I’ve had many incarnations in my life. People are often amazed when they realise the diversity of things I’ve done and discover I’m not 102 as such diversity might suggest. And so, for your reading pleasure, here are a few of said diversities:
When I was 15 I attached the clasps to necklaces
I got paid 2c a chain
I dated a 30-year-old when I was 19 and thought I was the most exotic creature that ever lived
I’ve written two novels
I had a crush on a redhead called David for most of highschool and am pretty sure he never knew
I still have a deep fascination with redheads of both the male and female variety
I’ve stood on a freezing hill in Gallipoli at 5am on ANZAC day with my best friend and wept and loved and laughed
I worked at Red Rooster and got kissed by a rockabilly who didn’t talk
I’ve danced and sung and drunk Baileys on a Greek Island and wondered if I ever had to go home
I can pour a perfect pint of Guinness
I played the Toad in Toad of Toad of Hall
That was twenty-three years ago
I’ve eaten my way around Italy
I won a drawing competition once
I’ve swum in the Adriatic sea and emerged to see the most handsome man I’ve ever seen
I loved a girl called Suzi once. She looked like Betty Boop. I thought she was amazing
I’ve played the didgeridoo wearing a purple feather boa in Wales
I’ve been a dancer, a waitress, a personal trainer, a speech-writer, a weight loss coach, a corporate wellness consultant, a gym manager, a business development manager, a fundraiser, a masseuse, a grant writer, a playwright, a theatre director, an editor, a proof-reader, a crystal healer, a corporate relations manager, a receptionist, a bar and restaurant manager, a hostess at the races, a ghost writer, a corporate blogger, a didgeridoo busker and a numerologist
I rode a camel across the top of India
I won a state bodybuilding championship when I was 30 years old
I weighed 48kgs and dreamt only of food
I’ve cried at the Taj Mahal at sunrise
I won a biographical short story competition and wished my mother had been there with me
I laid with my Italian Grandmother three hours before she died and then wept that I wasn’t there when she left this earth
I’ve seen an angel
I cried tears of joy watching orang utans in Borneo
Once a billionaire gave me a Coco Channel dress and told me he’d look after me for the rest of my life
I rode on the back of a motorbike in Nepal
I’ve loved so hard I nearly broke myself
I’ve lost three tiny babies who couldn’t stay with me because I wasn’t ready, or they weren’t ready, or both
I see beauty in everyday things, every day
It’s who I am
It’s why I write.
Filed under Art, Australia, Body-building, Books, Editing, Exercise, Family, Food, Friends, Health, Inspirational, IVF, List poem, Love, Motherhood, My Book, Numerology, Perth, Poetry, Sex, Short Stories, Speech Writing, Theatre, Weight Loss, Women/Feminist, Writing
Some readers are impressively committed to their favourite authors. (Hopefully my own readers will be thus committed one day… when I’ve, you know, actually written enough stuff to warrant commitment.) My sister is one such person. She has rows and rows on her (ever-increasing-husband-constructed-what-would-she-have-done-if-she-married-a-man-who-can’t-make-stuff) bookshelves committed to single authors. Her Stephen King collection is complete. I’ll give you a moment to wrap your head around this. It’s a work of art well before you open a cover.
I am not such a collector. In our house we have shelves dedicated to Australian authors, American authors, Classics, Feminism, Film, Spiritual, Cooking, Art, Short Stories etc (god this makes me sound cleverer than I am, I really need to add this to my LinkedIn profile somewhere), but my biggest haul of books with a single author’s name to the spines is my Ian McEwan collection.
I’ve had a love of Ian McEwan since I read Saturday several years ago. I’ve posted before about how the craft of Saturday influenced my novel (the good one). I loved every ultra-long, semi-colon filled sentence of it. It started my McEwan collection, which has since turned into an interesting exercise in the often somewhat blind loyalty of the collector. I want to love everything he writes. But his last two books left me disappointed. I bought his lastest novel, Sweet Tooth at the airport on the way to Perth. This wasn’t my intention. I had a Phillip Roth tucked into my handbag, but that was unceremoniously slung into the suitcase when I saw the new McEwan. The problem is, I didn’t much like it. It’s written in first person with a female protagonist, set in the early 70s and, for me, he doesn’t get into the head of the character well. It’s not a feminine voice. Of course, there are moments of Ian McEwan brilliance. That’s inevitable thank goodness, but, for many reasons, I didn’t love it. I really liked the play on the literary world in Britain he is now such a huge part of, including the kind of odd use of his own short stories from his old collections, but I felt like I was reading just to get to the twist at the end that I knew was coming and it just didn’t make for a satisfying journey.
The book before Sweet Tooth, Solar, was particularly unsatisfying for me. So what does the Collector do from here? Do you continue to collect? – I suspect I will – or do you stop after a certain amount of disappointments?
What do you do? Who do you collect?
Filed under Art, Books, Criticism, Family, Fiction, Food, My Book, Perth, Reading, Review, Short Stories, Stephen King, Writing
I just wrote a long, rambling post and it didn’t save and I lost it! This is very frustrating. Herein lies the abridged version in bullet points (cue grumpy face):
- I have an Arts Degree with a major in Theatre Arts. I graduated 18 years ago. I haven’t been on stage since. I was accepted into the London Drama School in 1996, but I couldn’t afford to go. I also got into a (amateur) musical in London, but couldn’t afford to attend rehearsals and do all my bar shifts to avoid starvation and most likely, death.
- This got me musing about how people in the thee-ater survive between gigs.
- I’ll leave you for a moment to imagine the witty and amusing musing I had going on in my lost, original version, which was considerable…
- Amazing, huh?
- The main reason I decided not to continue with the acting side of things in the theatre is because I wasn’t, you know, that good. I was good, sure. Pft, course. But I didn’t have that thing, that amazing thing that some people have that makes you weep for the talent pouring out of them. I didn’t have that and even as an egotistical, stubborn, insecure 18 year old, desperate for stardom, I knew to leave the people with that to it.
- I adore talent. I adore it. It inspires me more than anything in the world. Not just creative talent either, any talent will get me goosebumping. But it is the creative talents that really get me going.
- One of those people who have that thing is Melbourne actor, singer/songwriter Roderick Cairns.
- Actually, in all my years connected to the theatre, reviewing for the theatre, and with all the friends I’ve made through uni and since, Rod is the only true triple threat I’ve think I’ve met.
- This is partly because he’s actually a hepta-threat: he’s an amazing actor, his has a stunning singing voice, he composes beautiful, haunting music (although, not haunting exactly in this piece – this is explicit, you’ve now been sufficiently warned), he can dance, he plays many instruments, he’s an artist (as in fine art), and he can write.
- I know, it’s hard not to be revoltingly jealous. How can one person ooze with so much talent for so many of the creative arts (seriously, what’s left?) and still have enough connective tissue to hold it all in?
- (Well, he is tall, but still.)
- Of course, if it were me, I’d have the problem of which talent to focus on. I mean, how can Rod possibly find time for them all? He could at least give me one of these talents to look after…
- Oh god, the jealousy is revolting, and not in a good, save the people kind of way. It’s time for a
caffeine gin break.
- (Grumpy face slowly being replaced by melty, happy face)
- What I had intended on writing about before Rod took over my post, was actually the venom with which I am often judged for liking all the TV shows about singing and dancing. This includes, of course, all the terrible reality shows with annoying judges and the presenters who make you want to self-harm. I know the set-up and the rambling is annoying, but I can stand all that to bear witness to the TALENT. Oh how I love it so. The gems amongst the many who are ok, but don’t have that thing. The Roderick Cairns’ among the me’s, in other words. It’s thrilling to see those people shining in the pack.
- Rod is likely self-harming right now at the very idea that I have connected him, even in this arbitrary way, to a reality TV talent show. Sorry Rod. Breathe. I’ll never do it again. I didn’t do it in my lost, original version, which was far more, you know, visionary.
- Even my family, who are supposed to LOVE me, judge me harshly for my addiction.
- Oh well. Whatever gives me goosebumps, right?
- I was watching Smash last night and felt this little twinge; this little piece of me longing to stomp around ungracefully on the boards again.
- Maybe one day…
Oh, and for anyone in Hobart tomorrow night, go and see this fabulous show, written and performed by another ridiculously talented thee-ater friend. It’s a late plug, but a plug is a plug, is a plug… I need more gin, it’s been a long afternoon.
Beginning a new long work of fiction is hard (for me anyway). I’m there now and attempting to sort of storyboard likely scenes between my characters. I thought I’d rip out a prologue for fun and see if that helps move things along. I doubt it will survive the chopping block, but it’s sort of fun, so here it is!
Dear Reader, (didn’t Charlotte Bronte start a book like that? Oh well. I doubt her book was full of wog mama butch lesbians and food sex. Butch lesbian spaghetti sex wins out over an insipid girl in a petticoat running across a moor. Obviously.) I wanted to write a truly beautiful, literary, coming of age novel, dripping in tight, punchy prose – an intelligent expose of Gen X angst, with, you know, lots of big words in it. But this story is literally about butch lesbian mothers who ride Harleys and date women with beards called Pam (the women are called Pam, not their beards) and it doesn’t seem quite like the right story for lashings of lugubrious literary genius. Obviously my next book will take the literary world by storm.
You know everything Stephen King wrote in ‘On Writing’? I’m going to do the opposite. Not to be argumentative, oh no, I adore that book, but because everything he says not to do in good fiction is ALL THE FUN STUFF, like using italics and caps and exclamation marks for emphasis, like using first person narrative and ellipses and too many adjectives. He says one is enough. One adjective! ONE!!!
Reader, I married him! No, only joking, I really didn’t. I got confused, reader. Very, very confused. Here, let me tell you. Sit back, Reader, make yourself a stiff drink and put your feet up.
My name is Angel. It’s a stupid name, but I had stupid parents. That will become abundantly clear. There are ups and downs to having a name like Angel. The main up is that no-one ever sounds like they’re mad at you. So, Once a Upon a Time in the lurid 1970s… Okay, hang on, I just have to say here that in ‘On Writing’ Stephen King also (as does every other writing aficionado that ever graced this earth with their presence) suggests never to write about yourself. Well… fuck THAT!!!
I remember blogging about a new feminist short short story I was working on a while ago and have just discovered it was over a year ago! (Along with my attempts to get knocked up, and here am I still at that too!) That particular story did undergo several drafts and then sat in a drawer for a long time. But it is now in (digital) print at Verity La literary journal and I’m really pleased because it’s rather a heavy piece and certainly wouldn’t be to everyone’s liking, so I think it’s great the folks at Verity decided it give it a home. It’s called Blood.
After twelve years of marriage his fishing hat, which sits forgotten on my armoire, is all that remains. The house creaks and groans, trying to establish a new order. The floorboards still look for his heavy, morning footfalls, while the dip in the mattress defiantly begins to rise up.I have trouble sleeping. I go down okay. I starfish on the bottom sheet, fanning my legs back and forth back and forth across the cotton. But at 3am the novelty of space wears off and I’m a frozen arrow of flesh in the middle of the bed.I walk down the hall and into the living-room. I sit on the couch and let the tears come. They don’t come evenly. They either barrel out of me in great, wracking sobs, or they drip silently down my face and gather at my chin.
I am overcome with a desire to see my vagina. I don’t question this desire. I have not seen my vagina in many years.
I bring the square mirror from the bathroom. Pyjama bottoms off, I sit on the floor with my knees spread open. I hold the mirror, its bottom edge resting on the carpet. For a moment I don’t look. I just sit, naked from the waist down, and realise I have not been this thoroughly alone in a very long time.
Then I look down.
I am Alice looking in the glass.
I am pulled down. Then sucked up, travelling backwards inside myself. A sticky diary of all that has gone before.
To read more click here.
Filed under Art, Australia, Beauty, blogging, Criticism, Editing, Fiction, Flash fiction, Love, Motherhood, Political Writing, Sex, Short Stories, Submission, Women/Feminist, Writing
I am naked, I am.
I am walking in the backyard. I am wondering if the neighbour can see me. See my breasts that are full and round. They don’t hang, my breasts. They jut outwards from my body like two suns cut in half. Radiating heat. Plants swoon and curve toward them when I walk past.
My belly is flat but expecting. Two sinewy ropes snake from the edge of my hip bones to my groin.
A dazzling camellia leans toward me. Presses her white face into my collarbone and tells me she’s about to die.
I walk to the bird bath and plunge my hand in. The water is brackish and cold and I wish for a goldfish to bite my fingers.
My hips are narrow, like a boy’s, but they strain with promise.
The faintest sound behind me. Camellia has thrown herself to the ground. She is dead. My collarbone weeps for her.
My thighs are white. They are muscled and freckly. They don’t tremble when I walk. But soon they will.
Plants strain toward me. Push their lushness at my face.
My hair is short. I keep its wildness in check.
In my womb is a seed that is growing. Queen of an unmanicured garden. I am the lady of the garden. I am naked, I am.
Filed under Art, Beauty, Boobs, Fiction, Flash fiction, IVF, Motherhood, Poetry, Sex, Women/Feminist, Writing
I am from Australia. I am from ‘G-day mate, how yer goin’?’ I am from clean air and big yards with rusted swings. I am from waves that pick you up and throw you down, grind your head into the sand. I am from red earth that flies up and settles on your skin like a tattoo. I am from ancient times. I am from fire and corroboree. I am from the rivers and the dried up riverbeds that cry out for salvation.
I am from my father’s house. I am from white rendering and Italian tile. I am from the smell of spaghetti that makes you weep to be fed. I am from my Nonna’s thick thumbs. I am from Ave Maria and French horns. I am from rose gardens and the smell of frangipani. I am from the sound of crickets in the night.
I am from a sister who held my hand. I am from a mother who weeps for the sorrows of the world. I am from Grandmothers who buried their husbands. I am from strong women. I am from a quince tree in the backyard. I am from bike rides and gumboots in the creek.
I am from nightmares of tidal waves. I am from war. I am from pig farmers and professors. I am from my high-heeled red wedding shoes. I am from my aunt’s violin. I am from love.
Filed under Art, Australia, Beauty, Editing, Family, Flash fiction, Inspirational, Love, Motherhood, Perth, Women/Feminist, Writing
What is my creative process? How do you create something from nothing? More importantly, how do you create while turning off that inner critic, the inner editor that constantly questions whether what you’re creating is ‘right’ or ‘good’ or ‘acceptable’?
I’ve been struggling (more than that – waging a bloody war) with my creativity since the beginning of the year – hence my disappearing act from this space. (My heartfelt apologies to any regular readers, particularly my Godfather who helped ignite this rekindling of a spark the last time I saw him.) Coincidentally, (but probably not) this struggle began as I left my job as a speech writer for the Lord Mayor. Can I blame that job that I struggled with so monumentally for my ‘block’? Maybe, but for how long?
Not this long. So what’s up? My husband CJ sent me a text this morning after he left for work and I was still mooching in bed, too lazy/depressed to get up. It read:
Rise and shine my darling! It’s a lovely mellow winter day – not too cold, calming and still – in which you can gather your thoughts before the next step in work and life. Do some exercise, get a massage, and write a blog post. Sending you my love. Always yours.
How many husbands would so thoroughly understand where I’m at right now and why I didn’t want to get up? Maybe many, I don’t know, I’ve only ever had the one, but he seems pretty amazing to me. The fact that he’s so incredibly creative and gets stymied by his own inner critic too, means that he understands me more than just about anyone I know, which is fortunate really, considering he’s my husband. So here I am. Inspired by my Godfather and my husband to sit and write something, anything. So I thought I might as well write my truth, seeing I have nothing I’m working on and a massive fear of starting something new. Here I am. Me and my creative void.
So, my creative process. It was all ticking along smoothly, and then wham! It was like someone tripped a switch and the lights went out. I called an electrician, but he didn’t show and I fumbled around in the dark until I sort of just got used to it and readjusted my life to a new dimness. The thought of turning the lights back on filled me with dread. What if I could see the cracks in things? I was filled with fear. I am filled with fear. It’s nothing new. It’s the same old anathema that’s always plagued me. Lights on or off it’s always there. Thing is, why did I assume I’d be safer in the dark, where in all the best fiction, monsters lurk?
It’s time to shine the spotlight on my scourge instead of ignore its presence in my house. I have always feared my creativity, that’s an absolute in my life. And it is a part of my creative process. If I try to ignore it it paralyses me. If I face it, stare it down, it retreats just enough for me to get my fingers on the keyboard for a while. If I throw some love its way my inner critic takes a short nap and I sit in the flow of my creativity, sail downstream and ride the current all the way to the sea.
I turned the light back on. Just now. Feels good and right and frightening, like all things that are worthwhile.
Filed under Art, Beauty, blogging, Criticism, Editing, Family, Fiction, Inspirational, Love, Speech Writing, Writing
In my smile people always see sadness
A house fell on my father and he did not die
Why do people wear indifference more comfortably than joy?
You would be amazed at what makes me cry
I am from my father’s house
It had white walls and smelled of garlic and roses
The leitmotif of my fears is not what I expected
I have run through a vast field of flowers
The core of me never lets itself fall onto the paper
Once I loved so hard I broke myself
How odd that there will only ever be one of me
When I almost drowned Gaia spat me back out
Word medicine cured my ache
I knew a boy who ate glass
My heart is still bleeding
Maxine doing her thing
I went to the launch of the new Peril magazine on Thursday night. It was a great night, which you can read about over at Maxine’s place. The entertainment by the Ladies of Colour Agency provided some of THE most amazing dancing I’ve ever seen. Tom Cho’s witticisms on language were f**ken enlightening, and Maxine’s performance poetry was as good as I remembered it being the first time I saw her and fell a little bit in love. Maxine and I went out for a coffee (and very decadent chocolate cake) after the launch and had a good old natter about all things writerly and womenly and I came away feeling warm, fuzzy, and creatively inspired.
Tom Cho f**ing with language
I’d like now to direct your attention to this great article in The Wall Street Journal, How to Write a Great Novel: From writing in the bathroom… to dressing in character…, 11 top authors share their methods for getting the story on the page.
Margaret Atwood says “Put your left hand on the table. Put your right hand in the air. If you stay that way long enough, you’ll get a plot.” Not that she’s ever had to resort to such a thing of course.
Interestingly, Junot Diaz seems to be afflicted with the same curse that I am – as soon as you commit an inspired idea to paper, it ceases to be inspiring. And I thought it was just me. Of course, he spends half the time writing his novels while perched on the end of the bathtub, which really isn’t me, but maybe I’ll give it a go, see how it feels. (Uncomfortable comes immediately to mind.)
Booker-prize winner Michael Ondaatje writes the first three or four drafts by hand and then cuts and pastes with, you know, scissors and sticky tape, to create notebooks with four or more layers on each page.
Nicholson Baker videotaped himself giving poetry lectures for his latest novel, trying to get inside his protagonist, and ended up with 40 hours worth of tape and 1,000 pages of transcription.
Most people seem to have some level of fascination with how writers do their thing. Many writers of course, hate to be asked. If anyone wants to know my own writing process it involves a whole lot of procrastination followed by extreme remorse. See? Nothing fancy.
Filed under Art, blogging, Book Launch, Books, Criticism, Fiction, Melbourne, Performance Poetry, Poetry, Political Writing, Reading, Review, Writing, Zines