Posts Tagged ‘communication’

I remember when I first joined LinkedIn, one of the interesting writers I met over there (on the group forums) was a deaf ex-lawyer. Having gone deaf in his adulthood, he had learned to appreciate both writing and reading intensely, as a way of communicating with the world that had become vital to him. He was in his sixties and wanted to become an author, so he could work from home, therefore he was deeply motivated and interested in learning everything there was to know about writing fiction. He was part of one of the short story groups. After a few months, this writer asked me if I had ever thought of putting out a newsletter, ‘about your writer’s journey, what you learn along the way.’ He said, ‘I’d subscribe to it.’  That was incentive enough and I jumped in the deep end.

You hear that a lot these days if you’re an author, about how you need to compile an email list and put out a newsletter.

I thought I would never get around to it. I’m lazy with the marketing side of the business and don’t do half the things I’m supposed to. At any rate, because my friend on LinkedIn asked me to start one, in 2014, I started writing a fortnightly newsletter.

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I sent the letter to him and to a handful of family members and a few friends from places like LinkedIn and my Wanatribe group, ‘Writing for Children.’ It was basically an artfully decorated letter put together in Word, sent out by group email.

A friend who is a photographer and all round hip gal, and who is one of my subscribers asked me once, “Why don’t you use a newsletter service to make it look more professional?” I had to admit trying and failing to figure out how to use Mailchimp about four times. I can barely figure out how to use a phone let alone an online operating system. My friend said, “That’s okay, your newsletter is quirky and it’s who you are.”

However, I felt the gauntlet had been thrown down, and I had to rise to the occasion.

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That’s why I showed up at Mailchimp’s door again, cap in hand, and tried to figure out how to use the system for the fifth time. This time, thankfully, things fell into place and the newsletter went digital. The whole process of working with the Mailchimp templates: writing the copy, editing, choosing colours, fonts, adding images, and then enhancing them and adding effects is cool fun, too. It’s like being a kid again.

My friend asked, how long does it take you to craft one of these babies? In the beginning, the newsletter took two days to produce, but I have managed to whittle it down to half a day. Last year, the big change was to go from producing the newsletter fortnightly to monthly. I far prefer the monthly format.

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On the weeks in between issues, there are links for fascinating writing articles to collect, as well as photos and jokes. At the end of the month, I compile and post the newsletter and have grown to love the whole process.

It’s creative in a different way to anything else. It gives the mind a break, creating a nice rest from the intense focus of editing fiction.

Whenever I begin writing I think, is this for the blog or for the newsletter? Some thoughts turn into short stories. However, all posts, no matter how random will find their niche. The newsletter provides another avenue of expression. Yet – as I told my friend on LinkedIn – I always worry with social media, that I’ll “put my foot in it” and say the wrong thing.

He replied, ‘Why not make a jolly habit of putting your foot in it? The writing world needs more unedited truth. “Putting my foot in it,” there’s your motto. I can see it all now … fans showing up to hear ever more about the king with no clothes on. Is there not far too much conventional thinking in the wannabe writer world?’

He gave me the confidence to carry on, and five years later, the letter’s still going strong.

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Former writing partner, author and YouTube sensation, Maria Cisneros-Toth said the other day that when she gets my newsletter, she ‘always wants to go and get an iced tea and sit and read, because it feels like a letter you’ve written to a good friend.’

It was reassuring to hear. That’s exactly the way I want people to feel, because that means the newsletter has stayed true to its essence and genesis.

It always was about communicating with a friend who wanted to hear more about a writer’s journey. So, here’s to truth and more of it … and to valuing good friends!

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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*Subscribe to my newsletter by visiting the landing page of my website

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“We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise, we harden” – Goethe

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The first week back at school, the youngest son and his friends organized a game of laser tag on the Friday night. The group of nine kids arranged their parental transport and played laser tag from 6-7 p.m. It was all good clean fun, and the kids had a ball. This week, they’ve organised to play Call of Duty together at one of the boys’ houses.

I thought, wow, we’ve come a long way from the earlier despair over having no friends.

His social life is definitely waxing. However, for the time being, the youngest still seems mostly content to be at home playing C.O.D, Minecraft or Fortnite on his X-box, or watching anime on his phone. Sometimes, he even reverts back to playing Roblox on his laptop. I still have a buddy a while longer, yet.

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We were talking the other night at bedtime. I’ve mentioned this before. My son does his own version of The 10 p.m. Question like the protagonist, Frankie, in Kate de Goldi’s brilliant book, who comes to the door of his parents room every night with a deep, thought-provoking question. On one of the writing courses I did with Kate, she told us that the character sprang directly from her son and his ‘nightly questions about the universe and everything.’ My youngest does his own version: every night, after we’ve all done some reading, cleaned our teeth, and said our prayers, when I go to close the door and say goodnight, the youngest son suddenly says, “Why do people get depressed?” (last night’s question) or something similarly deep and reflective and requiring a long considered conversation. He says he gets most of his ideas at night.

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As a fourteen-year-old, I had my head in a book, to the extent that I remember taking twenty books with me, when our family went on holiday to the Coromandel. I suffered frequent headaches throughout the vacation. When my parents had my eyes tested upon our return home, they were told I had 20/20 vision. So they put my headaches down to ‘too much reading’! As if.

I carried on reading regardless, of course, as you do when you’re a teenager.

My youngest son is headstrong in the way of being in his own dreamworld at times. Tonight, he was due at soccer practice at 5.15 p.m. “Finish your food.” “Put your phone down.” “You still have your exercises to do.” Why is he still sitting there watching anime on his phone and eating with one hand, when it’s 4.55? “Put your phone down.” “Hurry up and finish your food.”

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Result: we arrived at practice ten minutes late, which is disrespectful to the coach. Next week, I will renew my efforts to coral this long-limbed, gangly, phone-watching teenager and get him to soccer practice on time.

We have had one success story, so far. This year, I forced the youngest son into a new routine of nightly reading. He was consistently getting his lowest marks in English. He’d always enjoyed a bedtime story, but never spent time reading on his own. So this year, while I have continued with the usual bedtime stories for his brother, the youngest son chooses his own books and reads alone. His goal is two pages a night. Sometimes, I have to make him stop after four, or he’ll be late to bed. And he’s now getting better marks in English.

The other night, as I went to say goodnight, the youngest said, “Mum, I have to write an essay for social studies about early life in New Zealand, all about the pioneers. I need pictures and maps. I mean where do you find that sort of stuff?” “I’d go to the library and ask the librarian.” “The library? Thanks, mum, I never thought of that.”

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He needed more than Google could provide, yet he never thought of going to the library? That’s sad. The school library would have been my first port of call when I was a kid.

By the way, the youngest loved the idea and went to the school library with a few of his friends this morning. “Did you get any books out to help with your essay?” “No, I got chatting with my friends and forgot to get any books out.”

He promises me, he will remember to actually look for books next time.

I believe in the value of libraries. Well known author, Margaret Mahy said, “I’m here to assert that librarians stand dancing on that tenuous ridge that separates chaos from order. That dancing librarian makes so much of the world accessible to others.”

I’ll be expecting more 10 p.m. questions soon…

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(Kate de Goldi and I, 2008)

Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Leave the libraries alone. You don’t know the value of what you’re looking after. It is too precious to destroy.’ ~ Philip Pullman

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Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

Last week, my youngest son turned to me and asked in all earnestness, “You’ve never done anything wrong have you, mum?” This follows on from the week before last, when he asked me, “You don’t tell lies do you, mum?” He’s newly turned fourteen and we’ve entered the age of questions. You’ve heard of Kate de Goldi’s bestselling book, The 10 p.m. Question? Her son would come to their bedroom door every night with deep, thought-provoking queries. My son does the same thing.

I answered, that while I do my best, at times I make mistakes, too. I get angry at other drivers on the road. I sometimes forget why I went down the other end of the house. Recently I backed the car into a pillar at a friend’s house, which was in my blind spot, and I stove in my bumper. I’m not perfect. I make mistakes.

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Part of the youngest son’s transition from childhood to adulthood, is realizing some hard truths. In the next decade, he’ll learn that parents are not perfect, that life is not fair, that the world is not kind, that the world is in fact a scary, dangerous, ruthless place. Some people call it taking off the rose-tinted glasses of childhood.

The baby of the family is currently readjusting his view of the world. It’s a shame and also a necessary part of growing up. Every child must go through this rite of passage of adolescence, during which time the parents formerly believed to be gods, become human, during which time the reality of life starts to dawn.

It’s a bit of a test.

Still, at just turned fourteen, the innocence of the child is lingering and it’s precious.

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As the youngest, I have treasured this son’s childhood. I have truly valued the untamed, free, fluidity of the child’s spirit. ‘Is there a limited number of times that a child will insist on remaining wedded to the moment?’ asks Russell Brand, in his excellent book, Revolution. Brand posits that kids lose their spontaneity as they grow up. ‘We condition our children and ourselves to enter into this spectacle, confining ourselves to a prescribed path.’

The youngest is still in contact with the wild freedom of the boy within, while at the same time he takes tentative steps forward, finding his way into the jungle of adulthood.

I see the same wonderful element of untamed spirit in my one-year-old granddaughter. The spontaneity, the pure fervour she has for life is a joy to witness. She is a long way off from constructing a persona with which to deal with the world.

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When my son asks me have you ever done anything wrong, I feel a reaction of wanting to defend myself. But I don’t want to dig myself into a false position, or as Eckhart Tolle put it, to ‘adopt a mental position then we identify with that mental position and it becomes invested with self.’

So, I respond as honestly as I can. That way, the youngest son can come back later – as he often does, after he’s thought about things – and we can continue the conversation.

The teenage brain has been proven by scientists to only be able to sustain attention on a few things at a time. If I overburden him with too much information at once it will be wasted breath. It is far better, and more effective, to converse with a teenager in short instalments. Sound bites, if you will. Then they can retain what’s been said.

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I know he will be fine as long as we keep the lines of communication open. I remember my grandmother was proud of her closeness with her son (my father) when he was growing up. She said, they could discuss ‘anything and everything.’

When he would come home from sea for short stints, as an 18-year-old seaman, he and Gran would sit chatting for hours.

Gran said she never had a moment’s worry with dad, because she knew they could talk and sort out any problem.

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That’s the way I like to be with my kids.

In our conversations, I try to stay honest, and I try not to have a reaction to the things they share with me, so they feel safe.

The other day I overheard the youngest playing with friends on Fortnite. He said, “If you ever have a question don’t go to your teacher, they don’t like it when you ask lots of questions. Go to your mother. Mums know everything.”

Okay, so I haven’t quite debunked his myths around me yet, but we’re getting there.

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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A child’s bucket of self-esteem must be filled so high that the rest of the world can’t poke enough holes to drain it dry. ~ Alvin Price

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Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com