Life in bullet points.

This morning I went to the local TAFE college to speak to a Women’s Education class about being a writer. They were a lovely group of women, and they made me feel very welcome. I admit, giving them all a lollypop may account for some of the goodwill, (ah yes, the old “bribe ’em with candy” trick) but even so, they were a nice bunch of people. Hey, they gave me chocolate, which proves my point. (Sorry darling, there was only enough for me.) Preparing what I had to say proved to be an interesting exercise. I did a little resume of my life – particularly my various educational and career paths – and I must say, I was surprised. When your life is in bullet points it’s amazing how good it looks. Yep, if I ignore the decade-long gaps between school and jobs, it’s almost impressive. (Oh, come on, humour me.) And I have to go on record: I owe a lot to the various governments I’ve had the pleasure of living through in my lifetime, because quite often it it wasn’t for their financial help I wouldn’t have done half of it. (In fact, I wouldn’t have finished high school.) What the whole exercise showed me is how long I’ve been infatuated with words/stories/books/drama and how deeply ingrained into my psyche has been the desire…no, the need to write. To misquote that poor melancholic prophet, Jeremiah, it’s a “burning in the bones”. How blessed am I that in the last decade I have finally been able to realise my dream. Not everyone gets to do that. And even though I regret not pursuing it more persistently when I was young, I’ve also realised that all the “detours” I took, and all the set-backs I’ve had in life, haven’t been wasted. They are a deep resource from which I can draw. I’ve also realised that I’ve had a lot of help along the way. From government financial schemes, to the belief (and sometimes push) of parents and friends, to the long-suffering support and loving encouragement of my husband, I wouldn’t be doing what I do if it weren’t for the generosity of others. We need each other. My husband describes the church as a pilgrim people on a journey; we’re meant to help each other along the way. And that’s true. But, you know, I think it’s true of the whole planet. We’re in this together, people. I’m grateful for everyone who’s had even a moment in my life. I’m even thankful for those who were nasty, selfish or general poops. Yes, even the really weird ones. (Doesn’t mean your behaviour is excused, so stop it!) All of you have contributed to the rich tapestry that’s been my life so far. I expect little snippets of your personalities and sayings and actions will make it into my writing somewhere or other. And the really awful people will probably end up as murder victims. (Writing can be so cathartic!) Perhaps if I thought about things in bullet points more often, I might learn to overlook the yucky stuff, and see the things for which I can be thankful. (Mind you, this is a good day. I’ve had chocolate. It could be a whole other story...

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Patience personified.

I’m waiting…waiting…waiting… The manuscript is with another agent. This writing business isn’t all champagne launches, movie rights and dollars flooding into the bank account. (What bank account!?) For most of us, it’s not like the writers on T.V. I often find myself dreaming about being a female Rick Castle. I could even cope with being described as “ruggedly handsome”. sigh. The majority of writers have a day job, or, like me, have a very supportive, generous partner who thinks that one day I’m going to make it big so it’s worth the investment. (Stay deluded, darlin’.) What drives us to keep setting ourselves up for failure? How many rejections do we take before we say, “I get the hint, I’ll stop now.”? I admit, every time I send the ms out into the cosmos I think: This is definitely the last time. When I get the “no, thanks” (and some don’t even say thanks!) I have a good cry, sulk for a day or two, and then – blow me down! – I send it out again. I’m either tough as old boots, or seriously neurotic with masochistic tendencies, or a bit of both. Come on universe, kick me one more time. Of course I haven’t been sitting around waiting for the inevitable “yes”. I’ve been working: editing other people’s work; reading other people’s books; writing reviews while thinking: I’m not jealous, I’m not jealous…, and attempting to get articles and the occasional short story into a magazine. And, believe it or not, I’m working on another book. Yep, definitely masochistic. “You didn’t like that? Ok, here’s another one to throw back in my face…or, not.” I’ve heard the story of how J.K.Rowling was rejected 7/9/14/23 times before the Potter books went global. Actually, I’ve heard it 7/9/23/ x-to-the-point-of-infinity times. I’ve read the Chicken Soup book, so I know how it goes. Those stories used to inspire me, several years and a couple of books ago, but now I think: yeah, well that was them and I’m me and never the twain shall meet. BUT, the thought that haunts me is: what if I stop one time short of success? Aargggggghhh! So, I re-read, re-write, search the internet for another possible taker, bundle it up in an enormous postal bag and send it out again. Hope springs eternal in a masochistic, neurotic, slightly delusional writer’s heart. Meanwhile, back to reading other people’s stuff. Some of it is brilliant. Some of it is pretty good. And some of it… well… sob…why? Why them and not me? It’s not fair! Dagnab it… I could just SCREAM… Ok, everyone, let’s clear the room. Nothing to see here except a major tanty. Better leave now before she starts throwing things. Oh the...

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Safety first…

I had an unfortunate experience in the bathroom a while ago, which taught me an important life lesson and reinforced an old one. I’d stepped out of the shower and as I towelled myself dry I thought, “While I’m here I might as well tidy up the old eyebrows.” So far, so good. I opened up the drawer, took out the tweezers and leaned forward over the counter so that I could see myself in the mirror. Without my glasses I’m nearly blind, so if I don’t lean in the face is just a murky blur. It’s an interesting artistic effect but not helpful when one has to do some pruning. Halfway through the first eyebrow I realised I’d left the drawer open. (This explained the strange pressure on my abdomen every time I went in for a close-up.) So, I slammed the drawer shut. Unfortunately I hadn’t allowed for the “Dangle Factor”. I forget that when my boob is unencumbered, it’s not as perky as it was 30 years ago. These days it resembles a deflated seedless watermelon. That’s a lot of dangle. I’d read it in books, and discounted it as poetic license, but I’m here to tell you: tears can actually spurt out of one’s eyes. And that’s what happened: tears spurting and lots of dancing on my toes sqawking and gurgling in agony. I’ve only got one boob so I need to take better care of it. I used to have two, but I lost one. No – I didnt leave it on a bus or drop it out of my pocket in a park somewhere. It was taken from me by a very nice Egyptian/Australian surgeon, simply because it was riddled with cancer. I miss the old girl. So does her twin. In fact the whole upper-half of my body isn’t the same without her. So here’s the life lessons learned and reinforced: 1) Take care of your boobs and get them regularly checked, even though a mammogram feels very similar to having a drawer slammed on them. 2) Whatever you do, before you shut the drawer, LOOK DOWN! (Men, there are reasons why this is also good advice for you. Think about...

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