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What I've been up to - Suffering From Elation
A Survivor's Tale
tania
tania
What I've been up to
Well, the main thing I've been up to is Having No Internets. Which technically is something I'm NOT up to, but it's a good thing - the lack of distraction has left me open to do a bunch of awesome stuff.

- I'm currently registering with NEIS, which is Centerlink's small business aid system. They will support me for the next 12 months while I get on my feet as an independent illustrator / writer. Yeah, apparently they'll give you moneys for that if you've got some experience and can confidently convince them you can do it. Who knew? I'm struggling through the mammoth stack of paperwork for it today but if this pans out, not only will I have guaranteed support while I venture into the big scary publishing world, I'll also be able to move to Tasmania without loss of benefits.

- Speaking of which, no set date yet. It'll be early next year, right before Joe starts his Diploma down there.

- I'm doing two online courses on writing for children. My focus with these is picture books (for obvious reasons - eight years of art industry experience certainly qualifies as a toe in the picture-book door) though I'm also devoting a lot of time to working on my novel.

- Did I say a lot of time? Some days I spend as little as two or three hours writing. Other days, twelve solid hours. The last time I did that, late last week, I wrote 16,000 words. If this looks like a boast, it is. Writing is HARD, dammit!

- Related to the above, I also have one picture book manuscript (still at first draft stage) and a few more in the works. One of my courses involves direct feedback from a very prolific picture book author and, me being a perfectionist AND a coward, I want to get the manuscript just right before I give it to her for review.

- I am gradually pulling myself back into an exercise-y frame of mind - walking most places, etc - nothing hardcore yet. I've just got over not one, but TWO back-to-back Epic Colds that knocked me right out of commission. Of course I'm better now, so any other reason I give for not pounding the pavement is almost guaranteed to be a weak excuse. I'm also not eating as well as I should, though better than I did when I was working. Nowadays we only get one takeout per week these days, as opposed to three or four times per week when I was working. Shame on me.

- I'm poor. Very, very poor. I'm also very happy. Joe and I do the weekly grocery shop together and have made it a challenge to spend a little less money each week. We've taken to buying fresh ingredients and making all our food from scratch - none of these jar sauces for us. We make all our sauces from scratch. Our stir fries are legendary.

- Leading on from that, I've taken up cooking! Joe was always handy in the kitchen but I never had much interest until now. I'm still wary of the witchcraft that is baking, but that's okay, because baking is one of Joe's favourite pastimes. I love stovetop cooking myself, and am working out how to make the meat in a stir-fry come out extra-tender, and I've also discovered the wonders of pasta salads (quick, easy, cheap, and will feed two people for DAYS), and we're enjoying the odd home-made pizza too. Joe intends to make the base from scratch next time, to stay true to our policy of not buying anything pre-made. We are, however, still buying some of our veggies frozen, as they often work out cheaper that way.

- We are considering going partially vegetarian, not so much for health or moral reasons (though those are nice bonuses) but because meat is easily the most expensive part of the groceries. Joe has been vegetarian before, and I've gone through phases where I barely touched meat... it's good, but I can live without having it every night.

- I've developed an interest in gardening. However, I'm trying to crush it mercilessly until we get to Tasmania, as I discovered that quarantine laws mean I may not be permitted to take my houseplants with me. So no point getting into it now just to leave everything I do behind. This makes me Sad, though, as Nicholas the Peace Lily has been with me for a long time, and I just divided and repotted him into a lovely new basket. I suspect he is too close to the window and is getting a tad too much sunlight, as he refuses to flower for me. Hey, I said I enjoyed gardening... I didn't say I was good at it. Anyhow, once I'm down there I'm going to research the local climate and see what grows well - I'd like to have a small herb garden and grow whatever veggies can handle the cold. Also, apparently strawberries grow like WHOA down there. YES PLEASE OM NOM NOM.

- Seen some good movies lately - 'District 9', which we both loved, and 'Up', which made us both cry. (Dobbed in, Joe!) It's easily our new favourite.

- Our friend Sarah Grey moved to the States, and we miss her terribly, as she was always good for a laugh and a chillout on the porch. We're spending a lot of time with Chloe, and through her Joe's become involved in some pro-choice rallies. I'm focusing more on the writing stuff but I did a design for her and will front up to the next big event. Chloe is going to teach me to sew! Good thing, because I can't afford the lessons I wanted to get.

- We're also still seeing a lot of my friends from my former job, and had a big party and sleepover last weekend; they're the ones we went to see 'Up' with. I'm starting an informal writers group with Mark, informal because while Mark and I are serious about it, Rosa and Joey are in it for fun, but I kind of like that... it'll spare us the potential for wankery.

- Spending all this extra time with Joe has been amazingly good.

- I've been off medication for the past month. I couldn't be happier.

I'm missing those of you I have mostly-online contact with... especially you, Amy. Give the bub some hugs from his fairy godmother.
19 have fought ~ fight the power!
Comments
ranshire From: ranshire Date: September 2nd, 2009 02:51 am (UTC) (Link)
Heh! Busy busy! It's good to see you're doin' what you want. The money will come later!

Also, I'd send you some of the roma tomatoes I'm growing to help you with the groceries, but you live so far away. :-(
ranshire From: ranshire Date: September 2nd, 2009 02:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooo, and first. ^_^
tania From: tania Date: September 5th, 2009 07:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Aww, thank you, it's a lovely thought at least! If I make tomatoes part of my future-veg-garden in Tassie, I'll be sure to ask you for tips. I hear the soil is the key to truly great tomatoes. :)
ge_mig_du From: ge_mig_du Date: September 2nd, 2009 05:31 am (UTC) (Link)
sounds like you guys are having fuuuuun! watchout for low iron if your going to go slightly vego!
tania From: tania Date: September 5th, 2009 07:52 am (UTC) (Link)
I will make it an excuse to have mushrooms in the house... poor Joey!
stonelizard From: stonelizard Date: September 2nd, 2009 07:35 am (UTC) (Link)
"I'm doing two online courses on writing for children. My focus with these is picture books (for obvious reasons - eight years of art industry experience certainly qualifies as a toe in the picture-book door) though I'm also devoting a lot of time to working on my novel."

This is surreal, as I also started to work on my children's novel last week - which I plan on having at least one "chapter illustration" for. It's exciting, isn't it? :)
IF you are happy sharing, I would love to know what online courses you are doing. I am quite happy typing away but if there is useful and NON-distracting information out there, it would be appreciated :)

As for cooking from scratch - it is actually quite amazing how much cheaper it works out and how much tastier the food is! I have not had a microwave meal in years and the only one Rich has is a particularly nice Macaroni Cheese. Everything tastes very chemically and bland once you go home-made :)
tania From: tania Date: September 5th, 2009 08:03 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooh! OK, I researched my ASS off before starting these two programs, and every person has different requirements, but I hope some of my research can help you.

One of the courses I'm doing is run by the lovely Robyn Opie - http://www.robynopie.com/ - check out the Writing Courses section of her site. She's very hands-on, and reviews your manuscripts personally, sends lovely emails - her course is very much a one-on-one thing, using wisdom she's picked up from working in the industry (she writes picture books full time!)

The other is a more general, less personalised online course on Writing for Children. It covers everything from picture books through to middle-school readers, YA fiction, and nonfiction for children. I enrolled through Chisholm TAFE, an Aussie mob, but it's actually run by a mob called Ed2Go and they service worldwide. Though this one lacks the more personal feedback, it has a nice technical overview of the industry. And whilst this one, unlike the above, doesn't give you personal feedback on your writing, it does offer a forum where you can have the instructor answer specific questions. http://www.ed2go.com/cgi-bin/ed2go/newcrsdes.cgi?course=wfc&title=Writing%5Efor%5EChildren

I would say that so far, I've learned more technical info from the Chisholm one, but that Robyn Opie's course will benefit me best in the longrun. Once you've learned the basics on how to write for children, it's all in the personalised feedback, amirite? That's where you learn to focus on the areas that you, specifically, need to improve on.

Another course I'd really LIKE to take is this one: http://createakidsbook.com.au/

It sounds like Opie's course, except there's the option to receive feedback from a professional illustrator as well, which would be amazingly useful for me. However, work accidentally overpaid me when I left, I worked my budget out based on that, and when the issue was spotted and I repaid the extra, I realised I no longer had room in my budget to pay for this course. Sadness. Still, I may yet get my opportunity.

Finally, there's this one: http://www.writerstudio.com.au/10m1draft_online.html

Now, it sounds waaaayyy intensive - I LOVE the ethos behind it - but I simply can't afford it. Besides, between working out picture book drafts, I've been doing quite well chipping away at my novel myself. I've been reading every writing manual I can get my hands on, and at this stage I'm actually feeling pretty confident about my ability to turn out a workable first draft. Once that's done, I might consider taking a course with this mob anyway... they do a Second Draft course that could be perfect!

These are (almost) all Australian, which was one of the things I was looking for, but I can't see that location is an issue, really - it's what they teach you that counts.

Hope that helps!

I'm loving cooking from scratch. Heading off to do some of that now, actually! :)
stonelizard From: stonelizard Date: September 2nd, 2009 07:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Ps - if you are going partially vegge, Quorn is making some really really nice stuff that is cheap as. I have not used it myself yet, just ordered some, but my friend made me a veggie chillie con carne using quorn mince and I swear we breathed the meal in. It was divine. I don't *like* chille con carne and it was to die for! He also made a killer pizza using their vegge meatballs, which I have just ordered and can't wait to do something with.
tania From: tania Date: September 5th, 2009 08:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, I haven't come across that brand yet! I'll take a look at this week's grocery shop, thanks for the rec.
c_eagle From: c_eagle Date: September 2nd, 2009 08:46 am (UTC) (Link)
*yikes to poor, and wishes ya a winning lottery ticket!*
sigmoidal_suseq From: sigmoidal_suseq Date: September 2nd, 2009 01:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
My Ikea thyme that fell over is still alive!!!! You have to come over to see the chickies plus veggie patch ( if it's still alive when I get back).

Cheap shopping tip - the butcher at Kenmore Village is actually cheaper than Coles - plus if you go right before closing they have super cheap BBQ chooks. Also the Brisbane market in Rocklea on Sats, and Wednesday night are also super cheap for fresh veg.
tania From: tania Date: September 5th, 2009 08:06 am (UTC) (Link)
This just supports my theory that Ikea plants are INDESTRUCTIBLE. My peace lily, Nicholas, is still alive and thriving after two years... what other plant could possibly survive two years with me??

I want to visit, when are you back? We should have a foodie chickeny veggie-patch-investigatey night with Hammond too, it will be like Old Times except with more sustainability. ;D

Will check out Kenmore Village butcher for sure, especially for those BBQ chooks. I'm starting to spend a lot of my free time loitering at cafes down that way anyhow.
alby_lion From: alby_lion Date: September 2nd, 2009 02:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Speaking of cooking and the U.S., the tour is on the back burner indefinitely for now, right?
tania From: tania Date: September 5th, 2009 08:07 am (UTC) (Link)
I fear it has indeed slipped waaaay down the slippery slope of my priorities list! Plus I just discovered I'm going to get to go to Germany next year... pretty much for free! Can't say nein to that. :D

But the US will happen eventually. I've got a godson there I've never met!
daisherai From: daisherai Date: September 3rd, 2009 05:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, do you ever not have a million things on the go? rofl every time I check your journal it makes me feel lazy! =)

Cheers for possibly vegetarian *high fives*! I'm mostly vegetarian (my veggie friends call me a veggie lite lol) have a chicken breast once a week (mostly to appease my mom who worries I will die from lack of iron if I don't) and once every two weeks I substitute the chicken for filet mignon or 4 ounces of a lean cut of steak.

I started eating this way because, like you, I didn't have a lot of money. The benifits have been great. I've lost a little weight, have more energy, and feel more balanced. It's a more natural way of eating for me.

Heads up, though. Take a vitamin supplement if you choose to forgo the meat so you get all of your B's, Iron and amino acids (though knowing how into health you are, telling you that is like preaching to the choir!)

Also have an off-topic question for you; what do you know about getting into doing voice overs, and voice acting? I figured I'd ask you since you seem in the know about these kinds of things. =)
tania From: tania Date: September 5th, 2009 08:10 am (UTC) (Link)
Pfft, it's easy to have a lot going on when full-time work isn't one of those things. ;)

I'll be sure to take vitamins, and we're not going to go as vegetarian as that - we're thinking that we'll just halve the amount of meat we have now. I was thinking having meat one night, no-meat the next (repeat ad infinitum) but Joe suggested cooking the same meals, but using 50% less meat in them. Both plans have merit! I also want to eat more mushrooms for some of that iron but Joe is allergic, so I can't cook with them, which makes it tough - though I found a pretty awesome mushroom salad recipe that I may use for my lunches. :D

Re voice acting - you are actually the second person to ask me this recently, how odd! I confess I'm a bit useless here, actually; by the time us animators got handed a scene the voice acting was way over and done with. I can only vaguely suggest you might be better off talking to actors, or talent agencies, about how voice actors are trained / chosen / made.
daisherai From: daisherai Date: September 7th, 2009 12:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, also yay for no full-time work, and yum for mushrooms -- if you don't mind to share, I would love that salad recipe! =)

Thanks for the voice acting advice!
tengukun From: tengukun Date: September 24th, 2009 05:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
T_T *Misses Tania* I owes you long, long email.
tania From: tania Date: October 1st, 2009 11:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes! Waaaaaant! info at taniawalker dot com is the best addie to use. Dooo eeeeet!
19 have fought ~ fight the power!