Saturday, 27 July 2013

Time Out Track - Amazing

Our first holiday was a road trip up the east coast of Australia in mum's car - power steering and air conditioning luxury, camp sites on the beach, pubs with balconies.

We drove from Byron Bay home to Melbourne in one day. Hadn't planned it that way but after two weeks on the coast, there was nowhere inland that we wanted to stop.

Instant coffee in a thermos, a one dayer between Australia and Pakistan, Tamworth, Dubbo, the dish at Forbes, Wagga...thinking this is it.

Bare feet on the dash, windows down, salty hair flying, singing loudly the song that even radio saturation couldn't spoil. Him smiling at me, even when I was off-key. Thinking this is the man for me.

More days have passed than the miles we covered then, or the days we ended up spending together.

Summer in London, no longer feeling loss or regret, for 3:20, while the kids are playing in the courtyard next door, singing loudly out the loft windows. And smiling. And it's Amazing.





Thursday, 25 July 2013

I remember...


I remember seeing 'Cahill Expressway' on the cover of 'The Fat Man in History', Peter Carey's first collection of short stories.

It was pivotal for me: stop, see detail, imagine.

I've long been drawn to Jeffrey Smart's art for his photographic ability to render everyday things into stillness, into shadows.



 Howard Arkley lived in a suburban house near where I grew up in Melbourne. His paintings included textures, patterns, household goods in airbrushed bold colours.One of the greatest compliments for him was somebody saying, 'That looks like Dot's house...I wonder what it's like inside, I bet it's just like Dot's house.'

I remember seeing one his paintings that was unmistakably a Sydney apartment building. It triggered one of my earliest memories - a 3year old visiting Allawah, sitting on my grandfather's shoulders, my twin brothers either side holding his hands.

I remember reading an article years ago where someone said of Helen Garner that she could create an enthralling story about things you'd see just walking around the block together.

I remember being at the Melbourne Writers' Festival years ago, a 16 yo closet writer of angst poems, sitting at the back of a 'conversation with David Malouf'. He speaks quite slowly, even when he's clearly speaking off the cuff, and I've never forgotten him saying what a privilege it is as a writer to be able to control time. An hour can take thirty pages of observations, thoughts, memories. Feelings.

I try not to be self-absorbed.
I try to walk, listen, see, and remember that nothing is ordinary. 
I try to remember that there is a compelling story in everything and everyone.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

What a schedule, and what a lucky lady...

WARNING: This is not supposed to be a brag or name dropping, I just want to share my love for my live world of words.

Last month I talked about coming out of the writer closet, and the authors I'd heard (and bought) at great events.

And the hits just keep on coming.

At Clapham Books last week, Tom Canty read from his debut novel, Clapham Lights. The thing that really struck me was how well a young writer could stand in front of a crowded room and read his work aloud. He was funny, in the characters, and confident in what he was saying.

If I were his publisher I'd be getting Tom straight into a studio to record his novel. Apparently his girlfriend thinks his female voice is, well, pants I think he said. Maybe she could help him out there, but otherwise his delivery was brilliant.

Yesterday I went to the Spread The Word event at Woolfson and Tay. The afternoon was informal, for writers to write about 'things that happen in a bookshop'. I met a Shakespearian scholar, got talking to Paul Sherreard (who gave me a fantastic business idea - cheers) and had plot inspiration from the crazy (Shaun Levin's word, not mine) Devawn Wilkinson.

Most of us bought the Write Around the Bookshop map and used a prompt from that, along with the setting (surrounded by books, opposite a pub) to come up with a new piece of work.

After a break a selection of young writers who have been involved in various Spread the Word schemes read, either from anthologies and/or the exercises they'd done in the afternoon.

Again, I was so impressed with how well young writers can deliver their work. You'd think they've been doing it for years, and they're definitely ready for being on bigger stages.

A few open mic slots were taken with, let's just call them (myself included), less published and slightly more mature writers, who also read their output from the afternoon.

It was a great opportunity to write, mix, listen, and of course eat. The red velvet cake was a big hit, and next week I want to go back for the Savoury Asian Pulled Pork - sounds amazing.

And next Saturday I'm back at The Society Club for July's Word Factory event.

What luck!

I'd really love to hear what events others have been to, and how it's helped their writing. And hopefully anyone who hasn't been taking advantage of local events might think about getting along to one soon.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Time Out Track - no one said it would be easy

Inspired by my fortunate success in the Write To Run challenge (Uh Oh, below, where embarrassment paid off), I was thinking of posting a clip to a song I used as motivation for running.

But I don't listen to music when I run.

Apart from a delirious "home straight" the first time we ran over 15km, when my training partner and I jogged through a local high street on a Sunday morning belting out the Rocky theme song, there is only one song I can recall coming in to my head while running.

I was using a marathon training programme in which the longest run was 30km, two weeks in a row. I'd nailed the first week pretty comfortably, and went out far too confident the following week.

Dragging myself along the track beside the Yarra River by rowers with coxes yelling at them, looping over and over in my head was Sheryl Crow.

'No one said it would be easy, but no one said it'd be this hard. No one said it would be easy, but no one thought we'd come this far.' I mustn't say what I wanted to do to her for those last few kms.

Unfortunately, now that I've mentioned it, she's looping again with me while I wrestle the writing targets for my manuscript.

But let's take her on! So here's a time out track that gets me fired up to take on anything that looks daunting...like going back to swimming training tomorrow night after a considerable time out.

It also made me quite a 'cool Auntie' when I played it loud in the car for my nephew.




Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Writing prompt: yellow trousers in Verona

During the day I'm quite happy travelling alone. In the coffee and wine drinking countries in Europe I'll start the day early, have a shot of espresso standing at a bar and listening. Then I walk and take photos.

In Italy a couple of years ago, I became fascinated with the range of coloured trousers the men were wearing. So I started trying to capture as many as I could...

This man was waiting across the street from my apartment. I stood on my 3rd floor balcony sipping a Spritzer, and after about 20 mins he was kind enough to pose front and back.


I thought of him, and some of the other photos from that trip, as I was trying to describe some men's outfits for a piece I'm working on.

There are so many people photos in my library, I may share a few, and maybe you'll find something to inspire you.

nb: I know my photos are nothing like professional quality. I'm merely sharing theme as character studies and potential writing prompts.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Time Out (Writing) Track

I'm sitting in the library at the Royal Institute of British Architects. I didn't think they'd have wifi. I thought the room would be far more impressive - the entrance is. But in here it's a musty reference room where lots of older people are intent on large hardcover texts.

I wanted to leave when I arrived, but that's probably more about escaping today's task: manuscript edit.

They do have wifi, and I was searching for a playlist to help me when I came across the album, 'Man With A Movie Camera' by The Cinematic Orchestra.

It's been a fabulous writing set, as being a soundtrack it's role is to support a film rather than feature. I haven't seen the experimental documentary, but will be going back to this album for future writing.

Hope it's useful for some of you