Building my own library

Dream vs reality in creating that perfect space to read and show off your book collection.

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For those who didn’t know, I’ve had a couple of brushes with death. Cancer nearly claimed my life twice, and I had a long and painful battle to get a life back. But there is more fight in this old girl yet *I jump side to side like a boxer pumping my fists.* That has taught me to dream big and make sure my experience on this planet is a happy and fun one. So I keep a bucket list, try to tick off big goals and little ones as often as I can… One of the more personal, but materialistic items has been around my reading and writing life. Who doesn’t like a nerd-mecca in their own house!

Building my Library Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle.jpgI’ve had a fantasy of my own library, whiling away hours sequestered in a cozy reading nook. Collecting pictures of my dream library and window boxes for winter reading. Even couches lit by gorgeous floor lamps, decorated with fur throws and cable knit cushions… It’s all in the ether of my brain, percolating until I get to build my new home. Yet those plans are still a pipe dream at the moment. But getting the blueprints down is step one. C’mon Lotto – I need a big win!!

In the meantime, I’ve settled for reconditioning some antique bookshelves. I found them online for sale by a neighbour’s Estate sale. The aim is to strip them back, fix the cracks and some of the joinery, and then give many coats of white paint and wooden curlicue applications to accentuate the French Provincial feel I want in my work room. It’s where I write, read, and come up with all my ideas. Time to get crafty, pull out the electric sander and dance to girl power music in the garage.

There’s an old chaise lounge I’ll endeavour to get recovered in a romantic regency brocade, either in sliver and pale blue tones, or go bold with red and gold. The space is about half-way there. The wall and ceiling painting has been completed, new white office furniture and floor rugs for ambience. Then it’s about all those other small touches to bring out personality and style. Something about a chaise lounge says ‘I’m classy and important,’ besides the fact that is looks like a normal lounge where one side has melted in the sun.

Building my Library Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleI steer towards more of a white, open plan workspace. I find too much colour or clutter makes me feel claustrophobic in the creative process – especially if I’m frustrated with a writing challenge. Plus that decorating pallet helps to highlight the books lining the shelves. It’s not the grand style library I’ve dreamed about, but it’s inexpensive and looks bright and stylish. Something about being in that room is inspiring in itself. I’m most likely at least half a year away from finishing as the restoration work is intricate work, and the massive bookshelves are tremendously heavy and I only have friends over on weekends to help me move the shelving. The furniture reupholstery is going to cost a bit too; so I have to save.

But is should be a marvellous Christmas present to myself if I can get it all done by the end of this year. I could get it finished much sooner if I dropped everything and worked hard, but I’m trying to focus on writing this year, and completing projects. I started way too many last year and feel like I’m not making much progress because I stretched myself too thin. But I’ll share some pictures of my workspace when it’s all completed.

In the meantime, I have various study nooks to work in. One overlooking the coast from the window at the front of the house; one in a sunroom under a canopy of trees overlooking a natural spring where there is always plenty of colourful rainforest birds and purple waterlilies; or in my big white office with heaps of desktop space to spread out on. Or, if I’m feeling adventurous, there’s some great restaurants close by to spend an extended lunch in luxury (and they’re not as loud as café’s); and if the weather is right, me and the dog can sit on the beach. So many great places to cop a squat and read or write. I’d love to spend a day in the underwater aquarium, but the cover charge is hefty and there’s not much space to lounge without interruption – and I get the feeling the staff there would ask me to move on ☹  Though I’ve been thinking that a fish tank would be a fantastic addition to the study… if I don’t spend hours staring at it hypnotised.

What make your ideal study spot or reading nook (apart from bed)?

Bucket List by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Making a difference in the world

After going into remission from Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma a number of years back, and deciding not to return to teaching, I was staring at my Bucket List – and the item I’d scrawled out at some stage: Make a difference in the world.

What exactly did I mean when I wrote that in a chemo addled daze? Nonetheless, I want to complete everything on my list. It keeps me accountable. Keeps me on my toes and questioning if I am getting the most out of life – finding happiness and not falling into routine and contentment.

Making a Difference in the World Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.gifI may have meant my entry as some big gesture. Altruistic. Like passing on some profound knowledge, or some big public spectacle for the greater good. I may have daydreamed of possessing a super power or unlimited funds in my bank account ‘You get a car, you get a car, and you get a car

But now, I prefer to think it means to help change the world and attitudes around me for the better through a number of small ways:

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Entertaining people. Making them laugh, smile, or whisking them away to some make-believe place for a while to enrich their imagination. Being the class clown growing up, I was always cracking jokes, falling down, narrating Mum and Dad’s actions with fart noises; sometimes going as far as dressing the dogs up in my clothes and walking them down the street. I wanted to share the love, the fun… and get a little be of attention. Now that I’m an adult and many of those activities would have me locked up in a Sanatorium, that exorbitant, over-active mind for the fantastic is used for writing prose. Which I pray at least one person will find mildly amusing and somewhat entertaining. We all need a little escapism sometimes.

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Meeting new people, sharing my story hoping to inspire and in some way – help them on their own journey. It could be through getting involved in their lives, or it could be something as simple as a smile to brighten their day. I get told a lot that I should write a book about my life. I’ve conquered some big events, accomplished many things and tried different careers and places to live. But that’s just my itchy feet always wanting to try something new, strive for excellence. I don’t really think my life is that amazing or different. Maybe I’m more vocal about it. The thought of writing an autobiography sounds boring (and it’s far from over yet)…

Dear Journal, today I overcame the fear that I have a fat bum, squeezed into a pair of jeans and ventured out into the world to do some shopping and decided that people weren’t looking at me because I am weird, but that I am beautiful… and that isn’t toilet paper stuck to the heel of my shoe.

I know I’ve been thrown a fair number of curve balls in my life, but you just get on with things. So if hearing my story helps someone get through theirs, I’m all for it. Plus, a giggle along the way always makes a situation less scary and dire.

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I like to pass on whatever knowledge I’ve garnered in this life. Knowledge should be free. It’s the teacher in me. Whether it be through my blog, conversation, or tutoring. Sharing knowledge gives independence… and it’s something I’m passionate about. I’m a student of life and love new adventures, experiences, and discovering things in books.

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It shouldn’t matter the colour of your skin, how much money you have, who you love, everyone should be valued for who they are. And so I like to show them acceptance, tolerance, love and mutual respect.

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Yeah it’s all a bit idealistic, but embodies the idea I had when I thought I may be leaving this world. It showed me what was important – and the things I valued the most when I thought it was the end…

I’m not perfect, sometimes I falter, but then I can always look at my list. Remember when I was in a hospital bed and wished I could do something… and so I am. And hey, these ways are so simple anyone can do them!

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Write a novel… and then what?

I’ve had “Write a Novel” on my bucket list since I was a child, but I think I should have been clearer, or at least added a couple of more steps…

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Write a novel? Tick, yes. Done!

But now it’s time to do re-writes. Then off to some Beta readers to get some input. Then another draft. And lastly, off to an Editor to get a final draft.

And that’s just the writing process.

After that it’s off to a publisher… or should I say, go through the submission process to get a publisher (via literary agent).

Then, if deemed a suitable match (and contract negotiations), my manuscript will be published and I’ll see it on shelves at my local bookstore.*

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All of that listed above is what’s really meant to be included in the ‘write a novel’ Bucket List item. How naive I was.

 

I don’t want to be a one hit wonder either. I want several books published. Not through self-publishing, or vanity publishing, or any of the other variety of ways to see your novel in print. I desire traditional publishing. (Plus it’s a validation that you have been deemed worthy… something that plays to my ego.)

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These days, a traditional publisher wants to see that you are a viable investment – a career writer. So, simply ‘write a novel’ has a lot of weight to it if you want to take it seriously. And I do. So what started off as a pipe-dream when I got diagnosed with cancer has turned into a career.

I’m old fashioned that way.

If only my chemo addled brain had made that realisation when I’d scratched out the single most want of my heart’s desire.

You need to have a vision of many books to be written in the future, either stand alone, or a series. Roughly sketched out plots, a timetable.

Now that you have the writing side sorted, there is all manner of elements that go along with it to add to your dossier to be deemed a worthy investment. Like an online presence, previously published works, a network or connections within the industry, a marketing plan, all these are thrown onto the pile just to make life just a little more exasperating. All from the three words “write a novel.”

Granted, you don’t really have to do any of it. You could just complete your manuscript and release it online, or self-publish an ebook. But I’m a glutton for punishment and a purist. I want the dream from my childhood, whether it’s realistic or not.

So I formed a 1-3 year plan. Made a detailed list. And I’m halfway there…

As big and as involved as this innocent little item on my Bucket List is, it has definitely been the most satisfying. I guess anything that takes a considerable amount of effort to achieve is ultimately rewarding… and while I could cross if off the list because the manuscript is complete; I think I’ll keep it there until the dream is fully realised.

But in the meantime I have plenty more items to attack, and life will be ever more richer because of it 🙂

 

Do you have a Bucket List, or are writing a novel? I’d love to hear all about your experiences and goals to help make life more fun and amazing.

*Let me live in this fantasy of perfection – it’s the only thing keeping me going at the moment – that, and a fridge stocked full of Tim-Tams and LOTS of coffee!

Bucket List by Casey Carlisle

 © Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Travel Abroad…?

I’ve always wanted to travel… but how do you pick where to go when there are so many interesting places to visit?

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I WANT THEM! ALL THE PLACES!

That is pretty much what my head screams when I think about booking my next holiday. Truth be told – I’m not that much of a big traveller. Overseas that is. I’ve explored just about all of Australia, but my only overseas trip was on a cruise for my 40th birthday after finally been given the all-clear from the doctors and actually having enough funds for a holiday off the continent.

So now that I’ve broken the seal, taken my first trip, what is holding me back from doing it again?

Well, life I guess. Mum passing away. Selling my house and relocating. But that is all done with now, so the only thing I can think of is fear.

FEAR.

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When did I get so scared to take on the unknown. Okay, I’m not cowering in a corner in a pool of my own making, but am uncomfortable to leave the cushy place I’ve finally been able to create. So much of my life recently has been dealt with uncertainty. But I think losing Mum has put the fear of losing everything in me, and I’ve fallen into the security of the familiar and routine.

It’s time to put away childish things.

So next year it’s time to re-visit my Bucket List and look at another adventure over the great blue yonder. At this point in time it looks like Canada and Alsaska. Maybe some other place on the way back home after that. A cold climate may not sound appealing to some, but I live on the Sunshine Coast – its sunscreen and beach all day, all the time. Plus, I love layering clothes, snuggling up in front of the fire with a good book. So it’s settled.

My dream cruise would be to the Antarctic. Imaging floating past polar bears and penguins, catching glimpses of whales… the delicate hues of blue and white in cliffs of ice. I want to see that.

So 2016 is going to be the year I get back on track with my Bucket List and start stepping outside of my comfort zone. I’ve had my year of fear and loss and it’s time to live again!

What is on your Bucket List for 2016?

Travel abroad Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Bucket List by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Don’t let people suck away all your creativity … by Casey Carlisle

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I’m talking about spiritual vampires… the leeches that feed on your ideas, positivity and diminish your motivation.

We’ve all come across someone in our lives who affects you in a negative way, stresses you out, puts you or your ideas down. A person who is always making negative statements and complaining. It can impact your writing (or whatever your medium may be), and stifle your flow if not careful. We are all artists and wordsmiths, and once doubt and frustration infect your soul in can taint your every thought and is difficult to shake.

I like to use these types of characters as inspiration for traits in include in the cast of my novels, funnelling all that ‘woe-is-me’ on to the page. It can add an interesting story arc for redemption or offer a challenge (or comparison) for your protagonist.

Turn a negative into a positive. Got writers block? Write about a writer who’s hit a wall and what has snuffed out his or her inspiration. Hey, at least it gets you writing again! Turning the cogs in that ol’ noggin of yours.

My best friend calls it the ‘Pollyanna Approach.’ How I always take the crap in my life and use it as fertilizer to grow something rewarding. I know it sounds like your typical overcoming adversity, or finding the optimist spiel, but I think it is a valuable lesson in taking stock of our surrounds when we work in a creative field. The environment and people around us can inversely measure against our process.

I only say all of this because, from my own personal experience, early on in my writing career there were many nay-sayers regarding my probability of earning a living out of this vocation. By devaluing the thing I was most passionate about, it quelled most of my urge to continuing to write. It took me several years to wake up one day and announce, ‘What the hey – I can’t not write.’ And so I did. Not for a job. Hell, not even with the thought I was going to turn it into a full time career. I started because I wanted to do it for myself. There were just too many ideas crowding my head I needed to get down on paper.

Now, because I no longer pay attention to anyone doubting my storytelling skills, I am so much happier. Words continue to flow. Novels continue to pour out of me. So don’t let the doubting thomas’ or saboteurs control your passion. Do it for yourself. Be proud of your creations.

We need to support each other, give a pat on the back and compliment those who can pluck ideas out of thin air. They lead, entertain, teach… what we do is important. So next time you feel like the walls are closing in, take a look around you and identify what is the source of your dilemma – and use it!

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© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.