Colour-Blind Early Childhood Educator

Pencil Crayons Black & White by Adam Clarke, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0

Colour deficiency is when you can see all the colours, but your eyes can't make the distinction between them when taken out of context. 

Lights are the worst. I describe my perception of lights as warm or cool. I can't tell the difference between red and yellow lights unless they're next to each other. Blue is usually okay. I could mistake a cooler green for blue. I have no idea what colour street-lights are; I think they can be all different colours . . . right? 

I used to use red to draw grass. 

I've called a yellow car lime green. 

At work, if a pencil was out of a child's reach, they might ask me to get them the blue pencil. And I might get it for them. Only to be told. That's purple.

I was asked to go get the red mop bucket. I did. On my way back a co-worker said: "That's green, dear."

It's always a laugh, and I explain that sometimes my eyes can't make the distinction.

The other day in the three-year-old room, the educator had everyone in a circle. She held up pieces of paper with cartoons of different-coloured crayons. First she revised them all with the children. Then she picked out children and asked them to find whichever colour she called out. Or she held up a colour and asked them what it was. The children called out what they were, when I might have said something else.

Occasionally, a child would hesitate, or say the wrong colour.

It made me wonder: How would a colour deficient child feel when presented with these colours? When shown a bright orange that looks like yellow, or a dark purple that looks like dark blue, or a beige that looks like pink, or a red that looks like brown, or a brown that looks like green?

How does it feel when everyone else "knows their colours", but you can't get it right no matter how hard you try? 

And you have no way of knowing there's nothing wrong with you.

Wake-Up Weirdness

This has been a weird week for sleep. I should have gone to bed earlier because, being a relief staff member, I can be called early in the morning to come to work.
I went to bed late anyway, and had some weird experiences when work called early.


Although I'd gone to bed about 1:30 or 2:00 the night before, I somehow woke up before 6:30. After not having much work last week, I'd become insanely bored, and I decided I'd go volunteer at work to get some hours for my placement, and alleviate my boredom. 
Funnily enough, a couple of minutes later I got called and asked to go to work at 9:00. Lucky me, I got to go to work, get placement hours, and get paid for it.
Being awake already, I decided to get up and have a shower. And for me to have a shower in the morning is a momentous occasion. On any normal day, I would have slept in until the last minute, but having missed my shower the night before, I seized the opportunity to have a day at work with luscious, vibrant hair.
I think this is the first time I've been up an hour and forty-five minutes before anything in the morning.


Again, I'd been up late the night before. But this time I didn't wake up early; I was still dreaming when work called.
In my dream I could hear my phone ringing. I tried desperately to sit up -- while asleep -- so I could wake up and answer it. I struggled against my brain, and actually heard a voice in my dream say, "Ryan's having trouble getting up." Even while I sat up, I was still dreaming. It was like the world tipped sideways.
I hadn't quite snapped out of it until I was upright and answering the phone. I put on my usual "happy-to-come-to-work" voice, and then tried to make sense of what had just happened.

The Moral of the Story

Going to bed late and getting up early only works once. Go to bed on time.

Reflections on the Blog

Every so often I realise this blog is over two years old, and I remember how easy it seemed to get followers for The Dark Corner of the Mind. Maybe that blog was more accessible, more distant and authoritative with a special title of its own. And here I am with a blog titled "Ryan Sullivan"; not a standout name, just another person in the crowd.

As a review once said, with The Dark Corner of the Mind I was sporadic with my posting. But still, people would sign up to follow the blog every now and then, one more follow to boost my confidence.

The funny thing is, I didn't really know that much about how to write well. Mostly I posted updates about where I was in my first draft. Sometimes I posted writing advice, which people appreciated despite me not having published a thing. One thing I have from that blog is a testament to the long haul of writing; Aundes Aura took me a number of years to finish -- a short book -- but I got there, and The Dark Corner documents the things I tried to get me through.

I can appreciate that, at least.

Here, I have no niche. I have no unfounded writing advice. All I have are personal reflections, opinions and interests. I feel like that should be more interesting. I'm not saying that it's not, but it's probably been done before.

I also think I have a couple of standout things -- the writing, the childcare. But until I write some riveting article, it's nothing that will bring people here and compel them to follow my unexceptional life.

I thought blogging more consistently would improve my rate of follows. It hasn't really, as long as we ignore the five-month gap.

So if I don't have a great many followers, and no one ever stumbles upon my blog, why am I writing it?

By posting about my thoughts and concerns, my future self can look back on issues I was having, and be proud when I overcome them. I can look back on good memories that I've documented.

In my blog introduction, I wrote, "I have another blog, The Dark Corner of the Mind, where I mostly write about how my writing's going, as well as some writing tips that work for me. But writers aren't my audience -- readers are. That's who this blog is for."

When I put myself in a reader's shoes, do I want to read about writing tips? Book progress updates, probably, but blogs about how to write? No. That's how I first came to my approach for this blog -- Ryan Sullivan, Fantasy Author.

It's here, if anyone ever finds it.

If not . . . well at least I'm here to read it.

Thank you to everyone who reads this blog. You give it a reason to exist.

Speaky: Like Facebook, but for Language Exchange

Speaky is an attractive social networking site I've discovered that serves as a language exchange platform. When you set up your profile, you select your native language, as well as the languages you're learning. "Statuses" in those languages (in my case, English, French and Spanish) pop up in the main feed. However, this is not the main aspect of Speaky.

The site will suggest people who are at varying levels within the languages you're learning, and who are also learning your native language. You can request to "buddy" these people, and begin a conversation over instant message. For example, I see people who are native French speakers and want to practise English. I might also see intermediate Spanish speakers.

This way, we can exchange our languages -- I get to practise my French, and they get to practise their English.

One area I haven't delved into yet is the video chat. (Or audio chat, as my laptop camera won't work.) If it works, and I can get past my nerves, it could have a magnificent impact on my speaking skills. I hope it works well, but I can't comment on it yet.

What have I discovered so far? I actually can hold a basic instant message conversation in Spanish, even if I'm making a lot of mistakes.

I spent a few days researching language-learning, and the biggest inhibitor to learning a language is being afraid to make mistakes. Language is about communication. You have a goal to speak well, but children don't speak perfectly to start with. Begin by communicating, and people will correct you along the way.

Speaky is the greatest platform I've found for this so far.

What I'm Looking Forward to in 2016

1. My new job as an Early Childhood Educator.

I've always been in pursuit of a viable job that balances satisfaction and consistency. Writing books and teaching piano were unreliable, but Early Childhood Education ticks all the boxes.

2. Seeing my baby nephew grow up.

Because let's face it -- the more babies can do, the more fun they are.

3. A potential trip to France.

It's not confirmed . . . but I can still imagine it, right? Hopefully getting better at the language day by day, drinking coffee in shops that say "coffee" on them.

4. Progressing in edits for Knives in the Shadows.

And possibly finishing it. The hardest parts have been done, but I still have a lot of time to put in. The results will be worth the wait.

5. Finishing my Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care.

I'll understand my job more, be more skilled, and earn more money. I still won't earn much, but more is better.

Gratitude for 2015

2015 was a difficult year.

Even with the difficulties, I succeeded in many ways beyond my wildest dreams.

Here are some things I was grateful for in 2015.

1. Friends.

I'm grateful for two particular friends in 2015: my best friend at home, and my close friend at Uni. I have other friends here at home, and I had others at Uni, but without these two closer friends, Uni would have been unbearable.

2. Finishing my Bachelor of Music.

I hate that feeling of always having an assignment due. That feeling's gone now. I feel liberated.

Apparently, I did learn from my mistakes. For some of my classes, I handed in work early. I reflected on seminars and handed in the reflections so I could sleep in on Wednesday mornings. And when given the opportunity to do a performance mid-semester instead of writing an end-of-year essay (of 2,000 words), I tentatively took it up (and did well), knowing it would ease the stress during exam and recital time.

3. Landing an amazing job as an Early Childhood Educator right as Uni finished.

In July I began volunteering at a childcare centre. I wanted to feel competent in the workplace before going on placement for my Diploma (of Early Childhood Education and Care). 

Working with children came naturally to me, but I knew there were a lot of other things I'd have to learn. So every now and then the educators asked me to do things and showed me how to do them. If I was ever unsure, I'd ask, and over the weeks I built up my skills.

I'd expressed that I'd be interested in work when I got further through my studies. So one day when volunteering (and not much further in my studies), I got a big surprise when the director came and asked me if I'd like a paid shift.

Like that, I got on the casuals list and am now officially an Early Childhood Educator.

For the first time ever, I'm earning real money with a real job, and absolutely loving it.

I've also been told there is potential for permanent work in the near future.

2016 is going to be a huge change.

- No more Uni. Although I'm studying a Diploma, it's online and self-paced.
- I will be going to my job, making money and coming home and being an adult and stuff.

I think 2016 is going to be the best year I've had in a long time.

Creating a Language For My Books

(I'll try to keep the language jargon to a minimum, but when I get to the technical aspects it'll be hard to avoid. A quick search will tell you anything you need to know.)

Creating a language sounds time-consuming and complicated. I'm sure many people have gone in-depth and created some awesome languages.

I had enough to focus on, so I went about developing a new language in a way that was painless, quick and fun. There could be holes in my approach, but at least there's a sense of structure, and hopefully a sense of authenticity.

The thing that helped me the most was my knowledge of French grammar and words (neither of which is perfect, but I know enough). I knew I wanted to make a language that looked like it sounded beautiful.

One point before I move on: This language isn't finished. It's constantly evolving, and you'll see why very soon.

I called it Válkian, the old language of the land of Válkia where Aundes Aura and Knives in the Shadows take place.

I began with three words. Astan, the word for 'family'. Carmios and carfios mean 'mother' and 'son', but these are more of a dialect. In young Luka's nomadic clan, the astan is all one big family -- all the mothers and fathers are thought of as parents of all the children. The women are all mios, and all the boys are fios. But if a parent and child have a strong bond, they add car- to the front to express this.

At this point I had just a few words, almost floating in a vacuum.

Because of the traditions of the clan, Luka knows both the Common Tongue and Válkian. The next time Válkian makes an appearance, Luka sings a song. This meant coming up with quite a few new words, and it was clear I would need to quickly work out the language's grammar before I could go on.

I had two approaches to coming up with words. The first one was to come up with a word that looked good and made sense. The other approach was to start with the French word, then mess around with the letters until I had something I liked. Sometimes it'd be completely different when I was done.

Every time I come up with a word, I add it to my 'dictionary', which has the translations of English words to Válkian, and Válkian words to English.

My approach to the grammar was to make it as simple as possible, while covering the necessities of language. The first thing I did was make all verb endings the same. In English you have:
I make
You make
We make
He/She makes
They make

The equivalent in Válkian would be this:
I make
You make
We make
He/She make
They make

After doing that, I only had to change the endings to show tense. I came up with some basic rules for tense, which could also inform other tenses. For example, things that "had happened" could be formed by adding the word for "had" before putting the past tense verb. 

Let's take a look at the rules I have so far.

-an - infinitive
-as - present tense
-a - past tense (perfect tense)
no ‘a’ -i - future tense
no ‘a’ - present continuous

"ne" – makes a negative phrase

Put into action, it looks like this:

fiorman - to run
Fal fiormas - He runs; He is running
Fal fiorma - He ran
Fal fiormi - He will run
fiorm - running

Fal ne fiormas - He doesn't run; He isn't running
Fal ne fiorma - He didn't run

Without going into the many other quirks of Válkian, what I've shown above gives the language a pretty strong structure that makes it easy to come up with words and slot them in.

How Long 'Til I Learn From My Mistakes?

You should learn from your mistakes the moment you make them. So why don't I? How harsh do the consequences have to be before I try harder to improve?
Last year I failed History simply by leaving work too late. 

I've been spoilt by a lenient teacher, whose classes, ironically, are the only ones I've failed. He accepts work late, hates administration, and believes that the main thing is that all the work is handed in at the end. I like his outlook a lot, but it seems the lack of pressure has the wrong effect on me. I leave work because I know I can, because I should focus on other work that night, but there's a point where everything must be handed in.

I missed that cutoff with History, which meant I failed. Because of that, I had to go to "summer school" to make it up. I was pretty happy to do this since it meant I could continue into the third year of my degree and finish on time.

So did I learn from failing History? Nope.

I'm now in my third and final year. I was so focused on my recital that I thought I could leave my big essay until the end. And then suddenly I got an email saying semester results were in. And of course, my essay wasn't.

The class wasn't running again, so if I wanted to finish my degree, I'd have to do a whole extra year of that one class just to finish it off.

I was very lucky that my mark was close enough to a pass that I was allowed to submit the essay as "supplementary material" to get a pass and continue next semester. I was given two days to write the essay, and I wrote it in a night and a day. I sent it off, and the next day got an email saying my essay would have been marked High Distinction if it had been in on time. It's a shame that I have the skills but my self-discipline is still lagging.

The thought that I would have to do another year was so demoralising, it made me consider giving up. So I fought for the opportunity to hand in that essay, and I'm lucky that I can now finish my degree this semester. I have to remember that: I don't want to do another year. That's my motivation to get everything in on time.

I'm this close. If I can focus for the next few months, my degree will be done, and everything I'm looking forward to will be waiting for me. To celebrate the end of my degree, I hope to go to France and get better at the language. Around that time, I'll be becoming an uncle for the first time. When I return, I can spend the next year volunteering in childcare, completing my Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care, and I can take on more piano students to keep my head above water until I'm qualified to work as a childcare assistant or group leader.

Of Rainbow Drinks

It's bath-time for my friends' son, and after many a bath-watery coffee, he offers me a rainbow drink in a rainbow cup.
"A rainbow drink?" I ask. "How do they get the rainbows down?"
He says, "The rainbow clouds rain rainbow rain down 'til there are rainbow puddles. It makes rainbow trees grow, and rainbow grass. There are rainbow squirrels too. And rainbow houses."
"How do the houses become rainbow coloured?" I ask. "Does it rain on the houses and leave rainbows on them?"
"So everything's rainbow?!" I say with a sweeping gesture.

Other Things I Do: A "Get to Know Me" Blog Post

For this blog I've always wanted to discuss not only writing, but various aspects of my life, or whatever might be on my mind. The purpose of this is to give my book readers and blog readers alike a place they can find out more about me as a person and get an insight into my life and thoughts. So rather than just give you blog posts that seem to come from nowhere, right now I will give you a short list of things I do. Any of these things may or may not be blogged about in the future.

1. I'm studying a Bachelor of Music Performance.

This is my final year if all goes well. Except I failed a subject this semester. More on that in another blog.

I major in piano but sing whenever I can.

2. I teach piano.

It was my dream job. The pay per hour is great; finding students to fill those hours isn't. Amazing work, but unpredictable. So  . . . 

3. I'm also studying a Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care.

Practically every weekend I see my friends and their five kids. They keep me entertained by just being themselves. I've helped out with a good deal of bottles, shirt buttons, "CARRY ME AND WALK AROUND" demands, nappies, baths, toilet training, school pick-ups, cleaning,  game-playing, cuddles and more. I've found it all rewarding, and yet, it wasn't until everyone close to me said, "Have you thought about doing childcare?" that I even considered it an option.

Next week I'll have my first experience in a childcare setting as a student volunteer.

4. I try to learn languages.

I'm specific about the languages I want to work on, and I'm not that interested in culture. I just think communicating in another language is awesome. I don't like languages that have limited use, like Italian or German. Spanish would be my first preference, but they didn't offer it in school, so I learnt French, which would be my second preference anyway. I took French all the way through high school, and a few years on, I try to keep it up. I want to go to France so I can get good at speaking.

I'm trying to learn Spanish with the app Duolingo. I can say some things, but I'm not good at remembering them off the top of my head. One of my favourite words is refrigerador (fridge).

5. I play video games.

I've stuck with PlayStation ever since the first system came out.

6. I overeat.

You know those big packets of chips people take to parties for everyone to share? I sometimes have two to myself.

7. I don't stress about things.

Which gets me into trouble because then I fail a subject because I'm not worried about getting things done.

8. I think my poor eating habits are a reflection of my deep-seated, ever-present stress. I don't think I get stressed because I'm actually always stressed and don't know any different.

This isn't a therapy session.

What's one thing you love to do? 

What brings you satisfaction?

My New Favourite Font

The final result.
The paperback version of Aundes Aura has seen many small changes since it was first released. The biggest change was switching out the font on the front cover, but that was only the latest thing to change. Before that, it went through a few other alterations as I tried to maximise its aesthetics. The font of the interior was my main focus.

Its original font was Garamond, which came with Word. But the italics weren't doing it for me, and italics are meant to look good. I mean, the font should look good in general, but italics . . . italics are something special. Is that just me? Garamond's italics had capital letters that leant a funny way, and the tails of the letters had a weird swirl.

Though Garamond was the best choice Word offered, I discovered there were better options out there which could be found online. There were free options, and paid professional options. I started with a free option that was popular.

Cardo I thought was a nice font. A step up from Garamond, it had an old literature kind of look that would suit historical fiction. So, Aundes Aura being a fantasy, I thought it would suit. PDFs wouldn't encode it properly, though, and when I received my proof, I came across italics that had defaulted to some kind of basic font that was not Cardo. At first I tried to convince myself that the book looked better with Cardo (and it did save for the italics), but in the end I came to the conclusion that overall, this font looked crappy. The bad italics ruined it.

You know, there are a lot of italics in fantasy. Not only are there character thoughts, but there are letters being written, letters being read, songs being sung, dreams being dreamt, and other languages being languaged. (That's right, you heard me. (Or at least you would have if I was reading this blog out loud.))

At last I came to the final step in my journey. In online discussions the words "Minion Pro" kept coming up. This was a popular font, and many complained that it was too popular. But there is always a reason things become popular. Sometimes it's a trend, and other times, it's just that good. I gather Minion Pro is popular for the second reason, because when I went to search it out I fell in love. I don't care what font anyone else is using as long as I'm doing my best to make my book look good. Minion Pro was better-looking than Garamond and Cardo. And I can't imagine anything looking better.

I would describe Minion Pro as soft and calm. Clean. Inviting. Beautiful.

What I've Been Reading and What's Next

I sometimes go long periods without reading. Now that I've moved back home and have three hours of travel five days a week, there's one thing I can appreciate about a long commute. I can get a lot of reading done when I wouldn't otherwise do it.

The Name of the Wind

This book was suggested to me for its prose, and I think I've learnt from reading it. I've also seen a different approach to the plot of a book. So far it's not political and there's not much saving the world, but there is tension and conflict as the character has a specific goal and events threaten to get in his way. Because his goal is to uncover a mystery, I myself was intrigued, and felt tension when it seemed he would be stopped from reaching his goal.
It was also refreshing to see a character who was naturally exceptional, rather than hopeless, yet falls on hard times regardless and has to go to great lengths survive.
One of The Name of the Wind's strengths is its sense of place.


I was going to go straight back to ASOIAF after The Name of the Wind, but my friend suggested I read Stardust. It's a short book, so I decided to get it out of the way.
This book is an example of how to skip the "boring stuff" in a fairy tale. Like having a magic candle that sends the bearer long distances with each step. Or summarising in a paragraph or two.
The conversational prose wasn't for me, but I don't write fairy tales.

What Next?

A Storm of Swords (nearly finished)

A Feast For Crows

A Dance With Dragons

I want to get ahead of the TV show.

The Wise Man's Fear

I want to continue the story of The Name of the Wind and read more of the prose I enjoyed.

What about you? What have you been reading?