March’s muse

March 30, 2018 at 11:58 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

I have the kind of bone weary, heart proud tiredness that comes from putting everything else aside in a push of solid dedication to my writing. Feb and March have seen applications for a fellowship, scholarship and travel grant, preparations and rehearsals for two literary festivals, expressions of interest for two more, recording arrangements for two podcast stories, a submission for a theatre monologue, thrilling talks about casting and location for a short film of one of my stories, three rejections (alas), a story in The Big Issue, another one coming soon, yet another for the Writers Vic newsletter, and always, always, the snow and solitude of my novel and its Icelandic setting. I am exhausted, I am ebullient, and I am SO ready for more.

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Happy to be sharing space in The Big Issue with Tom Morello and Ai Weiwei

Big Issue illustration by Danny Snell

Beautiful illustration from Danny Snell accompanying my story in The Big Issue

In between deadlines I hit the skies and headed for Queensland. A snow worshipper at heart, only one thing would beckon me to the land of surfers and sunburn, and her name is Helen.

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With Helen on my last visit to QLD (2013)

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Helen, Surfers Paradise, 2018

We met a decade ago as writers in an online artists’ collective, and have since enjoyed shenanigans as far afield as Melbourne, Los Angeles and New York. She knows me well, she loves me anyway, and her wry wisdom comes accompanied by Elvis singalongs, vodka and such a stylish home I wander in wonder.

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Helen’s house


Helen’s house

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Helen’s house

Flying home to Melbourne, I scribbled on napkins and nibbled on cashews, thinking of all the vistas I’ve been fortunate to view in my wanderlust. My mid-flight routine is always the same: gospel music and gratitude, for the supreme privilege of gazing down at my world, and all those I love upon it.

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Tomorrow I head to the headquarters of Memoria, a wonderful podcast of micro radio dramas adapted from short memoirs. I’ll be narrating and recording two of my stories, and cannot wait to delve back into audio storytelling. Next week, my story on writing collaborations comes out in the Victorian Writers magazine, soon to be followed by my next story in the Big Issue.

And the meetings I’ve been having with a director and producer about adapting one of my stories, ‘Snowblind’, into a short film, are the cherry on top of this extraordinarily productive time.

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To read ‘Snowblind’ in Wigleaf literary magazine, click here 

For now, though, it’s back to my writing studio to curl up at the keyboard with some vinyl on the turntable and a plump black cat by my side …one of my favourite places to be.

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My writing studio

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Australian linguist punk in search of old school penpals…

October 12, 2011 at 9:37 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

I know so much about my friends.

For many of them, I know their first album, their biggest fear, and the secret crush they only ever admit to at the tail end of a whiskey night (R., Axl Rose is all yours, ok?) .

But what I don’t know, and really should, is what the loops of their F’s and the tails of their Y’s look like, spilled onto a page.

In class recently, the question came up: what was the last personal letter you received? And when my entire class – every single one – shrugged, and confessed they’d never received a handwritten letter in their life, I had to go outside and put my head between my knees.

I won’t even tell you my reaction when they were asked the antonym for ‘like’ and as one, in a zombie intonation that made my classroom suddenly drop ten degrees, intoned ‘unlike.’

Facebook, you have SO much to answer for…

I write letters. I write them often, and always have. My first penpal was at age ten, though all I remember is that her name was Brandy and she thought books were ‘too much trouble.’ I haven’t, needless to say, kept in touch with her.

But in my late teens and twenties, trapped in my house by a battle with agoraphobia that was to last three years, I started pressing stamps onto letters and sending them out into the world again, and again, and again. I found most of my penpals in the back pages of Maximumrocknroll, a punk zine where for a few dollars, you could write your life into a few short lines and hope that somewhere in the world, someone would connect with it enough to respond.

And they did.

I still remember the joy of sending off a classified ad – Australian linguist punk in search of old school penapls. At one point I had over two dozen penpals; from Rotterdam to New Orleans, Glasgow to Albuquerque, stuffing their envelopes full of mixed tapes, photos and treats. For someone who literally couldn’t leave her house without panicking – sometimes even getting to the mailbox required thick armour and an hour to calm down – connecting with people became more and more difficult over the years. For a long dark while, ink on paper was pretty much all I had, and I came to adore the little slices of life that fell through my mailbox, my way of keeping the world outside alive.

 I’ve just spent an hour digging out the music that was my soundtrack back then, much of which I first heard through those beloved mixed tapes: The Blatz, Snap Her, The Muffs, The Gr’ups, Pansy Division, 7 Year Bitch. I remember reaching into my letterbox and pulling out an envelope, coffee smears across the paper, real life caught in ink.

Although many of my paper friendships have moved into the email sphere, some of us are still old school. I can always be relied on to stay home one rainy afternoon, sit on the floor, and send pages and pages of black words onto pale paper, to throw in photos or newspaper articles, and seal it up with the accidental odd fiery strand of hair or damp little paw mark from a curious kitty.

I’m trying to imagine the handwriting of my friends here in Melbourne, to close my eyes and recall whether it lopes to the left or the right, whether their penmanship is extravagant and dramatic, or tiny and contained.

And I can’t, damn it.

Maybe I should set myself some homework for a change?

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