Swings and roundabouts.

A lot of creative people seem to suffer from roller-coaster moods. One week (day?) there’s sheer delight to be alive: birds are chirping, coffee is brewing, butterflies are on the wing and ideas are flowing like a river. The next week (day?) that old black dog (depression) is nipping at our heels: the damn birds won’t shut up, the coffee tastes foul, all those moths flapping about drive us crazy, and the ideas well is totally dry. A poet friend of mine recently said that a day in the open air, doing something creative and constructive works better than any anti-depression pill, and she should know, ‘cos she’s taking the medication. (No names, no packdrill…whatever the heck that means!) So, perhaps it’s something to do with being shut away in our little writer’s hidey-hole, tap tapping away, that shuts down the pituatary gland and makes us all misery grumps. Could be. But then, if I’m too long away from my work, tap tapping away, I get withdrawal symptoms and I’m not a happy camper. Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Stephen King, Elizabeth Browning, Jackson Pollack and Monet, have all fought depression. Monet wrote: I am very depressed and deeply disgusted with painting. It is really a continual torture. And we all know about poor old Van Gogh. There’s been some interesting work done in recent years on the link between creativity and mood disorders. One researcher wrote that the artists’ depression:…may produce some cultural advantages for society as a whole, in spite of the individual pain and suffering that it causes: Iowa College of Medicine. (Lucky world, but tough toenails for the artist.) It may well be that the deeper the depression, the greater the creative genius. Hmmm. So that’s why I’m not doing so well…I’m not depressed enough. That’s a depressing thought. I think my problem is that I’m too much of an optimist. I’m a glass half-full person. I know the sun will come up tomorrow. I know God loves me. It’s just as well He’s clued up on the whole ‘creativity’ thing. I’ll just have to keep a-hopin’ and a-prayin’. Wishing you all a butterflies and sunshiny...

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Dear Agent (with apologies to the Beatles)

Dear Agent, won’t you come out to play? Dear Agent, whatcha got to say? I did all that you told me to It’s beautiful and so are you Dear Agent, won’t you come out to play? Dear Agent, open up your eyes You might find, it’s a nice surprise The word count’s low, but the text does sing There’s character development and everything Dear Agent, won’t you open up your eyes? Please, answer my emails; answer my emails, make the effort to reply Dear Agent, want to see me smile? I’ve been waiting a very long while Have my emails got lost; should I try again? Are you avoiding me; Are you having a lend? Come on Agent, did you lose my file? Dear Agent, won’t you come out to play? Dear Agent, my hair’s going grey Why won’t you tell me if it’s yes or no? Why’s your reply so b****y slow? You’re probably not reading this so why even bother? When I’m famous and someone else is managing me you’re going to really regret all...

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Some good reading

In the last 12 months I’ve been particularly impressed by the work of two authors. Both have written for the younger market, but don’t let that fool you. Any adult who appreciates an engrossing story and skillful, beautiful writing, will love them. Don’t be a literary snob and think YA/children’s books aren’t for grown-ups. Some of the best writing going on these days, is in that field. In fact, the latest work by both these authors shouldn’t be classified by an age group. They’re in the bracket: 10 years up to, can-no-longer-read-not-even-my-bifocals-are-helping; similar to the Narnia series, or Lord of the Rings. I challenge you to put them into an age restricted grouping. 1. Ness, Patrick, Chaos Walking (series), Harper Collins. The three titles are: The Knife of Letting Go; The Ask and the Answer, and Monsters of Men. I read this series early last year and I’m still thinking about it. Simply brilliant stuff. It’s a SciFi/Speculative series, but please don’t let that put you off if that’s not your thing. Just allow yourself to ask, “What if…?” Humans colonise a planet and catch a “virus”, which has the effect of broadcasting every thought a male has, while the women remain “silent”. How do they deal with this phenomenon? (Typical for our species: not too well.) What amazed me the most about this book was the revelation that men actually think that much. Whenever I ask my husband, “What are you thinking?”, he always says, “Nothing.” I then say, “You can’t have a blank mind” and he says, “Well…it is.” SPRUNG! Warning: (Spoiler alert) don’t fall in love with the dog. (I know why you did it, Mr Ness, and as a writer I understand. As a dog-lover, I’m still struggling to forgive you.) 2. Almond, David, My Name is Minna, Hachette If you’re a David Almond fan, (and if you’re not, why not?) you will appreciate that this is a pre-cursor story to The Skellig. But, if you haven’t read that, don’t worry. This delightful story stands perfectly well on its own two feet. Minna obviously has some serious problems dealing with the world. As the story unfolds we get to know how her mind works, and we grow to love her. It’s a sad, dark tale told by an intelligent and imaginative child. Both Ness and Almond are creative lateral thinkers and great story-tellers. They use the font, size and colour of the text as tools to help tell the story. Today’s society is bombarded with sound bites, YouTube flash videos, film footage of everything from a cat playing the piano, to an old lady foiling a jewellery heist, to scenes of natural disasters. There is still a strong mind-set that says, “Picture books are for little kids, and graphic novels are comics for grown-ups”. These two fellows have taken all that on board and come up with a new way of approaching the written text. I call it “visual text” and they do it brilliantly. Kudos to you,...

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Happy New Year (again)!

Tomorrow is Chinese New Year. After the January we’ve all had, isn’t it nice we get another go at starting 2011? In the top half of the world (the Southern Hemisphere) we’ve been deluged with floods. (Who says you Northerners are the top half? Just because it was a Northerner who drew the map. Phooey! Anyway, the earth’s a sphere so, technically speaking, there’s no such thing as top and bottom, so I can say what I like, so stop arguing! Back to the topic…) Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Brazil and Australia have all had massive floods: many dead, thousands homeless. And, we’ve just had the biggest cyclone since the whites settled this country. Thank the Lord, the people were extremely well-prepared (good job, Qld government; you really looked after your people) and although homes and crops were destroyed, not one life was lost. Egypt is in turmoil. Its people are finally saying, “We’ve had enough repression. We want to be free of fear. We want good government (like they have in Queensland).” Of course the Repressor and his cohorts aren’t going down with a fight, but I have faith that people power will prevail. I think of Cambodia. I think of the Philippines. I think of Romania. I think of Tunisia. Then there’s the bottom half of the world (Europe, UK, USA), most of it covered in mounds of snow: magical, beautiful, cold, wet, relentless, why-won’t-it-melt snow. The poor and the homeless are freezing to death. And here in my part of Oz, some mean-spirited people are moving their kids to another school. Why? Because some children from the nearby refugee detention centre will be going there. Get a grip, people! They’re children! They and their families have fled oppressive regimes, risking their very lives, and have come here in the belief that we’re a caring, sharing democracy and we’ll be a safe haven. Prove them right, people. Come on. I dare you to be neighbourly. Yep! Great start to the year, World. Good job. Thankfully the Chinese, that ancient and inscrutable civilisation, have given us a fresh start. Nothing like a second chance to lift the spirits. So, tomorrow night I’ll be in a Chinese restaurant with some friends, where we’ll enjoy a scrumptious banquet, watch a fabulous lion dance and toast in the New Year. Happy New Year (again) everyone! Let’s see if we can kick off 2011 a little better, the second time...

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