My Day Off: 2013 365 Challenge #235

My 'out and about' paint kit: I didn't feel up to getting the big box out!

My ‘out and about’ paint kit: I didn’t feel up to getting the big box out!

I took the day off today. I didn’t really have any choice. Despite skipping writing my post so I could have an early night, I barely got any sleep. Instead I lay awake half the night, interspersed with having bad dreams (ironically stressing that I wouldn’t be able to finish my edit today – my second-to-last nursery day before school starts).

As a result I barely managed to write my post when I woke up, suffering from a splitting headache and eye strain. When I finally published it at 11am – an hour later than I aim for – I felt done in. I have no idea what I wrote about!

It seems I have spent too much time staring at a screen recently: reading on the iPad, editing, writing, even working on cover designs. My eyes feel like they’re being sucked out of my head by a plunger.

Rough title page

Rough title page

I tried to sleep. But I’m not very good at sleeping in the daytime. Even if I manage to nod off I wake feeling like I’ve got the hangover from hell. In the end I decided to do some more work on my sketches for the picture book I want to write for my son for Christmas.

After getting hubbie out of the office to find my paints in the loft, where they have lain unused for five years, I sat myself down in front Sense and Sensibility and had a wonderful, creative afternoon.

I think it will take a lot more work, but I feel like I might be able to come up with something passable as a gift. Now I just need to work on the words. This is my current opening:

Aaron and the Cow Pirates

Aaron walked along the beach kicking at shells. He was bored. It was the school holidays and there was nothing to do.

My son! :)

My son! 🙂

“Boring!” he said, as he looked across the flat blue sea. “Boring!” he moaned, as he stomped along the flat white sand. “Boring!” he muttered as he kicked at an old plastic spade lying abandoned on the beach.

“Oi! That’s my spade!”

Aaron turned to see who was shouting and jumped.

Peering at him from behind a rock, tears and snot running down his miserable green face, was a dinosaur. 


“What?!” The dinosaur searched fearfully around to see why Aaron had screamed. “Are they here? Are they back?”

“Who?” Aaron recovered from his fright and took two steps towards the dinosaur.

“The Cow Pirates. They stole my bucket.”

The Cow Pirates and the Bucket

The Cow Pirates and the Bucket

The dinosaur, whose name was Jack, began to cry. Big, wet tears rolled down his cheeks and landed with a plop on the sand.

“Cow Pirates?” Aaron’s eyes widened. “Here? Nothing that cool ever happens here. It’s bor-ing.”

“The Cow Pirates aren’t boring, they’re scary. They go Yo Ho Moo! and steal stuff. They stole my bucket.” Jack said again, sniffing loudly.

“Then we will steal it back!” Aaron declared bravely.

“We?” Jack cowered behind the rock. “Not me. They make me wobble like a jelly.”

Jack the Dinosaur

Jack the Dinosaur

“I will get back your bucket.”

Aaron climbed onto the rock and looked out to sea. “Where did they go?”

“They wanted my bucket to carry their treasure. They said they were going to bury it at pebble beach.”

Aaron knew the way to pebble beach. He went there with his grandma and grandpa to look for crabs in the rock pools. “There’s no time to lose.” He climbed up Jack’s tail and sat with his legs around Jack’s broad neck. “Come on!”

Still sniffing and grumbling, Jack took Aaron along the shore to pebble beach.

Aaron jumping in fright and the cows at Pebble Beach

Aaron jumping in fright and the cows at pebble beach

“I hope they’ve gone,” Jack muttered. “I don’t want my bucket back anyway. I want my Mummy.” And he began to cry again.

That’s about as far as I’ve got. When I tell the story to my son, it tends to end, “So Aaron and Jack went to the beach and stole back the bucket, the end.”

He always introduces a character called “Berty Werty Pooey Berty” so I might have to incorporate that too. Let’s just say, the money I spent on the Writing Children’s Stories study course for next year was probably well spent! 🙂


Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog: 


Claire fidgeted with her wetsuit as she waited by the shore. The neoprene was getting rather intimate and the life jacket felt like an unwelcome hug from a frisky drunk. There had been too much time to regret her hasty decision, since signing up and arriving at the river. She blamed Josh. Ten minutes after a text from him and she had agreed to risk her neck in a crazy activity.

I could have been hacking across the hills, letting the horse take the strain. I must be nuts.

The way the guide had described it, the rafting seemed like a fun way to spend the afternoon, with a chance to see some different scenery and have a story to tell. She’d figured they wouldn’t let a tourist get hurt. The river apparently boasted grade five rapids, but the number hadn’t meant much to Claire. If anything, she had figured, on a scale of one to ten, five sounded quite mild.

Then she’d seen a sign in the literature describing what Grade Five meant.

 Very powerful rapids with very confused and broken water, large drops, violent and fast currents, abrupt turns, difficult powerful stoppers and fast boiling eddies; with numerous obstacles in the main current. Complex, precise and powerful sequential manoeuvring is required.

A definite risk to personal safety exists.

The words had made her feel sick, but it was too late to turn back. She could almost hear Neal’s hated voice whispering “chicken” in her ear. Besides, there were other girls there; women that looked less fit than she was.

If they can do it, so can I.

Standing next to the rushing torrent of the river, watching the other rafts drop over rapids and skim the jagged rocks along the canyon, she was swiftly changing her view.

Looking around, Claire realised she was the only woman in her raft. The five other crew members gathered by the bank were not all hulking athletes, but they were all men. She stood slightly separate from them, as they were given instructions by their guide.

In a bored voice the guide, who looked about twelve years old to Claire, explained what to do if she fell out, how to protect herself from the rocks, how to swim to safety, Claire’s nausea grew. She liked swimming but it wasn’t her strongest suit. Deciding that, if necessary, she would cling to the raft rather than paddle, Claire focussed all her energy on listening to the lecture.

Once in the raft, with her close-fitting helmet blocking out a chunk of the noise, the river didn’t seem so wild. The rushing water played a constant background accompaniment as the guide yelled out orders.

The first task was to discover how they all pulled together. The four of them at the back of the raft, with Claire in the middle on the right, pulled in unison. The two guys at the front, however, rowed to a syncopated rhythm all of their own. Claire sensed the guide’s growing frustration. Eventually he ordered Claire to swap places with one of them so that the weakest person was surrounded by strong oars.

And then they were off. Time lost all meaning and Claire had no chance to take in the scenery. Her whole world closed down to two things: following the guide’s commands to the letter and concentrating on staying in the raft. She dug her oar in on demand, she held onto the rope and ducked, she raised her paddle into the air and cheered.

During the brief respites between the swirling rapids, Claire drank in the scenery. Sometimes the banks dropped low, and she could see the dark hills all around. Other times the canyon walls closed in and it felt like they were drifting through a craggy, moss-encrusted tunnel. She could imagine she was floating on an Elven vessel along the Anduin river.

With still half of the trip to go, Claire felt she had found her stride. The oar fitted into the palm of her hand, her body seemed to understand what she was asking it to do. Despite the spray stinging her face and the wetsuit clinging to her body, her skin fizzed with energy.

A yell from beside her caused her to look across. The man next to her had dropped his oar, and a quick turn of the head showed it floating away behind them. The guide didn’t hesitate. He gestured to Claire to give up her oar, and told her to sit and enjoy the rest of the ride.

You stupid, misogynistic, chauvinist pig. I am pulling my weight as much if not more than him. How dare you!

All her enjoyment vanished in an instant. With a face full of freezing water and nothing to do but hold on and seethe, Claire felt every endless minute of the rest of the journey. Her face burned with anger and humiliation. She’d heard that Kiwi men had a tendency towards chauvinism. This was her first experience of it and it left her blood surging like the rapids of the Rangitikei River.


9 thoughts on “My Day Off: 2013 365 Challenge #235

  1. Like the sketches. As for the rest remember that taking it easy once in a while is allowed. Much better to let the odd thing go and maintain the high quality levels. I hope you feel better for a more chilled day.



  2. I’m with you on the eyes being overly strained staring at screens. Even switching to notebook writing can seem like a lot of work sometimes. Have you ever tried recording yourself to write later? I haven’t, but have heard from many that swear by this method. But then you’d trade tired eyes for a tired voice…! 🙂 Yo Ho Moo, that’s adorable.

    • I’d love to be able to do voice recognition or dictaphone but I hate the sound of my voice on tape and I seem to need keys to get my creative thought out. I try to tell my kids stories and the words don’t come, but give me a keypad or keyboard and I’m okay. I just need to cut down on the needless stuff (Facebook and Ebay that’s you guys!)

  3. Pingback: Self-Sabotage: 2013 365 Challenge #348 | writermummy

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