The little things …

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I liked and shared a post on Facebook this morning called “Six reasons why you should read The Princess Bride“.  The original book by William Goldman (not the film adaptation) is so very witty, inventive and massively tongue in cheek.  I was introduced to it by my next door neighbour Helen.

She was the oldest of five kids and about 6-7 years older than me. She babysat us sometimes when we were on school holidays and had a great collection of interesting reads in the small bookcase in the room she shared with her younger sister.  I always think of Helen as my ‘dealer’, fostering a voracious appetite for reading, as well as possibly setting me on the long and winding path to a 20 year career in libraries.

On this particular day, I was sitting on the floor in her room, browsing through the titles when she reached over and pulled out one with a gorgeously hand-drawn picture of a beautiful blonde-haired woman on its cover and said, “Read this. It’s weird but funny. You’ll love it.”

As always, she was right. It was weird but really, really funny (and a little different to the movie – although this is not a movie bashing post!).

In Goldman’s telling, “The Princess Bride” is an epic work by Florinese author S. Morgenstern that Goldman’s father used to read to him as a young child. As an adult, he reads the story himself and discovers his father actually cut out large chunks of the story and only told “the good bits”. Sounds strange but it really does work.

Another literary classic Helen introduced me to was “The Hobbit”.  As usual, she picked it out for me and handed it over with the advice that I might find the language a bit hard going but I really should persevere because one day I will want to read “Lord of the Rings” and this little book with a dragon basking in a sea of gold on the front cover will set up the back story.

Helen also possessed the album Jeff Wayne’s musical version of “War of the Worlds“. Anyone remember that?  My clearest memory of Helen babysitting us consists of making and eating pancakes with lemon and sugar and my brother and I begging her to let us listen to ‘War of the Worlds’. We had to promise her that we wouldn’t have nightmares before she’d give in. Of course, we did have nightmares (I still can’t hear the musical yet creepy call of the martians’ “Ooohhllaaaa” without getting the shivers) but that was all part of the fun.

It’s been years since I last saw Helen. She grew up and left home then Mum and Dad moved house and the two families that had once lived so closely with kids in and out of each place lost touch for years at a time.

Although a couple of books and a musical record that was a little left-of-centre may seem like small things, they struck a chord and have stuck with me throughout my adulthood (I purchased ‘War of the Worlds’ on Google Play and listened to it whilst doing long haul on a bus through Europe last year. It still spooked me.)

And I have Helen to thank for introducing them to me.  I wonder if she knows that, in some small way, she is responsible for the woman I am today?

I guess the point of this whole thing is that every person that comes into your life has something to show you, even if at the time they may seem like such little things.

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Where does creativity come from?

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I always need a push when it comes to leaps of faith …

At the start of every project, almost without fail, I look at a blank screen and wonder just how the f*#k I’m going to come up with something decent. Does everyone concerned with creating something feel the same way?

Back in the good ol’ days of full time yet tedious and incredibly stressful work, I used to relish doing the monthly report because it didn’t require creativity.  You ran a few reports on the computer, you added up visitors/circulation/amount of money spent on internet (divided by 4 to get number of hours total), you put calculations into a spreadsheet and set up the chart to work automatically … and voila! The monthly report.

Methodical. Formulaic. Safe. Fantastic for control freaks.

Nowadays, I don’t know if I’m going to be busy next week or be twiddling my thumbs (actually, I still have heaps of assignments to get done so technically I should NEVER be twiddling my thumbs but procrastination seems to be my middle name). I don’t know what type of job will be coming in or even if I’ll be able to handle it! Of course, in my more gentle, less critical moments, I realise that I always find a way to get it done. It may take longer than I thought (and I never charge the client for my own  ignorance!) but I always deliver in the end.

It’s just the process that is a struggle. I’m always super-sensitive to infringing copyright and would never blatantly copy someones work and pass it off as my own, but when I get stuck I go web surfing. I guess back before the internet, people massaged their creative juices by looking at the world around them.  I bet the first caveman didn’t worry too much about intellectual property when he fingerpainted that deer onto the wall of his cave.

Perhaps you can already tell I am procrastinating over a job.  It should be simple yet because it’s slightly left of what I usually do, I’m struggling with it. So much so that whilst I thought I had solved the problem and come up with something creative that the client would like, my brain woke me up at 2am with a loud and clear message that by changing it to a jpg file (as they’ve requested), the background that I don’t want filled in will, in fact, be filled in and it will look all boxy and now I have to come at it from a different angle.

Sigh.

I think it’s time to do a little surfing …

Turning points

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Turning points … almost like a rebirth

It’s always easier looking back and seeing the turning points in our lives. We rarely see the corner coming and odds are we never accurately predict what that corner will bring.

The big ones are pretty easy to recognise and semi-prepare for – leaving home; getting married; having children.

I never saw the dissolution of my first marriage coming … although looking back, it seems pretty goddamn clear that it was years in the making.  Likewise, my second marriage was a bit of a surprise but a really good one.

However, it’s the almost inconsequential happenings in our lives that often bring the most surprising results. Take as an example the story of how a dedicated librarian turned into a graphic designer …

We moved often in my first marriage – partly because he was in the Army for the first 7 years of it, partly because the man could not sit still to save his life. And library jobs are hard to come by. As any good librarian knows, you have to wait for someone to die or leave town before an opening comes up (preferably the latter … otherwise it’s just awkward).

Hence, in my not so huge working career (three kids are a handful on their own without a work schedule demanding your attention as well) I have completed a Bachelor of Library Science and a Graduate Diploma of Info/Library Science plus worked as: weekend Cash Office for Woolies; Learning Centre coordinator; Barmaid; Canteen convenor and Casual Typesetter/Graphic Designer for two local newspapers (not at the same time) in between the rare and precious library jobs in a primary school, private high school, TAFE college and public library.

I think the varied experiences and different locations made me a better librarian – at least, I was able to relate to people from many walks of life!  But who would have known that the first stint in a newspaper doing Graphic Design (which I got because I’d done Colour Theory and basic brochure design as part of my library technicians course) would, 12 years down the track, put me on the path to being a qualified Graphic Designer?

And the second step in that road would be feeling trapped in a library management position plus the misery of multiple miscarriages forcing me to find something to distract myself with and looking into online study courses.  Initially I was going to do Bookkeeping (methodical, controlled, useful) but Graphic Design popped up … and that was that.

I’m struggling to finish the Diploma in time as I’ve had a wedding and a long honeymoon in the middle of it to totally distract me, but there’s the option of extension and I already have clients that are happy with my work. How awesome is that?

If someone had told me 18 months ago that I would be happily married, out of the management role, working freelance and enjoying all aspects of my life, I would not have believed them. But looking back … well, it seems inevitable.