Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

Where Creativity Starts

I try not to flinch every time someone says they are ‘bored of’ something.

Half my brain screams ‘Bored with: it’s tired of; bored with!’ while the other half calmly reasons that language evolves. If young people unanimously decide to go with bored of, who am I to swim against the linguistic tide in my old-fashioned neck-to-knees swimsuit and flowered bathing cap?

And so I gamely dog-paddle on, chin up, through a rising tide of complaints, kids bored of this, bored of that, and try to focus on the real issue…

And that is the belief that being bored is somehow a bad thing.Something to be avoided at all costs. Or fended off with scheduled activities or screen time courtesy of the ubiquitous array of electronic boredom busters.

Lordy me, when did boredom become such a threat? Once upon a time, anyone with the temerity (or lack of imagination) to be bored was either given a job to do or told to make their own fun.

Nowadays, someone passes them an iPad. Or turns on the telly.

No-one tells kids the truth. That boredom is their friend. It’s where creativity is sparked, ideas are born. It’s that  space in our busy lives where we can take the time to amble aimlessly, discover hidden worlds, dream up a story, paint a picture, write a song, build a better mouse trap.

The mind is a marvelous thing. Give it some space to meander and it will surprise you. I know this because all my stories have been daydreamed into existence. I once spent three entire months thinking about a kid called Henry Hoey Hobson before I wrote the first word of his story. Other stories have simmered on the back hotplate of my mind, sometimes for years, till a lull in the busy-busy of life created space for it to move to the front burner.

So don’t fill let your kids fill their days with busy-busy. Even if you’re a mad scheduler and can’t help yourself, schedule some time out for them. Every day. No activities. No screens. No homework.

Let them be bored. Allow them to daydream. And watch their creativity flow.

 

 

 

1955 FILM : "SEVEN YEAR ITCH"MARILYN MONROE AND TOM EWELL

1955 FILM : “SEVEN YEAR ITCH” MARILYN MONROE AND TOM EWELL

‘The seven year itch, a time of potential crisis when you traditionally take stock of your relationship and decide whether it’s what you really want or not.’ Daily Mail Online

Dear Blog,

It’s exactly seven years since you first came into my life.

Back then, you were a bit shy, hesitant, and let’s be honest (we’ve known each other long enough to be candid), a trifle underwhelming.

I was an internet virgin. Nervously attending the kind of workshop that those in the know recommended to those without a clue (before their first publisher had their way with them).

I remember blushing when the workshop convener at the Qld Writers Centre suggested I  google myself (I’d never done that before – and certainly not in a room full of strangers).

oh-my-blog-I found only two online references to myself (an article on dispute resolution dating back to the nineties, and a more current tuckshop roster for my kids’ primary school).

Clearly there was work to be done on developing this author’s platform. And apparently you were the blog that would do it for me.

The lovely convener that set us up, explained your needs and what I should do with your widgets, and somehow we survived our first awkward encounters.

Ironically, one of my first posts protested parallel importation of books – and seven years later, Aussie writers are fighting that battle again. (Thanks for providing the handy link to click if anyone wants to sign the Petition to save Australian literature).

Our blogging efforts went to the next level when I worked out that a bit of visual stimulation (and even some Elvis the Pelvis) could add a bit of fun. And suddenly there was no stopping us.

We went at it like rabbits. But after seven years, more than 200 posts, and 71,000 views from more than 10,000 visitors, I began to wonder if it might be time for a change.

I found myself making discrete inquiries to friends about their website designers. Late at night, I previewed other blog themes, colours and fonts. I fantasized about a more exciting website that could show me off, take me to new places, introduce me to new friends.

I went back through seven years of archives, trying to see how to do things better and a funny thing happened.

As I retraced my steps, through all the ups and downs of this writing life, and the funny, sadinspiring and beautiful moments that we’ve shared, I fell in love with you, dear blog, all over again.

So you can scratch that seven year itch. The comfort of the tried and true is strong enough to keep us together.

Rest easy, dear blog, looks like you’re stuck with me for a good few years yet. Cxx

My house hates me

Posted: November 17, 2014 in Musings
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housewife cleaningFifteen years we’ve been together and finally my house has turned on me.

I blame myself. I’m a disinterested cleaner (no Nana, not everyone shifts the furniture to vacuum) and denial works for a surprisingly long time where home maintenance is concerned.

It worked for me. Right up to the morning I parked my feet under my desk and paddled in something wet.

I immediately accused the dog – which offended him greatly – and then realised that the sodden pool of carpet was too large and fresh-smelling to be blamed on my fastidiously continent beagle.

Intrigued, I tracked the puddle to the wall, under it, and on to the real culprit – my en suite shower next door.

‘Your waterproofing’s failed,’ said Mick the plumber, hitching up his duds. ‘Big job fixing that.’

I thanked him, filed his advice in my too-hard basket, and informed Hubba Hubby that we could no longer use our shower.

But that’s okay, I assured him, because we could always use the decrepit bathroom on the back verandah. beforeWhich is what we did – right through the coldest months of the year.

Now, Brisbane isn’t Winterfell, but showering on the back verandah of an old Queenslander is exactly like standing outside naked in the middle of winter. But we figured we could tough it out, because we’re Brisvegans, and hey, summer is coming!

But long before the mercury hit anywhere near yesterday’s 40 degrees, the decrepit bathroom on the back verandah gave out under the unexpected and unrelenting pressure of daily use.

So for the last two months, we’ve been deep in the throes of not one, but two bathroom renovations.

All manner of tradesmen have trapsed through our house while the scream of tile-cutters filled the dust-clogged air, causing what I can only assume was an inexplicable neural spasm because, in the midst of reigning chaos, I decided to order new curtains. After all, they’d been in the house since we bought it, fifteen years seemed a fair innings, and how much extra chaos could new curtains cause anyway?

A fair bit apparently. Because yes, Nana, I did shift the bedroom furniture to vacuum (so that the curtain man wouldn’t think I was a grub). And that’s how I discovered the plague of carpet moth munching its way through the woollen carpets in my bedroom.

So now the beagle and I are holed up in my office (which thank the high heavens has lovely acrylic carpet, albeit slightly water-marked in that large stained area under my desk) while Wayne, the nicest pest man in the world mass-murders carpet moths in the main bedroom.

afterSwear to God, I should have left well enough alone.

Once you start paying these old girls a bit of attention, they get so dang demanding…

But to be fair, they also scrub up pretty well, don’t you think?

Chris & Andrew 076Collective nouns aren’t normally associated with brides, what with only one usually in a room at a time (South Korean mass weddings notwithstanding).

But oh my lordy, we needed a compendium of collective nouns to describe the bevy of bridal treats that turned up for our 20th wedding anniversary party on the weekend.

Dozens of my nearest and dearest slipped, shoe-horned and shimmied their way back into their wedding finery to celebrate with hubba hubby and me.

A train of brides chugalugging on champers. A bouquet of bridesmaids blessing us with their fragrant presence. A gabble of groomsmen that could be heard a suburb away.1383718_10152579227633725_4419480155957365272_n

Oh, and for some unexplained reason, hubba hubby chose to wear a safari suit, but each to his own.

I love him dearly and when it comes to wedding parties, no-one cares what the blokes wear, do they?

Chris & Andrew 070

charles_barsotti

Who knows how, when, or even why this Blog Hop on Writing Process even started.

But if it’s good enough for my friend, fellow author and all-round nice guy Michael Gerard Bauer to sass his way through four questions on his writing process, then it’s good enough for me.

So here goes.

1. What are you working on at the moment?

[Cue: deer-caught-in-the-headlights]

Em … [That question ranks right alongside people asking (as one did at last week’s launch of Intruder) ‘When’s your next one coming out?’ My first impulse is to lie – because  the truth does not set us free. The truth is I’m trapped on Level 181 of Candy Crush. Trapped like my protagonist Win Mackie in my adult work-in-progress The Lonely Dead. Trapped by a terrifying past and an intricate web of lies half a lifetime in the making. And that’s just me. Win Mackie’s in an even tighter spot.] 

2. How do you think your work differs from other writers in your genre?

Well, I don’t know, how many other writers of fiction for children and young adults are working on adult literary crime at the moment?

3. Why do you write what you write?

Because I have no choice. Stories either sink their teeth in or they don’t.

4. What’s your writing process and how does it work?

I day-dream, incessantly, obsessively about my main character and their (usually ghastly) situation. I interrogate my characters ruthlessly,letting scenes spool through my head, as I dream up ways of making it worse, making it funny and making it matter. Generally, I need three strong ideas to come together in a unique way to make a novel work.

I usually don’t start writing until I come up with something that makes me cry. And that’s often the ending. It can change in the writing (and often does, as I discover unforeseen depths of character and dramatic opportunities as I write the story).

Writing novels is a bit like driving in the country. You can have a destination in mind, and a map, but it’s the discoveries along the way that make the journey unforgettable.

Well, that’s it for me on the Blog Hop, folks. I can’t resist dobbing in Katherine Battersby next, so hop over to her blog sometime at The Well Read Rabbit to see if she takes up the challenge. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Here’s looking at you, Mum

Posted: October 19, 2012 in Family, Musings
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Back in 1966, at the age of 36, my mum had given birth to six children in the previous six years – including two sets of twins.

She’s pictured here (at Kemp Beach, Yeppoon, with the younger twins), looking effortlessly elegant in her brother Neil’s hat.

Forty-six years later, she’d probably still fit into that dress… legacy of a lifetime of taking only one potato – and then promptly offering it to the nearest child in need (I suspect I was that child a bit too often for my own good).

I often wish I could be more like my mum – but it’s probably too late now to say no to potatoes – so tonight I’ll simply settle for being with her.

I’m hopping on a plane and flying up to Bilo to help celebrate her birthday. She didn’t think turning 82 was worth making a fuss about, but I beg to differ.

Every birthday is a cause for celebration. And we’ll remind her of that every year from now on:

You only live once, Mum…but if you do it right, once is enough. 🙂

Catty’s gone

Posted: August 8, 2012 in Family, Musings
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Sixteen years ago a friend walked in with a grey ball of fluff that his daughter had given him.

‘My kids have grown up,’ he said. ‘I don’t need any new commitments. You take him. You’re not going anywhere for the next sixteen years. ‘

Still in the glow of newly wedded bliss, I let that one slide and picked up the kitten. ‘Does he have a name?’ I asked.

And surprisingly the little ball of fur answered for himself. ‘Al,’ he meowed, and I was sold.

Who could resist a cat that could say his own name?

Yes, he was my cat, but to his credit, he took to each new child with delight, sleeping at their feet at night, and trotting up to the school through their primary school years to walk them home.

He was the ultimate party cat: jumping the fence to join the fairy circle at the neighbour’s birthday party; displaying a bizarre affection for family beach holidays; and always finding the lap of whichever visitor had the strongest aversion to felines.

It took him more than three years to forgive us for getting the beagle, despite the pleasures he discovered in tormenting him.

And for sixteen years, he was my little mate. I spent more hours with Al than with hubba hubby or the kids or my friends or all of my extended family put together. And yesterday he died in my arms.

I thought I’d cried myself out, but it seems that I haven’t…

RIP Allan Hallam, you dear old thing.

You will always be the best catty ever.