What brings you joy?

Now, I know it might seem odd to take my Joy from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows — John Koenig’s masterful collection of made up words — but bear with me.

All the words in the Dictionary are new, and this is important… they’re “not necessarily intended to be used in conversation, but to exist for their own sake, to give a semblance of order to a dark continent, so you can settle it yourself on your own terms, without feeling too lost — safe in the knowledge that we’re all lost.”

Writing fantasy brings me joy

Writing fantasy brought coastlines to the lost, dark continent of my life, and allowed me to give it topography, mountains, valleys, caves, lakes, plains, flora, fauna, characters, and of course, magic. It allowed me to find my way in the real world and to create in my own made up worlds. After a little while, the creativity became more and more generous, taking over my real world too. Small, mundane things drew creativity from me. My mind discovered fantastic ways of being and doing. The portal between worlds became less of a doorway and more of a twitch of transition.

Sometimes when I tell people I write fantasy, I can see the question marks sprout from their heads like cartoon thought bubbles. They register the lines on my face and my grey hair first and a tiny frown appears, as if they wonder why someone my age would admit to reading fantasy, let alone writing it. Then they think about what they know of me: nurse, midwife, manager, CEO, business owner, facilitator, coach, wife, and mother, and they cock their head as if wondering whether I’ve lost the plot (pun intended). Then there’s a kind of polite ‘Oh, that’s [insert an inert word like nice or interesting here]’. And then it’s time to change the subject, their eyes sliding past me for saner folk.

And once in a while, people’s eyes will light up and they’ll want to know more. They, like me, are ringlorn.


Red stone gold ring

Koenig’s Dictionary describes ringlorn as “the wish that the modern world felt as epic as the one depicted in old stories and folktales — a place of tragedy and transcendence, of oaths and omens and fates, where everyday life felt like a quest for glory, a mythic bond with an ancient past or a battle for survival against a clear enemy, rather than an open-ended parlour game where all the rules are made up and the points don’t matter.”

I spent decades living an ordinary life. I let it be constrained by the made up rules of the parlour game. Work and grief hemmed me in until, one day, five and a half decades down the track, they didn’t. I began to hope, and I began to write.

Writing fantasy is tapping into that journey of transcendence, from ordinary to fantastic, from drudge to dweomer. Writing my stories is the ultimate coaching gig. Drawing potential from my flawed characters, helping them survive and thrive, outwitting the external villains while struggling against their internal monsters, all the while using the clues of oaths and omens to battle ogres and dragons — or to befriend them.

Honouring the mythic bond

When I write fantasy, I feel I’m honouring the mythic bond of my own ancient path, paying tribute to past matriarchs and story tellers who’ve brought up their families against the odds, and instilled them with a love of stories, and a hope for a better life.

For these, and for so many more reasons, writing fantasy brings me joy.

(And, of course, the impending end of lockdown for Victoria brings me much joy! I can hug my kids soon.)

This blog was originally written for and published by Gillian Barnes, and I am grateful to Gillian and her project #GBWritesWithOthers2021 on Twitter and her own website. If you enjoyed this piece, you can explore more of Gillian’s blog  and her other guests HERE or follow Gillian on Twitter @geezfresh.

Image Credits
Fantasy Mind Image: Stefan Keller from Pixabay
Ruby Ring Image: Peter Lomas from Pixabay

Pondering about the wonder of sonder

Have you ever sat at a red light and watched people cross the road in front of you? Ever wondered what their lives are like? Then you’ve pondered sonder.

Sonder is grist for the mill of human kindness, connecting us to the web of humanity. It’s an opportunity to recognise and interact, albeit at a distance, with the people around you. Continue reading

Time for fun! And that means what exactly?

You should have more fun!

What on earth does that mean? Fun according to who?

Can you see where this is going?

The sound of ‘should’ tends to bring my shoulders up to my ears. I figure I’m getting a little long in the tooth to be told what I should and shouldn’t do. So when someone (especially me) tells me I ‘should’ do something, it’s a flag to stop, reflect and reconsider. Who says I should do it? Why? Continue reading

Finishing, fun and fitting in – lessons from cockatoos, cats, and dogs

Finishing the first draft of my second book is magical—for a moment—then it’s kind of, well, nothing. Having set aside the whole day to write, I’d been feeling a little weird all day, kind of shaky, gut churning.  And when I finished, well there it was, finished. And I immediately started to think about the  whopping amount of revision I would have to do, the next hill to climb. Sigh… Continue reading

Can you want something too much?

By something, I don’t mean that fabulous pair of boots you saw last week that will go with every outfit you own. I mean like wanting something that makes your head go crazy with excitement and anticipation every time you think of it.
For me, that’s wanting to write full time, in my own time, in my own space. To have people read my words, so that they land somewhere and mean something, make a difference to the way people think, feel, act and believe. Continue reading

Are you a gongoozler in your life?

Valerie Khoo and Alison Tait (from the podcast “So you want to be a Writer”) issued a word of the week challenge the other day. Use “gongoozler” in a blog post somewhere.

So how does gongoozler fit into a blog on living a conscious, joyful life? Tips on life, loss and my literary dreams. It fits very easily. Gongoozler means an idle spectator. And if you know me, or have read any of my blogs, you know that I consciously gave up being a gongoozler a few years ago. I decided enough is enough, time to learn to feel and heal, no more letting someone else drive, or working myself to death for someone else’s dream. I made a choice to change, to be a fully committed participant in my own life, and to follow my own dreams of writing. Continue reading

Getting better versus being good

As we madly set our goals for the year, could you consider choosing a getting better goal rather than a being good goal?

What I mean is, if you think about your goals in terms of getting better at something, rather than being good at it, then with every small change or action – whether we get it perfect, complete or not – we’re achieving our goal anyway – we’re getting better at it. Continue reading

Breathe in deeply, breathe out, repeat.…

So, I’m a published author, I made that dream a reality. What else is possible?

Breathe in deeply, breathe out.

If I can write and publish a book after dreaming about it for decades, then I believe anyone can. If I can survive sharing with the world the deepest hurt of my life and how I found my way home—what else is possible?

That’s what I kept asking myself just before I fell into a big emotional puddle the other day. Up to my neck drowning; again. Tears close to the surface, fear and anxiety rising, the joy disappearing under a tidal wave of overwhelm.

Breathe in deeply, breathe out.

Continue reading