Monday, 29 June 2015

All these things that I have done

Hey readers! This month I will kick off with some self-gratification and not the kind I am most fond of hehe. This month is birthday month for me and when it comes to birthdays, I think we all do a little reflection on the preceding year.

My reflection this year has encouraged me to slap myself on the back as I am feeling pretty proud of completing my novel and, although it has taken ages, I am so happy with my dedication to finally getting it done! When I look at the document in my desktop folder I am a little overwhelmed that I managed to sit and write 96,000 words… Although, I do like to talk a lot so it’s probably not surprising I managed to write so much!

I feel like a lot has been achieved this month, not just with my mammoth creative project but personally: I think this month is probably the most content I have felt for a very long time. You know when you are truly feeling like yourself again?  I’ve got so much more energy and every day is full of something being accomplished. Despite my shoulder injury holding me back a bit I am back at crossfit which is a great feeling (now stop it, I can hear your internal groans and eye rolls). I also focused on staying true to the protagonist of my book (I feel like the she is my homie and I need to look after her) and as such there could be some very exciting times coming up for me in the not too distant future.

As I casually mentioned in my last blog, I have rewritten the ending of my book in the last month. I have also been brainstorming cover ideas and I have asked a good friend Nathan to start the creative process of mocking this up, so at least my novel will soon have a ‘face’ which I hope to share with you soon. All in all, it is starting to get really exciting.

The most pleasing thing about the last month on a macro scale has been the wonderful  and historical announcements as Ireland voted heavily in favour of same sex marriage being recognised. Then - something I thought I would not see for another decade - the United States have ruled that same sex marriage is recognised nationally! This is a massive step forward. I am hoping this will soon lead to a dictionary redefinition and that we no longer talk about straight marriage and gay marriage. We’ll just call it marriage.

Another thing I have managed to do this month is listen to music and just chill out. As you know, it’s my favourite thing to do: Put some tunes on, grab a glass of red and light some candles. The song at the top of this month’s blog is Cavalier by James Vincent McMorrow and relates strongly to the book.  It relates to regret… The lyrics are haunting and a little trippy but my interpretation is that James is singing about his first love, longing for the return of those initial feelings and how they are now lost. It’s a beautiful song and I listened to it a lot while writing the end of my story.

Oh, and I’ve watched ‘How I met your Mother’ pretty much back to back, which is an achievement I’m extremely proud of.

So it is my birthday month (don’t all start singing happy birthday at once or go running out to purchase me some gorgeous gifts), and as I turn another year older and technically another year wiser (maybe?!) I’m pretty happy with how far I’ve come in the last year.

I was talking to a group of friends recently and I think it’s true to say that every year that goes by I don’t necessarily feel any older. I still feel like I am a 12 year old girl just muddling through each day, although now I have money (supposedly) and responsibilities (ha!). I don’t feel like I am qualified to be making some of the decisions I have to make in everyday life. I think most of us probably muddle through as best we can, but sometimes out of nowhere, the thought strikes us: ‘Shit, when on earth did I become an adult and who on earth decided that I am capable to look after myself!?’ I remember in my late teens thinking at some point you must have some sort of epiphany, probably in your mid-twenties where you suddenly feel very mature and like you have everything figured out. I’ve not had an epiphany and by the time this is published I’ll practically be 36.

Do any of us really have anything figured out? I know I don’t. The only thing that really changes is that you do less dumb crap and you realise that life passes you by in the blink of an eye so you really do have to take chances, tell people what you think and really embrace the good people in your life and never let them go. I think living as an expat it makes you realise this even more: You keep in touch with your friends on the other side of the world and your new friends become your adopted family. That’s the best part my lifestyle right now: If I have a problem my expat family rally around and help me through. Even with this writing project, I put an update on Facebook that I needed help and I have been overwhelmed by people putting their hands up to assist from all round the world. 

So as I turn another year older, I will soon be very smug and be able to tell everyone that something else on my bucket list has been ticked off… Camp America – tick. Backpacking around Australia – tick. High fiving everyone I pass on Park Street in Bristol – tick. Running a marathon – tick. Planking in Perth city centre – tick. Writing a book – tick. Publishing a book – ooooo intense. I won’t tell you the rest of my bucket list, it is a closely guarded secret. But knowing me I’ll probably post it on Facebook for the world to see!

Written by Corina Hawkins, soon to be author of ‘Tattoos of memories’.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Two be or not two be


Hello it’s me Corina! The last month for me, has really been pretty cruisy, writing the blog and doing some research around some ideas in the book (the star of the show at the moment is Lindsey who is doing all the work with her editing skills). However lovely blog readers, I have decided to change the ending of my book… Duh duh duuuuh! (That was an attempt to do some dramatic music for you all).

On a personal note I was thinking it might be time to put myself out there and date again, but on the other hand… Am I crazy?! Am I really ready? Spending time with humans!? We’re a complicated bunch!

I came to the decision I wasn’t ready when I ventured out into dating world (that’s right it is in an alternate universe) earlier in May and nearly had a stroke before the date, I have since decided it was the worst idea ever. I don’t like the ‘forced’ style of dating, it almost puts pressure from the outset to ‘like’ someone and I would rather it ‘just happened’. So after nearly having a meltdown, I decided my brave talk of ‘I am ready to meet someone’… is a load of tripe and I am as indecisive as I ever was. Don’t judge me readers. I don’t want to be vulnerable, I don’t want to get hurt… At the moment I just want to be loved by my friends and that is enough. I sounded so brave last time didn’t I!? Well, I’m not, I’m actually a little scared (ahhh, maybe I should buy myself a tiny violin).

I come from a place of stubborn independence and wanting to be the ‘hero’ in life. Mum has often said that as soon as I was able to walk I would walk away from everyone, I didn’t want to hold anyone’s hand and if everyone was heading west, I would head east. Mum even tried the trick of ‘okay, bye’, walking off, only to have me respond ‘ok’ and keep walking in the opposite direction. Apparently my first words were, ‘shut up’… Obviously everyone else talking was interrupting my own thoughts or maybe I was talking so much that all I ever heard was my parents telling me to ‘shut up’.

Anyway, having recently been through a period where I suddenly ‘liked’ someone again and spending time considering what that meant (because it must mean something right!?), I started to ponder how I have dated in the past. And the answer to that is ‘Well, I never have’. I’ve never really been particularly ‘out there,’ I’ve just accidentally met those important people that came into my life. Then as I reflected further and reached back through the cobwebs in to the dim and distant past (just kidding, I’m not that old), I remembered the men I had gone out with and which suddenly reminded me of a conversation I had with one of my male friends years ago. Once he found out I identified as gay, he asked me if I had dated guys. I let him know I had and he asked me if one of my ex-boyfriends had ‘turned me gay?’

This question caught me off guard and is something that had never really occurred to me. The reason he asked was because an ex-girlfriend of his ‘came out’ after dating him. He was paranoid it was him that had caused this.

Firstly, it is not possible for someone to turn someone else gay. Not a bad experience with someone of the opposite sex. Not a door knocking lesbian recruiting people for the cult. Not watching a TV show with gay characters. NOTHING turns you gay.

Secondly, it’s a sign of society that people should ‘have’ to date people of the opposite sex to fit in. Also another sign that guys/girls are ridiculed when it is found out that one of their exes was (and always has been) gay/bi, and that jokes are made. I am all for banter and I enjoy being on the receiving end as well as giving (no pun intended!) but I urge you all to be aware of the impact this has on someone who is in the closet.

Thirdly, I am not poking my finger at ‘heterosexual’ society: Another annoyance of mine is that if someone who identified as ‘lesbian’ or ‘gay’ then goes on to date someone of the opposite sex, they are also ridiculed. I have again heard many jokes… ‘Oh look, here comes the hasbian’. Why can we not just accept that people are just attracted to who they are attracted to? It doesn’t change who they are fundamentally, they are the same person you cared for. It does not matter who people are attracted to, as long as two consenting adults are enjoying the feelings of attraction/love etc. We should just be happy for each other (cue people skipping through a meadow field with flowing white dresses).

Anyway, the point I wanted to make was that I was attracted to the guys I went out with and if anything they should take it as a compliment. Imagine if you grew up in a world where dating the same sex was the norm and everyone else was dating the same sex but you found the opposite sex attractive and made connections with them. However, you hear this feeling is wrong. So you go for the elite, a person you get on brilliantly with and that aesthetically you find attractive. You pick the crème de la crème in your eyes. However, there is always something holding you back from fully giving yourself to that person. That was how the penny dropped for me – I felt electricity around women who I found attractive. So technically, you should not ridicule these people – you should slap their back and they should gloat about it. It is very flattering, but equally not a fair process for either party and the more we talk about it, the more people can be honest about their feelings.

However, I believe fundamentally in attraction and so I never judge anyone on their choices of partner (unless that person is being abusive). Why we find people attractive is something I am naturally interested in. What is it that attracts us to certain people and makes us want to be around them a lot? Is it superficial? An energy? A chemical? I guess writing a novel makes you think about things more than you usually would… However, I have always thought quite deeply about things and used to wake my Mum up in the middle of the night with the most ridiculous questions before being told to ‘get back to sleep’. Unfortunately this has never left me.

So that’s been the last month, me overthinking and Lindsey still powering through the edit. However, my overthinking has made me tweak sections of the novel and I have sent that over to Lindsey to edit with the rest.
The best stories in life (for me) are around stories of how people meet and fall in love. It’s even better if the story has lots of ‘nooooo’, ‘never’ and ‘wow’ moments. Life is all about experience and I find the experience mainly comes from the people we meet. So be grateful to everyone that has been, will always be and will pass through your life.

Written by Corina Hawkins, soon to be author of ‘Tattoos of memories’ and creatively bossed by Lindsey Barnett, who is a legend.