You Can’t Handle The Truth.

I was invited to speak at a Youth Careers Evening where two of my Fab5 would be in attendance. In other words, the possibility of embarassing my children was very real.

Big Daughter’s advice – “Tell them about going on book tour and all the people that line up for you to sign their book. Tell them you work with gorgeous cover models and designers.”

I said, “But that only happens when I release a new book. As in once a year. The rest of the time Im sitting in my cave eating donuts and writing.”

Look of horror, “You cant tell them the TRUTH! Then they’ll know what a boring job you have and how uncool you are.”

Young Men, Sex, and Urge Ownership (And Why It’s Not The Girl’s Problem)

A powerful read. Thought-provoking.

john pavlovitz

GuysWatchingGirls
Young men, I need to tell you something; something that maybe your fathers, or your coaches, or your uncles, or your buddies never told you, but something that you really need to hear.

Your sex drive? It’s your problem.

I know you’ve been led to believe that it’s the girl’s fault; the way she dresses, the shape of her body, her flirtatious nature, her mixed messages.

I know you’ve grown-up reading and hearing that since guys are really “visual”, that the ladies need to manage all of that by covering-up and keeping it hidden; that they need to drive this whole physical relationship deal, because we’re not capable.

That’s a load of crap.

You and me, we are visual.
We do love the shape of women’s bodies.
We are tempted and aroused by their physicality.

And all of that, is on us, not on them.

You see, we actually live…

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You Is Beautiful

A message for the Single Ladies from Samoa. (But not the skinny ones.)

I got in to New Orleans at 1am and went straight to the hotel which is in the French Quarter. Couldnt sleep because I’m on Samoa time and at 7.30am I was up and out for a walk, doing the tourist thing as the city slowly woke up.
There’s feathers and gators, blues and horses.

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As a donut freak connoseiur, of course I had to go to Cafe du Monde and get beignets. Which I then savored scrumptiously while sitting in Jackson Park and enjoying the sounds of a street jazz musician.

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Then this happened: Walking along Canal Street, an elderly gentleman stopped me.
“Can ah please ask whea you from?”
Me – “I’m from Samoa.”
“Whea is dat?”
I explained. He then asked, “Ahh hope you dont mind me aaskin, but ahh you  married mizz?”
Me – “Yes I am.”
“Aahm sorry to hea that.” Shook his head sorrowfully. “You aah so beautiful, ahh seen you walkin by and aah aint nevah seen anyone look like you befoah, aahh just had to find out whea you from.”
Me – “Thank you.” What a fabulous city this is! Random compliments on a meandering morning walk!  So he looks about sixty years old but hey, one is grateful for gracious compliments whenever one can get them.

“Do aaallll the wimen in Saamowah look like you? Can you please tell dem to come hea to Nawlins? Coz you married but can your single sistahs come visit?”

Me (laughing, because, y’know… I’m beautiful and it’s a beautiful day in a beautiful city) – “Sure, I’ll let them know.”
#FeelingGood cos #YouIsBeautiful #YouIsImportant… Pharell Williams is singing real loud #BecauseImHappy

Then he added. “Yeah tell the beautiful ladies in Saamowah we would really appreciate dem hea. Y’know, beautiful ladies like you with meat on dem. Curves. We dont like dem skinny girls, all dem bones.” He grimaced. “No dont like dem skinny wimmen.” He held his hands out wide and repeated. “Beautiful with some meat on ’em.”

WTH?!  #BecauseImHappy song scratched abruptly. Did he have to hold his hands out THAT wide?!  Dammit.

Me, not laughing anymore – “Okay thank you. Bye now.”

Then I went and ate another beignet. Because you know, that’s what beautiful women ‘with meat on dem’ do when they’re in New Orleans.

But I’m passing on the message – single ladies from Samoa who are not skinny? You will find great beignets and random 60 year old admirers here. Come quickly.

Swamp Snakes and Alligators

I’m packing for the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention. Last year it was in Kansas City Missouri and involved various escapades with snowballs, biscuitsngravy and getting reported for excessive noise (ie. Raucous laughter and DietCoke drunkenness) while hanging out in E.L James suite.

This year RT is in New Orleans Louisiana. There wont be any surprise snow but I will get to meet up with fantabulous author friends again, attend workshops and hear from some authors whose work I’m entranced with – like Charlaine Harris (any True Blood/Sookie Stackhouse fans in the house?!), Nalini Singh, and husband and wife writing duo Ilona Andrews, just to name a few. I shall try very hard not to fall on the ground in awe when I see them.

This will be my first time to Louisiana. I’m not looking forward to the heat and sweltering humidity because HELLO I live in sauna Samoa. (I would have preferred some snow to be honest…) But I’ve heard great things about the food, the sights and the sounds in New Orleans – so I’m excited.

I have a free day at the convention so I thought I would do some sightseeing. I looked up a few tours and chose The SWAMP TOUR. Where you go with a guide on an airboat into the swamp and look for alligators, snakes and other assorted wildlife. How supercool would that be!!?? I had visions of me…bold and brave, communing with nature of the reptilian variety. In these visions I kinda sorta looked like Angelina Jolie-Lara Croft’s big brown sister. (Emphasis on big.)

But then I told the Fab4 (we are minus one because Big Son has run away to university…sniff sniff) – and the Fab4 didnt share my vision.

Big Daughter scoffed because “You’re scared of snakes on TV. What are you gonna do if one leaps into the boat?”

Bella said NO WAY because “Only my dad can do exciting fings. You can’t run fast away from alligators. You will come back and say See this is where my leg used to be. A alligator ate it.

Little Son laughed. “You’re going to fall off the boat and drown cos you cant swim. Ha ha.” (Just because he’s done three kids triathlons now he’s all smug and thinks he can mock his non-swimming mother. #Brat.)

Little Daughter cried. Because “you might die. Please don’t go on a swamp tour. Please mum. I will pray hard that you change your mind.”

Well, that was the nail in the swamptour coffin. I could ignore scoffing and mockery – but not tears. And prayers.

So yeah. I’m going to New Orleans but I wont be going into any swamps. Which is rather sad because I reeeally did want to be Lara Croft’s big brown sister.

A New TELESA Novel.

“You know this isn’t healthy right?” Jake asked the question without recrimination. Simply stating an indisputable fact. “The anonymous financial support of her education, the long-distance stalking of her career – these are not signs of a balanced individual, a man who’s made incredible progress in therapy. You’ve come so far. But this? Is the last chain holding you back.”

” She’s not the only one that my Fire Foundation supports. So what, it’s a crime now to do charity work?” argued Keahi.

“It is when it’s accompanied by 24 hour surveillance. When are you going to let her go? What are you afraid of?”

Keahi’s only response to that was to start attacking the kick bag. Jake raised his voice over the jarring sound of blows.

“How do you feel when you think about letting her go? Stopping all the security?”

Keahi halted his assault, battling for control of his raging emotions as Jake’s question got him thinking – against his will – of letting her go.

No more cameras. No more bodyguards. No more weekly reports. No more knowing where she was, what she was doing, if she were alright…

He swore. Loudly. Turned and kicked a chair, sent it hurtling across the room. Jake sipped at his green tea and adjusted his glasses. And waited. He was used to this.

“You didnt see the footage,” Keahi argued. “If my guy hadn’t been there she would have been mugged that first year of art school. And then that apartment she was in? A pit. A health hazard. The landlord was in violation of twelve different building codes. She couldnt stay there in those conditions. All the stuff I do?  Im just looking out for an old friend.”

Jake raised a questioning eyebrow. “Is that what you call it? Buying the whole building so you could get her apartment renovated? Oh, and installing a gym and planting a martial arts instructor in the apartment block in the hopes she would take up classes? All that comes under ‘looking out for an old friend’?!

“You make it sound like I’m a psycho.” Keahi’s shoulders slumped. “I’m not hurting her. I would never hurt her.”

“She’s not the one I’m worried about,” replied Jake. “This obsession hurts you. Your fixation prevents you from moving forward. She’s not your sister. Nothing you do can bring Mailani back or make up for what happened twenty years ago. You need to let go of the guilt or you’ll never find peace.”

“Peace is overrated,” snapped Keahi. He resumed his attack on the bag.

Sometimes Jake – with all his degrees and experience – could get it wrong. Because Keahi knew without a shadow of a doubt that Teuila was not Mailani. And nothing about her made him think of a sister.

“She’s not a chain holding me back Jake,” he said quietly. “She’s the reason I’m not dead in a ditch somewhere. Or still picking fights in seedy clubs.” He motioned with outspread arms to the opulence around them, the stunning penthouse view of the cityscape. “She’s the reason I sorted myself out and  fought for all this.” A sly grin. “She’s why I got a therapist in the first place. You owe her your exorbitant fee.”

“Touche,” laughed Jake.

*****************

Keahi thought about that last session with Jake as he wandered through Teuila’s latest exhibition, coming to a halt in front of a piece fashioned of black river rock – a woman with her arms crossed around her legs, drawing them up close to her torso. Her face looked up to the heavens in supplication. Reverence. Flowing curves and contours, supple and liquid like midnight water. It was entitled;

For thou art fearfully and wonderfully made.

Critics the world over were alternately baffled and awed by Teuila’s style. She delighted in taking the toughest, most immovable of materials and fashioning sculptural and design pieces that spoke of fragility and lightness. Many had an ethereal quality about them but one that rested firmly on a foundation of strength and endurance.

One reviewer wrote: ‘In her hands, rock becomes silk, poumuli wood is butter and ore is water. One cannot detect even the hint of a chisel or the cut of a blade in them. The strength required to hew such materials, particularly in the mammoth-sized works, boggles the mind. How does she do it?

Because he had experienced Teuila’s unique gift for himself – with electrifying results – Keahi knew the answer to that question.

Teuila came up beside him and he turned to her with a cautious smile.

“What do you think?” she asked.

“Psalms 139, verse 14.”

Her face lit up. “You know it! That’s my favorite scripture and the inspiration for my key piece…”

Keahi interrupted, “In your Ragged Soul exhibition at the end of your final year at the Academy. I know.”

Confusion. “But how?”

“I went to see it on one of my trips to New York.” He shrugged at her look of incredulity. “I was there doing media stuff and I stopped by.” He could see she still didnt believe him. “Fine. I have a friend who’s an art freak, goes to all the latest shows. He knew about my connection to Samoa so he told me about this brilliant new artist from a tiny island in the South Pacific that everybody was raving about.”

It was the truth, just not the whole truth. He left out the part about Jake recognizing Teuila’s name because he’d already heard about her in his sessions with Keahi.

“You didnt want to say hi?” asked Teuila.

“I didnt want to get in the way. You had all that press around you and a bunch of stuck-up art crowd, so no, I just hung back and watched you do your thing.” A grin. “You handled that asshole critic really well, the one who was talking smack about your work while trying to look down your dress at the same time. Pretentious prick.”

She gaped. “You were there that day?!”

“Yeah. I looked at all your pieces and gotta admit I didnt understand it all.” A sheepish laugh. “But the bits I did get? Blew me away.”

She was suddenly shy. “Really?”

“Some of it scares me.”

“Why?”

“It’s so honest. That takes courage I dont have.” He wanted to tell her that he’d bought ten of her pieces. They were everywhere in his office and in his house. He wanted to say that he’d read every critic’s review of her work, every write-up about her in every magazine. He’d watched every interview she’d given over the last two years and even taken an online Art Appreciation class because he wanted to understand her work that continued to intrigue and challenge people everywhere.

But he didnt. He couldnt.

Because how could he explain the power she had over him – when he couldnt explain it to himself?

**************

Its been ten years since the concluding events of The Bone Bearer. New paths have been forged, gifts unleashed in unexpected ways, everyone has made new lives for themselves. But some things are stronger than time and distance.  Keahi’s tie to Teuila is one forged by shared childhood pain but is it an addiction that can be transformed into an enduring love? Or will it destroy them both? Especially when an ancient force is awakened- the Heart of Vaea – and they must subdue it before it consumes them all.

The next book in the TELESA Series is a stand-alone contemporary novel written for a mature audience. Coming July 2014.

 

Are You a Sex Ninja?

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There are those who like to boast about their sex adventurous selves. They get busy on planes, trains and buses. Skyscrapers, ski lifts and roller coasters. In stadium crowds, nightclub dancefloors, and public swimming pools. (Eww) They revel in being Sex Daredevils…
We did it up against a tree while we were mountain hiking!’
‘Oh yeah? Well we did it hanging off the side of a cliff UPSIDE DOWN while we were abseiling, so there!’

Oh puh-leeeaze, you bore me.

Sure, people who get their thrills sexing it up in various exciting places simply because ‘we’ve never done it HERE before!’ …have some great death-defying (not to mention shame-defying) sex and yeah, we could all do with a few more death-defying moments in our lives… BUT you know who really deserves our awed admiration for their sexifying skills?

Sex Ninjas. People with kids. People who must overcome extreme odds and excruciating adversity (i.e the company of children) – so they can get busy.

Ask any couple with children living in their house, particularly young children – ‘So how do you manage to still have a sex life when you’ve got a crying baby that doesnt sleep…a toddler who keeps coming to sleep in your bed…teenagers who stay up half the night playing XBox…?? Sex must be impossible for you two!” Sometimes they will snap at you “What sex life?? We dont have one.” (And then you must offer to babysit their children immediately so that poor couple can go out and have sex enjoy a romantic date.)

But other times, a couple with too many children will give you a wise look and say, “Ahhh but nothing is impossible if you want it bad enough…we find ways to make it happen…” Listen and learn young grasshopper…listen to the Master…’

These people – are Sex Ninjas. They have mastered the art of quick quiet sex ( in cupboards, showers and garages)…urgently satisfying encounters when babies are sleeping or children are watching a Disney cartoon…secret sensual meetings in cars parked in the driveway (praying the neighbors dont call the police)…They can find fireworks in a laundry room and blow your mind in a kitchen amidst dirty dishes. (Daayum, dont you wish you could do that? I myself cannot ignore dirty dishes in favor of mindblowing activities.)

For Sex Ninjas, ‘anytime anywhere’ must be their mantra – the unpredictability of children dictates it. They have no time for all that Cosmopolitan stuff about #GettingInTheMood and #SettingTheSexualTone. Ha. Those things are like fluffy bunnies and pink cotton candy – cute if you can have them but not essential.

Not only that, Sex Ninjas are so dedicated to their craft that they can soldier forward and complete their mission – even after being interrupted by a puking child with a sore tummy, the smell of smoke as a teenager burns the dinner, or two feuding siblings banging on the bedroom door demanding their parents referee their battle.

When Sex Ninjas get the house alone to themselves – the most earth shattering things can happen because that time, space and privacy is so precious and strange to them. Heck, just being able to do it in your own bed is so exciting that rollercoaster sex just cant compare. The same happens when Sex Ninjas get a weekend or a holiday away from their children. That couple at the next table who cant keep their hands off each other? Probably Sex Ninjas who have successfully escaped from their prison wardens children. Cut them some slack. Buy them tickets for the nearest roller coaster.

In conclusion, Sex Daredevils are very nice to be with – if you are planning on spending a lifetime on roller coasters, planes, trains and buses…in nightclubs and stadiums…and abseiling down mountains UPSIDE DOWN.

But if you’re planning on letting some children live in your house then I recommend you find a Sex Ninja. And learn how to do the wild thing together in cupboards, showers and garages. Even better – find a Sex Daredevil and introduce him to the ways of the Ninja. It will require much training, mental and physical exhaustion, and most of all – that indescribable thing called LOVE (because let’s face it, the only reason why you would WANT to still have sex with someone when you are knee deep in diapers/poop/tears/dishes/laundry/XBoxArguments- is because you reeeally love ’em)

So yeah, the path of a Sex Ninja aint easy.

But it’s worth it.

(Or so they tell me. Im still an ASPIRING Sex Ninja-In -Training…)

Unforgettable Hot Nights. At the Beach.

I hate going to the beach. I love looking at the beach but despise sitting there…hanging out there…and most definitely, the mere thought of LIVING there.

Why? A beach is sandy. Dirty. Hot. Sweaty. Often bug-gy. And you have to lug insane amounts of stuff to be able to subsist there for a day. Or two. Especially when you have too many children like I do.

But the definition of ‘mother’ is ‘One who endures unpleasant experiences for and on behalf of one’s offspring.‘ Like childbirth, poop, vomit, bloody boob breastfeeding and sullen looks from sullen teenagers.

And camping at the beach.

Big Son came home for midterm break from Uni so the family voted to spend Easter weekend at Tafatafa Beach. We packed lots of gear, with extra Diet Coke so I could be nicer and patient’er. And set off on a grand adventure.

To my surprise, the first ten hours were glorious. We met up with awesome friends who were also camping for the weekend. There was much laughter, conversation, consuming of assorted snacks, BBQ and drink – all while relaxing in the shade under the swaying palm trees.

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The demons swam, kayaked, dug holes, built castles, played soccer and tried fishing.  It was a most enjoyable day. When night fell, we made a bonfire so the demons could toast marshmallows and then they played games and told stories in one of the fale’s. It was a most enjoyable evening watching the sun set over a silken blue-black sea.

Wow, this beach thing is actually fun! Maybe I am a camper after all.

 And then it was time to go to sleep. On a foam mattresses on the ground in an open fale, in a mosquito net, with the sound of the ocean right outside. The tide was up and so waves were washing the steps of our fale. The children were exhausted and so they went straight to sleep, dreaming happy dreams of sandcastles, fish and water fights. The Hot Man was exhausted and he went right to sleep. Everybody was tired and everybody went to sleep.

Except for me.

I couldn’t sleep because of the sand in my bed, the sly ninja mosquitos that had made it into my mosquito net and the BLASTED SOUND OF THE OCEAN right outside our fale. That ocean just wouldn’t shut up. Waves kept coming in, making swishing sounds, running out and then swishing back in again. Then a dog sleeping under the fale added to the symphony with growls and snarls at invisible things. Then it started raining and it beat down on the tin roof, making an awful racket. And I was swatting at mosquitos, sweeping away sand, muttering at the dog to GET LOST, and trying to ignore the noisy ocean.

This is why you hate the beach, remember?!

At 3am, I was still awake. Miserable. I woke up the Hot Man.  “I have an idea.”

He was not happy about being woken up. “What?”

“Why don’t we go home?” I said. Hopeful and artificially cheerful.

“Yeah, we’re going home tomorrow.”

“No, I mean – let’s pack up and all go home right now.”

That woke him up for sure. “Are you out of your mind?! It’s three in the morning. It’s raining out there. We cant pack up in the rain. And everyone’s asleep.” He tried not to hiss too loudly at me.

“But I’m not asleep,” I pointed out. Helpfully. “I cant’ sleep in these conditions. I’m miserable. I want to go home.”

The man didn’t bother replying. He went back to sleep instead. Leaving me to count waves and mosquito bites and dog growls – all by myself. Hatefully. Miserably.

The next morning was glorious. The sun came up, the rain went away and we made pancakes and bacon for breakfast. The children swam and fished and kayaked. I chatted and laughed and consumed snacks with awesome friends. The beach was bearable again.

Until the moment of dread came. The cooler of ice and Diet Coke ran out. It was time to pack up and go home – where I had a newfound appreciation for my bed (with no sand in it), my bedroom ( with no mosquitoes in it), my house (with no growly dog underneath it), and the peacefulness of our mountainside home (with no noisy ocean washing the damn steps all night).

Maybe that’s the true beauty of going camping? – It makes you more grateful for your cave, no matter how messy or small or crowded.

What did I learn from this?

1. Tafatafa Beach is glorious. Clean, safe, golden sand, great bathroom facilities, excellent water supply and nice fale’s to stay in. If you want to spend the day or night at a beach, then I highly recommend you go there. I give it FIVE stars for beach fale fabulousness.

2. If you don’t like sleeping to the luxurious lilting sounds of the ocean? Then don’t go camping at a beach fale resort. Same goes for…if you don’t like sand…and stray mosquitos… Stay home and have no adventures. (just read about other people’s crazy adventures)

3. If you’re planning a beach camp, definitely go with friends. Especially friends with children the same age as yours so they can play all day and have a blast – without your input. Leaving you free to chat, read, sleep, fish and drink. Without our fabulous friends, I would have called it quits waaaay before 3am. I would have insisted on packing up by lunchtime. Thank you Daniel and Hanah, Mark and Luisa AND fabulous children. You rock!

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The front view from our fale.

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rejoice in the diversity of our sisterhood: a Samoan mormon feminist voice on ordain women

I wrote a guest post for the Young Mormon Feminist site sharing my views and concerns regarding gender issues within the LDS church, specific to my experiences as a Samoan woman living in Samoa and NZ. You can read it here.

Young Mormon Feminists

by Lani Wendt Young

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I was driving home from church one Sunday, when I saw a couple dressed in church clothes, having an altercation by the roadside. The man was shouting, dragging the woman ( his wife?) by the hair with one hand.  With the other he held his scriptures and was using them to beat her around the face and head as she cowered and struggled. Two small children stood to the side, crying.

It’s been a long time now, but that’s an image I have never forgotten. The symbolism brutally obvious. A man using the weight of scripture and religious authority to subdue a woman.

                                                                            *************************************

My name is…

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Freeze Your Family for Easter

This conversation just happened.

“It’s the long Easter holiday weekend. I’m looking forward to our camp at the beach with the kids, aren’t you?” he asked.

“No. I’m not,” she said. Actually, it was more of a ‘she snarled.’

Surprise. “Why? What’s the matter? It’s a holiday! Time to relax and enjoy family time,” he said. Still clueless.

“Are you kidding me? I’ve been at home with four children going on four straight weeks now. First, they were home because the pinkeye epidemic cancelled all the schools, then it was time for school holidays, then two went back to school but the other two have runny noses and an ear infection.” (pitch and tone of voice getting louder…higher…screechier…bordering on manic)

“Oh,” he said. Subdued. “I see.”

But she’s not done. Hell no. She’s still going. “I don’t think you DO see. You leave the house everyday. You only have to be with these demons for an hour or so at the end of the day. I have to listen to them, referee them, organize them, clean up after them ALL FREAKIN DAY. And when I lock myself in my cave so I can write, they keep knocking on my door, pestering me. Wanting to breathe my air. I hate this.”

He listened. He  pondered. Then he had a bright idea. “I understand. You need a break. Why don’t you go out for the day on your own, leave them here with me?”

“No. I don’t want to have to go somewhere else to be happy and alone. This is my cave, my space. I hate going places. I want to breathe and think and savor my space by myself. Right here,” she wailed.

He had another bright idea. Because he’s a decent man and he does try. “I’ll take them all out for the day and leave you on your own. How about that?”

“It’s Easter Friday. There’s nothing open in Samoa today. Where are you going to take them? What are they going to eat? What are they going to do? All day?” she demanded.

“Don’t worry. That will be my problem. You can just sit in your room and ummm… breathe your air…talk to imaginary people in your stories…or whatever it is you need to do, without anyone bothering you.” He was trying extra hard to be helpful and hopeful and understanding.

Too bad it didn’t  work.

“Nooooo! What kind of a mother would I be if I kicked all my kids out of the house? You can’t take them and just wander the wilderness all day – because I want the place to myself. That would mean I’m selfish and horrible. Its the holidays. I should have fabulous activities planned for them. A good mother would think its fun to be with her children. I don’t want to be a bad person.”

He was well and truly bewildered now. “So what the heck do you want then?! I don’t get it.” He threw his hands up in the air. “Having us here is driving you nuts. But chasing us away makes you a bad person? You can’t be the worlds best mother AND want to get rid of your children at the same time. It doesn’t work that way. What do you want?”

“I want a freeze machine. So I can zap them like Han Solo in Star Wars. That way I can have them all at home with me but keep them in cold storage. Just defrost them when I want a hug. Or need them to do the dishes. Totally painless of course.” And then she mused on that happy thought for a while.

While he was horrified. “You want to freeze your children?” Then an even more dreadful thought. “And your husband too?”

No reply.

“Whaat?” He shook his head in disbelief. “Who does that? Who even thinks of stuff like that?”

Who indeed. ..

Please tell me somebody, somewhere in the universe – has frozen thoughts like this? #BadMother conversations like this one?!

 

 

 

How to Become a Writer.

As a writer who writes too many different things all the time – I am often asked: “Where do you find the time and the drive to write? How do you overcome writer’s ‘block’?” Such questions are a puzzle to me and so my answer is 105km and 14 hrs long…

A few years ago, I had a crazy idea. I wanted to put together a women’s team and run in a 105km relay that went around the main island of Samoa. It was crazy because at the time I couldn’t even run around the parking lot without stopping to gasp for breath. But I was determined. I convinced some other moms to be crazy with me and we started training.

For 5 days a week over three months, we would meet at the crack of dawn to go for a 5k run. I use the term ‘run’ very loosely since, at first, we did more of a shuffle, which then accelerated to become a waddle, which then after a few weeks, became a jiggly, joggly sort of jog. Did I enjoy it? Hell no. I hated every minute of it. Many times, I only went because it was my turn to drive and pick the team up. Other times, I only went because the rest of the team was honking their car horn outside, waiting to pick me up.

But after 6 weeks, something strange happened. (No, I didn’t transform into a stunning athletic muscle machine. I wish.) I found myself waking up early on Saturday mornings…wanting to go for a run, itching and edgy for a run. Huh? By Wk 9, I was going for a run TWICE A DAY. And when I got the flu and couldn’t train for a week? I was raving mad. As if someone had bought all the Diet Coke on the island, leaving me with nothing but coconuts to drink. By the time the Perimeter Relay came around, I was running twice a day, sometimes 6 days a week. But more significantly, the running had become as essential to me as eating. Sleeping. Brushing my teeth. I wouldn’t dream of going a work-day without it. It took our team 14 hours to complete the relay, running from 2am to 5pm the next afternoon. Many times during that relay, I wanted to puke and die. But many times, I was also running on an exhilarating high as I gloried in feeling like – I could run forever and never stop.

Writing is just like that. If you want to BE a writer, you don’t ‘find time’ in your busy schedule to write. You make time. You start with a goal. A crazy dream. ‘I want to write a romance. A best-selling thriller. A children’s book. A memoir about my grandmother…’ You set aside a time and a place every day that you are going to write. You start off small. Shuffling, waddling baby steps to get you building the consistent writing habit. You write anything and everything. Start a journal. A family newsletter. Write down those bedtime stories you tell your kids. Record your family history. Write long, chatty letters to friends. Start a blog AND THEN STICK TO IT. The best thing I ever did for my writing career was to start a blog – it forced me to assert and accept responsibility for my writing. Your blog readers can be like that relay team of runners who force you to stick to your crazy dream by bugging you every day for your latest piece of writing. At first, it will be hard. You will probably hate it. Complain. Whinge and whine looking for excuses NOT to write. But if you keep at it, doggedly, persistently – you will hit that point where you can’t imagine a day, a moment, without writing. When you’re not writing, you will be thinking about it. If you have an unruly mob of children like me, you will dread the weekends because it means less writing time. ( And don’t even get me started on the horror of school holidays…aaargh!) You will write because you feel like you will die if you don’t. You will write because you are a writer. And that’s what writers do.

My 105km relay showed me that crazy, impossible dreams are possible.

A Very Sad Footnote to this Writing Story: Since the relay, my first book of narrative non-fiction, funded by the Australian government, ‘Pacific Tsunami Galu Afi’ was launched in 2010. I published four books in my Young Adult series, Telesa.  My collection of short fiction won the USP Press Fiction Prize. My story ‘The Beast that Came from the Sea’ was professionally recorded for radio by the Commonwealth Foundation and broadcast in 54 countries. I have written numerous children’s stories that are published in the NZ School Reading Curriculum. All while being the slave mother to five fabulous children. However, I have not been running anywhere. Not even in the parking lot. And it shows…