Friday, January 30, 2009

[Fiction] Friday: Date with Denton

This weeks challenge:

"Pick three of your characters from different stories. They are all invited to be guests on a talk show. They are all sitting in the green room waiting for the show to start. What happens next?"

Shet looked up from the couch and the small espresso cup as the door opened. She knew there would be others joining her in the Green Room, waiting to be called up for their dialogue with Denton, but she had no idea who any of these people would be.

The woman who peeked in was tiny, short unruly bed hair that Shet guessed was fashionable. She didn’t bother to be a slave to any type of trend or style, preferring to keep her blonde hair cropped short for practicality.

“I thought it would be green.”
Shet grinned. “Yeah so did I! I hung out in the corridor for a while thinking I’d been led to the wrong room. Come in there’s coffee … or beer if that’s your thing.”

Shet was beginning to wish that she’d chosen the beer. The espresso was causing her heart to race and amplifying the nervousness. Talking from the moon back to earth via a telelink was one thing, but being invited to speak on a top rating talk show, beaming out to millions was an another.

The diminutive young woman closed the door behind her and looked around the room with the pique curiosity of a child.

“This is amazing.” She put her hand on fridge and stared for a long time at the espresso machine.
“It’s all rather archaic really.” Well it was compared to where she came from originally, but there was nothing like this on Th’Urn. And from the look on the young woman’s face there was probably nothing like it where she’d come from.

“Don’t you find all of this a bit odd?” Shet asked, getting up from the couch to put the dirty cup by the sink.
“How do you mean?”
“Coming here is like being transported to another place. Almost like I’ve gone back in time or something.”
“So you’re not from here.”
Shet shook her head. “And you?”
“No. But you speak Spanish?”

“So this would be the Green Room!” The voice silenced the existing conversation. “It looks pretty much like other Green Rooms.”

A well dressed woman strode across the room and thrust her hand at Shet.
“Senator Abigail Hamilton, but my friends call me Abby.”
Shet took her hand and shook it firmly.
“Nice to meet you Senator. Shet Harmon, recently of the colony of New Brisbane and the planet of Th’Urn.”

The Senator took a step back, her face darkening.
“I’m Ruby Mendez-Fernandos.” But the introduction fell on deaf ears. “You two look like you know each other.”
“Know of,” corrected the Senator. “What is this – a collection of NaNo – past, present and future? The producer didn’t tell me that when she booked me.”

The three women stared at each other.
“What is this NaNo you speak of?”
“The National Novel Writing Competition,” the other two women replied in stereo.
“You haven’t heard of it?” added the Senator.
“I don’t think so. I think you’d call me itinerant. I’m usually the last to know about anything.”
“I think you mean illiterate.” Ruby glared at the Senator.
“No I meant that I travel a lot Senator. And communication in the 16th century isn’t quite as fast or reliable as your telephones and mobiles.”

“Hold on, hold on.” The Senator rubbed at her temples, squeezing her eyes shut. “You’re from the 16th Century? But you’re not from NaNo.”
“Lately of the Port of Lisbon.”
“So I’m not caught in some warped version of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol.”
“Not unless you want to be Senator.”

“But you’re one of Her characters are you not Ms Mendez-Fernandos?”
“I may be thought of as a character, mainly an undesireable one by most of the crew of the La Gongoozler and possibly an exciting irritation to my husband, but I am my own person Senator.”
“And you Shet Harmon. You’re one of her characters. You stole my place.”
“You were the one that was meant to be sent to Th’Urn Senator?”

The Senator growled.
“Are you both dumb – don’t you see it. You’re figments of someone’s imagination. Of Her imagination. You Ms Mendez-Fernandos – you’re from the Adventures of Captain Juan and you Shet Harmon, Blue Melissae. Me – I’m from Finding Aphrodite, her National Novel Writing project from 2007.”
“You are telling me that you just suddenly appeared in this world in 2007?” Shet asked, leaning against the bench.

“Not this world – in my world.”
“But you know about me?”
“Of course I know about you – she chose to create you for NaNo last year rather than finish off my story. My life, my story has been on hold. And it’s all your fault Shet Harmon.”

“Hey hold on Senator. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She wanted to add that the Senator was talking like a lunatic, but there was an uncomfortable resonance in what the Senator’s ravings.

“You feel it too,” Ruby said. The other two women looked at her. “There is a common thread through the three of us.”
“Why bring the three of us here?”
“You love two men do you not Shet Harmon? And you too Senator?” said Ruby, feeling the connection deeply not just with her lovers, but with the other women and their lovers. It sent a shiver through her.

Relunctantly the other women nodded, the Senator fidgeting with the bottom of her tailored jacket and Shet thrusting her hands into the pocket of her jeans.
“And you Ruby – you’ve killed someone and Senator?” Shet stared hard at the Senator.

The Senator’s cheeks flushed in a rare show of public emotion. “I was never implicated in the disappearance of Jeff Harrington. And his body was never found.”
“But you don’t deny it do you Senator.”
“You can’t lie to yourself,” added Ruby, crossing her arms. “You think this is all about fiction don’t you. You think Sh just plucked you out of her imagination and we all just happened to be invited here at the one time. Don’t you see?”

Shet and the Senator looked at each other.
“Are your worlds real to you? I know mine is real, I feel it, taste it, smell it. I don’t just see it as a two dimensional picture. I experience my world with every fibre of my being, every flicker of my emotions. It’s real. Just as your worlds are real.”
“But ..”
“Why deny it Senator. Would you like to blame her for your weaknesses or the things you don’t like about yourself, rather than be responsibility for it all.”

“But where are the men? Why aren’t they here. Why wasn’t Alex invited to be here with me. Or your men?”
“Is She a man?”
“No but she creates male characters.”
“You really can’t let go of that notion that you’re someone’s character can you Senator,” said Shet. “I agree with Ruby. My world is real, the bits of it that I remember that is.”
“You say I’m in denial – but what about you two – aren’t you in denial that you’re not real.”

“I’m real!” Ruby walked up to the Senator. “So are you and so is she,” turning back to Shet.
”But what about Her. Is she a figment of my imagination?”
“She’s real too,” it was Shet this time. ‘I feel her as much as she feels me – and as much as I feel the two of you.”
“I think we’re different manifestations of Her.”
“Living in parallel worlds?” Ruby smiled at Shet.
“You’re suggesting that I’m you, and Shet and Her. We’re all one and the same?”

The door opened.
“It’s time ladies.” They’d all lost track of time and looked up at the clock. “Andrew’s waiting for you all on set. Let’s hustle we’re running a bit behind schedule.”

“Isn’t that John Simm?” asked the Senator as the four of them hurried along the corridor past a good looking man walking towards the Green Room.

Forthose non Australians - Andrew Denton hosts a talk show called Enough Rope and he often has a segment where he invites three ordinary people along, with common jobs to share their experiences. Interestingly, Finding Aphrodite starts with the Senator being interviewed by Denton!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hello, good-bye: Prequel

This is what comes before Hello, Good-bye and was cut out to make last week's [Fiction] Friday a more manageable read!

I wish I’d got the window seat then I would have been able to watch the headlights grow from the distance and wait for the flash to kiss my retina as my eyes and the light collide head on. Mind numbing stuff like that.

But Maz has the window seat. She’s almost asleep. Opportunities like this rarely present themselves when I need them. Her head bobs every now and again. This is my one and only chance to break someone and get the information. In her sleep befuddled state I’ll harass her and until she caves in.

“Maz. What are you guys going to do to me?”
“Nothing.” She yawns and stretches, trying to get comfortable.
“Steven’s coming - isn’t he?”
“No. He isn’t.” Even though she is on the edge of sleep, the words came out consolidated in the sort of way that tells me she won’t capitulate.

I know she is lying – they all are. I had heard Rachel scream out Steven’s name and something about him coming two days earlier as I’d walked into the school foyer. Then she’d told a heart breaking lie – she was going out with Steven. But I didn’t believe it. It all has something to do with Thursday. If I could just get it out of Maz.

“My lips are sealed.”
“I said my lips are sealed. Go to sleep.”
“I can’t sleep.”

There is the occasional snore and mutter. It was dark and late and we’re probably the only people other than the bus driver who are awake. The play we’ve just seen is now being enacted in my head with Steven and I cast in the leading roles. If only I knew for sure.

“Star crossed lovers Maz. That’s what we are – Steven and I. Just tell me if we’re going to meet up at Maccas on Thursday.
“There’s nothing much Capulet or Montague about either of you.”
“He is from the West.”
“So he’s coming on Thursday to my going away party. Isn’t he Maz?”
I said no.”

“Please Maz,” The confident interrogation is disintegrating into a pathetic round of begging. “Tell me if Stephen’s coming.”
“No.” Another yawn and more stretching from her.
“I promise I’ll act surprised if you tell me.”

“OK.” She sighs. “If you’ll shut up and let me get to sleep.”
“He’s coming.”
“Oh my God!”

One of the teacher’s head shoots up, searching for where the blasphemous exclamation had come from. I’ll never got the hang of all the Catholic stuff.

And there it is. Confirmation – finally. My best and worst nightmares realised in the same moment. I’m cursed.

I hadn’t believed that they would actually do it – that they would ring and invite Steven to my party. What the hell did Rachel say to him when she rang? I shudder to think, knowing what a loose cannon she is most of the time and what I’ve heard come out of her mouth.

“Don’t tell anyone. They’ll kill me if I they know I told you. It’s meant to be a surprise.”
“I promise I’ll act surprised.”

I felt sick.

“You’re still coming aren’t you?”
“I’m staying at Michelle’s house on Wednesday night. How the hell am I meant to get out of it?”
Maz answers with a slight snore and I am left running the scenario that’s presenting for Thursday through my over active imagination.

Monday, January 26, 2009

New Moon Wishes for Aquarius Moon

Today was the super charged new moon in Aquarius - coupled with a solar eclipse. Sadly it couldn't be seen in Australia (China was the best place to view it this time around) and I was asleep and missed the opportunity to have a little ritual I'd planned. So be it.

Jan Spiller, author of New Moon Astrology:using the new moon power days to change and revitalise your life, writes that new moon wishes for the Aquarian moon can include requests for:

  • inventive solutions
  • seeing the future
  • humanitarian attitudes
  • revelations
  • humour
  • friends
  • avoiding excessive detatchment

Here are the writing wishes that I've made (personal ones are over at Shine A Little Light)

  • I want inspiring new ideas to occur to me regarding my dream of being a paid and published writer.
  • I want to easily find myself courageously and successfully following my dream to be a paid and published writer.
  • I want clarity in seeing those long range goals that give meaning to my life.
  • I want to greet unexpected events as positive opportunities for growth.
  • I want to easily find myself open to attracting exciting revitalising experiences.
  • I want right insights that lead to my dream of being a paid and published writer come true.
  • I want to easily find myself graciously accepting help, love and support from others.
  • I want to find myself easily networking with other writers and publishers to manifest my dream of being a paid and published writer.
This time around I've really spelt it out - being a writer isn't enough any more - I want to be both published and paid. Call me greedy! These wishes, combined with my list from earlier on this month (which I will rename a 'list of intentions' - thanks Karen for the reminder!) should have me set for the creative year that lays out before me.

My intention is to work with the lunar cycles this year. I have lots I want to accomplish and 13 lunar cycles seems to be a good way to attack it. It is also a natural way to use the energy - this was how our forebearers created their lives, under the waxing and waning light of the moon.

I feel as though I am dropping and leaving behind all the things that no longer work for me - thus the Remedios Varo picture to accompany this post. Very Ecplise-ish! It's a brave new era and I do feel brave!

I'm also feeling refreshed, recharged and full of courage! What better place to be?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Thank you for the Year of the Rat

Today is the final day of my creative year. While the Western calendar runs from 1st January until the 31st December and that’s the way life goes if you live in a Western country, I choose however to run my creative year as a writer, to the Chinese Calendar.

As a lunar calendar, the Chinese Year seems such a better idea to work with as a creative type. I guess you could say this is almost the darkness of the new moons for the year – the last one of the year. Tomorrow not only does a new lunar cycle start with the new moon, but a whole new lunar year.

I have been cleaning out my inboxes and getting rid of emails that have been sitting there unread. While I have taken to doing this on a regular basis to stop everything being jammed up (I’m certain now that creative qi on your computer gets trapped in old emails and the likes) – it was an all out clean up today. Once I have posted this – I will go and attack my desk – strip out all the books, move my printer, and clean down everything. Later on I’ll give the whole area a thorough smudging.

While the house was quiet, and my son and partner were out having an adventure, I took out the coloured blank greeting cards I’ve had for about six months and made some thank you cards. I wanted to give thanks and to show my gratitude to those who have really been a tour de force for me in my first creative year as a writer.

At the end of 2007 I did a Thirteen Thursday recognising the special people in my life for that year. This year I would be struggling to add 13 people I had regular contact with. It’s been one of those years.

This year my thanks go firstly to my loving and supportive partner Dave, and also to my ever patient son Dylan, who both encouraged me and were enthusiastic about my writing pursuits. I tease Dave, good naturedly about being a patron of the arts, but I am grateful for him allowing me the space and the opportunity to write – while he sits 50 hours a week in a crappy office (though it does have a nice view over the river!) and commutes with a bus full of people rain, hail or shine to get there. I know there are other places and other things that he would prefer to be doing. I am grateful darling to allow me to do want I want to do.

I know my influence as a Mum and a writer is rubbing off when yesterday Dylan told me that he would be writing an article every day from now on with the new pen and notebook that he won in pass the parcel at a birthday party. His first article yesterday was a cutting piece on hop scotch!

Secondly my thanks go to my partners in crime Annie Evett and Paul Anderson, who I have had the joy and challenge of collaborating with this year. Annie and I co-wrote and then designed and built the website for Reclaim Sex After Birth, as well as sharing crazy moments writing Captain Juan. The Reclaim Project pushed my buttons in all types of ways, but I grew not only as a writer but as a woman as a consequence and I’m feel so blessed to have had that opportunity. I’m also appreciative of the space that opens to write when our kids get together to play and generally leave us to it. I’m also glad for the trips to Dalveen and the writing that has come out of sitting drinking red wine at the kitchen table at Annie’s parents house. For those regular readers of Captain Juan – that’s how he ended up naked and sunburnt in the crows nest.

Paul shared not just his Captain Juan character, but also another character Dr Pietersen from one of his podcasts with me for my NaNo project Blue Melissae. I honestly don’t think there is a greater gift a writer can give. Captain Juan for me is like lollies to a kid – it’s fun and it generally requires no effort on my part.

I remember Paul commenting on Intercontinental, saying that I write best when I go to places that are uncomfortable and I used that insight to really push and probe myself as a writer – which in turn allowed me to experiment and discover stories and new writing styles I would have missed out on. Thanks for that Paul. I’m also grateful for Paul’s ear and patience, when I’m on a crazy rant at 1:00am in the morning – time differences are sometimes useful.

Paul has also shared coming on 12 months now, two wonderful business/writing plans that I know will see the light of day this year. It’s been a pleasure and thrill to watch these plans grow, blossom, go to seed and to again be waiting to shoot into something even more wonderful this year.

Thirdly I give thanks and my heartfelt appreciation to the ladies in my writing circle Edwina, Marion and Janette, who have read my work, offered critical and insightful feedback, been my friends, offered encouragement, celebrated my triumphs and bemoaned my failures with me. I didn’t realise how wonderful a writing circle could be until I was a part of one. Thank you ladies!

Fourthly I would like to acknowledge Karen at Write Anything and all the writers there for the inspiring and thought provoking posts and to Dale for Fiction Friday. I also want to acknowledge those as the Office of Letters and Light who run Script Frenzy and the National Novel Writing Month. Special thanks to Brisbane Municipal Librarians for the effort and energy that went into the Brisbane meets. Finally in this category – thanks to the organisers of the Byron Bay Writers Festival and to the staff at the Queensland Writers Centre.

Lastly I want to give thanks to my very special friend Danae Sinclair. It was through Dan that I first learnt about Fiction Friday and it was at her invitation that I ventured to do The Artists Way in late 2007 and then again in 2008. Without Dan being the catalyst for both these, I may not be writing now. I could still be plodding away producing Down to Birth and denying my inner most passion to write. Thank you Dan ... my love and appreciation and gratitude will always be coming your way.

So 2008 was my year of authenticity, but I understand that it was also a year of composting … of the breaking down of my old life, my old ways and habits. When you garden, you mix the compost in with the soil, to make new and fertile ground in which to plant seeds. That’s what 2008 was for me. 2009 and the year of the ox (which is my year as a little grey ox!) is going to be my year of growth. I originally conceptualised it as my year of action – but that seems too harsh and somehow sort of reckless. So instead, I am dedicating the 2009 year of the ox to growth.

May yours be a happy, fulfilling, prosperous and loving one.

PS: apologies to all who missed out on having links inserted here - my internet is very temperamental and posting this is a trial in itself!

Image from Kim Falconer's astrology website.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Fiction Friday: Hello, Good-bye

This week's prompt from Write Anything's Fiction Friday is:

Tell us about a memorable blind date.


He was the first thing to slam into my consciousness as I blinked awake this morning on the makeshift mattress of couch cushions on Michelle’s bedroom floor. He’s the thought that accompanied me into the shower as I washed my hair with Wella Balsam’s brand new shampoo with Chestnut extracts for brown hair. Only briefly was he displaced when I locked myself in the toilet, the sliding door having jumped the runner and I was too embarrassed to call out for someone to come and let me out. All my mental reserves were occupied trying to get the door back on so I could get out.

The hour of our meeting is dawning. I’m paranoid - I think my shoes are whispering his name as they hit the concrete, one foot after the other down Sturt Street towards the Mall, closer to MacDonalds and Steven. And I can’t share my torture with Michelle. This is meant to be a secret.

I try to knock thoughts of meeting Steven out of my head by humming Fairground Attraction’s “Perfect”. All it does is remind me that there is nothing perfect about this staged meeting. I’m taking second best by allowing my friends, I correct myself, by allowing Rachel to organise this. It’s doomed to be disaster.

I long to be on a dodgey looking barge, sheltering from fake rain under a brolly, floating down the Yarra far away from MacDonald’s Bakery Hill just like the chick in the film clip of Perfect. Now that would be perfect! Instead I’m walking towards my own version of destiny. After all, you don’t long and yearn for the love and adoration of the St Paul’s boy on the backseat of the Wendouree West bus without harbouring secret plans to one day meet him. And for him to fall in love with you – but that’s rather pointless now that I’m moving to Geelong.

STEVEN is printed on the back of my Mr Men ruler and I have documented in excruciating detail all his comings and goings, facial expression, conversations (with other people),changes of hair style etc in numerous diaries hidden in a plastic bag in the top bunk amid a collection of used tissues. I remember all the effort that went into finding out his name. And it’s come down to this.

I thrust my hands into the pockets of my duffle coat to stop them from shaking and try to keep up the small talk with Michelle

Michelle and I meet up with the rest of our friends out the front of MacDonalds. Maz is trying not to look sheepish and I give her a brilliant smile. I’m as prepared as I can thanks to Maz spilling the beans, half asleep on the bus back from Melbourne two days ago. Mel is looking stunning as usual and Regina is standing beside her. Kate’s got a thick scarf wrapped around her neck and her abundant curls pulled back in a piggie tail. Kim’s sporting a groovy new bob that’s long on one side and short on the other. Then there’s the other hanger-ons that I wouldn’t have invited – but I didn’t organise the party.

There’s no sign of Rachael. And there’s no sign of Steven. Yet!

By midday we’re all inside waiting on Rachel and it’s so obvious to me what’s going to happen – the sly smiles that are being swapped around the table. But no one would dare publicly cave in now and tell me.

Five minutes later someone yells, “He’s here!”

The secret’s out and the bottom falls out of my stomach. I have talked myself into believing that I can meet him, that I can do this with style and grace but now I just want to run and hide in the toilet again. Wish that it had a door that ran off the rails.

How anyone could have thought this was a great idea is beyond me – they are meant to be my friends. This is a hybrid social experiment that combines the worst aspects of Perfect Match with public executions. A blind date I would have coped with – it would have just been Steven and I, without the addition of the baying peanut gallery. This is my karmic debt for having bored them to death for two years with stories of Steven.

Rachel strides up the steps resplendent in her victory, followed by Steven and another boy I didn’t recognise.
“Hey Mel, isn’t that Peter Bolger?”
The only person this means anything to is Mel is elegantly trying to drain herself from her chair to a space under the table where she’ll be hidden from sight. There is a small amount of satisfaction that someone else feels as uncomfortable as me.

I stand up and I’m not sure what possesses me to do such a thing. Do I really need to point out that I’m the other helpless victim here? Rachael has her annoying little school case in one hand and a crazy grin on her face.

The introductions are short and simple.
”Steven this is Jodi.”
“Hi,” he says, trying to offer me a smile. He’s deep in this crap as well.
“Hello.” The word comes from somewhere deep inside me and barely makes it out my lips. “I think you know my sister. She was the one who got caught in the bus door.” It was the only common point of reference I could think of between us.
“Yeah I remember.”

Rachael jabs her elbow into the fleshy part of his arm, and he takes a small, smartly wrapped parcel out of his pocket. All the bits of me that have been frozen against this occasion melt away. He went to the trouble of buying me something.
“Remember what to say.”
The defrosting halts.
“Hope it fits,” and he hands me the present.

It is a joke. Another little embarrassing thing to throw my way – as if forcing me to meet Steven this way isn’t bad enough. It’s a whoopey cushion – or something else crass and vulgar. It’s definitely too small to be a packet of condoms.

I sit down and try to conceal the unwrapping until I can work out just what is in there. I pull out the note first.

Dear Jodi,
See! Now you can be just like Miss O’Mara. Hope it fits.
Luv your friends from SHC xxx

I know immediately what makes up the bulk of the present, but I pull enough of the lacy bra through the wrapping paper to confirm my suspicions. It is periwinkle blue, so technically not a replica of the jade green bra strutted out by our English teacher under her white cheese cloth blouse months ago.

“What is it?” Peter should have known better to say something and in that moment I can see Steven is doing a double take on his decision to bring him along.
“A bra!” erupts Rachael, loud enough to inform all levels of the two story fast food complex. She is laughing hysterically at her own cleverness and how the humiliation factor has just been ramped up a few more notches.

I grab my purse and go for lunch. Food will fix it all. It will take the steam out of the bra incident, but when I return with my luke warm burger and chips my bra is flying, sling slot style from one corner of the room to the other. Putting my tray down, I venture out to intercept it and stuff it into the pocket of my duffle coat. Game over, everyone else goes down for lunch.

Steven’s been strategically placed next to me and he asks me if he can have a look at my card. A year older, and planning to leave school at the end of the year to take up an apprenticeship he seems more socially adept than I am to traverse this quagmire of a social landscape that I am sinking in. It is also unlikely that he’s been harbouring secret desires for me for the past two years. That gives him the obvious edge.

But the card. I can’t give him the card. The envelope is bad enough. It has things like “What will you do Jo is someone in Geelong knows Steven? FREAK!” Another ‘thanks guys’ moment for me.

I pass him the card knowing it would be rude and slightly suspicious to snatch it up from the table and hide it away in my pockets. Someone would just get it out and give it to him. I may as well execute the last phase of my social demise. As soon he has the card in his hand, it unleashes a torrent of stories from my friends, who can’t help themselves but tell him everything that I have ever told them about him.

I guess I’m to blame really since I introduced the now famous hero moment where he freed my sister from the bus doors as it was pulling away from the central bus stop with her half in and half out. I’d ignored her screams and carry on, thinking it was another of her drama queen moments designed to impart the highest degree of embarrassment in the vicinity of Steven. Little sisters are like that when they discover which boy you like.

It’s the story telling that really turns the party into something tragically immature and something I don’t want to be part of any longer. Peter says something to upset Mel and she upends her thick shake on his head. Steven starts setting everything combustible on fire. Rachel knocks her thick shake onto the floor, pulls the cup off and laughs at the solid mound left behind that’s more like a sandcastle than a beverage. Then the hair mousse comes out.

I retreat to the toilet and when I finally come out take up residence by a window where I can hear the laughs and squeals, but pretend to focus on the traffic whizzing down Little Bridge Street. I’m torn. I want this to end now, but at the same time I want it to go on forever. I want to leave, but I don’t want to go. I hate my friends and in the same heart beat I love them with every fibre of my being. I can’t imagine life without them – even after this.

Tears start to well in my eyes. Maz is at my shoulder, squeezing it gently and letting me know that the story telling is over and everyone’s got rid of their rubbish so Steven can’t set anything else alight.

Steven asks me about where I was moving to. “Geelong’s a cool place. I might just come around and see you.” I’m pretty sure that after this afternoon’s fiasco he’ll be glad that I will be sequestered in Geelong, far away from him and safe from my fanatical friends.

It’s time to say good-bye.
“Are you going to kiss her good-bye.” It is Peter again. I’m certain now he’s been secretly working as an agent for my friends or enjoying the rather bizarre circumstances his friend has found himself in.

Saying good-bye was meant to be easy – why did Peter have to suggest a kiss. I want to be kissed by Steven more than anything else in the world – but not here, now – infront of all of them.
“No way guys.” This is not the way it plays out in my daydreams or the novel that I wrote with a fictionalised Steven and me.
“Come on.” It is a chorus that threatens to break into a chant sports day style.

I shake my head. “No.”
“Are you sure?” It is Steven asking this time – giving me one last chance to change my mind. Does he want to kiss me? Does he want to kiss me here? Rachel’s got to have paid him to do this.
“Yes!” I am confident in my answer. I’ll bemoan the lost chance in the lonely hours that stretch out in Geelong in the months to come. “Good-bye Steven.”

I walk off, thinking I’ve recovered a few shreds of my dignity, until I discover I am being propelled by a mob towards Steven. This is not the way it was ever meant to be. I tear free and run. Hellos are mandatory - good-byes in this case, optional.

Authors Note: If you're wondering - this is a true story circa 1987, based on a story written for Year 10 English!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Books Galore

Today was the first day of Lifeline’s twice yearly Bookfest. The first time we went – about three years ago now I was astounded by the sheer number of books. Since then we’ve been to every Fest and come home loaded with new books.

The proceeds of the Bookfest go to financially supporting Lifeline’s 24 hour Help Line and it is estimated that around 1 million books are on sale at each event (the January event goes for five days) – I’m not sure how many of those million books actually get sold.

I got a few books that I went specifically to look for (Lolita) and got a couple of others than flesh out existing collections (I now own Silverthorn and Darkness at Sethanon to go with my copy if Magician). Dave found me a fabulous looking book on Pope Joan which I can't wait to sink my teeth into.

I also got some books that will be good resource books for the Reclaim Sex After Birth site. Additionally I grabbed a couple of breastfeeding books that I don’t already have, again as resources, as I’ve just been offered the editorship of the Breastfeeding pages at Type-A Mom. Last but not least I also got a couple of extra Sarah Ban Breathnach books including a beautiful visual folder for drawing.

Now I’m looking forward to a changing of the guard in my book cases – there are books that deserve to be shelved elsewhere and others that need to be brought out.

On the funny side – our housemate Phil found Interview with a Vampire housed in the Religion section and Dave found Barbara Cartland in the Literature section (as opposed to the paper or fiction sections!) Interesting interpretations of both genres!

Hmmm – Dave’s just going through my collection of books … I think I’d better disappear and explain a few of my purchases!

PS: I shall post some photos once I have my internet issues sorted out. Mercury Retrograde is hitting my hard this time around!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Checking In

When you do Julia Cameron's The Artists Way, each week you are asked to answer a few questions - to check in with the progress that you've made in the last seven days. I thought it was a good idea, given that I've got a relatively comprehensive programme to achieve this year, to keep track weekly of where I am at.

The past two weeks have all been about editing. I should take a photo of just how repulsive I am finding this - but at the same time, when the redraft finally comes together, the seperate parts gel and I can call it a final draft reading for feedback and proofreading - there is a fantastic rush ... the sort that comes with a major accomplishment.

Finish one 1750 word piece shouldn't be such a great achievement but it feels like that.

The process other than being a weird interplay of being pain in the bum and providing a great feedback loop for achievement, it is a really important and educating experience. To be able to see where your writing was situated at the start of the year, and where it ended up at the end of the year. To be able to see your growth as a writer over the year.

The stories that I am currently working on came from the start of last year. They're lacking the depth of character and story development that came later on in the year. So I keep telling myself, to just keep plugging away at it ... there are (hopefully better) and easier stories on the horizon.

To date I have two stories at the almost finished stage and two that are two thirds edited. I also have another two that are complete. That means I have touched half of the material for the anthology. By tomorrow I am aiming to have six stories at the finished or almost finished stage. Then I'll attack the second half.

I've also kept up with my writing schedule of writing something every day. I'm not in a position to shift into the three pages a day mode yet (thinking it would probably be better to ease in one page, two pages and then three pages) but I'm glad that for the past 13 days I've written something.

I've also registered and organised web hosting for the Chinese Whispers project and have started to look for some other writers to work with. Additionally I've found a template for the website that Paul and I are agreed upon - but I'm staying well away from tweaking and playing with the template. That joy awaits at the end of the anthology process.

How are you tracking with your projects/resolutions/action plans?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Do writers have Green Rooms?

Every writer has characters that they’ve created, stories that they’ve begun but never got around to finishing (I actually have a folder on my computer titled ‘unfinished’ and two partially completed NaNo manuscripts) We’ve also got some characters who we’ve seen brief flashes of and we’ve noted them down to return to at a later date.

Where do these characters go when we’ve given them the creative equivalent of being put into moth balls? What do they do out there in the creative ether, in a holding pattern, waiting for the control tower to bring them down.

Originally I conceptualised this creative purgatory to be a bank vault-ish – sort of a safety deposit process for storing characters away … protected from being pawned and reclaimed by another writer. This seemed like a pretty grim place to send the wild bunch that I’ve cavorted with in the past.

I realised that my characters-in-waiting have their very own Green Room. To pass the time they’re sharing beers, coffee, M&Ms and conversations (maybe even some bodily fluids).

So who’s currently in the Green Room?

Side by side on a couch are Adam and Eve (of the Adam and Eve concept), stuck in a perpetually awkward moment. For Eve it feels like de ja vu she hasn’t recovered her memories yet, but feels a strong connection to Adam and a need to drag him into a dark space. And there’s Adam, who has recovered the love of his life, but can’t tell her who he is, because they’ve been warned to allow her memories to resurface at their own pace. They’re probably talking about safe topics like the weather and giving themselves a chance to relax from relentless Government pursuit. Eve’s wishing someone would put on some decent music.

Sitting in single arm chairs that have been turned to face each other are Alex and Abby (from Finding Aphrodite). Since they weaselled their way into a sex scene (compliments of a 3am Epiphany exercise about this time last year) they’ve been pretty quiet – and sated I guess, having finally stripped off and got it on. Abby has her shoes off and Alex is rubbing her feet. This is causing a bit of a stir because technically their relationship hasn’t been outsed – and well he’s a political satirist and she’s one of the newest members of parliament. It’s also a little uncomfortable for Abby’s husband Calum who was last seen heading for the toilet with The Australian under one arm and a grim look on his face. He was gone before Vi could catch up with him.

Stalking about in the shadows waiting for his next hit is Jeff, the junky freelance journalist from Finding Aphrodite. He’s being watched with a mixture of repulsion and envy by Huxley, (also from Finding Aphrodite) who has cleaned up his cocaine habit, turned Christian but is slowly going crazy seeing Abby with Alex. He’s searching for a foam football to toss around to relieve the boredrom.

The Voodoo Cowboy is talking to my unnamed female character (a 3am Epiphany creation) about love, regret, guilt and salt rings. He’s missing Patience his horse, who for work place health and safety reason had to be left tied up in the parking lot.

Aurelia and Caleb from Second Chance are waiting for destiny to come and visit, and biding their time as best they can. They’re enjoying an espresso together and trying to avoid talking business – even though they both have in common that they work for the mob. After all he is an assassin and he’s been contracted to kill her, it's best to keep things simple. Aurelia is hoping it doesn’t start raining.

There's been a stir lately in The Green Room created by the most recent arrivals – the crew and cast of Captain Juan who have been forced into a Green Room hiatus over the Christmas break, waiting for their serial to resume. There’s a collective swoon from all the women in the room and there’s a tussle between Juan and Intaglio over who can pull the most virtual chicks. Intaglio was seen carving notches into the door frame, though Juan maintains he's got the longer sword.

Domenica is at the toilet door, waiting to preen herself and in doing so met Vi and the two of them have settled down at the toilet door to scheme and bitch. Ruby and Father Paolo have been drawn to the Voodoo Cowboy and the unnamed character for a philosophical and theological discussion – the cowboy and Ruby finding a common ground in voodoo and paganism and Father Paolo is trying to console the Catholic guilt and angst in the unnamed character. Dante’s lurking in the corner and finds himself side by side with Jeff, both of them thinking of torture and unnatural deeds.

Pablo’s washing up all the dirty coffee cups and collecting up empty beer bottles, while Pete follows him around giving him grief about being uptight. Bruno and the boys have just discovered disco since Eve finally worked out how to tweak the music system and someone just broke the coffee table and sent the M&Ms spilling across the floor.

Calvin’s been spotted sneaking beers from the fridge and is now bemoaning his boyish frustrations to Adam, who has frustrations of his own. Then someone calls out ‘fire in the hole’ …

This article was inspired by Paul Anderson's short story Literati & Sons, Metaphysical Pawnbrokers.

Image: Broken Glass by Abandoned Alaska via Flickr

Friday, January 9, 2009

Fiction Friday: Sam

This week's prompt:
With ten days until payday, your character discovers his/her account is overdrawn (adjust as necessary to fit your timeline or world).

The bus engine roared to life, purging huge black clouds from the exhaust. The doors shut and with a grinding in the over worked gear box, the metal monolith pulled out into the deserted main street. Sam stood watching, until the bus swung left and headed toward the high way.

“I thought you were going.”
He knew it was a question more than a statement and there was only one other person in town who wanted to be on that bus more than him.
“It doesn’t matter.”
“But you’ve been working weekends out on the Wilson Property.”
“I said it doesn’t matter.” He turned and saw her standing a few paces behind him, looking awkward and uncomfortable in her uniform. “What about you? You’ve got a job.”
“I’d still be cutting up roast chickens and frying chips on my 21st birthday and not have the money to go.” She put her hand in her pocket and checked the time on her mobile phone. “Even if I had the money Dad would never let me go to the City.”

Sam turned back and looked down the main street, wondering why he’d tortured himself and come down to watch the bus leave.
To never forget just how angry I am. And the I'll never forgive her. That’s why I’m here.

“There’s a party at my house tonight.” Sam turned back to look at her.
“Is that an invite?”
“It’s nothing big – just my brother and some of his mates are home from doing block in Griffith. They’re planning on having a few drinks out the back in the old shearing shed. You’re welcome.”

It was the first time since they’d arrive six month ago that anyone had bothered to invite him to a social event. He’d worked every weekend he could, saving his money. That’s why they never invited him – that’s what he told himself on the cold nights, lying alone in the donga on the Wilson’s property wishing his mind would shut down and let him rest.
“What time do you knock off?”
“8:30pm. Do you want a lift?”

Sam shook his head and kicked at the cracked concrete with the toe of his runner.
“I’ll find my own way there.”
“Just come round the back – you’ll hear them. See you then.”

She smiled and walked off toward the roadhouse.
“Hey Laney,” Sam called out and ran after her. “It’s just that …” he wasn’t sure how to say that he was broke without stirring up a hornet’s nest of questions he didn’t want to answer. He didn’t want to have to lie. “About tonight …”
“You don’t have to come if you don’t want Sam.”
“No it’s not that. I just don’t have anyway to buy some grog that’s all. Don’t want your brother to think I’m free loading off him and his mates.”

Laney laughed.
“Don’t worry about that Sam. Jeez, you must be the only guy around here who’s worried about being a free loader. I’ll bring some bottles of coke from work and you can be the one who provides the emergency supply of coke.”
“Thanks Laney.”
“See you tonight Sam.”

.... The light on his bike worked sporadically making it impossible to see with any certainty what was ahead of him on the high way. Just a tiny light blinking on and off on the Kidman Way. Road trains roared past him, buffeting him and almost knocking him from his bike into the yellow dust on the side. But he pedalled on. The tears that stung his eyes blurred what vision was left to him and part of him wished that a truck would run over him and end it there and then.

He pedalled harder, pumping his legs up and down. The wind whistled through his ears, his helmet clipped onto the back of his bike.

The feeling of devastation hadn’t left him, although it had been two weeks now since he’d discovered his money was gone. The money he had been hording from his work on the Wilson property. A small portion would pay the final downpayment on the trip to Sydney, the rest would tide him over, help him find somewhere to stay until he could get a job. Get settled.

The final payment on the school trip was due on the Friday morning and he’d lifted his mattress up enough to slide his hand under, his fingers searching for the slit in the material where he’d been stashing the cash Old Man Wilson paid him.

He should have put it in the bank. Made it safe. Kept it away from her, but he didn’t trust banks. He needed the cash in his pocket.

“You took my money.”
She’d looked up from the chipped laminex table and the Take 5 magazine she’d been reading. The look of innocence was so well practiced he almost believed it.
“You stole my money.”
The silence was what gave her away. She could look innocent but the moment she opened her mouth it would be obvious what she’d done.
“You promised me what we came here that it wouldn’t be like it used to be.”
“I borrowed your money. I’m going to pay it back. Next pay day. Like a line of credit.”
“There was $2000 there. Where the hell are you going to get $2000 from?”

She refused to look up at him.
“You blew it on the pokies didn’t you. You put my money through the fucking pokies.”
His voice was breaking.
“You’re no different than you were before we came here. You stole from me – your son. Your own flesh and blood.”
“I said I borrowed it Sam. I’ll have your money back to you in 10 days. Just give me a chance.”
“I don’t want your stinking money.”
“It’s not like that Sam.”
“You’re a liar.”

Even if she had have been able to give the money back it was too late. And now he was trapped. But there was Laney – his own tiny beacon in the sea of nothingness.

If you're here from Write Anything or another link for Fiction Friday, please take the time to comment once you've read the story. All feedback is welcome and appreciated!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Vision in Perpetual Motion: Everyday Writing

What I really wanted to set down in concrete - like God scribing the 10 Commandments was 'You shall write three pages a day', but it seemed like setting myself up to fail dismally from the start. That's not what I'm into this year. This year is about nurturing and growing sustainable writing habits. Sustainable in the sense that I am actually able to do them in the short, medium and long terms and that they naturally become part of my daily writing craft. This year I'm starting out with the goal of writing something every day.

Last year I was sporadic at best at putting anything down in words - other than keeping to a strict routine of three handwritten pages in my journal (but having established that writing habit it's exempt from the word count this year!) I struggled with being plugged into the creative ether - going as far as believing my creative flow was being spirited away - but that's a whole different story of paranoia I'll save for another post. As I watched other writers around me flourish, I stagnated. I wanted to write, but I couldn't. The worst bit was I got out of the habit of writing, which made it even harder to get back on the bike to start writing again.

This year, tackling at least two big writing projects I'm confident that I wont be stuck for material to write. I believe the lack of an ongoing writing project was partly the problem last year. Writing short stories sucked me dry - coming up with new characters, new scenarios, twists, turns, hooks and the likes - it was exhausting and I clammed up. At the time I wished that I had some established characters, a chortling story on which I could jump on the back of and whip out my three pages. I know better this year. I have learnt something from the tribulations of last year.

Currently I'm in training for the three pages a day gig. While I'm training my write anything is committing to writing a blog post (or two on a good day), a few pages of Blue Melissae, a new short story or edit/rework an old story. The last item is where the three page rules gets a bit difficult. How do you gauge how many pages you've written, when you are editing and rewriting the same three or four pages for hours at a time?

Last night I was reading a number of blog posts on new years resolutions in writing - the pros, cons, costs and benefits of such lists. One piece of golden advice (and this is where my editing clause comes in) was from Jennie Cromie of The Golden Pencil:a freelancers resource. Jennie's post No Fail Freelance Resolutions: How to succeed in 2009 deals with planning in advance for low motivation days. She writes:

"There will be days when you wake up all motivated and ready to tackle your daily goals, and then several hours later—for some inexplicable reason—you’ll feel like throwing your hands up in the air and chucking the goal, the novel, the article, or whatever you’re trying to accomplish. I call these the “F*&k-Its.” You have to decide how you’re going to handle these moments ahead of time. Because no matter how much you think you want to achieve that dream of yours right now, I guarantee that there will come a time when that shiny new goal of yours becomes a pain in the you-know-what .. For example, if you have the goal of writing a novel and one week into it, you start thinking: “No one’s going to want to read this anyway. Why am I wasting my time? Why even bother?” Then you have to pull out that strategy that you’ve mapped out ahead of time ... The key is to maintain the forward motion toward your goal, no matter how imperfect that forward motion is."

I have decided then on the days when I can't face writing or I'm not motivated - there is always editing to do and if I can't cope with editing my own work there are plenty of other writers that I can do editing work for. And this is where the crux of my success lies on this bullet point.

Other back up plans to stay writing include:

* Julia Cameron's suggestion to use wide margins and large fonts to achieve those three pages on the days when it seems like you wont make it over the line (something to keep in the back pocket as another of those back up plans for the periods of drought).

* Just write anything - if it can't be creative, write a letter or an email to a friend, blog, jot something down in a journal and if you're really stuck - start on next week's shopping list or get an early crack at your Christmas cards. Commenting on Facebook and Twitter statuses doesn't count or else we'd all be start in the mire of social networking and truly never achieving anything.

Writing something also includes good and bad writing. When you've made the committment you can't get precious about the quality when you're in a drought. Bad writing is perhaps more important than good writing because it's harder but keeps the perpetual motion happening in a forwards direct. Sometimes we need to be imperfect to achieve our goals!

And if you're wondering how my committment to writing something every day is stacking up - it's cruising along nicely, but I'm not getting cocky, I'm pretty sure I'm not at the three page ultimate yet and we're only 6 days into the new year. With 12 short stories to edit, and these collection of blog posts I'm not short on writing. We'll see what happens in February. How about you?

Do you have a writing target for the day or the week? If so, what is it? Do you set out a schedule or are you foot loose and fancy free when it comes to picking what to write? What are your fall back strategies for the days when you feel like you can't write?

Monday, January 5, 2009

A Vision In Perpetual Motion: 2008 short story anthology

My intention when exploring a little further each of my action plan points from yesterday was to do it chronologically - because after all that would make sense, but that's just not the way it's going to happen.

Today is the first day back of the working year for Annie and I with our partners (patrons-of-the-arts) back at their desk jobs. First cab off the rank was to decide which of the stories we'd written over the last year we'd put into our 2008 anthology.

Late last year our ebook Reclaim Sex After Birth: the survival guide was added to the list of books on the Buy Australian Books website which was created to support homegrown writers. As I was looking through the lists of authors and books an idea sprang to mind - what if Annie and I as emerging Australian writers were to compile a best of from 2008, package it up as a downloadable ebook and market it through the Buy Australian Books site. All it would cost us was our time and perhaps we might find a market for our short stories.

And that's exactly what Annie, Paul and I are in the process of. I'm grateful for the fact that in August I audited all the stories that I had - so I had an almost up to date list of stories to choose from. (Note: If you don't have a list of your work - I really recommend that you do it, sooner rather than later.) I also had the moment of wondering if I had 10 stories good enough to contribute to an anthology - guess what? I was pleasently surprised. Reading back on lots of them I had forgotten how good some of them were - but also how terrible some also were. After whittling it down, then expanding it out, and whittling it down again I came up with a dozen stories - one for each month of the year.

I'm proud to announce that my list of short stories for inclusion will be:

  1. 24
  2. Pegasus
  3. Haefestus
  4. Hiesha
  5. Intercontinental
  6. Repatriation
  7. The Giant Falls
  8. A Valentines Tale
  9. Andrew Said
  10. Deck the Balls
  11. Don't Tell, Alice
and a twelfth currently unnamed story from last years photo competition at Write Anything. Hopefully it will be a good range of work that I have done - though there isn't any sci-fi in there because of the nature of the pieces - they don't stand alone.

Next job is to get them edited up, proof read and laid out ... all the things that as a writer I have been avoiding like plague. I have been selective in what I have chosen. I've have kept a small stock of stories for submission to competitions and for other publishing projects that are in the wings - and I've also steered clear of anything that came in two parts, or was part of a larger body of writing (such as any of the Adam and Eve stories - thus no sci-fi!)

If you want to read any of these stories for free - your time is running out. In the next week or so they will all be taken down off the blog forever.

At this point in time guesstimated price for the anthology will be $15-$20 Australian dollars and will be compatible with Kindles, iPhones and other hand held reading devices. The anthology will be available through this blog (and my soon to be launched personal website) and will also be submitted for consideration to Buy Australian Books.

Why do this?

Why not?
  • Self publishing is cheap - I have the programs, the expertise and the material. It makes sense.
  • Traditional publishing opportunities are becoming rarer, especially for emerging writers - so if we don't create or seize the opportunites presented by new techonology, we're going to be left behind.
  • There's the possiblity of making a buck - and wouldn't it be lovely to say that I get paid to write.
  • Creating this puts it out to the Universe that I not only want to be read, but I want to be paid for what I write. And that I am serious about what I do.
  • It establishes a publishing history for my work and creates a publishing profile for some other endeavours waiting to be born.
Without this anthology these stories would simply be gathering virtual dust on my blog or on my hard drive, which doesn't do justice to these great stories, to the time and effort that I've put in, or for my professional development as a writer.

I'll be back with an update on this project and would love your feedback also.

Do you have a collection of short stories doing nothing big? What are you planning to do with them?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

2009: A Vision in Perpetual Motion

Earlier on in the week I posted my (fictional) list of Anti-Resolutions for 2009. You can also find a rather humorous one posted by Annie here.

As one door closes, another one opens - but inbetween there is a pause, a sort of slow moving action where you are neither open nor closed. That's the space for me between the new year and the old year as posed by the few weeks difference between the Western New Year and that in the East. And this is where I currently find myself - and why it's day four of the new year and I'm posting my draft vision for the new year.

In any type of business, preparation for the coming financial year, should include a pow wow about the future direction of their business/company and what they would like to implement/achieve/secure. This year I feel like I am venturing out of the cocoon like phase I spent most of 2008 years in and as consequence I want to plan and chart a course, rather than be lost in a sea of creativity - hoping for the best.

This year I’m calling my list resolutions an action plan (in keeping with my general theme for 2009 of ‘ACTION’) – but I guess I could equally call it my navigation guide to writing in 2009 or some other obnoxiously nautical title. Alternately I could christen it a vision statement (but not the sort of wanky ones that make no sense on the back of loads of business cards). I guess its a rose by any other name .. does it really matter what I 'call it'?

My ideas about the New Year are always a work in progress between late December and last January/early February when the Chinese New Year kicks in. Unlike last year though – I’m committing definitive objectives to The Universe (and making them public) on the back drop of the theme of action and kicking them in from January 1, rather than waiting for the Chinese New Year on January 26th. I intend to use the remaining 22 days until the Chinese New Year (the golden year of the ox – and I just so happen to be an ox so I’m just a tiny bit excited about this year) to reflect and contemplate on 2008, tidy up my writing space and I guess, use this time as a rehearsal and planning period for the rest of 2009 – like any good manager would!

Without further ado I unveil my action plan for 2009.

1. Write something every day – building up to three pages a day

2. Participate in [Fiction] Friday every week

3. Read two books a month (or a minimum of 600 pages)

4. Complete a manuscript

5. Enter a minimum of four competitions

6. Have a minimum of 2 fiction and 2 non fiction pieces published

7. Compile an electronic anthology of my best short stories from 2008.

8. Get my ‘Chinese Whispers’ novelette/anthology off the ground.

9. Begin writing my part of the Blood Sister project.

10. Commit to a schedule of professional development

11. Complete the series of articles for the Reclaim project on ‘Reclaiming Your Space’

12. Watch one movie a week

13. Participate in the National Novel Writing Month.

Over the next two weeks I’ll explore them further in individual posts.

What is your action/business plan or list of resolutions for writing in 2009?

Image: Remedios Varo's Despedida

Friday, January 2, 2009


This weeks prompt:
Take a favorite character you have created. Pick a New Year’s Resolution that they truly intended to keep. Now, why did they break it within 24 hours?

“Celia!” Davis’s voice disappered in the backstage humdrum.

Black cases of various shapes and sizes lay in the stuffy corridor. He smiled at a musician he recognised standing in an open doorway puffing away on a cigarette. A group of three men blocked the hallway, talking and smoking off the pre-show jitters. A blonde with her hair in rollers, pushed past them showing off a pair of shapely contra nylon legs ending in a fabulous pair of silver high heel slippers. One of the musicians wolf whistled and she turned around to grin suggestively at them. As she spun around she slammed into Davis.

“Damn you Davis. You gonna do someone some damage.” She slapped him on the chest and then pulled the tie on her silk dressing gown tighter around her tiny waist. Davis almost caught a glimpse of her right breast through the open V of the red slip.
“You seen Cec?”
“Haven’t seen her since last night hun. You know Cec.”
“Yeah I know Cec.”
“Stop worrying hun. She’ll be here. She always is.” And she was off, in a wake of heady perfume, wolf whistles and sighs.

No one had seen Celia since they’d parted ways at the club the night before, Celia steadying herself on the arm of a dashing yanky solider as they’d walked out into the freezing air. But weren’t they all charming he grumbled when they came offering boxes of chocolates, stockings, lipstick and jazz records direct from the US. None of it booty he could possibly match on his manager’s wage. He rode the wave of Celia’s popularity to ingratiate himself with the fairer sex and carried a walking stick, lying about an honourable discharge from the air force.

Waving about her glass in the lead up to midnight, with champagne sloshing from side to side, and occasionally all over whoever was close by, Celia had giggled and hiccupped her way through her list of new years resolutions. The crowd of hanger ons laughing as she messed up her counting.

“I mean it Davis,” she’d said, leaning heavily into him and emphasing her point by speaking directly into his ear. “No more booze after tonight dah-ling.”

They’d been arguing about it her drinking in the dressing room before the New Years Eve show. Celia had been so tanked she could barely walk on stage. How she managed to belt out song after song was beyond him. On stage she was a consummate performer and seductress. Behind stage she was nothing better than a lush in a fancy fur coat.

He could hear Glenn Miller blaring from behind her dressing room door. The door was shabby looking despite the self styled gold star that Celia had stuck on it. She’d heard that’s what all the female movie stars in Hollywood did.

Davis didn’t even bother to knock.

- - -
“You stupid bitch!” The needle of the record player screeched across the record as Davis grabbed at it.

She tried to look up to see where the voice was coming from and who it was, but her head pounded. Naked, on all fours, she instead stared into a pool of her own vomit.

Her head swum as she tried to say something then her stomach convulsed once, and then twice, the foul smell of bile burning nose. A rough hand unbalanced her and she crumpled back against the wall, half sitting, half lying. Despite the rancid smell he squatted down and got right up in her face, anger erupting from every nook and cranny of his face.

“You promised me that you would give it up Cec – and here you are, all boozed up worse than last night. Christ!” He pulled out a white hankerchief and covered his nose with it, stepping in the pool of sick as he stood up and backed away. “It’s in your hair .. it’s -” He was gesticulating wildly making it difficult to keep the starched linen clamped over his nose

Stuffing the hanky back into his pocket he dragged her to her feet and hustled her the torn seat in front of the mirror illuminated by only half a dozen of the light bulbs that surrounded it. She looked out at him disorientated, as though she didn’t even recognise who the hell he was.

“You couldn’t go for just one day without a drink. Just one day. So much for your new years resolutions Celia – they’re not worth the air used to make them with. Because in the end – that’s all they are Cec, air. Fucking worthless air.”

He turned away from her and paced around the pool of yellow stink on the floor. She’d never been this bad. And he hadn’t been able to find Peggy. He had to find Peg. She’d be able to pull Cec together before the show – get her cleaned up, sobered up, made up and dressed to kill. there was a ball room full of yanky punters who'd all paid to see Cec sing. He’d put a rumour out down the hallway that Cec was under the weather from last night’s festivities and try to beg another half an hours grace.

“You’re going on tonight there whether you like it or not – whether you can or not.” His breath smelt of peppermints. “If you don’t perform, you don’t get paid and if you don’t get paid I don’t get paid. You’re not famous enough yet Celia that you wont get dumped like some talentless starlet for this sort of carrying on.”

She blinked once or twice, but said nothing - the usual vitriol absent from this confrontation. “I’m going to find Peg. At least get something on before Peg gets here. Try and have a little bit of self respect.” He spat on the floor and stalked off in the directin of the door.

He heard her cough and then croak.
"Is the trumpet player here tonight?”
He paused with the knob clasp tightly in his hand. He’d never heard her be so polite when she was tanked, nor give a rats arse about any of the musicians in the backing band. “You’ve got bigger things to worry about sweet heart than whether or not Charlie is here tonight.”

The door slammed close and she looked around.

Feeling her internal equilibrium return she looked up at the show posters on the wall. It was like staring at her reflection. Celia had her face. She checked back in the mirror. She was a perfect match for Celia. Then came the startling realisation - she was Celia.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Last year Dale from Write Anything shared his list of Anti-Resolutions to bring the New Year in. He has shared another list with us this year.

I had an attempt at it last year but they all just came off sounding sappy, naff or both so I never got around to compiling my list of Anti-Resolutions. This year I'm up for it.

1. I will not buy a Barmix for the expressed purpose of blending my vomit in the sink so it slides more easily down the plug hole.

2. I will not take up a highly paid position with Phillip Morris and in essence sell my soul to the devil. Nor will I sell it to his hench men at Monsanto, Tate & Lyle, Nestle or GalaxoSmithKline

3. I will not sell my son into slavery in a salt mine (though he'd better watch himself!)

4. I will not buy a box of wanky highbrow literature to fill my book shelves with and pretend I know something about all of them.

5. I will not buy a pair of exotic and ridiculously expensive high heels shoes to traverse the streets of Brisbane in.

6. I will not poo in the pool.

7. I will not secretly store and freeze my partners semen and sell it on the blackmarket to desperate lesbian couples and single women who can't get access to reproductive assistance in australia.

8. I will not drink scotch and pretend that I like it just so I can look cultured.

9. I will not keep my house spick and span so that I can be the model housewife.

10. I will not suggest to my partner that a relocation to the Democratic Republic of the Congo sounds like a fun and exciting prospect for our family.
What you put on your list of Anti-Resolutions?