Posted on June 1, 2015
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.
Posted on April 14, 2015
Yes, I honestly think it’s hard to get both right because the need to follow a “story arc” can truly bog us down.
Posted on April 10, 2015
(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.
– 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?
Posted on April 6, 2015
Posted on March 30, 2015
Husband is currently beta-reading a book I wrote during #nanowrimo 2013 titled “The Exorcism of Elizabeth Parker”.
I can see a series. As a kid and teen and young adult I read every Agatha Christie I could get my (cheap) hands on (I was a poor student so anything second-hand was king and queen).
My new leading ladee, Beth Parker is a junkie, a criminal, sex-addict and a writer who wants to learn the truth – about everyone else. But she doesn’t like it when the truth lands on her very personal doorstep.
Here are some pictures that represent the vibe of this story. It’s fun to see your story in pictures. It’s a rare thing for a writer.
|Nuns are people, too.|
|Dark wood = DRAMA!|
Posted on March 24, 2015
This article in The Guardian has got me seriously freaked out. Apparently the average person will read 3000 books in their lifetime. Only 3000?
I spent half of 1988 and most of 1989 reading. That’s almost a book every day or two days. That’s when I wasn’t knitting and watching the cricket.
(It’s called a nervous breakdown, people!)
I think my dad has never read a book other than the Communist Manifesto (long story), and mum may have read some romance novels.
I wonder if I would have been such an avid reader if I’d had the internet when I was growing up?
Given my reading habits of the last 5 years, I think I probably wouldn’t have. So that’s something else to be grateful for.
This year, I’ve had to WORK REALLY HARD to read, but here’s what I’m up to so far:
Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway by Cherie Currie
Struggling with this. I have a real problem with autobiographies – memoirs really should be written by 3rd parties to keep them as honest and impartial as possible.
Lou Reed: Transformer by Victor Bokris
Absolutely magnificent. Life changing. I’m going to get a Velvet Underground tattoo soon. Sad I didn’t get into Lou Reed while he was alive.
The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie
I just found a stash of Agatha Christie books I thought I’d got rid of! This is excellent because of the story I’m about to edit. I want to capture the Christie vibe so I started with this one. I’m only a few pages in and thought I would hate the writing style but it’s so elegant.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
On my bedside table. I’m a sucker for a critically-acclaimed best seller.
This is a non-fiction book I read on the go – when I;m waiting for the doctor, having a burger, and last thing before bed. I love their podcast and the book is an extension of that, and some realistic advice on how to actually be a writer.
The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer
I’m enjoying this because I love Amanda Palmer’s music and ethos. However, I learned recently that Amanda is knocked up and it’s changed the way I feel about her as a creative person. Sorry, Still worth reading, but I just feel like the book is a lie.
Requiem for a Dream by Hubert Selby Jr
Holy fuckballs! I’ve watched the film twice and just attempted the book. Have you? Holy Fuckballs! Read it. Watch it. This is Art. Holy Fuckballs.
Captive of the Labyrinth: Sarah L. Winchester, Heiress to the Rifle Fortune
I promise you: this is not as staid as it sounds. Don’t trust me? Well listen to this podcast on How Stuff Works about the Winchester House then tell me it’s still boring! Game changer!
Sadly, given that we are 79 days into the new year, I have actually finished ready only 1 book.
Do I need another nervous breakdown? Come on!
Posted on February 26, 2015
So much is said about women in the arts. You know, how we don’t get taken seriously, how female characters seem secondary.
This year’s Academy Awards are testament to the lack of female roles in popular film, with every story centering around men. So the challenge is for chicks to get busy and tell more stories about us, just to even things out…
All of my lead characters across short stories, novels and poetry are women. Not “strong” women, nor even “weak” women, because those are just wanky constructs. My women have jobs, they lose them, they drink too much and take drugs, sometimes they fuck strangers, or their friends, at other times they drive at a legal speed limit and eat a healthy diet but sometimes they just want hot chips and chocolate at four in the morning.
What do you think? should there be more “strong” women represented in the media or just women of all kinds? And who determines what “strong” means? Is Beyonce strong because she’s “proud” to show her body and talk about her ass? (P.S. NO)
So that reminds me…
A few years ago, a major radio station in Australia held their countdown for the Hottest 100 of all time. Talk about controversial. Apparently there are no hot women in alternative music, and there have never been. Here are some tidbits about the countdown from Wikipedia.
* Only two songs in the entire Hottest 100 featured a female lead vocalist: Shara Nelson and Elizabeth Fraser, both of whom were guest vocalists on songs by Massive Attack(“Unfinished Sympathy” and “Teardrop” respectively). As such, there were no female artists or bands with permanent female vocalists who reached the countdown.
I know this is old news now, but it still sets me off when I think about it. So go and listen to some awesome women, you guys.
Here’s someone I’m listening to right now! I heart Adalita, and she’s from my hometown, Melbourne so I get to check her out live all the time.
Not forgetting Sia.
And finally, Nenah Cherry!
Posted on January 26, 2015
On Friday, I went to see Amanda Palmer for a signing of her book “The Art of Asking“.
And, yes, the whole night kinda blew my mind.
Posted on January 1, 2015
Sometimes I bemoan the fact that I don’t write “popular fiction”, while at other times I’m completely smug about it.
Mostly, I feel smug, and then I check out the best-seller lists and bemoan again.
This week, I’ve been reading the Lou Reed biography Transformer and it got me thinking a few things:
1. If you’re a creative genius, you can be an asshole.
2. If you’re a creative genius, you don’t have to be popular.
3. If you’re a creative genius, you make your own rules and don’t give a shit what anybody thinks.
4. Popularity and critical acclaim are very different things.
Ergo 5. If you can tell a story, you can get away with being poor writer (Twilight, anyone?)
Despite these 5 points, and even though I wrote my first book (200 hand-written pages) at 12 (and subsequently burnt it – thank you, Poe), followed by a tonne of poems, short stories and three (unpublished) manuscripts, it still feels like I don’t know anything about story-telling.
Earlier this year I had one of my manuscripts professionally edited, and one of the comments I received was: Are you familiar with the three-act story structure?
But back to Lou Reed. He reminded me (among other things) that we create because we create (sometimes, though, people like Lou Reed create because they are assholes), and that we don’t have to follow rules. I don’t know much about Lou Reed (a little more now thanks to the biography), except that some of his music moves me (like this and this).
Then I went on to read one of Lou Reed’s last interviews in NME, where he said:
“Every single one of us there was … wanting to do something magniﬁcent. We weren’t there to make money or be pretty or get laid. We were trying to create a diamond. We wanted to make heaven on Earth…”
Being a kid is lonely. Being an adult can be equally lonely. Writing makes some of us a little less lonely, but it’s hard to be immune to the “game” – you know the one, write to publish etc etc. It’s a trap that, soon enough, makes me feel that I’m doing it wrong, and suddenly I’m writing to someone else’s idea of what makes a story.
When I was a kid, I wrote about what I wished I was. As an adult, not much has changed, except my writing is dirtier and, I think, more honest because, above all else, honesty matters (despite this blog’s tag-line). (Oh, and having a spider named after you is kinda rad, too: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loureedia)
I miss Lou Reed. I didn’t know him, and I’ve only discovered his back catalogue in the last few years, but I miss his type of brutal honesty. He lied a lot, too, but he let us into who he is a bit, and that’s something neither Stephenie Meyer nor Lady Gaga give me.
Posted on October 19, 2014