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
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
My latest literary news is rather exciting, considering all the work I’m doing at the moment, setting up my new business and still working in the other job (which requires me to get up at 5am three mornings and finish at 8.30pm three evenings, blurgh) I was pretty positive there’d be no literary news for a while. It’s true that I’ve really only written one thing in quite some time, but it seems that that one thing has been short-listed for the Fish Short Story Award – an International award hailing from the UK. This year it spawned 2000 entries world-wide with a first prize haul of over $4,500. Happy. Yes. Happy. Just happy and surprised to be short-listed to be honest. The story wrote itself very quickly and had very little editing because I liked it so much as it was, which really isn’t the way it should be or normally is, but there you have it.
In other literary news, I’ve had some great feedback on another short story from a Melbourne literary journal, who said it’s “beautifully expressed and extremely moving” but would like to see a longer draft. It’s always great to get feedback with a rejection and even greater to get an offer to look at something again. I guess I better get back to it then!
My new business venture is going well. I had my first full week in my new healing room last week and thoroughly enjoyed being in it. It will take time to get it cranking, but I’m pretty happy I almost broke even in my first week!
Filed under Australia, Criticism, Editing, Fiction, Health, Melbourne, Numerology, Reading, Short Stories, Submission, Writing
Got up at 5am.
Between 6-11am coached a handful of women to rethink their eating choices, stay on track, or scare the bejesus out of them.
Shook my head in disbelief that Tony Abbott really could be that dumb, chauvinistic and hypocritical.
Watched an excited and talented Chinese tennis player tell Australia that today was her bestest day in her whole life.
Received some kindly pummelling from my Osteopath who lectured me (kindly) about my spleen.
Posted a short story to Meanjin (what? a girl can dream!).
Procured my first ever significant eBay buy: a glorious deep green Chesterfield tub chair.
Had a coffee with a girlfriend at the local chocolate café and managed to avoid eating any chocolate.
Meditated and wrote in my journal.
Attempted to sort out my mother’s IT problems via phone to WA.
Stared at my new Chesterfield online and daydreamed about sitting in it (and wondering how I’d squeeze through the front door).
Realised that I didn’t achieve all that much really, but had fun doing it!
Filed under Australia, Fiction, Food, Friends, Health, Melbourne, Perth, Short Stories, Submission, Weight Loss, Women/Feminist, Writing
So, 2010 is going to be a big year for a lot of people (I’m a Numerologist, you just have to trust me on this one), me included. So far this year I have quit my job and am contemplating starting my own business. See? Yes, I finish up in the speech writing job at the end of this week. I gave it four months and that was long enough to know it wasn’t for me. I’m very glad I had the opportunity to do it, as now I know I don’t want to write for a living unless it’s fiction or I’m writing about health/natural healing/numerology etc. I’ve spent many years wondering if I should get a ‘proper’ writing job and now I’ve had one I know it’s not for me. Good to know.
So now what? Well, as it turns out, my old boss was thrilled I was available again and has reinstated me as the weight loss coach to her poor unsuspecting clients once more. Won’t THEY be happy to see me back? [insert evil laugh here] On top of that I am currently investigating a business opportunity in a new wellness centre near us and will keep you duly posted about that.
I’ve been spending much more time doing Numerology readings for people than writing recently, BUT I can give you the happy news that a wonderful literary journal in Melbourne has accepted one of my short stories. Woot! I’ll be letting you know more about that soon.
So, it looks like Into the Quiet might become all things alternative healing and writing focussed in 2010. Hope that’s alright with all y’all.
Filed under blogging, Books, Editing, Exercise, Fiction, Food, Health, Melbourne, New Year, Numerology, Short Stories, Speech Writing, Spiritual, Weight Loss, Writing
I miss my sister.
I had avocado and Vegemite on toast for breakfast.
My surname used to be Paccagnella.
I taught drama for one term once.
I want a baby.
Today I happened to look at the time on my laptop at 8.44, 9.44, 11.44 and 2.44.
I edited a 6000 word short story today.
My little toes curl right under themselves like they’re ashamed. I try to hug them, but they shrug me off.
I find it hard to believe that I’ll be 37 next year. I still feel like I’m 20.
I wrote a speech about Melbourne’s Tourism volunteers today, you know the people in the red jackets that know everything about everything.
My dad is Italian and he cooks the best spaghetti sauce you’ve ever tasted.
I miss my dad.
My fingernails are cut short so I can type faster.
When I was young all I wanted was a nose job and longer legs.
My mum has long legs.
I miss my mum.
My grandfather drowned.
I’m not much for swimming.
I’ve known my best friend for 31 years.
I can run fast.
My husband’s smile turns me inside-out.
I am nothing if not my dreams.
Filed under Art, Australia, Beauty, Boobs, Exercise, Family, Flash fiction, Humour, Inspirational, Love, Melbourne, Motherhood, Perth, Short Stories, Speech Writing, Writing
I love eavesdropping. On trains and trams, in the supermarket and the library, at the markets and in cafes and restaurants. CJ and I had a long (awful, and never to be repeated) train and bus journey from Melbourne to the south coast of NSW last year and I scribbled down an entire conversation I heard between an ebullient, self-proclaimed drug addict and dealer and his somewhat stunned (into silence) young nestlings. The drug dealer’s story was too good to be true (so very likely wasn’t), but it was the stuff writers’ dreams are made of: dramatic, unique, dark, thrilling. Did I use it? Of course I did
People intrigue me – more than politics, more than current affairs, more than the latest trends and fashions, more than science and even the arts – people get me passionate. Once I hear a snippet of conversation or see a sad expression I’m hooked, I’m dreaming up the rest of the story, giving them a name, picturing them at their highschool reunion and imagining what their bedroom looks like. I can’t help it. I’m not hanging onto that tram handle thinking about climate change and the current economic state in China. But you see, in my new job (as a speech writer predominantly for the City of Melbourne) these are exactly the things I need to be thinking about because I have to write about them and sound like I know what the hell I’m talking about. On one hand I’m struggling with this and wondering if I’m ever going to be good at it and on the other I can already see how much my writing (and my knowledge in general) is benefiting from the challenge. Challenge it is though, yes siree.
Before I sign off, I’d like to direct your attention to some great blog posts by the incredibly talented Di Jenkins at the Varuna Alumni blog. Check ‘em out. Also, I’ve had a fantastic few weeks reviewing at the Melbourne Fringe and International Arts Festivals. You can read all my reviews here if you’re interested.