Writing. It drives writers mad. It drives me mad. It’s so important to me that I ignore it for months or years at a time – because it hurts to think what I’m doing isn’t good enough. As the years pass and I get better at it, and I feel better about it, and myself, those hurts and fears start to retreat and what’s left is the process of writing itself – what Ernest Hemingway called bleeding at the typewriter. So, really, it’s never going to be easy. That’s been a slowly dawning realisation for me, and an extremely helpful one.
Apart from bleeding at the keys, I have a problem of being split between writing projects. I basically write for a living – it’s not creative writing, but it’s helpful writing – it has to be economical as well as thought provoking and inspiring. It helps my creative writing, no doubt. I also write theatre reviews, and I’m back blogging, and I’m about to be doing some corporate blogging as well. But the writing I really want to be focusing on is my fiction writing – my new novel and the odd short story. This is a lot. I think it is anyway. And after a day at the keyboard at work I rarely feel like coming home and working on my own projects.
I think maybe the key to all this is the bleeding thing… I don’t sit at my work keyboard and bleed. Theoretically, I must have a whole lot left in the tank – I have six litres of the stuff after-all. I think it’s about fatigue. When I do sit at the blood-inducing home keyboard I tend to gravitate towards smaller projects. I write a blog post (as I am now – about wanting to work on my novel, but not actually doing it), or I have a review to write, and the novel is put aside yet again for “when I have more time”.
Aye, there’s the rub. From this point in my life, I will only ever have less time. If the IVF stars align soon, I will be in the midst of baby-time (which, according to everything I’ve ever seenreadheard, means there IS no time for anything else), my career is only going to get more full-on the longer I’m in it, and I’m getting old and have to spend more time on yoga and other limb-limbering pursuits. So, shouldn’t the time be NOW? Isn’t this the prime of my life? The time where I’m still child-free, but old enough to be wiser and more witty? Why am I STILL PROCRASTINATING?!
Honestly, I think I was born to procrastinate on long goals that are important to me. It just seems to be my way. Give me a short-term goal and I’m all over that baby! I guess the answer is persistence and prioritising what’s really important to me. Not to mention learning that I can work on a long piece of writing even if I only have twenty minutes to spare. I think, over the years, I’ve come to find my peace with the balance between blood and enjoyment. I can’t not do it – write – so I have to do it, blood’n all. Simple. Right?
Filed under blogging, Books, Communicating, Criticism, Editing, Family, Fiction, Flash fiction, Health, Inspirational, IVF, Motherhood, My Book, Reading, Review, Short Stories, Women/Feminist, Writing
Well hello there. Here I am with another ‘where have I been?’ blog post. I must stop being so random.
Simply, I’ve been in an interesting hiatus. My reproductive bits do like to rule my life for months on end, you see. I’ve done more IVF again (unsuccessfully) and I’ve had surgery – which brought with it some unexpected complications. These complications did embody some somewhat humorous (nee disturbing) happenings. I’ve submitted an article to Mamma Mia about said happenings and if they’re crazy enough to reject it (it involves exploding labia so I can’t, for the life of me, imagine why they would), I’ll be sure and post it here for your unbridled amusement.
The best thing about a creative hiatus is the creativity that follows it. After many months of slogging it out in my day job, and then enforced lying around in bed, a vortex of creative juices has opened up and words are, you know, falling out of it. Cool huh?
I’ve started a new (as yet tentatively titled The Letters) novel, the idea for which came to me during several days of enforced bed rest. I was reading so much my eyes were packing up so I had to rest them too, so with nothing but the powers of my own brain to amuse me, I came up with a great idea! (Who knew my brain could DO that??) I’m also guest blogging for a wonderful new company – I will reveal which as soon as they go live – any day now. And I have a short story published in the latest Etchings (Illura Press) literary journal, which is due to hit the shelves in October.
So, I’m back, it seems. It’s been an odd six months – working and breaking and healing and resting. I guess it’s all part of the ebb and flow of my journey as a woman and a writer on this earth. For now, I flow, and I invite you to join me.
Filed under blogging, Books, Etchings, Fiction, Health, Humour, IVF, Motherhood, My Book, Reading, Short Stories, Women/Feminist, Writing
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
Failure. It’s an interesting word/concept/insult/description/tag. I used it about myself in my last post and, as a consequence, received some comments and private messages from friends wanting to make sure I realised I wasn’t a failure. The message that touched me most was from an ex-boyfriend from more than a decade ago who reminded me that I’d been a great step-mother to his then very small children and how was that failure? It made me cry, partly because I suppose I’d forgotten that I’d ever been so involved with those beautiful children for several years, and because those few years were like what I imagine motherhood on roids might be like, but mostly because this man had acknowledged what I’d done and thanked me for it. Step-motherhood is hard. Getting up in the middle of the night and rocking a screaming child back to sleep, telling them that their mother (who hated me with an intensity that, to this day, makes me shudder) loved them and they’d see her really soon, was not in any guidebook on womanhood I’d ever read. But step-motherhood is another story for another time.
Failure. I love that people who love me, and even some people who barely know me, wanted me to know that they didn’t think I was a failure. It’s just that, I think sometimes it feels right and good to do a gigantic all-over-body-and-soul-shake and say ‘gosh I failed at that!’. I tried to get pregnant and I failed. I tried to get my book published and I failed. I don’t think I’m a failure. I just failed at ticking a few important things off my list. It doesn’t mean I’m not going to try to succeed at these things again, it just feels good to acknowledge those raw, dark, shadow-side feelings that scream FAIL FAIL FAIL deep within so they hold less power, take up less room, and enable me to shake them off and not hide the dark stuff so much.
It’s taken me a long time to realise that the dark stuff is often the good stuff. When you acknowledge the dark stuff deep healing takes place and a much more holistic acceptance of oneself starts to arise. This is so important for me. This is what 2012 is all about for me. Accepting all the bits of myself: the dark bits, the bits that feel like failure, the bisexual bits, the creative bits, the fecund bits, the funny bits, the annoying bits, the amazing, inspiring bits. I’ve always wanted to present the ‘best’, shiniest bits to the world, but I am more than the sheen on my achievements. I am maiden and mother and crone, all. I am all the songs of all the women who ever walked this place. Like you are, and you are, and you, and you.
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!!!
‘We can definitely do something with these. These are very fleshy.’ Dr. Woodcock pokes my left labia with a gloved finger.
I’ve experienced humiliation before, but with the poking I reach a whole new level.
‘The labia majora really are fleshy. The minora aren’t too bad.’
Dr. Woodcock grabs a lab and pulls. ‘Mmmm’.
This was no ‘you’re a Goddess, every man in the known universe would kill to be in my position right now mmmm’, no, this was a ‘mmmm, what’s the best way for me to give your weird and undesirable genitals a modicum of appeal?’
‘I think what we’ll do is actually a liposuction procedure on the labia majora and leave the minora alone. When the minora sag further as you age, we can always do the labiaplasty then.’
I’m forty years old. I’m lying on my back in a plastic surgeon’s office. My legs are spread and my labia are being manhandled by a man whose name ends in cock. This man is going to charge me a stupendous amount of money to suck the God-given flesh right out of my genitals. On top of that, he has forecast I’ll have sagging minora in the not so distant future. I don’t even know what that is. It sounds life-alteringly grim. I should leave. But I don’t. And Dr. Woodcock is now pulling on my right labia, elongating it with what is clearly a clinically-derived sense of wonder.
‘Gosh, yes, look at that.’
Even if I could, Dr. Cock, I just don’t think I would right now. All I can think about is how I’m going to break it to my family that my minora are droop-destined. They’ll all be crushed.
‘Alright, Mrs. Bell, you can get dressed now.’
‘Call me Sam. You’ve seen my droopy vagina, I think you can call me by my first name.’ I give Dr. Cock a half smile as I yank my Bonds up over my hips. His face remains impassive.
‘Perhaps you might like to look at these Mrs. Bell? Might help to make you feel more comfortable.’
Cock pushes an album across the desk and makes fancy loops and swirls with his Mont Blanc while I pull my jeans on and shove my feet back in my Nikes. A vagina album. Pages of pussies to peruse. Fantastic. If only Alex were here; he’d love it. I can feel Cock staring at me so I focus on the twats. Perhaps he has a point. There’s some seriously sagging snatch in this album. Sagging snatches on the left, tight, hairless pussies on the right. Not your classic before and after shots. No mood lighting or lipstick here.
Filed under Beauty, Exercise, Fiction, Flash fiction, Hothouse exercise, Humour, My Book, Political Writing, Sex, Weight Loss, Women/Feminist, Writing
I can’t believe Christmas is only 4 days away! Christmas without family this year holds both joys and sadness’s. All the family on my Mum’s side will be gathering in Perth, so I’m disappointed I won’t be there for the reunion. I’m also disappointed I won’t be seeing my Grandmother and my sister, brother-in-law and nephews as they’ll also be home for Christmas and staying with Dad this year. On the plus side, there’s none of that usual Christmas stress and madness and we get to spend the day with friends, which we’re really looking forward to. We’re also looking forward to a fabulous Christmas lunch at Balzari, our favourite Italian restaurant!
Our first year in Melbourne has flown by, with its fair share of ups and downs over the year. And now I’m so so desperate for this wee break I have over Christmas because, apart from needing to relax and spend some giggle time with CJ and my new friends, I have a few things I really need to mull over. On top of that I really want to spend some time writing my own stuff – a luxury that has mostly eluded me since September.
Another thing I want to do is get back to my Numerology work as it’s incredibly fulfilling and I was just getting into it and getting a good number of clients before we left Perth to come here and since being here I’ve hardly done any charts at all.
Anyway, two and a half more days of work and then 11 days off! Woot!
And so I leave you with a New Year musing:
Whatever you do in 2010, make it authentic. If it doesn’t feel right to you, then it probably isn’t. Whatever you say in 2010, remember that your voice creates your reality. If you say it, you will make it so, maybe not now, but eventually. You are that powerful in your own life. Whatever you choose to focus your energy on in 2010, make it a noble choice. Remember that advocating for equality and social responsibility is as noble as picking up dog poop and putting it in a little yellow bag. Whatever your choices are for the coming year, have gratitude in your heart that you are here and you are able to make them.
I can’t believe I’ve been in Melbourne 10 months. 10 months! It’s flown by, it really has. Let’s have a wee recap of what’s happened in that time shall we?
- We arrived to one of the biggest deluges Melbourne’s seen in many years. The connection between the house and the power-lines short circuited in a dramatic light show and we wondered if our first night in Melbourne may also be our last night on this earth. Talk about arrive with a bang.
- We spent Christmas in Bermagui where I was visited by a gastro bug and couldn’t eat anything. (Yes, this is a BIG deal. We also vowed never to take a train that far, ever again.)
- We survived the summer heatwave and tragic fires.
- I spent an entire 45 degree day at the Sun Cinema and watched 5 movies in a row.
- We made friends with our landlord and his Mum, who continue to bring mouth-watering Greek sweets to our back door at regular intervals.
- I became a redhead.
- I started writing short stories.
- CJ and I went on a coffee scavenger hunt through the city as part of the Food & Wine Festival in 40 degree heat, half having fun and half wondering why the hell we didn’t just quit and have a cold drink in the nearest pub.
- (The answer to the above has something to do with CJ’s competitiveness…)
- My Mum arrived to celebrate our birthdays and took me on my first Melbourne shopping spree. (Yes yes, CJ and I are birthday buddies as well as husband and wife; it’s so hard to decide who has to pamper who that we have to have Mum fly over to do it for us.)
- I’ve had three trips to Canberra to see my sister and brother-in-law and gorgeous nephew (now nephews).
- I won the Ada Cambridge Prize for biographical short fiction. Woot!
- My Dad and step mum stayed with us for 4 days and we found out how dire the Docklands really is.
- I experienced several LMAO experiences reviewing the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and had my first celebrity spotting in one Mr. Guy Pearce.
- I went on my second Melbourne Shopping spree, compliments of KRudd.
- I applied for a gazillion jobs and got one at Fernwood as a weight-loss coach.
- I got rid of the red hair (what was I thinking?) and went the big chop.
- I took on the job as blog manager for the new Varuna Alumni Writer’s Blog.
- I had a giggling attack in the middle of interviewing Martin Short.
- This blog turned two!
- I spoke at a panel discussion at the Emerging Writers’ Festival and loved it.
- I found an Osteopath so remarkable she literally changed my life in 2 sessions.
- I was given a place at the Overland Master Class for Progressive Writers and had a fabulous weekend being terribly subversive in the bowels of the Trades Union Hall in Carlton.
- I met the wonderful Kate Kennedy.
- I met two amazing women who’ve fast become my best friends in Melbourne, who, luckily for me, live two streets away!
- Beat got rejected again… and again… and again…
- Celebrity spotting #2: James Nesbitt at Crown Casino.
- Started yoga. Love it.
- My best friend from Perth came for a weekend visit and we talked non-stop for 48 hours.
- CJ and I discovered our favourite (so far) Melbourne restaurant.
- Attended my first lesbian engagement party, replete with furry handcuffs and inappropriate drunk groping.
- Attended my first book launch.
- I became a twitterer (for better or worse).
- I attended the Davitt Awards with my buddy and award winner Katherine Howell.
- CJ and I had a fabulous holiday in Bermagui (gastro and train free this time).
- I lost hours of my life to the Six Feet Under box set.
- I’ve blogged about pee sticks and am still yet to be visited by a stork. Or is it the stork? Maybe that’s why it’s taking so long – there’s only one. The poor bastard.
- I started a new job as a speech writer/editor, predominantly writing for the Deputy and Lord Mayor of Melbourne.
- I became a poetry reviewer for the first time, reviewing for the Overload Poetry Festival for the Overland blog (and earned myself an enemy in the form of an angry elf).
- CJ’s parent’s came for a visit and we finally went to the Yarra Valley and took a fabulous drive down Great Ocean Road.
- I interviewed a 95 year old woman for an article and she couldn’t remember anything at all about her life… like, nothing. Made for a riveting article…
- I’m currently having a great time reviewing the Melbourne Fringe Festival and very much looking forward to the Melbourne International Arts Festival.
- I miss my family like mad.
- I’m happily awaiting the launch of the Emerging Writers’ Festival Reader on October 12, because finally someone decided not to reject my short fiction.
- I’ve just cyber-met an amazing woman. Check out her blog when you get a minute and read her story.
- There’s more, I know, but it’s late and I’m full of dark mint chocolate and $60 a kilo Peruvian coffee and no doubt you’re all asleep by now anyway…
- In retrospect, I guess it’s been quite a ride thus far!
Filed under Book Launch, Books, Crime Fiction, Davitt Award, Editing, Emerging Writers' Festival, Exercise, Family, Festivals, Fiction, Flash fiction, Health, Katherine Howell, Love, Melbourne, Motherhood, My Book, Overload Poetry Festival, Performance Poetry, Perth, Poetry, Political Writing, Reading, Review, Sex, Short Stories, Speech Writing, Submission, Theatre, Writing
Ok, so I’m completely sick of rejections. Like. A lot. I recently underwent the frustration of a noted journal asking to see a particular story, showing enthusiasm for said story, then emailing to tell me they loved the story but had no room for it. I guess they didn’t love it that much after-all. Sigh. I know it’s all part of the ebb and flow. But currently I’m ebbing so far backwards I’m about to hit Tasmania. What to do?
The past month has been taken up entirely with my new job, finishing the old job and a visit from family. There has been no writing apart from speeches and forewords. The process of turning my novel into a novella has thus far only managed to fill me with dread and I’m pretty confident all I’ve managed to do is make it worse.
Hence my decision to start the next book. It feels good. The plan for it is already well under way. The first chapter is complete and the ideas are brewing nicely. I know I’ll come back to the first one. There’s so much in it I love. It’s not an easy thing, abandoning your baby. But if you love something… you know the drill.