The Joy of a Fireplace

There is something magical about having an open fireplace. The dancing of flames, the crackling and popping of wood being gradually eaten away, and the soft ebbing glow of coals dying in the darkness of a house in the claws of winter.

The warmth that a fire breathes is not just a warmth you can feel deep into your skin, but it’s also a warmth that chases away loneliness and pain. Something about having a fire going in my house keeps at bay all the things dark nights can sometimes bring about. It is a truly marvelous things, and I highly enjoy the wonderful pleasure of having an open fireplace.

It is a lot of work – I will admit to that.
Buying wood, chopping wood, constantly cleaning ash. It takes a good solid forty-five minutes to get everything ready before I can even start the fire.

That’s not mentioning the amount of time I spent in Summer preparing for Winter. I spent many hours preparing boxes, upon boxes of gathered sticks to use as kinderling and I am VERY glad I did. I have needed all of them to keep me going.

But you know what, when I walk into my shed and pick up another box I prepared in Summer, I smile to myself, so happy that I took the time and effort to be ready for the Winter.

I am sure it will not be forever. Perhaps someday I might get to busy to manage a fireplace – who knows – part of me actually hopes that will happen. But for now, I am so grateful to have the opportunity to enjoy such a simple, fulfilling pleasure that brings me so much joy.

Midnight. The fire is left to slowly fade. The cat is all that walks in the flickering light.

Your opinion is irrelevant, so just live.

So it’s been a couple weeks that I’ve been off Twitter now and it’s been interesting.

I’ve appreciated it. I’ve appreciated the peace. No more constant hammering in my skull like a woodpecker, telling me who, what and how I should be – that I am not worthy due to my thoughts and opinions.
I am glad to not have such an influence in my life. Maybe I shall return – maybe not.

Of course, I haven’t entirely left social media – I still have Facebook, which I find rather vital for keeping up with friends and family – however – even Facebook can be like this buzzing bee threatening to sting you. I’m considering nuking it from my phone ^_^;

I scroll through facebook and I see posts by people commenting on something I find interesting, or something I might disagree with – perhaps something regarding my faith, or Australia, or ethics, or writing or feminism, or identity politics – just something – and I sit for awhile contemplating the post and what I might say, or how I might respond.
And I’ve noticed a thought crossing through my mind more and more.
“Your opinion is irrelevant, so just live.”

Perhaps it’s because I liked a stupid meme (or something I considered stupid and irrelevant) that a friend told me I should never have liked – and then began to police me and everything I said, did, liked and enjoyed – which ended up ruining that friendship. Perhaps I feel like I am caged in, unable to say anything and therefore: “My opinion is irrelevant.”

And it isn’t that my opinion is actually irrelevant – it’s that I’ve sort of come to this realisation that the things I want are worth so much more. They’re outside of a digital realm, they’re outside of gaming, of anime, of fantasy and science fiction. They’re “reality”. And while I will always retain the heart of wonder, a heart that delights in the fantastical – I’ve “grown up”. I am Ariel stepping out of the ocean, without a voice, trying to find something on the land.

Am I ever going to find the ‘grown-up’ things I seek outside of the ocean that I loved? I don’t know. But I am willing to accept that I am on a road moving forward – there are going to be so many rough patches, but, I’ve made landfall. Maybe someday I’ll find my voice again.

A decision to leave, and to find myself again…

So this isn’t a decision I’m making lightly – indeed – it is something I have been pondering about for a long time, gradually building up to and finally feeling comfortable enough to do.

I have decided to leave Twitter – to find myself in the “real world”.
Honestly, I would leave Facebook as well – but – I don’t think I’m there yet – it is a vital clog in the machine of networking with friends and family, a social tool in our bustling world – however, I am going to be using it much less.

I’ve decided that if people truly desire to get in contact with me they can email me, or text me, or ring me.

I am going to focus on the meaningful relationships outside of cyber-space.
It is time to move on from the world wide web – and yes – I get the irony of saying that here on a website – but – meh – I am an author, I gotta write somewhere into the void.

I’ve just had enough of Twitter. I’ve had enough of the online world I’ve immersed myself in, I find it lonely, sad, depressing and it builds up such negativity in my life that it does far more harm than good. I know I am not welcome there, so, why stay somewhere I am not welcome – and – no one is going to miss me and those that do, well, they know where to find me.

They can find me here, they can find my Chronicles of the Children Facebook Page, and my email address. If, eventually, I do entirely rid myself of Facebook, Youtube and Instagram – which – is my hope someday – and to just fade away back into being an author that just writes for the joy of it – then – my email will always be open, just like it always has been.

So.

That’s been my decision.

To those of you who know me, fellow online author folk of Twitter, if you have books coming out and want me to read them and review them – please send me an email and let me know so I can buy the books when they come out.

Well, that’s it from me. I’m heading off into the real world to talk to people face to face again. Wish me luck!

Happy reading,
Happy writing,
KL

Turning 30

Today I am thirty.
There is so much I wish to tell fifteen-year-old me.
Things like – you won’t make it. It’s all a lie. Your dreams are just a shattered mirror on the floor. Don’t fool yourself sweetie, aim for something smaller, easier.
Don’t be stupid.
Don’t be an idiot.

Hah, hah – that marriage thing.
Yeah…
Well, guess what kiddo, you’re going to be thirty and pretty much the embodiment of Rapunzel stuck in a Tower.

I don’t feel like I have really “achieved” anything in my twenties. I feel like I am a burden on my parents. I feel like I am a waste of resources to the world. I feel aimless, plotless, useless.
And yet, for the past few months I have been asking myself “What?”
“What, just WHAT am I supposed to BE doing?”
There is NOTHING to do.
My Dad said to me the other day while I was in one of my moods. “Without a career, husband or kids, what is a woman to do?”
I answered, “Nothing, we do utterly nothing.”

(Dear feminists, don’t take this as a challenge or anything, this was a hypothetical question that my Dad and I were discussing, we do this often. Please don’t shoot me with fiery darts from hell.)

NOTHING.

So then, I remembered something my Dad also told me quite often, “No one ever really achieves anything in life. We all live mundane lives in a mundane world. We live, we die.”
He wasn’t meaning it to be discouraging, on the contrary, he was meaning it to be uplifting – and it is – in a manner of speaking. Life is made up of the nothingness – like the universe is formed of dark matter, or some mumbo, jumbo like that.
It is the mundane moments that gradually fold together, the little moments, those precious little moments, that become the long string that is LIFE. The repetitive motions you do every day – waking up, eating breakfast, going to work, smiling at people in the street, talking to family, not talking to family, going for walks, watching tele. It all gradually forms a mosaic. It’s the coloured pieces of that mosaic that eventually clustered together to become something meaningful.

Often we think of life as the HUGE big moments.
Marriages, and holidays, Christmases and buying houses – the big things that tend to be events.
But it’s the bits in-between those big events that truly craft us into the people we are.

I still have utterly no idea where I am going in life.
I have no idea what direction I am supposed to be taking.
I feel like a lost girl, struggling to find her way in the woods, stumbling over broken branches. I don’t know the way forward into whatever terrifying darkness that is ahead – that future before me – I am so scared, I am so afraid of what unknown lies before me.

I don’t know what to do. I don’t even feel like I have a lantern to direct me.

But I’m just going to keep stumbling forward.
Keep trusting that somewhere, somehow, I’ll find my way home.
That the nothingness will turn into somethingness. That the moments I’ve gathered into a mosaic have already formed a beautiful piece of art.

I have incredible parents, amazing siblings – a family that is supportive and loving – I’ve travelled abit, I’ve got friends across the world thanks to the internet, I’ve had adventures I never thought possible thanks to my Books.
I am so grateful to the community that has gathered around my stories, to the fans and friends I have found in my journey to become an author.
I have a house – a house I love – a house I look forward to someday making into a home with a husband and kids.

I still have dreams, hopes, and a future ahead.

I mean.

I’m only 30.

So, fifteen-year-old Kylie – it’s going to be okay. You’re in a bad place. You’re in a really, really bad place right now, but, you’re going to survive. Things get better. You pull through. You make 30. I know you don’t think that’s possible – but congratulations, we did it! WE DID IT!

Perhaps, don’t be so hard on yourself. Don’t think you’re fat when you’re obviously not. Wear that pretty brown dress like you’re a queen, cause, girl, you’re only going to be size 12 for like, three years. Flaunt it.
Don’t listen to women who tell you that you have ‘so much time,’ because, apparently we don’t.
Also, that whole there is ‘a lot of fish in the sea’ – yeah – about that…
The headaches are going to get worse before they get better, but, GOOD NEWS, they get better, you can look forward to that.


Finally, sweetie, don’t take life so seriously.
Enjoy yourself.

Just.

Really, really, enjoy yourself. Live.
Watch your anime. Dance to your songs. Write your stories. Play games.
Someday you’re going to be a thirty-year-old woman who is a little bit more cynical about everything.  

Loneliness

Recently I have been thinking a lot about loneliness.

I have been thinking about how loneliness can be knowing people, either IRL or online, but having an awful feeling that if you voiced your opinions on a topic, everyone would turn against you. So, you’re silent, all the time. Silent and lonely.

And that is just sad.

Perhaps it is just me. I don’t really know what it means to have friendships that go deep enough where there is no judgement, and you can discuss things freely without fear. I have only known fear in my friendships, fear of causing offense, fear of triggering anger and hatred, fear of causing pain. I do not know if I’d call that friendship.

All I can say is I am grateful for my family.

Sure, sometimes I feel like a complete alien amongst them, but, at least I’m their alien.

Friendship & Future

A week or so ago I had a wonderful Christmas Lunch with some author friends. My first ever Christmas Lunch with friends. It was really, really wonderful. I really enjoyed it, especially after a week of feeling incredibly lonely. 

During one of the conversations one of my friends mentioned something that has stuck with me – I cannot remember who (sorry guys!) but it was really profound. 
It was about how lucky we are to be given the chance to put our work out into the world without curators breathing down our necks. How amazing it is that we can go to conventions, put up our booths, and sell our work – and it struck me – wow – yeah – it is really incredible! 

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this since our lunch. 
In a world today that is so focused on offence, oppression, shaming each other, and ‘correct thinking’, being an independent author who manages to get by on your own steam is really, really something special.   

Don’t get me wrong – I get a lot of help from my parents, who are super, super supportive, and I have THE BEST editor in the world, and a brilliant cover artist, and it’s been amazing the last two years, forming a network of people I can call friends. Having a support network in a community like independent publishing is reassuring, and, it’s also a lot of fun. 
I even have wonderful, brilliant readers I can talk to on Facebook and at conventions – and this – this is worth everything! Thanks guys! 

But I think a lot of writers and independent authors will understand what I mean by the hours spent alone, the work you do alone, the things you just can’t share. Those days of stressing about getting an order on time, or if you’ve typeset a novel correctly – realising you’ve left out a WHOLE PAGE in an order of a 100 books. 

Right now I am…er…stressed. I have so much art to do, not much time to do it in, and I have no idea where I’ll get finances from to do all the things I want to do in the coming year. 

But that stress is also excitement. This weird, bubbling ball of excitement that tells me that it’s going to be a fantastic, amazing, brilliant year – no matter what happens. For the first time in a long time I am excited for a new year. 

I have NO idea how I am going to do anything. 
And suddenly – that is the most thrilling thing that has ever happened to me. 

A massive shout out to Katie, Matt, Karen, David and Alex. 
Thanks for the friendship. 
Merry Christmas everyone! 

From the Past to the Present

From the Past to the Present

I want to read you all something I found today while sorting through my journals:  

I really am just so lost,

And it is really awful.

I just want this year, this horrible, horrible year to bring some happiness by the end of it.

I’ll keep stumbling forward in the dark.

I don’t know the way, but I’ll keep stumbling.

I really don’t have any other choice. 

This journal ends as it begins, with me being lost in a lonely abyss of despair. 

Nothing changes. 

Kylie Leane’s Journal – Dated 3/7/2017

Several months later I began a new journal in a NASA themed notebook – 29th of December 2017. This is a quote from the first page.

It is amazing to be able to start this journal off so very different from all other journals that have ever come before…

Yes – the House is mine (sorta).

But I HAVE A HOUSE to live in and to make my own, and I am so, so happy.

Kylie Leane’s Journal – Dated 29/12/2017

Change. Change happened. Indeed, the small journal that sits between the 7th month of 2017 and the 12th month is packed with a considerable amount of content. I was rapidly reaching the end of my tether, but without realising it, I was also spinning towards a resolution I could not see.

My journal’s are a fascinating journey – some are very repetitive – but others are absolute gems into my life, and frankly, the life of my family. There are things in them that I have entirely forgotten about – events that lead into other enormous, earth-shattering events (such as my older brother’s heart attack). I started writing about my brother’s symptoms THREE YEARS before he had his heart attack. I had no idea I started writing about his symptoms so early. That just…that just freaks me out…
There are car-crashes, cars being stolen, trees falling on the house, pets dying, my siblings going on dates, camping trips, me betting with my sister who will get married first (she owes me 50 bucks!).  


Have you ever wondered what your teenage self would say to you?
You know, like those letters that sometimes pop up on the internet:
Sixteen-year-old me writes a letter to thirty-year-old-me” 
Well – having a journal is a little bit like that. 


What captured me tonight was a journal from 2004 – when I would have been fifteen. I started reading this journal because I expected something a lot more depressing, following 2003 – a very difficult year upon which I left face-to-face school, and went on anti-antidepressants, and if it wasn’t for my journals, I would have NO recollection of 2003 due to those drugs.  So, what did I discover from 2004, after my mother pulled me off Zoloft, due to its…ah…side-effects? I discovered a brilliant, articulated teenage girl who loved God. 
I know this might sound a bit…awful to say about myself…but for the longest time, I have had a very poor opinion of teenage me. I felt I caused immense amount of strife for my family, and I have been deeply ashamed. 
So, reading back a journal and discovering a teenager full of such happiness, such life, such enthusiasm and love  for her family just fills me with gratitude for that young girl. 
That was me – once upon a time – and if that was me once upon a time, doesn’t that mean that is still me now? 

I’ll leave you with some wisdom from fifteen-year-old me: 

You are a beautiful young lady. Smart and intelligent. 
No matter what, never give up.
You will get somewhere in this world.

Kylie Leane’s Journal – Dated 16/12/04

Author Kylie

I am Weak and that is Okay

Yesterday, Sunday 16th of September, was the City to Bay Fun Run here in Adelaide and I participated in the 12km walk. 
I wasn’t feeling particularly ready or confident about it. The weekend before I did a practice walk with my Dad and that resulted in a nasty blister on the sole of my left foot. 
On the plus side though, I was FINALLY going into a walk with both my knees fantastically fine and fit. 
But my feet – my feet were shockingly awful. 
And frankly, I hated every step of the 12km. Half way through and I was crying silently to myself, forcing myself to go faster, just to make it stop. 

The result? I actually almost finished the 12km in 2 hours, I was just three minutes short. Considering I thought I was going to be 2 hours and half an hour, that was pretty good! I sliced off a bit of time on my year before! 
But, ah…ahhhh…
My feet? Oh…boy…
So, you know that blister, yeah…about that…it got worse. 
And I added to it, it’s got a friend, a HUGE friend, the biggest blood blister I have EVER seen in my ENTIRE LIFE. 
I am used to the feeling of walking on knives, that’s pretty normal for me, but this was hot knives. Very painful. 
And let’s add a migraine to that, just to top off the day. So I got home, could barely walk, and was vomiting into a bucket.

I just cried and cried under my cold pack. (I don’t know what hurt more, missing a family movie night that I had been really looking forward to, or the migraine/blisters… ^^;)
Why do I do this to myself? 

Why do I push myself so hard to a point of damaging myself? I really don’t know. I wish I got enjoyment out of exercise, but I don’t, it is far to painful – I get enjoyment out of the feeling of achievement after it I suppose. The feeling that despite everything my body throws at me, I can push myself beyond the agony, beyond the pain, and do something, is a powerful one.

There is a Twitter thread going on right now about how women and girls aren’t weak, and how everyone is tired of that stereotype. Well, to be honest, I feel very weak. Yesterday as I was talking along, silently crying to myself, I felt so weak, so defeated, and so, so alone. It is exhausting forcing myself to not show my pain, to sit in small group with a smile on my face, to not wince when someone claps me on the shoulder. 

One of my characters in my series talks about pain being the long and lonely walk that gradually decays hope. To be honest, I still haven’t figure out his arc yet, perhaps, because I still haven’t figured out my own arc. 

All I know is that in my weakness, I am not weak, I am in fact made stronger through that weakness. I force myself forward through some unseen, crazy force that propels me to just keep marching forward no matter what. 
Hope.
I think that force is Hope

Are you unique enough?

I don’t know if other author’s experience this, but it is something I think about – especially after reading a lot of Tweets by agents and publishers that talk not about an author’s books or works but the author themselves.
One agent I happened across openly admitted that they where not seeking any type of unique work, they where seeking a unique type of person, and an author had to fit a mould. Is that my problem, I don’t fit a mould?

In today’s heavily visual, heavily marketing, heavily social media focused society I’m not surprised that publishers seek author’s who have a sell-able face, but not just a sell-able face, but a sell-able identity. Somehow, at some point, I blinked – and identity became this massive, important thing. What is your identity?
Are you unique enough to be an author?
It feels like, today, you have to have some sort of incredible personal uniqueness to win an agent, or a publisher – something that makes you stand out amongst the crowd – instead of your work.
But perhaps I only see one side of the publishing industry online, I would really love to speak to publishers and agents about this – because I find it utterly fascinating.

I am pretty sure it was how I was raised that instilled in me an ethic of believing that my work spoke for me. I didn’t want to be put on a pedestal, it was my work that I wanted to share – not me. I wanted my stories, my adventures, my worlds, my characters to shine for me.

The more I write, the more books I put into print, the more I have this intense desire to fade into the background and just let my world exist for me, to let my work be my voice.

Talking About a Clementine Ford Article

Yesterday I was browsing Twitter, ignoring the mountain of work that I have to do. Twitter is an awful place. It really is – I find it’s like watching a disaster unfolding around me, and I cannot look away. I am utterly fascinated by the hatred I sense towards people like myself. People who have *gasp* different opinions. And yes, it is hatred. I have had to work hard on not feeling like I am a worthless, disgusting, awful person due to the things I read, hear and come by due to Twitter. It is like being slammed by a constant barrage of people screaming how much they hate your existence without even realising they’re doing it.
I came across a Tweet promoting an article written by Clementine Ford – “The men’s march organised by a woman” Now, I am terrified of Clementine Ford. She scares me, so much. Yeah, I’ll admit it – I am down right scared and intimidated by her. The values I uphold as an individual, she rips apart. (I’m sure she’s a really nice person IRL.)

Don’t get me wrong, she has VALID points to make – always. I am not here to argue over that. I was raised to not walk outside at particular times at night, I was raised to carry my key’s in my hand when I did. I never questioned why. Maybe I should have, but I didn’t. I just presumed everyone protected themselves. At my one and only self-defence course my male teacher took me aside and told me “Kylie, the first thing I am going to teach you is the first thing I teach every woman. How get out of a guy’s grip.” 
I never forgot what he taught me. He drilled it into me. Time, and time again, he made sure I knew it.

Okay. So. I’m going to all tell you the story of how I was almost kidnapped by a sex offender when I was fourteen. I have never shared this story, because, well, I don’t really have anything to back it up – but it’s life:

This was back in the day of MSN, Elfwood and dial up internet, before I was aware that there was strangers lurking on the web who meant harm. I was a very innocent, naive little girl. I was, frankly, stupid. I started talking with a guy online, had no idea who he was, but gradually, as time went on, he shared some photos and kept asking to meet. I was like, yeah, nah, I can’t, I don’t have that sort of freedom. Which I didn’t.
I was a very, very lonely, depressed girl – but I rarely stepped out of my comfort zone.
With my refusal to meet up, I thought, well, that was the end of that odd friendship.
Hm. No. It wasn’t.
I had a routine back then – due to everything that had happened to me at face-to-face school, I had started doing home-schooling, and I took walks to the local shops, pretty much everyday. I knew my area VERY well and if there was one thing I did pride myself on it was being very hyper-aware of my surrounds. I might have even stupid online, but I was hyper-aware in-real-life. Which is why, on one particular day as I was walking home from the shops, with the rain beginning to pick up, I sensed a large four-wheel-drive pull up.
A man wound down the passenger window, urging me to pause. “Hey, you live on ***** don’t you? How about you jump in and I’ll take you home, it’s raining.”
I froze. Dead on the spot. That wasn’t my street. That was a fake street I gave out to people who I didn’t trust (oh, did I forget to mention I did that? Yeah…)
This man looked like an ordinary man, in an ordinary car, but his fingers keep twitching on the wheel. I really didn’t like his hands. I had never seen him in the area before. I had never seen the car in the area, and I prided myself in knowing faces and cars from all my walks. I smiled. “No thanks. I like walking.”
With that, I turned away and continued walking.
Now, I bet you’re asking yourself “KYLIE, DID YOU GO TO THE POLICE?!”
No. Actually. I didn’t even tell my parents. I was fourteen…I just, sorta shrugged it off and never really thought about it again until I was in my early twenties and it hit me what could have happened that day.
There was another occasion in the city, after a friends birthday party. I was dressed up to the nine – in an outfit I would NEVER fit into anymore. I looked gorgeous. I wish I could tell twenty-one year old me she was beautiful…
Anyway…
I was standing on the curb waiting for my parents to pick me up, my friend had gone off to continue the night clubbing and I didn’t drink or club so, it was an early night for me.
A group of drunk men walked past. Stopped. And walked back. I could tell they had every intent of making a total scene and I – being the most inexperienced and sheltered person on the face of the planet – had no idea what to do. I kid you not, two police men took that moment to walk right across the road and plant themselves on either side of me like guards. They did not say anything to me, they just stood there. The drunk men walked away grumbling.
Those police men stayed with me until my parents came.
Heroes. They were my heroes.
The point I am trying to make is that if you dig deep enough, women have stories – women have lived life. So, I do understand where Clementine Ford comes from, I just do not understand her hatred and her viciousness. It is perhaps that misunderstanding that makes me fear her. I doubt she would be welcoming to my position either, after reading the above article and seeing how hostile she is with women who don’t toe-the-line. I mean, obviously I am not a Trump-Loving-Aussie (that’s a bit weird if you ask me) but I do wish we allowed for a little bit more leg-room and less mob-pitch-fork destroying in society.

My grandmother has been staying with me for several weeks while having radiotherapy for breast cancer. During this time, we’ve had many discussions about what life was like back in her day. When I was a little girl, one my earliest memories of my Grandmother was of her reading me feminist literature. I basically learnt about feminism and the Suffragette Movement from my Grandmother.  Frankly, women today have little concept (I feel) of what living under a patriarchy means. The stories my grandmother has to tell from just her lifetime is chilling, and that’s not even mentioning the stories of my great-grandmother. We have come so far in just several generations, these are things to be celebrated and yet, all I see is a continuous tearing down. However, perhaps this is just because I have always been overly sensitive – I don’t like to see people hurting.
I was once told that I saw things in black and white because I only saw the pain people were in and I wanted to instantly help those people. I thought it was an interesting observation to be given.

Anyway.
It’s always interesting to see how the world keeps rolling on, how the internet is causing us to pull further and further apart and form ever more increasingly hostile sides.
I am gradually becoming more inclined towards the idea of leaving it all behind to become an author who just sits quietly in the shadows, watching everything pass on by.
It sounds much more peaceful.

Keep well,
KL