I have just finished a series of readings, of my short story Eggshells, showcased in the Melbourne Subjective – an anthology of contemporary Melbourne writing, published by the Cartridge Family. This anthology is rich with fiction, non-fiction, essays and poetry about memories, stories and imaginations about our vibrant city. Copies are available at book shops across Melbourne including, Readings in Carlton, Hares and Hyenas in Fitzroy and that wonderful Aladdin’s cave of literature the Eltham Book Shop in beautiful and still a bit leafy Eltham.
The readings took place in venues around Melbourne and have been a lot of fun. Hearing the spoken word gives the listener a richer experience of prose and poetry. It allows for the rhythm and richness of the words to be accentuated. I am very grateful to be the company of some of the city’s leading writers and poets.
The hard work begins in February. I am now in the copy and structural editing stage of my manuscript. It feels a bit like fossicking for gold. I read every word and line with a curious mind, rolling each around into another sequence, trying to dig deeper into the meaning of what I have written; flushing out the bits that don’t need to be there.
A mass of yellow sticky notes with my scrawled writing reminding me of details I need to check cover the dogged-eared ms.
I am at the beach trying to not read or edit my manuscript A Different War Story. I promised myself I would put it away for January and revisit it in February when I would take on the hard work of structural and copy editing. How hard should leaving my work be? I find my mood has changed and it is as if I am treading water and life is passing me by. I promise myself I will try and start a new short story; something completely different. But nothing comes to mind. Perhaps I will go for a walk along the beach followed by a latte at the local café.
The weather at the coast is cool. I am sitting in the sun-room at the back of the beach house. The sun is streaming in and the trees outside are being buffered by a strong sea breeze. Not like Melbourne’s summer weather at all – I love it – walks along the beach when it is cool are invigorating and gets the blood circulating. For me this weather is far more enjoyable than the sharp teeth of the summer sun bearing down upon my head and shoulders.
Holidays are happy days; released from the tight reign of work schedules and domestic chores. This year is our first summer holiday without our beloved border collie Bonnie. She died in August last year. How she loved the beach and I still have visions of her running along the sand, tongue lolling, chasing waves, stones, balls, sticks other dogs … anything … after all she was a border collie; born to run and herd. Her best beach trick was to chase an unsuspecting dog she met on her walk into the sea and then not let it out again. Her sheep herding instincts came to the fore and if the unsuspecting canine tried to run from the waves, Bon would be there chasing it back into the whitecaps. The only reprieve was for us to call her name and distract her. She would look around, the dog would run out of the ocean and the chase would be on again. How we miss her!
As I sit in my room and reflect on my writing this year, I am pleased with the outcomes and look forward to 2015 for other exciting adventures in this world of writing.
Since 2012, I have been researching and writing a memoir about my father’s experience in the Second World War and how the ramifications of that echoed within our family home during my growing years. The personal journey has been rich in a myriad of ways; sad, yet uplifting. The stand-out for me is the sense that I have come to know my father all over again, as a mature adult and not the young woman who was just out of her teens when he died – green to the world and all the peculiarities of the human condition.
I am just about finished the first draft with a small section to research and write about how signals worked in the field, as my father was a signalman and a gunner. My aim is to finish first draft by end of this month, let the work cool off in January and tackle it again in February when I hopefully I can see it with fresh eyes.
Besides Eggshells being published in the Melbourne Subjective, another excerpt from the memoir, A Swim, a Bicycle and a Ride to Hell, received a Highly Commended in the national Laura Literary Award and was published in the winners’ journal.
The icing on cake for me this year was my time studying post-graduate Creative Writing at Exeter College, University of Oxford, Oxfordshire, UK. I was a resident in college and wrote at my desk that overlooked the quadrangle from one window and on the opposite side of the room I gazed over Turl Street and the passing parade of visitors and Oxfordians going about their daily business. If you are a fan of the British detective series, Inspectator Morse, then watch the episode where he dies on the lawn. He dies outside my room. My window overlooked where he breathed his last Inspector Morse breaths.
My days were spent attending lectures and tutorials surrounded by writers from all over the world. Evenings were filled with vibrant and exhilarating conversations about authors, books, plays and the best bars in which to have a drink before or after attending a Shakespearian play or classical music recital at one of the many cathedrals or chapels. I felt truly alive with my international tribe and have found it difficult to settle into the hum drum of day to day, work and domestics.