To the hundred and more

December 31, 2017 at 4:48 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

Rilke

 

My muse loves December.

I’m a disciplined writer. I can spend whole days locked in my writing studio, breaking my focus only to brew more coffee or have a quick Ike and Tina Turner shimmy to get the blood circulating. I work on my novel, short stories, memoir and audio fiction. But in December, my muse demands more. She sits on the corner of my desk (she’s about ten centimetres high, redheaded and if you look carefully, ever so slightly cross-eyed) and urges me to write more, edit more, submit more, and aim high.

Every year.

And you don’t say no to her, believe me.

I feel buoyant stepping into January; I’ve spilled so much ink this year. 2017 saw me reach the milestone of 100 stories published, performed or produced for radio. I performed at festivals both here and interstate with more lined up for next year, talked to ABC producers about broadcasting more of my writing, slid my Sarah Award for International Audio Fiction onto my shelf next to my snakeskins and skulls, consistently earned pay checks for my ink (no mean feat in the creative industries), and have several new pieces coming out in 2018. Before the bells chime midnight, in fact, I will also have submitted two new audio stories and one long fiction piece based on my April visit to Berlin, one of the most influential cities in my personal history.

gold-solstice-short-story-rijn-collins‘Gold’, my 100th story (read here)

 

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‘Akathisia’ in River Teeth Journal (read here)

This year has also seen…my tenth visit to Berlin, the first time showing my Wolf around the city he also fell in love with, the thirteenth time I’ve sat with loved ones over martinis and sushi at Zaza’s on Kastanienalle, and the first time I’ve ever smelled smoke on a flight and seen the attendants literally running through the cabin. And the last time, fingers crossed.

There was my fifth visit to Reykjavik, adding to the 35,000 words of my novel set there, seven Icelandic ponies with snow-dusted manes, three pages of spells about elves and juniper berries under moonlight, many shrieks when I forgot about the sulphur stench of hot water in the shower, and the countless times I squeezed the hands of my Wolf and beautiful Lisa, whispering ‘I can’t believe you’re both here with me.’

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Siglufjörður, northern Iceland

 

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Pankow, Berlin

Before we hit the snow there was Italy with Lisa, and six nights with a balcony overlooking the Mediterranean and alley cats to throw prosciutto out to through a stained glass kitchen window. There were so many glasses of sickly sweet limoncello that the smell now makes me wince, dozens of hairpin turns weaving down the hill tops of Positano that made us wince further, and the man in Rome who was so busy applauding my dress and high boots that he walked into a lamp post.

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Positano, Italy

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Temple of the Vestal Virgins, Rome

2017 graced me with twelve months in my new home in the west of Melbourne, and two years with those I share it with, the love of my life and his beautiful cub. There were trips to Albury, Wangaratta, Woodend, the Dandenongs and Tasmania, with wallabies, speakeasys, Art Deco architecture, champagne, new writers to chat to and new stories to tell.

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The Wolf and Connie, our vintage caravan, Tasmania

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Beautiful Hobart, Tasmania

Ah, it seems that’s her cue. My muse just tapped me on the shoulder, pointed to the open articles on the Stasi and trichotillomania on my screen, and tilted her head towards my keyboard. I’ve been told, people. Back to work it is.

Wherever in the world you are, I wish you all the best for the coming year, and as always, I wish you the most wondrous of stories.

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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.

AmyMAndersonArt

AmyMAndersonArt

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

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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.

Rilke

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.

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