Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Emotional Locomotive

National Rugby League club, Cronulla Sharks set an unenviable record last week in their 0-26 loss. It was the third consecutive match in which they had not been able to score a point. No team had ever done that before. Imagine going out to play your next match with that record on your mind. Early in the second half of the subsequent game which they played away from home against a much more highly rated team, the Sharks were behind 0-22. It was clearly a case of de-ja-vu.

As they ran out on to the ground to start the match, were the players hopeful? Or did they expect to lose? Were they thinking that regardless of their effort, they would be defeated? As their opponents racked up points against them, did what little hope they might have had, perish in the fire of reality? Did the players still believe they could win that match, or did they give up? 

It has been said that sport, any sport, is mostly played in the mind. Attitude impacts significantly on performance. Many games are won or lost before they have even been played. This is true of life. Our emotions want to run our lives, and for better or worse, we often succumb to their demands. Our heads might shout loud statements of logic but our feelings block our ears with stubborn stupidity, and insist that their way is right. 

Sometimes, the supremacy of emotion works in our favour. Positive feelings can empower us, and provide strength to do what the head says we should. Our feelings can help us, inspire us and inspire others. Negative feelings can, on the other hand, cripple us. Feelings can be nearly impossible to control. Have you ever tried to tell yourself to cheer up when you feel depressed? Ever tried to tell yourself to calm down when you are angry? We are not robots, and yet we have this sense that our feelings are not the most reliable of advisers. Emotions should be the caboose, not the locomotive of our trains. We risk running off the tracks when we are led by our hearts instead of our heads, and yet this is how we live: fragile, broken humanity feigning total control when the truth is we are quite helpless.

The Sharks battled their demons of doubt, their feelings of inadequacy, their frustration and the sense of inevitability that the scoreline delivered to them. The final score was 24-22. This victory by the Sharks was easily the most inspirational moment of my week. What has inspired you recently?

Photographs courtesy of

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Nice Haircut, Gizmo.

My life is a cantankerous Shitsu with a personality disorder and a bad haircut. Actually his haircut looks bad because it is not finished and it isn't finished because Gizmo, that's our dog, a.k.a. Captain Grumpypants, decided that despite his initial cooperation with the groomer, he did not want to continue. Ergo, bad, unfinished haircut for which we were only charged half price.

Gizmo has caused a number of problems for us over the years, but he's one of us: he's a part of our family. We endure his moods, take his affection when it is on offer, feed and house him, and we'll continue to try to find a groomer who can form a 'full haircut permitting' bond with him. His hair will grow out and before long he will be a four footed mop once more.

I am currently in the middle of what is easily the most emotionally traumatic experience of my life. I have been spared misfortune and escaped tragedy. God has given me grace to look with compassion on those who have suffered, while expressing my gratitude that I have not been a victim of life's myriad cruelties. The pain I feel will pass, although I don't know when and I don't know how. There are deep wounds to be healed, and divine intervention will be required. Forgiveness will beat a path through the jungle towards restoration, but it will be a monumental struggle. A long, tearful and intense battle.

Gizmo has a terrible haircut and a bad attitude but he's a dog, and his life is very simple. He doesn't care about his appearance but he has become a powerful symbol to me of how complicated my life has become, how awful I am, and also, how incomplete. Every time I look at him, I see 'unfinished business'.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Anxious anticipation

With the manuscript for my fourth novel now complete to my satisfaction and ready to send, I have begun the dreaded querying process. There are a number of reasons why I don't look forward to, and I don't enjoy, this period of anxious anticipation, but the least of them is rejection. 

I've been writing for 16 years and I'm still wandering around in the forest of anonymity. I'm used to rejection. I've become very philosophical about it because I believe that I am a good writer. When an editor rejects my work, they are voicing their opinion, and that is all. If they offer some constructive criticism, which is rare, I take it on board, and then I send my work to someone else. If they say nothing, or offer some generic 'thanks, but no thanks', I send my work to someone else. I keep looking for the editor who 'gets' me. The one who reads my writing and says: 'I like this. This is good. This works for me.' I'm looking for that person right now.

No, it's not the rejection that bothers me as such. It's the process. Find a suitable publisher, read their submission guidelines, put together a submissions package to meet their requirements, send it, then wait. There are a few publishers who unfairly do not accept simultaneous submissions, but the majority understand that, given some quite long response times, it is reasonable for writers to reach out to as many publishers as possible, as quickly as possible. The query process is a rolling sales pitch.

It's time consuming, and somewhat annoying due to the diverse submissions criteria of various publishers. I understand why some of them are so exacting. With so many submissions coming in, they have to use whatever means available to sort the wheat from the chaff, and to make it as easy as possible for themselves.

Time consumed by querying, means less time for writing. I'm pretty confident of finding a publisher, but feel no less anxiety as I send each query off on a wing and a prayer. I wonder when. I wonder who. I wonder if this time, I will break free from the prison of obscurity. Wish me luck.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Sexy Aliens

I cover a lot of territory in Square Pegs. I don't simply bang on about one topic every day or every week like most bloggers, all the ones who are more popular than me. I'm a Square Peg. No offence, but I don't even think about you, the reader, when I compose my posts. I hope people read what I write and connect with it somehow, but it all starts with whatever tickles my fancy.

My fancy this week is frivolous, nerdy and a tad sexist. Here is my top 10 sexy Star Trek aliens. (In no particular order apart from T'Pol, on whom I have a bit of a crush at the moment. That's her on the right.)

Lieutenant Illia is a Deltan and was played by Persis Khambatta in Star Trek: The Motion picture. 7 of 9 is a human/borg and was played by Jeri Ryan in Voyager. Famke Jannssen played a Kriosian named Kamala in The Next Generation. Sub Commander T'Pol, a Vulcan, was played by Jolene Blalock. Jadzia Dax is a Trill and was played by Terry Farrell in Deep Space Nine. Olivia D'Abo played a Q named Amanda in The Next Generation.

Marta (Yvonne Craig, left) in the pilot episode of Star Trek, and Gaila (Rachel Nichols) in the J.J. Abrams film version, belong together as Orion females. Lieutenant Talas (below) is Andorian as was played by Molly Brink in Enterprise. Nana Visitor played a Bajoran Star Fleet officer named Kira Nerys in Deep Space Nine, and sexy Klingon B'Elanna Torres (above right) was played by Roxan Dawson in Voyager. B'Elanna is half human which is probably how she made this list: no offence to Klingons.
I apologize to all the non humanoid sexy aliens who didn't make my top 10, and actually didn't even come into consideration. However, I am human and I find the human female form generally appealing even with unusual colouring, facial oddities and, antennae.

Who is your favourite sexy alien? Male or female. From any movie or TV show. If you need some inspiration, try the following sites. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this pressing and pertinent issue.                                                                       

Top 10 sexy female aliens
30 sexy aliens