After spending thirty-six years in the working world, I am learning to "live outside the lines," become less regimented, and explore creative projects. This blog records my experiences with long-form writing, art, including stained glass and painting, and travel. I'm not a natural at making loud noises in today's "selfie" world, so making this public is a stretch. That's probably a good thing.
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We decided to schedule one specific "experience" when
we were here and it wasn't the typical one. No fishing expedition cycling tour,
or boating trip. And especially no trips to Game of Thrones sites or the isle
of Skellig Michael (the final scene of Star Wars). Instead we went on a
We picked the Ireland School of Falconry at Ashford
Castle and scheduled an extended walk, which included a private walk with a
guide for an hour and a half. The castle itself is quite a setting, just
outside the village of Cong in County Mayo. Yes, it is a castle...a place that
Americans spend, at minimum $700 per night to say they stayed in a castle.
I can spend money very easily (e.g., business class plane tickets) but I had no
interest in staying at the castle with a bunch of obnoxious Americans. But we
got to visit the grounds to access the school of falconry, so win for us!
The school is set at the corner of the estate, in what appeared
fort-like with high walls and doors. We met Alec, our young guide, and he
introduced us to the two Harris Hawks we would be managing (with his help). We
were fitted with heavy leather gloves, given our orientation, and introduced to
Rua (me) and Kara (John). Alec helped us fly both females for the next hour as
we walked through the woods around the estate and it was so interesting! They
are motivated by food, so they would fly from our hands and then we would lure
them back with baby chicken parts hidden in our gloves (yum!).
They swooped away and came back many times, sometimes switching
to whoever's hand seemed to have better food. It wasn't the least bit
frightening, even when they would come in for a fast landing. Once we finished flying the Hawks, we were able to fly Dingle,
the woodland owl, in a large open space, for comparison. He was much bigger and
was such an exhilarating experience! So interesting to learn about the Hawks
and this ancient sport.
One of the Saturday sessions at HNS-2017 resonated strongly with me. Susanna Kearsley spoke about "Twin-Stranded Storylines", a subject I needed to hear about, since I tend to enjoy books that employ this technique. And I thoroughly enjoy her novels.
However, before I get to the guidance she offered, one thing she said made the entire room laugh, then go quiet, as each person processed her simple piece of wisdom. Susanna said that when you're researching a project, just tell people you're a writer. Don't hedge around why you're asking nosy questions, or trying to find weird details (my words) from someone. In her experience, that admission--I'm a writer--breaks the ice, and then people bend over backwards to help. She acknowledged those words are difficult to say (and I would add, even more difficult to process if you've never allowed yourself to believe it).
Her presentation was professional, well-organized, and thoughtful. The advice she offered tha…
Dad came for his annual visit last week (he left today). The man is 83 years old and he's a golf-a-holic. Which means that John and I get to follow him around our course, spritely at the beginning and dragging by the last round. This year was no different, despite his health issues. We played one 9 hole round and three 18 hole rounds in five days. That's a lot of golf...I feel like I'm overdoing it if I play 2-3 times a week.
He's a perfect example of someone with a passion and a goal. Each morning, he set goals for his overall score, the holes he'd improve upon, mistakes he'd avoid. It was admirable, since my goals usually involve survival, or not dropping out after nine holes.
I played fairly well, better than last year, so I was happy. I know it makes him happy to see me playing well. John played even better, which, after twenty years of being tortured on the course by my father and brother, was the most satisfying of all.
I'm excited and intimidated to attend the HNS-2017 Conference in Portland. I've been working in my little office for so long on my novel, which I lovingly refer to as Elvira, even though it's titled A Certain Deceit, that I'm in my own little world. I know I need to climb out and be brave and begin to share my work with someone other than John (and Ellie). But a large gathering like this is waaaayyy outside my comfort zone.
My initial impressions are that people are so friendly! (Not exactly like all those work conferences I attended, where colleagues pasted on their smiles and wanted to rip your throat out.) And while there are a lot of published authors, there are many, many more in my boat. We've been pecking away and it's become time to either put up or stay in our little dens forever.
I'm looking forward to learning more about the publishing business. But even more, I want to figure out what more I need to do with my own work.