ecr.co.za

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

– William Ernest Henley

Paperback Writer – The Beatles

Here’s some lyrical inspiration by The Beatles. I have to be honest and say that I have never heard this song before today.
Click on the link at the end to see the video!
Released in 1966. Its creation was spawned when McCartney was requested to “not make a song about love.”
[Intro]
Paperback writer, paperback writer

[Verse 1]
Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?
It took me years to write, will you take a look?
It’s based on a novel by a man named Lear
And I need a job
So I want to be a paperback writer
Paperback writer!

[Verse 2]
It’s a dirty story of a dirty man
And his clinging wife doesn’t understand
His son is working for the Daily Mail
It’s a steady job
But he wants to be a paperback writer
Paperback writer
Paperback writer, paperback writer

[Verse 3]
It’s a thousand pages, give or take a few
I’ll be writing more in a week or two
I could make it longer if you like the style
I can change it ’round
And I want to be a paperback writer
Paperback writer

[Verse 4]
If you really like it you can have the rights
It could make a million for you overnight
If you must return it you can send it here
But I need a break
And I want to be a paperback writer
Paperback writer

[Outro]
Paperback writer, paperback writer
Paperback writer, paperback writer
Paperback writer, paperback writer
Paperback writer, paperback writer
Paperback writer

 

paperback writer – The Beatles  (music video)

We have promises to keep – Robert Frost

I was watching a documentary on the John F Kennedy assassination when the narrator mentioned that President Kennedy loved to quote Robert Frost. He spoke specifically of the last two lines in the poem below.

Interpret it as you will. For me, today in particular, this poem inspired me to keep writing my novel. I made a promise to myself that I would have 50 000 words by the end of November, and I have that promise to keep.

Image: thewistfulmuse.com

Image: thewistfulmuse.com

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.  

Robert Lee Frost (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)

Random Page Number 3

I opened The Artist’s Way this morning, and this is what I read:

‘Growth is an erratic forward movement: two steps forward, one step back. Remember that and be very gentle with yourself. A creative recovery is a healing process. You are capable of great things on Tuesday, but on Wednesday you may slide backward. This is normal. Growth occurs in spurts. You will lie dormant sometimes. Do not be discouraged. Think of it as resting.

Practice being kind to yourself in small, concrete ways. Look at your refrigerator. Are you feeding yourself nicely? Do you have socks? An extra set of sheets? What about a new house plant? A thermos for the long drive to work? The expression “God helps those who help themselves” may take on a new and very different meaning. Be alert for support and encouragement from unexpected quarters. Be open to receiving gifts from odd channels: free tickets, a free trip, an offer to buy you dinner, a new-to-you old couch. Practice saying yes to such help.

More than anything else, experiment with solitude. You will need to make a commitment to quiet time. Try to acquire the habit of checking in with yourself. Several times a day, just take a beat, and ask yourself how YOU are feeling. Listen to your answer. Respond kindly. YES, I am asking you to baby yourself. We believe that to be artists we must be tough, cynical and intellectually chilly. Leave that to the critics. As a creative being, you will be more productive when coaxed than when bullied.’

Julia Cameron – The Artist’s Way

I kidnapped my inner editor

Regarding NaNoWriMo – I have hit 12000 and something words. Needless to say I have quite a way to go, but I am chuffed with my progress so far as this is my first REAL attempt at actually completing a novel. I had one small, irritating rock in my shoe though. My inner editor.

Image: tropes.wikia.com

Image: tropes.wikia.com

What I have decided to do is kidnap her, gag her and tie her to a chair. I then proceeded to take her down to the basement (yup, I am strong like that) and place her in the middle of the floor. After that I loaded a shotgun and placed it carefully in front of her, making damn sure she stared straight into the barrel that could instantly end her life. There is a leaking tap in my basement which I am now happy I never fixed, because I hope the incessant dripping of unfiltered water will drive her insane. Right behind the shotgun, I propped a clown doll on a chair, staring straight at her. The basement is dark, except for a dim light bulb clinging on for dear life right above the doll’s head.

Image: creepyblurps.com

Image: creepyblurps.com

I know, it seems harsh, but I was left with no choice. She constantly badgers me about my plot, my characters, my punctuation. Someone had to shut her up. I suggest you do the same, and if you don’t have a basement, mine is free.

Now I shall write in peace.

Happy Writing!