Two years ago, I started NaNoWriMo, wrote assiduously each day for a week, and ended up with the beginnings of the book of my cats’ story. Heavily fictionalised.
Last November, I was running around like a total headless chicken trying to finish the house before winter hit, and if I remember rightly, I had garden chairs instead of a sofa, and 70s tiles instead of proper carpet.
This year… I am attempting to tell my story in photographs.
This year has been so hard, in so many ways, but the last few months, even with all their trials, have taught me (along with some very good friends who have given me loving but firm kicks up the backside) that a) I can in fact take beautiful photos and b) that longing to make something of that talent/passion/call it what you will isn’t going to go away – I’ve been trying to get rid of it for a decade, and it keeps coming back to assert its presence.
So I am either going to attempt 30 photos or 50 photos in November. One a day, or the 50,000 goal of NaNoWriMo, translated into each picture being worth a thousand words. I’m sure mine won’t be, and that there will be a lot of cats, but I’m excited to give it a go.
Of course, it’s the 2nd already and I have taken no photos – the day job is manic, and yesterday evening was taken over with kitty anxiety when madam Luna appeared with blunted, frayed claws again. The fact that she seems utterly fine in herself, if a bit cross with me for poking her paws every time I get near her, that it really was only the tips (whereas with her previous accident, she lost all the claws on one of her back feet entirely) and that miss Clover had similar damage to the claws on one of her back feet, tells me that perhaps it’s to do with the concrete in the garden and their insistence on jumping off the shed.
So no photographs yet (the one in this post is from my Singlehood series, started last year). But there are fireworks this week, and a trip to Pin Mill, and my studio build, and a friendship shoot from last week to edit, and lots of delightful things to look at through my lens. And of course the mischievous kitteny cats.
I might even get round to finishing the rework of the Carla Watkins Photography site and blogging them on there!
And I realised just after I got really excited about NaNoPhoMo… that it stands for National Novel Writing Month, and National Novel Photo Month doesn’t quite make sense… I’m going to use the tag anyway though, I suspect.
Are you NaNo-ing?? Or are you with me on the NaPho-ing?!
This weekend I disabled the auto-renew on four of my domain names. When they expire, they’ll no longer be mine – and this is a rather strange feeling.
Some are old, some are ones I’ve not used yet, some I had great plans for but things have changed.
Mostly, there just physically isn’t enough time for me to maintain fourteen websites. Disabling these and letting them go leaves me with ten domain names and seven actual sites – carlalouise.com / carlawatkins.com / carlawatkinsphotography.com / runawaydays.co.uk / unfurlingyourwings.com / sillykittens.co.uk are all sites that I use and maintain and develop, plus of course inkdrops.co.uk which sits separately.
duckingfabulous.com / mermaiding.co.uk / mermaiding.uk / paperdollsburlesque.co.uk are all redirects, but valuable to me nonetheless.
So what am I giving up and saying goodbye to?
The Website Beautician
The Website Beautician is officially retiring when the domain expires in early December – I’ve been doing minimal maintenance work for a good 18 months now, and avoiding taking on any more website work. I loved the clients I had and their glorious small businesses, but it was one of those times where following your passion isn’t the answer to everything.
It turns out that though I enjoy fiddling with my own sites, and will happily sit up till 2am tweaking CSS, that joy turns to terror and heavy responsibility when someone else’s site, livelihood and money are involved.
Girl Meets Van
Girl Meets Van has also sadly come to a halt, because I accidentally bought a house last summer, it’s needed a lot more work to it than I anticipated, and the last of my camper van savings are going on the studio build which is starting at the end of October – I’ll finally have an office/studio space again and I can’t wait!
(I’m typing this to you from the bureau in my living room, where both laptops balance precariously among filing, the mic and piles of post its. My wall planner is draped over the sofa. It is driving me INSANE.)
While I’m letting girlmeetsvan go somewhat reluctantly, I’m also acknowledging that actually, my life goals and what I want have changed since I started that fund and blog.
Today marks the equinox – twelve hours of light and twelve hours of dark.
When I bought my house last year, and redesigned the garden to become a patchwork of patios and decking, with one big flowerbed and lots and lots of pots, I initially wondered whether I’d done the right thing. I thought I might find it annoying to have to water my garden and care for it (it felt initially like another thing for my endless to do list).
Actually, in a whirlwind of stressful events over the last few months, I’ve found it incredibly and unexpectedly soothing to wander round my garden each evening with a glass of wine and the hosepipe, as my Dad used to do when I was small. To talk to my pots and my plants, to trim them and dead head them and harvest my accidental chilis.
I’ve once again been able to watch the seasons change, and as autumn starts her approach, I am happy to draw my snuggly pink shawl around my shoulders, stockpile my herbs, and plan soups and stews and casseroles for the colder weather that will come.
In the meantime, this Indian summer is filled with walks with friends, conker gathering to see off the spiders humanely (I love my cats but they are rubbish at that particular job), and a fresh perspective on what I really want to be doing with my life.
I’m not quite there yet (does anyone ever get 100% there?), but I’m streamlining and shifting so that my various online homes, businesses and blogs alike, better represent me and what I do and all I stand for.
I’m also nearing the end of my current bullet journal and excitedly awaiting the next (it’s hot pink!) while planning a Get Bulleting subscription for Ink Drops. Perhaps it’s true that the back-to-school feeling never really goes away… and it’s the best excuse I know for new stationery!
I’m dreaming of the water.
Dreaming of the feeling of wild water on my skin, a feeling you can’t replicate in a pool, even an outdoor one.
Just me, a little boat, and a cool, gentle river to paddle up.
Though obviously, I’d wear a lifejacket…
This week’s discovery, quickly fuelling a long-hidden obsession, is kayaks. Specifically, inflatable kayaks and canoes.
I have loved the water since I was tiny, and now I run a mermaid school among other things – so it’s not like this is a surprise.
But I’ve squashed my desire to get out on the water near where I live for two big reasons:
The main one is my beloved Poppy car. She’s perfect and she’s glorious and she makes me unspeakably happy, but she is also undeniably a two-seater convertible and can’t tow. A kayak would melt (never mind whack passing cars unceremoniously) on the boot rack, and she can’t have a roof rack because soft top.
So all these years, I have made do with the occasional paddle when I visit Wells with my uni girls, or if I happen to be somewhere with an activity lake.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a whitewater rapid kind of a girl – I want to potter upstream to the pub, moor up, sit and have lunch in the sun, with a book or with friends, and then I want to get back in my boat and pootle downstream back to my hometown.
But without being able to transport my gear, that’s not been a reality.
The second reason is fear. I’m a strong swimmer, if not as fit as I’d like to be, and I adore the water – I’m not frightened of falling in. But I have learned to fear being on or in the water alone. Partly through being taught that water is dangerous, and partly because of the tragedies that can and do happen in and on the water, especially wild water rather than pools.
This fear-reasoning has led me to believe that I can’t own a boat while I’m joyfully single (or any kind of single), because I can’t go out in it on my own, and my friends are either too busy or don’t want to come boating with me.
Which is an unfair assessment of the situation, as a tentative reaching out over the last few days has yielded lots of people who were really quite enthusiastic about occasionally coming out on a gentle paddle, and as long as I take proper safety precautions, I absolutely can go out boating on my own.
I’m beginning to realise that though water can, definitely, be dangerous, my respect for it has become fear of what could happen, without any grounds in reality. And do I want to keep myself absolutely safe, or do I want to throw myself headlong into life and enjoy every experience that lights me up, as often as possible?
Enter my lovely plumber Dan. He came to do my annual gas service a week or so ago, and while catching up and showing him the garden (he was the one who did all the work on the inside of my house, and hadn’t seen the garden transformation), he happened to mention paddleboarding and his new inflatable kayak.
My ears pricked up… inflatable means foldable which very possible means fittable-into-Poppy!
And just like that, all my squashed desire to go out boating more regularly surfaced. Not to mention the wild mermaiding possibilities if you can get to places in a boat first!
Some research has thrown up that most are for two people but can be configured for one; that there is a canoe & kayak club in Wivenhoe, which I’ll be investigating, and that there is a new public pontoon on the river.
And also that there are a few local watersports shops! Two near my parents and one on the way to the beach. Perfect.
I also threw the idea out among some friends and discovered a friend who already has one, and paddles nearby – so readymade companions for day trips! (Pub trips…)
I’m planning a visit to see the boats I like in person in the next couple of weeks, and then I’ll start a fund for one of my own. Next summer is looking pretty glorious from where I’m sitting!
With love and unicorns,
Girl, Missing isn’t my usual read. Especially with YA or teen fiction, I mostly go for the extravagant fantasy, or at least a dash of magic and the supernatural, rather than books set in the real world.
But the blurb intrigued me and I’ve been feeling a bit lost lately, plus I quite fancied a real book for the beach so my Kindle didn’t get all sandy, so I took it with me on holiday and dived in.
And much to my surprise, I was hooked!
It’s fast paced and clever, and I found myself really caring about Lauren and Jam, and the situations they find themselves in.
It unfolds with some twists, and there were a few moments where I said “oh!” out loud, because I was so surprised.
Around halfway through, when some darker things started to happen to the central characters (it’s so hard not to give things away in reviews!), I succumbed to one of my own quirks and read the last few pages, so that I could get through the darker bits without them stressing me too much.
This is something that happens with most books, especially the dystopian YA titles I used to read loads of, and I attribute it to being HSP and having a ridiculously overactive imagination. I don’t see it as a bad thing, but for some reason it drives other people mad…!
So once I’d assured myself of the ending, I could go back and enjoy it.
I finished it in one sitting, partly because I was on holiday and I could, but mostly because I couldn’t put it down – I desperately wanted to know where they were going next and what would happen, and how they would get out of the next crisis.
Also very much loved the extra chapter at the end, which was part of the first draft – as someone who writes more naturally than she talks, but rarely attempts fiction, it’s wonderful to have little snippets into other writers’ processes and lives.
Overall an unexpectedly enjoyable read – recommended!
What’s on your holiday reading list?
*A review copy of Girl, Missing was provided to me free of charge. All opinions are my own honest & unbiased thoughts.
It’ll come as no surprise that I adore Harry Potter – books, magic and friendship are three of my favourite things after all, and I grew up with Harry and his friends – Philosopher’s Stone came out the year I started secondary school, Order of the Phoenix in the middle of sixth form, and Deathly Hallows as I returned to university for my final year.
The downside of being just a few years below Harry at Hogwarts is that for the most part, I’ve been too young to go to the midnight release parties for most of the books – and either working or without local likeminded friends when I was old enough.
But trekking to London for a release party, and trying to find my way back at 1am, didn’t appeal either – so I was muchly excited when I discovered that Colchester Waterstones was having a celebratory party for pre-orders, with books collected at midnight!
This time, Maddy, Sarah and Sophie were also enthusiastic enough to dress up, go for dinner first (there’s a fab Brazilian BBQ restaurant just opened in Colchester, we tried it and it was amazing), sit in the pub in our robes & hats playing HP Trivial Pursuit, and then head off to the party to play silly games and collect our books.
And I might’ve bought a few other bits and pieces too, because a lock in in a bookshop is far preferable to a lock in in a pub, for me!