A thousand million years ago

A thousand million years ago I ran away from home (for the second time out of four) and took up a room in Geelong. Pretty sure it was a big old rooming house with 9 other women (also pretty sure this is one of the reasons why I could never be a lesbian, besides not being one, whatever).  So anyway, I was at Deakin Uni and one of my classes was called “Narrative Studies” or something (this was 1987!) and a woman called Ania Walwicz came to our class and got us to do some weird-ass writing that changed my life.

One hour for a life-changing experience.

Ania had us do some stream-of-consciousness writing, something I’d never heard of. Yet it was life changing.

A few years later, I came across Ania again in a writing class at the Footscray Community Arts Centre, and had coffee with her at the Black Cat on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy, and visited her home. Ania believed in my writing before I did.

Many many years later, I took a class at Melbourne University with Karen Burnes. Karen had me do a reading at a bar on Brunswick street. Karen believed in my writing before I did.

I still don’t believe in my writing, because that’s weird, and presumptuous.

Anyway, I’m publicly launching my book next week, the one I started as a short story during Karen Burnes’s class 15 years ago. I’ve connected with a few people from that time, who read my stuff, people like Rachel Matthews and Peggy Frew. They believed in my writing before I did.

I’ll believe in my writing some day. 

Here’s some of Ania Walwicz’s writing. She’s such a rad spoken word artist, and I believe in her.

David Bowie, Therapy, and Live Music

What a freaking week! I LOVE change. Change is also pretty overwhelming. Right now, I have change-a-million (and a cat crawling over me).

So let’s ignore that fluff and look at David Bowie. I heart Bowie’s music. Until tonight I thought I hearted Bowie. Period. After visiting the much hyped Bowie Is Now exhibition at ACMI in Melbourne tonight, I learned that I really just love the music, not the artist. Is that even possible?

Can you love the music but not the performance?

Friday nights at the Bowie show, ACMI is putting on some live shows, and tonight I got to see a favourite of mine, Jen Cloher, with Courtney Barnett (on guitar) – talk about all of my girl crushes in one room!

The band wore black.

The band was noisy.

It made me think hard about the avant-guard-ness of Bowie’s performance art-ed-ness.

That’s why I’m more Lou Reed than David Bowie.

I like artists who just tell it like it is.

I still love Bowie’s music.

I just don’t care for Bowie’s costumes or performances.

But I love this.

Can it be true?

Researching my favourite songs of the 70s for a mix-tape I’m giving away with my book at my upcoming launch and re-discovered this one. Just saying. I remember this song, and it made it to #11 of the Australian Music Charts in 1974. #11!!!


Holy Shitballs!

Tonnes of writing advice tells us that we should read our writing out loud to see how it feels and reads. Let me tell you what’s better than reading your writing out loud – getting someone else to read your writing out loud. To that end, last night, during my husband’s weekly Art Night, I asked my little cousin to read to me a new poem I wrote over the weekend. Wow! The kid is so sweet, so when she read back my I HATE poem, it was truly something. Here it is. Read it out loud or down low. I don’t mind.

I hate the rain
I hate umbrellas
I hate the sunlight when I’ve forgotten my glasses
I hate parents who scream at their children
And let them run around my table.
I hate sound
I hate memory.
I hate bikinis on skinny bitches
I hate the sound of airflow outside the window
I hate maths
I hate the sound your damp finger makes as it turns another page
I hate your success
I hate ordinariness
I hate our normality
Sometimes I hate the cool water pouring from the tap and want to cork it so
I hate the moon on a cloudy night
I hate those piddly wooden benches in the park and wish they were deeper
I hate cowards who didn’t tell their truth
I hate sprinklers left on during a storm
I hate your throat.
I hate repeating the same thing over and over
and over again.
I hate the colour blue, the way it cloaks you at night.
I hate missing you.
I hate breathing.
I love the water on my neck when I shower
Deglazing me.
Pouring me, drop by bloody drop
Down the drain
I love to be debris, cast out to sea.

Out to sea.

When will I be a real writer?

At what point do you become a real writer? Is it when when it’s available on Amazon and you get your first real-life printed copy? Or, if you’re in Australia, when it’s available for purchase from Readings?

Or maybe it’s the moment you write that last page. Or the day you burn it forever. Every last page.

I don’t know about you, but I wrote my first novel when I was 12. That’s way back in 1982. Thriller had just been released.

Time’s Man of the Year was given to the Computer.

One of my favourite songs was “Centerfold” by the J. Geils Band.

John Belushi died.

I used to go to bed wondering what Adam Ant was doing while I was asleep or having breakfast or (yawn) learning maths.

I read SE Hinton’s The Outsiders for the first time.

I was obsessed with the Outsiders when I heard that the film was due to be released in ’83, and wanted nothing more than to be a bad girl, the only bad girl of the group of Greasers – not like Cherry, who was a Soc with a bad streak, but one of the really bad kids. But I lived in an uber-strict world. So, rather than live it, I did what so many writers do, I wrote about the life I thought I wanted. Then, because I was a total wanker who had not siblings and fewer friends, and read Edgar Allen Poe, I torched every hand-typed page. Because that’s what you did to art when it wasn’t perfect.


Book launch… for reals

A Book Launch? Yes, A Book Launch!

Join fellow author, Belinda Missen and I as we launch our debut novels on Thursday, September 24, 2015

@ Littlefoot, 223 Barkly Street, Footscray. 6-8pm

There’ll be drinks and nibbles, as well as readings from our works (I promise this is going to be awesome).

If you think you can make it on the night, please head over to Facebook to RSVP or just come on the night!

Pre-order Floating Upstream

Lucky 13 and A Free Ebook!

You know one of the best things about living and getting older? 

Meeting and talking to some amazing people. As a journalist, I’ve spoken to a bunch of fascinating people, like MC Proof (from Eminem’s D12), Molly Ringwald, and authors Kathy Charles, and David Nobbs. In one of my previous blog incarnations (www.writersquarter.com) I had the absolute pleasure to interview writers I admire, writers who are friends, writers who were recommended to me.

Over the eons, I’ve met people who’ve had the craziest stories to tell and I think: Really, are you telling me the truth? Was your life really that awesome? You bullshit meter is on high alert as you get older.

Still, someone had to live the extraordinary life. And someone had to interview Molly Ringwald and Proof. Someone had to write the stories and go to the parties and meet all the interesting people. I don’t pretend to be any of these things, but I’m happy to have experienced them.

So, in the meantime, I put together a little ebook based on some of my interviews with writers.

It’s free. Simply sign up to my eensy-weensy mailing list to get your copy of The Lucky 13.

Subscribe to my mailing list and receive a Free Ebook!

Good writing vs Compelling Story

Yes, I honestly think it’s hard to get both right because the need to follow a “story arc” can truly bog us down. 

I have a confession to make: I have read very little over the last few years. Just putting that into writing makes me judge myself. Does that make me one of those writers who doesn’t read? I used to read piles of books a year but then something happened and I stopped. I’ve got a stack of books on my bedside table that have been dog-eared at various stages – 10 pages in, 5 pages, some 30-odd, but finishing has been a real drama. Here’s what’s in the pile: 
Every time I make time to pick one up, I’m left feeling terribly ho-hum. The story moves along, but there is no depth to the writing, no real beauty.
Recently I was sent a book by a friend who is a big reader, and will only read books that are recommended to her, so I was happy to take her recommendation. She isn’t the biggest fan of modern fiction, so I was interested to know why this book, this writer. 
“My mom introduced me to William Maxwell. I’m not extra fond of modern writers and modern fiction, but he was one who warmed me up to the genre.  I remember you and I talked about the preponderance of plot in so much modern fiction.  Well, his stories are much more character-oriented.  I never had experienced what I thought was ‘tone’ before I read his works.  Well, I’m sure I did, but his works are startlingly pure in this regard, I think.  I’ve read about 6 of his works and would read them again”
I read books like I watch TV or movies – in the moment. In while it’s in then, soon after, it’s gone and I’m left only with a feeling. I don’t remember the inciting incident or the plot. I do remember the language, the characters and their interactions. I’ve read One Hundred Years of Solitude three times, and know it’s my favourite book but can’t remember what it’s about.
Then over the last few years, I’ve been reading books for story, plot, arcs and action, and I think it’s killed my love of reading and, to some degree, writing.
What happens to a writer who doesn’t write books that are plot heavy? We self publish, that’s what!

An admission about addiction

(Warning: What you’re reading is a first draft. I do not like to edit my blog posts – something about them being honest and real. Whatever.)

ACT 1: When I was 17, I got drunk for the first time along Melbourne’s Yarra River. It’s where all students went at the end of the year to forget their high-school woes and to cut loose.

Someone threw up on a cop car (LEGEND!) and I pashed a lot of boys.

The thing is, a lot of us Catholic school girls, especially us wogs, grew up in tortuous communities where EVERY SINGLE step was measured by our parents, neighbours, people we met at a wedding one time, and people who knew our mother and father but we had not seen since we were ten. And either despite this, or in spite of this, we Rebelled with a capital R. I knew lots of Aussie girls who rebelled against being a teenager, but us wog kids, well we rebelled against so much more.

What is incredibly sad is that, at 45, I’m still rebelling.

Against what, you say?

How could someone in her middle age give a shit about what her folks or family think, or even someone they met at a wedding one time?

Well let me tell you: Guilt and Fear do not stop just because you get older. My parents still don’t know about my tattoos (and there are a lot of them), they don’t know that my husband of 20 years and I once separated for 6 months, they know (but don’t want to know) that I have clinical depression and take meds every day (“can’t you just stop taking them?” my mother asks).

I am jealous of those who don’t believe that telling the truth is harder than lying.

How can telling the truth be better than telling a lie to make things easier?

ACT 2: Being high is better than, well, not being high.

You know how some people hold onto their youth by listening to the same music or wearing the same clothes or even holding onto the same hairstyles as that time when they were most happy in their lives (this is the stuff of the best Oprah episodes)? Well, for some reason, I’ve decided to hold onto the most negative times of my life.

When I drank a lot.

Being high makes me think I’m a better writer, a victim, funny, a great friend and wife, more interesting, just more…

And because of this…

Sometimes it feels like I have no past (or just no weekend).

ACT 3: We didn’t have digital cameras in the 80s and I had no money while I was at uni, so that means I have no photographic proof of my memories, my most important memories that explain who I am, whether good or bad.

I don’t have proof of:

– My first acid trip where I saw a cicada that was the MOST GIANT FLY I’d ever seen.
– The time Maree and I made a 4-Season diorama in a shoe box (based on the children’s book, The trip).
– The time, in 1987, when a bunch of us chucked a bunch of dishwashing liquid in the Deaking Uni moat.
– The hitch-hiking posts at Deakin
– The house on Packington Street in Geelong with walls covered in graffiti.
– My “tomato” plants in Geelong.
– Anorexia
– Bulimia
– Passing out in public phone booths from not eating.
– Sit ins against HECS in 1986-88
– My purple plastic and flannel-lined raincoat that I picked up in that place on 13th Street near Uni in Eugene.
– The glittery blue bike I bought for a gram of weed in Eugene.
– The first time I met Jeff (although I have a t-shirt from the place where we met)…/

I also don’t see anyone from that time (late 80s). So is the person I remember actually real? Or is she made up? I have no photographic evidence, and a very romantic memory.

My memories of that time are hilarious, though, and it feels like I’m holding on REALLY TIGHT  to a time that wasn’t real, a time that was so fleeting, a time that has no proof. No photos. No friends that still exist (despite Facebook).

I remember a song called “Medication Time” that my friend Maree and I wrote with our voices and a couple of wooden spoons and pots.

I remember breaking into buildings.

I try to hold on.

I look at the white pages for familiar names. I look at Google and see the people who may be related to the things I recall from time to time. I want to contact them to say: “Hey, you really do exist. Did I?”

Did we ever? Did that second-hand (nee vintage) clothing shop really exist? What about Alex and the bikies? What about Michael Head, my first love who laid me down in a bed of roses (actually a field of dry grass)?

I hold onto those memories as though they are the greatest in the whole world, better than cream and sausage rolls.

These memories only have first names.

Only first names, because we were not meant to live this long, let along worry about last names.

I knew a fruitarian who walked around naked;
Mars, a guitarist with a heavy hand who became a chemist;
His fat girlfriend, Robyn;
A dealer called Alex and all her bikie friends
A black lesbian called Maree, who was neither black nor a lesbian (but we spent every second together and we wore black)

Where the hell are these people? How could they have changed my life eternally but also have no presence. Why the fuck aren’t they on Facebook?

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