Belladonna and black cherries

December 28, 2015 at 9:39 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

When I was a child I used to count.

The shadows on my bedroom wall, the spines on my beloved books, the whiskers of my cat and the folds in the fabric of my flannelette Fraggles pyjamas. It was a ritual that never failed to comfort me.

I don’t count so much anymore. When I need solace there are adult solutions: deep breaths, basking under a ripe moon, pen strokes across thick parchment, phone calls to friends and occasionally, straight whiskey.

Adult solutions, like I said.

A frowny little fraggle

A frowny little fraggle

But at this time of year I pull out the abacus and string my days along it, and let me tell you, my smile is wide.

2015 saw half a dozen published stories, four more recorded at the ABC studios, one Hollywood actor reciting my lines in front of my wide eyes, one invitation to submit my work to the Australian Writers Guild Awards, performances at five literary festivals, two competition wins and one writing residency deep in a Finnish forest. Add to that one leap of faith in submitting a story to the New York Times (rejected, as perhaps expected, but so exciting to hit ‘send’ on that one), six collaborations with musicians and photographers, four applications for fellowships, one invitation to write and narrate a half hour radio show, and one nascent Instagram account to display all of the above.

That’s one lovely paragraph, I think.

Instagram photo - that first sip of Belgian cherry beer

Instagram photo – that first sip of Belgian cherry beer

Instagram photo

Instagram photo

Instagram photo - Porto, Portugal

Instagram photo – Porto, Portugal

2015 also welcomed in two taxidermy workshops as research for my novel, a deer skull with antlers, one bell jar for my many snake skins, one tiny kingfisher skull in a case on my bookshelf, and several porcupine quills to hold together my snaking red curls.

Books read: couldn’t even begin to count.

How I wish I looked while writing...

How I wish I looked while writing…

Friday afternoons spent with my coven of artists, discussing love, life, lust and art over wine and laughter, red notebooks dotting the tabletop among sketch pads and cameras: about thirty.

New tattoos: for once, none, but one request to extend my red swamp lilies down my right arm. So 2015 sees me with only three inky flowers, three cauldrons, three spirals, and thirteen black and blue snakes, their tiny heads writing across my skin.

Belladonna swamp lilies and snaky tresses

Belladonna swamp lilies and snaky tresses

This year there was one Finnish residency hosting four artists, five studios, three house cats, one sighting of the northern lights, six invitations to the sauna, three village pubs (Huutula!), countless meals of reindeer and bottles of cloudberry wine, and one protective wolf outside my window.

Squirrels sighted: only one, damn it.

Photo by AmyMAndersonArt

Photo by AmyMAndersonArt

Kiitos, Haihatus!

Kiitos, Haihatus!

Three jaunts to Helsinki, one zebra patterned bachelor pad, seven vintage clothing stores, one tiny chihuahua in a diamante collar stroked by a Russian man with unbelievably luxuriant dyed black hair, and one rockabilly bar with Soviet hot rod tractors, flames painted on the sides.



With the sassy southern Amy, at AmyMAndersonArt

With the sassy southern Amy, at AmyMAndersonArt

Ten days in Portugal saw one amazing motorcycle ride, five enormous glasses in a single port tasting session, one cable car ride over fractured red rooftops, dozens of serpentine streets running with scores of tough little alley cats, nine wrought iron balconies in the three apartments we rented, seven black and white photos in a Lisbon flea market, six sunsets over the River of Gold, several fado CDs, one nervous poodle peering over a balcony, and so many Portuguese custard tarts that I blush to even think of it.

My new house - I wish, I wish - in Porto, on the River of Gold

My new house – I wish, I wish – in Porto, on the River of Gold

Overlooking the River Douro, Porto

Overlooking the River Douro, Porto

Vila Nova de Gaia, Porto

Vila Nova de Gaia, Porto

Amsterdam gifted me with at least a dozen bridges stretching over sparkling autumnal canals, countless vintage stores, one big red rockabilly flower for my hair, one traditional Dutch fishing village, two men on bicycles wearing clogs, far too many plump salty bitterballen to dig toothpicks into, and many Irish coffees under Hallowe’en decorations. Rotterdam gave me one beautiful friend and her new baby, fifteen years of amazing friendship, ten Korean pancakes and so much laughter my ribs hurt.

Terugkomen is niet hetzelfde als blijven...Amsterdam

Terugkomen is niet hetzelfde als blijven…Amsterdam


And Melbourne? One small flat filled with dictionaries and red high heels, a rotund black cat to watch over it all, one novel to dig deep into, two more residencies to consider for next year, an abundance of story ideas and a pile of little red notebooks to spill them into as the cycle turns and 2016 comes into view.

I couldn’t ask for more, really.


Here’s to 2016…may it bring us all belly laughter, a wealth of friends to share it with, and as always, inky fingertips to splash across the page.



  1. msdebbie said,

    Glorious year in review Bell. Wishing you inkiest fingers and the most sensuous kisses in 2016! With all the messy words & magical languages you can muster in those divine red peeptoe heels of yours ❤

    • inkymouth said,

      Hehe, red peeptoe heels – my weakness! Well, one of them 🙂 Thanks Deb, and so much inspiration and ink your way too. Take care, and step into 2016 with a huge smile x

  2. leithomalley said,

    Damn I just realised my life is boring lol!

    What an incredible year for you Bell and I’m so richer for our friendship in having been able to follow your travels of body, thought, voice and word over so many miles via web and radio…. although nothing better than in actual person again some months ago 🙂

    I have a feeling 2016 is going to be even more exciting and successful for
    you but I’ll be right here tuning into ABC radio, adjusting my wine glasses.. I mean reading glasses.. and keeping a keen eye out for any interesting new posts and pics!

    Oh well, back to my knitting.

    I’m making you a lovely bright pink jumper 😉

    • inkymouth said,

      You’re one of the first people I think of to tell when exciting inky news comes my way, Leith – your support has been such a constant source of joy for me.

      To the next time we meet, probably in St Kilda, probably with a good bottle of red or two! I love sharing tales of our muses, and hearing all your good news too.

      To 2016, and all it means for our art, hearts and fingertips. But Leith…we both know I’m not wearing the pink jumper 🙂

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