Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Prompting ideas

'where ideas come from' natalie dee

Ideas for writing come from all sorts of places, but it is something that I have always struggled with - finding good ideas for writing. That's why I love prompts - especially Fiction Friday over at the Write Stuff website. Left to my own devices - I would probably write very little - I would always be searching for the 'perfect idea' and let's be honest - there is no perfect idea. Prompts bypass the need (for me, at least) to be perfect ... and they really challenge me to trust in the process - that plot and characters will come to me ... eventually.

Sometimes it's a light bulb moment - I know immediately when I read the prompt what I am going to write (this was the case with Untitled last week). Sometimes twists and turns take me away from the original idea, but it comes with ease. These are the weeks that I relish. Other times I'm more like an unlucky fisherman, continually casting and dragging in nothing but a slightly nibbled piece of bait. It's then that I really begin the freak out process, lose faith in my abilities as a story teller. After all being able to write down a story in a unique, logical, cohesive and readable manner is only part of the gift of a writer - you first have to come up with the idea which you want to put down and explore with your reader.

In moments of extreme creative drought I've turned to my writing oracle. Women Who Run With Wolves is a feminist psychoanalytic exploration of fairy stories - mainly very old ones to do with women's rites of passages. When I first got it (a wonderful $10 buy at bookstore that helps to support a women's shelter in Cairns) and began reading, a friend told me that it could be used for bibliomancy. That is, you can hold a problem in your head, open to a page and find some wisdom to mull over. More recently my soul sister told me that she'd it in the same way as a writing oracle.

Since learning of this useful trick I've turned to it twice. Haefestus came from its use (I now can't remember which story in the book it came from ) and more recently Demon Lover (from the a paragraph in Red Shoes). It's a good fall back, when the the flow of ideas dams or dries up. I've noticed that the harder the idea is to come by - the greater the sense of achievement I feel when it is finally laid down. Sometimes I think that really challenging stories are the best ones that I write.

Julia Cameron suggests that if you're stuck or blocked to mend a piece of clothing or to bake something - the physical process of fixing and mixing works at a creative/unconscious level. I haven't tried either of these ways yet - but it's always good to have some extra untried tricks for when you're really desperate. I've find ideas bubble to the surface when I'm hanging out washing, enjoying a shower, driving in the car or walking - mundane, everyday, repeative things that still the mind. I've also found on the odd occasions that I've been let out of an icky plot spot when I've laid down with Dylan as part of his bedtime routine. Bye Baby Bunting was 'fixed' on one of those evenings.

I think I'll add these collection of 'tricks' to my writer's red, three-level tool box, that Stephen King talks of in 'On Writing'. You never know when you may need a helping hand.

What tricks do you use to feret out ideas for writing? How do you keep the creative juices flowing, and your ideas alive and brilliant?

Gardening the ideas


" We must learn not to pull our ideas up by the roots to see if they are growing."
Julia Cameron - The Artist's Way

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Julia Cameron on the growth of ideas ..

Marakoopa Caves - Western Tasmania
copyright Jodi Cleghon 2008

The best way to raise ideas is:

  • let them grow in the dark

  • let them form on the roof of our consciousness

  • let them hit the page in droplets

Trusting this slow and seemingly randow drip, we will be startled one day by the flash of "Oh! That's it."

Whats on your Shelf

Continuing on with the theme of books ... I've taken photos of the two shelves of books that I walk past everyday (as they're on eye height on the way to the kitchen).

Do you have a favourite shelf ... or a secret pile of books (because there is one of those on our bedroom floor belonging to Dave!) that you would care to share with us?

Bonus points for the first correct guess on this question as to the owner of 'EveryMan' (the one with the bright purple skin) - Dave or my good self?

Clicking on the actual photos will blow them up to the size of your whole screen - in case your particularly curious!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Books, books, books: part two

Below is Waterstone Book Stores choice of the greatest novel from each year from 1900-1998. And it’s interesting to compare lists – this list, to the list of unread books on Paul’s blog and that of the Waterstone’s 100 most popular books. (I should also add that this ‘toast’ seems to be a very Anglo-centric list with only a few novels that don’t fit this mold).

Sadly, although I have read many novels by authors on this list (such as Huxley, Steinbeck and Maugham) and have others in our bookshelf (Wind in the Willows, Sons and Lovers, and The Remains of the Day to name a few), I have only actually read TWO on this list – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Nineteen Eighty-Four. I do far better on Paul’s list of books that sit on a shelf to make you look smart and interesting.

And that I find it a weird quirk of human behaviour. Why buy a book that you never intend to read? Yes, there are probably at least fifty to a hundred books in our bookshelves that have not been read yet, but they are there with the intention of being read some day. I would never buy a book to just put it there … or to impress someone.

What would happen is someone asked if I had read [insert novel name]? I’d go red and my nose would itch as I tried to concoct some type of half truth (I’m the world’s worst liar – thus the blush and give away ‘your nose will grow if you lie nose thing’ I do when I’m not being entirely honest). What do people who have these books on their shelves for the specific intention of creating a false persona say when others ask after their collection of books?

I’m rather proud of our collection of books (one day we aspire to have an actual library in our home – complete with the groovy sliding ladder that moves you from case to case). The majority of the ‘good ones’ belong to my partner who reads only highbrow literature (I’m not sure what he actually calls it though). I’ve always been more interested in a cracking yarn (Clive Cussler and Wilbur Smith etc) than something that expands the horizons of my mind. In my defence I have read in my time some ‘literature’ of my own accord (as in not because it had to be read for school) ‘Of Human Bondage’ the most poignant because of the juxtaposition of the story and my life as an employee on a cruiseboat at the time of reading. There may be changes afood though.

My partner raised an eyebrow when I asked over the weekend if we had Crime and Punishment. And that’s just the beginning. From the list below there is any number of books that I want to read one day … it’s just a matter of time. And that’s the thing about committing to writing … committing to reading.

I set myself the goal of reading a book a month this year. I wanted to set a number that committed me in a way that was achievable – after all, there is still writing to do and a family to take care of.

In January I managed to read the 600+ pages of Wild Swans which told me that I have it in me. It meant turning the computer off at night in January, rather than being sucked down into mindless internet surfing. I took my book with me wherever I went incase there was a chance to sneak in a page or two while I was waiting somewhere. I even chose to just go out for coffee and a read as one of my Artist Dates. And I managed to get through all 600+ which was a great way to open the year.

This month I have managed to read two books, so I’ve decided to raise the bar a little – two books a month? Why not! And having said that, my battery is about to run out of oomph, so it’s off to continue with Gerald Seymour’s The Unknown Solider, my Dad’s addition to my reading list for this year and perhaps the last cracking good yarn for a while.

How many on this list have you read? How many do you intend to read ‘one day’? What ones are noticeably absent (the first to spring to mind is To Kill a Mockingbird)?

Feel free to copy and post the list to your own blog but please link back here – even if it’s just to honour the time it took to type this list up from the photocopied list gifted to me by Annie gave me. As to how the list came about - I don't know. I can't find a reference to it on the web.

TOAST OF THE CENTURY - Waterstone Bookstores
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – Frank L Baum

Kim – Rudyard Kipling

The Hounds of Baskerville – Conan Doyle

The Riddle of Sands – Erskine Childers

The Golden Bowl – Henry James

Kipps – HG Wells

The Railway Children – Edith Nesbit

The Secret Agent – Joseph Conrad

The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahme

Tono-Bungay – HG Wells

Howards End – EM Forster

In a German Prison – Katherine Mansfield

‘Twist Land and Sea – Joseph Conrad

Sons and Lovers – DH Lawrence

The Ragged Trousered Philantropist – Robert Tressel

The Good Solider – Ford Madow Ford

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man – James Joyce

Uneasy Money – PG Wodehouse

Return of the Solider – Rebecca West

The Moon and Sixpence – Somerset Maugham

The Age of Innocence – Edith Wharton

Crome Yellow – Aldous Huxley

Ulysses – James Joyce

Riceyman Steps – Arnold Bennett

A Passage to India – EM Forster

The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald

Winne-The-Pooh – AA Milne

The Lighthouse -Virginia Woolf

Decline and Fall – Evelyn Waugh

A Farewell to Arms – Ernest Hemminway

Strong Poison – Dorothy L Sayers

The Waves – Virginia Woolf

Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

Love on the Dole – Walter Greenwood

Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie

Mr Norris Changes Trains – Christopher Isherwood

Absalom!Absalom! – William Faulkner

Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

Brighton Rock – Graham Green

At Swim-two-Birds – Flann O’Brien

Farwell My Lovely – Raymond Chandler

Hangover Square – Patrick Hamilton

The Robber Bridegroom – Eudora Welty

The Last Summer – Kate O’Brien

Fair Stood the Wind for France – H E Bates

Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh

The Member of the Wedding – Carson McCullers

Whisky Galore – Compton MacKenzie

The Naked and the Dear – Norman Mailer

Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis

The Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

The Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison

Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury

Lord of the Flies – William Golding

Lolita – Vladimir Nabakov

The Talented Mr Ripley – Patricia Highsmith

On the Road – Jack Kerouac

The Saturday Night and Sunday Morning – Alan Sillitoe

The Naked Lunch – William Burroughs

Rabbit Run – John Updike

Catch-22 – Joseph Heller

A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – Ian Fleming

The Wapshot Chronicle – John Cleever

An American Dream – Norman Mailer

The Magus – John Fowles

The Magic Toyshop – Angela Carter

A Fan’s Notes – Fredrick Exley

Portnoy’s Complaint – Phillip Roth

The Vivisector – Patrick White

Something Happened – Joseph Heller

Bird of Night – Susan Hill

Fear of Flying – Erica Jong

The War Between the Tates – Alison Lurie

Changing Places – David Lodge

SAville – David Storey

Staying On - Paul Scott

Tales of the City – Armistead Maupin

Treasures of Time – Penelope Lively

Earthy Powers – Anthony Burgess

Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie

Lanark – Alasdair Gray

Waterland – Graham Swift

Money – Martin Amis

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

Bonfires of the Vanities – Tom Wolfe

Oscar and Lucinda – Peter Carey

The Remains Of The Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

The Buddha of Suburbia – Hanif Kureishi

The Famished Road – Ben Okri

The Secret History – Donna Tartt

The Shipping News – E Annie Proulx

The Stone Diaries – Carol Shields

Behind the Scenes at The Museum – Kate Atkinson

Everyman for Himself – Beryl Bainbridge

Enduring Love – Ian McEwan

Underworld – Don DeLillo

Books, books, books: part one

This is a list of 106 books that people have bought but have never got around to reading. Never one to mince his words Paul Anderson (where I got the list from - sorry Paul I'm having linking issues that I will try and resolve!) comments “Literary ornaments to make you look smart in other words.” Strangely enough, I’ve read more on this list than on the Toasts of the Century! And yes, I do believe that there would be a number of different books on here should the list have been compiled in Australia. Books that readily jump to mind would be ‘For The Term of his Natural Life’ and ‘My Brilliant Career’

To understand, the books that I have read are in bold, those that live in our home but I’ve never read (ie belong to Dave and he’s read them) are in italics. I have underlined those books that I would like to read and currently don't own.

  • Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
  • Anna Karenina (Dave is actually reading this at the moment)
  • Crime and Punishment
  • Catch-22
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude
  • Wuthering Heights
  • The Silmarillion
  • Life of Pi : a novel
  • The Name of the Rose (I did begin this last year after years of wanting to. The three page description of the chapel door near the start tripped my boredom/literary wanking tolerance and I put it back on the shelf. He knew too much and didn’t know what to leave out. Sad to say we got the movie out instead during the Christmas Holidays!)
  • Don Quixote
  • Moby Dick
  • Ulysses (but we have other James Joyce lying about)
  • Madame Bovary
  • The Odyssey
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Jane Eyre
  • The Tale of Two Cities
  • The Brothers Karamazov (the first book – Dave’s never been able to find Part Two)
  • Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
  • War and Peace
  • Vanity Fair
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife (on Paul’s recommendations this sounds very interesting)
  • The Iliad
  • Emma
  • The Blind Assassin
  • The Kite Runner
  • Mrs. Dalloway
  • Great Expectations (because I’ve seen just about every movie/mini series/tv adaptation and I should at least read one Dickens in my life!)
  • American Gods
  • A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
  • Atlas Shrugged
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
  • Memoirs of a Geisha (we saw the movie a few years ago and I have always meant to read it and decide whether the movie was a good or bad adaptation)
  • Middlesex
  • Quicksilver
  • Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West (is this what the musical Wicked is based on? Bonus points for someone who can answer me that!)
  • The Canterbury Tales
  • The Historian : a novel
  • A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
  • Love in the Time of Cholera
  • Brave New World (I read this for school – but I recently went back and started to read it again – sad to say that I haven’t finished it though, which is pathetic given that its not a long book. I also have Brave New World Revisited (1959) – which is Huxley’s review of history against his 1932 classic. His references to ‘herd poisoning’ in regards to Hitler and the use of propaganda have real bearings on our life today. A must read once you’ve tackled Brave New World)
  • The Fountainhead
  • Foucault’s Pendulum
  • Middlemarch
  • Frankenstein (picked up for $2 on a throw out table at the Fossey’s Variety Store in Forbes NSW and read in various wheat fields on the steps of a combine harvester in 1996. I love how the story came about – quoted from the preface of my book “The idea for Frankenstein came from Mary Shelley in a half-walking nightmare in the summer of 1816. She had been staying with her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron on the shores of Lake Geneva when at Byron’s suggestion they were all challenged to make up a ghost story. Percy Bysshe Shelley is a distant relative of Dave and is noted as being a ‘black sheep of the family’.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo
  • Dracula (read in 1993 in a very old share house in Ballarat, in rooms that were pitch black and ice cold at night. This was not long after the movie with Gary Oldman came out – though I did read the book first! I exploded a can of condensed milk, in the process of making caramel, while reading this. Thus I’ll never forget reading it and scraping the caramel off the micro Venetian blinds in the kitchen. My Dad brought the ladder over and scrapped it off the ceiling.)
  • A Clockwork Orange (seen the movie)
  • Anansi Boys
  • The Once and Future King
  • The Grapes of Wrath (I read this while I was pregnant with Dylan and the final scene of the book haunted me in those early weeks of breastfeeding. It was also one of the seminal exposures of breastfeeding in strange circumstances that made a huge impact on me. I’ve just finished reading East of Eden and would love to re-read Grapes again.)
  • The Poisonwood Bible : a novel
  • 1984 (I read my Dad’s old Penguin copy some stage in my early 20’s. I’d seen the movie when I was in my late teens and it was a book that I always intended to read. Big Brother will always been all about Orwell for me!)
  • Angels & Demons
  • The Inferno
  • The Satanic Verses
  • Sense and Sensibility
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray (bought on that same throw out table and read before Frankenstein. I had seen the movie in my teens and the book did not disappoint. It’s another of those books that has always stayed with me.)
  • Mansfield Park
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (seen the movie)
  • To the Lighthouse
  • Tess of the D’Urbervilles
  • Oliver Twist
  • Gulliver’s Travels
  • Les Misérables
  • The Corrections
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
  • Dune
  • The Prince
  • The Sound and the Fury
  • Angela’s Ashes : a memoir (I think my mother has this book now. It was a birthday present for my 25th birthday and I read it almost in one sitting. I will never forget the pig’s cheeks for Christmas lunch, nor the sugar water in the baby’s bottles. I’ve never laughed and cried so much, nor been so trusting in the human spirit to always rise up.)
  • The God of Small Things
  • A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
  • Cryptonomicon
  • Neverwhere
  • A Confederacy of Dunces
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything (I’ve read Tales from a Small Island and loved it – plus love the back of Down Under because – yes – I’ve been to that service station in the town of Hay … and I know just what the dudes who work there were like!)
  • Dubliners
  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being
  • Beloved
  • Slaughterhouse-five
  • The Scarlet Letter
  • Eats, Shoots & Leaves
  • The Mists of Avalon (this was my first exposure to paganism and the goddess religions and it stuck with me – you could say it planted the seeds that lay dormant for quite a few years, until motherhood allowed them to shoot. I’ve gone on to read a number of her books – and do intend to go back and read Mists again some time soon.)
  • Oryx and Crake : a novel
  • Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
  • Cloud Atlas
  • The Confusion
  • Lolita I cant help but want to know what the book is like – knowing all the controversy that surrounded the movie that came out in the late 90’s. I found the movie both compelling and confronting – and wondering where the book might push me)
  • Persuasion
  • Northanger Abbey
  • The Catcher in the Rye
  • On the Road
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  • Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values
  • The Aeneid
  • Watership Down
  • Gravity’s Rainbow
  • The Hobbit (read when I was a teenager and I don’t remember ANY of it! I have since read The Lord of the Rings)
  • In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
  • White Teeth
  • Treasure Island (an abridged young adults version – at a time when I was reading some HG Wells as well – all bought from the little supermarket in our dodgey little country town!)
  • David Copperfield (seen the movie – not too keen to read the book)
  • The Three Musketeers

And you?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Say it on Saturday

I have posted a short airing of my thoughts on the subject of failure over at Write Stuff, if any of you care of mosey on over and have a read. If not I will post it below tomorrow evening.

And yes - there will be holiday snaps and stories up here shortly.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday Fiction:Untitled

This Week’s Theme: Someone buys a dresser at a yard sale. When they get home there is a roll of film taped to the underside of one of the drawers. What happens next?

I don’t remember that we exactly argued about the dressing table but I did quite strongly suggest that we didn’t need it. Marty said at the time, and I couldn’t believe that he wasn’t kidding around, that we could take a course in furniture restoration together.
“It sounds like fun,” he quipped at the end and smiled his crooked smile.

I looked in disbelief at the man I been married to for the past ten years, who secretly took manicures to keep his hands perfect. There seemed no sense in him wanting to dirty those perfectly pampered fingers – strippers, vanishes, sandpaper and the likes. But he was adamant and when he dug in, there was no point in me trying to sway him. That was the way it went sometimes. I always joked to my friends that it was how we ended up married – he was just not going to take no for an answer. And so we bought the dark wood dresser.

We had to beg a lend of the next door neighbour’s ute to get the dresser back. Barbara looked at me with her own version of astonishment. As we drove back to collect it up, I could imagine her and Tony out in the front yard pulling weeds and gossiping that Marty had entered his mid-life crisis a few years early. I could almost hear the conversation word for word since I accidentally eavesdropped a discussion about us when I went out to do a spot of gardening one Saturday. Marty had taken the car out and I guess they thought I had gone with him – he rarely went out alone on the weekend. Barbara tut tutted and Tony tried to keep the jealousy out of his voice. I know he wished they paid someone to do their lawns and gardens too. But we were childless – barren, and could afford such luxuries. It still stung hearing that charge.

“Do you want me to turn off the air con?”
“You sure - you shivered.”
“I’m fine. Someone must have walked over my grave.”

Tony had a thrown a couple of ropes into the tray to tie in the dressing table. He was the practical dependable type of guy that Marty wasn’t. I missed the canister as Marty and I struggled to put the dresser into the tray and then secure it. It was only as Marty was swearing, trying to undo the knots in our garage that I spied it.

“We should take it back to the bloke who sold it to us,” Marty said, in between curses. He had many infuriating idiosyncrasies, but his honesty wasn’t one. He’d cracked a nail and I was wondering if the romance of furniture restoration had been a passing one, having died a quick and relatively painless death.
“We bought it along with the table.”
“I’m sure he didn’t mean to sell it to us. An honest mistake.”
“What if he was hiding it from someone?”
“What if someone was hiding it from him?”
“Wouldn’t you want to know what was on it?”
“I think some things are best left unknown.”

I took over from untangling the knots in the ropes.
“Perhaps I’ll drop it for processing tomorrow,” he said changing tack, “and then we can decide what to do with the photos then.”
“But wont whoever took the photos know that we know then.”
“I never thought of that. I think I’ll just toss it in the garbage, and it will be like we never had it.”

And I thought that was the end of it – one of our less painful decision-making processes. Then they knocked at my door the following evening. I was out the back putting on a load of washing when the doorbell rang. My heart froze when I opened the door.
“Mrs Dennings?” the one on the left asked.
I nodded mutely and the rest of what he said came out distorted, as if someone had hit the slow-mo button.

It was weeks later that Rabbit Photos called about the film. It was only then that I remembered the dressing table – the one we’d bought the afternoon before Marty was killed. Instead of throwing out the roll of film he’d taken it in to be processed. I wasn’t ready to leave the house nor was I prepared to say out loud ‘Sorry Marty’s dead.’ Somehow I managed to keep my voice steady and thank her. I said that someone would be in to pick the photos up soon.

They rang three times before I went in. I’m not sure why I even bothered because they weren’t our photos in the first place. I could have asked Barbara to collect them but I didn’t. I felt like I had already asked too much of her and now she tut tutted to my face. Finally I drove myself the three kilometres to the shopping centre and spared myself the inconvenience of awkward questions.

“Please accept our condolences,” the manager said as I handed over the twenty dollar note and waited for the change.

I’d grown so used to those words that I nodded without thinking, kept my eyes lowered and accepted the envelope without again making eye contact. To do so would admit Marty was gone and I still wasn’t ready for that. Later as I pulled into the garage I realised it was an odd thing for them to say. I wondered if I had “widow” playing across my forehead in neon now.

From the shopping centre I drove straight to the next suburb to the house where we’d bought the dressing table. A real estate agent was knocking the For Sale sign loose of the front lawn with the insides of his over polished black shoes. He looked like an ungainly kid practising his soccer moves. A large SOLD sticker slashed the sign and I didn’t bother to get out.

When Marty was alive I had always decisive. I had to be, because he was prone to indecisiveness. My mother had been less kind when she’d said, “Martin is a ditherer love – you’ll have to wear the pants in the partnership or you'll spend your whole life going around in circle.” And I had. As I sat at the kitchen table with the photo pocket in my hand I didn’t know what to do – look at them, now or later? Put them away, throw them away – invite Barbara over to look through them?

I was glad that Martin had finally done something off his own back and made a decision. I smiled for the first time in weeks. He’d worn the pants for once. It never occurred to me until many years later that he would never have been on that damn roundabout that afternoon, if we'd never found that canister.

The smile faded when I took out the first photograph, blinking first, and then choking on the air that I was trying to force down my lungs. My hands shook as I laid them out one by one in front of me, side by side and then one on top of the other when I ran out of table space. Any sense of logic I’d had was suspended in time and space - and I still dont know now. I would have believed it was a sick joke had it not been for the date and time digitally stamped on the back of each photo, in addition to the handwritten date on the envelope they had come in.

The film had never been ours – we’d bought it with the dresser. Yet somehow, Marty was dead – dead in all twenty-four of the photos.
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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Good versus Evil - postponed

"The Dance of Good and Evil" by Curtis Verdun

My intention today was to try and put down the myriad of thoughts that have been swirling through my head since I finished East of Eden this morning - mostly about the theme of good and evil. However, life often gets in the way and I have had a request from a publishing friend to write an emergency article to fill a spot in the inaugral edition of her magazine ... so a homebirth article writing I go ... Steinbeck can wait another day.

Until then - who is your favourite characters of good and evil? And is the dichotomy too simplistic?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Good-bye .... hello!

"You say good-bye ... and I say hello"

I love the way holidays act like mini life endings. When you come back even though the furniture may still be where you left it, the curtains still sitting on your bureau waiting to be hemmed and hung, and there's green slime lining the pool - just as you left it, nothing ever really is exactly the same. You've changed inside.

Before I became a parent, I never really took holidays. In 1995 I went to Sydney for a week with a friend of mine. It wasn't a complete disaster, but the whole experience left a pretty bad taste in my mouth. Then in 2001, after I quit my job I took an extended holiday to Victoria and then into New South Wales. It gave me a new perspective on life and I came back refreshed and ready to launch into a new career as a university student.

Now each time we take a break (and this was our first ever big family holiday, exploring somewhere other than the known terrains of where our families live) we seem to come back charged, better connected to each other. I know for sure that I have more patience and this time I'm seeking out ways to keep it. I hope that I have the tenacity, patience and ingenuity to keep this reconnection to famiy alive and evolving in the months to come.

My new boots, written about in my final post before going away, and now broken in and looking well worn. It was an interesting way for me to reflect both forwards and backwards on life. The very first day I wore them - you guess it, blisters!! Well to be brutally honest - one had gone beyond the phase of blistering and it was a lovely weeping open sore. I didn't take another pair of shoes with me, so I had to find ways of getting around in them. Whilst not freezing, it wasn't appropriate to get around without shoes on.

The first full day in Tassie, I relented and bought strapping tape, my save old remedy for blistering/sore feet. This reminded me of my months working on a cruise boat, with a pair of shoes that just never broke in and softened, and the lovely mess of tattered strapping tape that would adorn my heels for the week or more that I was aboard. This time, with the tape over the bandaids - my feet were in agony. The second day we were there, I noticed that Dave didn't always do up his hiking boots ... and thus we went into slipper-boot mode. For days I wandered around with bandaids on my heels and my boots undone. It went from being bareable to being comfortable and my feet slowly healed.

Then my heels were healed enough - just as the bandaids ran out, to put the strapping tape on them. Next I could do my boots up. Finally 8 days into our trip, I took the two hours hike around Dove Lake, at the foot of Cradle Mountain, with my boots done up and no pain.

It got me thinking about what its like to adopt new beliefs, or to let go of old beliefs. It's damn painful. You build a little blister like cocoon around yourself to allow the assimilation/metamorphosis to take place - somewhere to feel safe, warm, wet and womblike. I know that the cocoon that I built around myself in pregnancy was a pretty tough one - my decision to birth my baby at home, put me on the defensive with family and friends. I realise now that I probably did become a bit of a zealot as well. The next cocoon that came was the one that was built for me by the early motherhood and this is where I am at.

Now I'm shedding this skin and trying to work through what I want to keep and what I want to let go of. Even after this holiday I am still in my cocoon and keen to be here a little longer - perhaps a whole while longer. It seems I've been here all year.

Going back to be in the town that I spent my teenage years in, including a night where we spent our holidays, bought lots of ghosts up, lots of untouched and unexamined feelings. More feelings and deep senses of shame that were long buried .. but there were also lots of good memories brought up.

I'm trying to get the best of the old me, and the new me, to create the next evolution of myself.I know that you can't help take the worst of you along also - but I'm hoping that for once it will be tempered somewhat ... which brings me to glance up at the card of Temperance that I have had on my wall for almost a year now ..'balance, harmony, truth'. These are what I want to believe in now, strive for, to bring to each breathe of my life. The next step on the path of my year of authenticity.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

These Shoes ....

The script that I am writing (developing?) for Script Frenzy has foundations in the fairy tale of 'The Red Shoes'. In her deconstruction of the story Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes (in Women Who Run With Wolves) talks about the symbolism of shoes.

She suggests that shoes are a way of recognising one type of person from another - that shoes tell something of who we are as a person, and who we are aspiring to me. I find this really interesting, because I am a proclamed 'non shoe-ist' ... that is I love to go barefoot. Shoes, apparently were what separated (at one level) master and slave - the master had money, position, status and shoes! Puts a whole new spin on the term 'barefoot and pregnant'. Whilst not exactly 'pregnant' for the past four years, my love affair with barefeet has reached a peak during these seminal years of mothering. Is this a symoblic?

Dr Estes goes on to say that symbolically shoes protect and defend our feet - that is our mobility and freedom. Which makes me muse, as to whether I've needed to protect my mobility or freedom, or whether all these years I've been trying to fashion my own version of mobility and freedom (walking my own walk so to speak?) ... as both these concepts/themes have been, and continue to be, very important in my life, though motherhood has brought a whole new plethora of challenges to ideas or desire concerning them.

So a new pair of shoes? A new conviction for my beliefs and the energy to act on them?

I finally got myself a pair of hiking boots yesterday. A lovely shiny black pair that I am sure will be very well used in a week's time. Until recently I always wore boots. I'm a practical woman and boots are practical footwear - I am sure that no one would argue that. Not necessarily convenient - buyt practical. My last pair of 'practical boots' fell to bits around the same time that I met my partner - I remember the slap of the left sole on the wooden boards of the verandah out the front of his office at uni. So this feels like a returning to my self.

It seems to be symbolic in a way of trying to merge the best of the 'old' (that's before child) with the 'new' (afer child) to create the me that sits in the here and the now. The woman who is a writer, a mother, a partner ... a new pair of boots to negotiate both the inner and outer terrains?

I'm sure that there are many adventures awaiting in the Tasmania - and I'm sure that it will be another turning point (just as our trip to the mountains was last August). I'm ready to begin negotiating the last steps of metamorphosis, to step into my authenticity.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

And they're off and running

Script Frenzy started today and I got off the mark with seven pages. It's quite twisted and strange after NaNo and a completely different writing style. It really is the bare bones. I've always had an affinity for dialogue, so one would think that I'd be in my element, but I'm at present finding it all a bit disconnected ... so we'll see how we go. At least if I can get ahead in the next day or so, then I will have a few pages up my sleeve, as we'll spend most of Thursday travelling either by plane or by car.

This is going to be a great challenge and I am glad (though I may have to eat those words a few weeks down the track) I chose to do it. It seems to be a way of indulging all those voices in my head.