Includes book reviews and bits from writer's journal. For the professional stuff, see website link below left.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Career: Writer – Author






I am sitting in a courtyard at Crystal Creek Primary School, at a small table with a display of materials to do with writing — books for writers; books by me and Andrew; samples of zines and other cheaply produced, self-published books; handouts about writing; my Kobo e-reader; paper and pens and an invitation to write a few lines on something they like and why they like it; some pocket-size notebooks (the paper kind); and me writing on my iPad. I am wearing my Austin International Poetry Festival T-shirt, that I got when I was a featured reader there in 2006.

Behind and around me are tables with a pilot, a welfare worker, a naturopath, a credit union representative, someone from Southern Cross University, and others too distant for me to read their labels. Mine is Writer – Author. Some teacher has written a little blurb to say that this requires things like good powers of observation, good grammar and correct spelling. 

A few minutes ago, after we got set up, hordes of kids and a few parents and teachers poured from the main building. The noise level now is high.  

And that was the last I wrote for a while. I haven't been inundated but several kids and quite a few parents who write have had a chat. I'm giving the parents the hand-outs too, and also my card. 

Lots of kids are now carrying balloons bearing the name of a local real estate agent. One tiny girl dressed as a fairy asked me, 'Can I have a bag?' She didn't seem too cast down when I said I didn't have any, just fluttered off to find someone who did.

My 'write a few lines' thing isn't madly popular. The little kids are keener than the older ones to have a go.  The last one wrote with great confidence something I can't decipher!

Some come out of curiosity, or because their teachers or parents told them to. The real writers are glad to talk about what they like to write. Few have questions, other than to ask what I've written. I find myself saying over and over that the beauty of being a writer is that you can have another job if you like and still be a writer as well. The girl who lives across the road from me, a student here, who invited me to come, wants to be a vet and to write as well. One of the boys I met today loves to write stories (not just for school) and wants to be a mechanic.

I am gently subverting the notion that one's English must be perfect in order to be a writer. 'Good grammar is great,' I say, 'And being able to spell. But if you can't, don't worry — that's what editors are for.' And if they hesitate at the blank page, I say, 'I'm not a schoolteacher. Write whatever you like.' This invariably produces a grin and a moving pen.

The organisers gave all the careers people a small bottle of water and a piece of fruit. I chose a mandarin — a bit messy, as it turned out. We also received a Certificate of Appreciation, in a plastic bag which I was able to use for my rubbish instead.

Lots of people have been taking photos, some of them apparently for the press. I asked a passing mum, at the beginning, if she'd snap me. (See above.) 

A father whose daughter has a vocation for writing asked if I'd be interested in taking part in the writers' section of the big Ukitopia festival at Uki in November. I am. I gave him my card.

And again I became too busy to write. Now I'm home after the event. What a delightful morning! The children were polite, friendly, natural. All the teachers looked happy and spoke warmly. They laid on morning tea for us afterwards and I found out over a cuppa and biscuit that it wasn't just Crystal Creek school, though that's where it was held; they had combined with five of the other tiny schools round about. Judging by the demeanour of the teachers, small classes must be very fulfilling.

When Andrew and I first moved to this unit at the beginning of 2010, two little girls across the road, from different families, took a shine to us. They liked our cats, who liked them too. Then they created a 'street newspaper' by hand, wrote all the content themselves, and delivered it to every letterbox. This excited us — particularly ex-journalist Andrew — and we started talking to them about writing. (Theirs was very good.) Consequently, last week the mother of one little girl, who teaches at a Murwillumbah school, invited me to judge the students' poetry competition; and this week the other little girl invited me to today's event. And out of that comes the Ukitopia invitation, which might involve running a writing workshop, giving a poetry performance, or both. 





I didn't get enough writings to create a booklet, as I had ideas of doing. These are what I got:

Harrison wrote down the outline of a novel he wants to write: 'A man who lost his family, and when he went on a cruise the ship got bombed and he wakes up in an abandoned island.'

Sarah wrote the start of a story: 'Across the moonlit meadows a sleek figure watched upon a herd of wild brumbies.'

The littlest girls drew hearts on their pages, under their words. Aurora said she wanted to be a vet, Bree noted that she was at the careers day, and I'm still not sure what Ruby said. 

Lauren wrote, 'I like writing stories about fairie tales and making people feel they are in the story, and they feel they are on an amazing journey.' 

Matilda wrote, 'I like to write because it makes me feel happy and free.' 

Lily wrote, 'I <3 to read because I can also write my own books and when you have read a lot of books you know what to write about.' 

Brahminy wrote, 'I like writing about imaginative stories because it makes you feel light and happy. And I <3 to read.' 

[The hearts in the last two entries were drawn the right way up, but I don't have a way of doing that in my blog.] 


And finally Hayley, who invited me, wrote, 'I feel happy when I am writing. All I need is imagination.'



Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Waiting


I am a little early for my blood test. I do one errand, then decide to sit in the sun with my iPad. I walk past the bench outside the Post Office. I don’t want to sit in a street; I want to be in the park, in nature. Then I register that the street is full of trees, planted at regular intervals. I am so used this in our little town that I no longer notice. We are never far from nature. Nevertheless I go and sit in the park. I'll have an abundance of it!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Writer's Journal: Dithering

l always do this. When it's journalling with pen and paper, I get into an awful tizz about what notebook and which pen, and whether to number the pages. I make one decision, then I change it, then I change it back....

Now it's the same with writing and blogging the memoir (or is it autobiography?). I decided to close the memoir blog and move everything to my personal blog. I think it felt too 'out there' to have a blog called 'Living a Psychic Life' and to contemplate recounting some of my more - er -esoteric experiences. I announced the change at both blogs, and delayed taking down the memoir one so as to give readers a chance to catch up with what was happening.

Then my best friend said she wanted more 'juice' in these stories, so I thought, 'OK, darn it, go for broke.' I reinstated the memoir blog, re-titling it, 'Living a Magickal Life'. I also realised I'd have to be writing longer posts. There's a widespread theory that long blog posts don't work. There's also recent research which suggests that's a fallacy. But anyway, I gave the blog a new layout where people see only a paragraph of each post and can click if they want to read the lot.

I felt pleased with myself. Then Best Friend casually added, 'I'd save the juicier ones for the book.' Oh yes — book. My goodness, that's making it startlingly real! It occurred to me she was right, for commercial reasons. If I want to sell a book, no good giving everything away for free in a blog first.

So now what do I do? Change things back? (But I LIKE my new blog layout and title.) Keep the new one, but just post selected excerpts? (I'll look like a fool. I announced I was going to let it all hang out.) Make a new announcement, explaining the new situation? (Ye gods, how many chop-and-change announcements in quick succession can my readers stand?)

Oh, I could dither for days now!


Thursday, August 08, 2013

Sudden Change of Plans — Altering, Not Deleting Psychic Memoir Blog

I consulted with a trusted writer/witch/Reiki Master friend about my latest piece of autobiography, on consorting with dragons — chickening out of posting it yet for fear of people's reactions. The following exchange ensued:

Her:

I love it, but then, that's me.
I'd like you to slow down your memoir pieces, give me more concrete detail.  
EG:  what size were the dragons in your mind?  Appearance - Chinese or Celtic or other?  All I know are their colours.  How did the energy around your house change?  What was Andrew's reaction when you first summoned them? What conversations did you have with them, if any?
You've given me a great outline but no juice.
(If you have Clive James' Unreliable Memoirs, go read the early chapters of that to see how he works in detail so you can see him come screaming off that billycart train)
Did anyone else sense the dragons?  What were the dragons' reactions to various people who visited your houses?
Btw, your dragon and unicorn poem so belongs with this excerpt.

You might want to have a think about who you're writing this for.  Is it family and friends?  General audience?  Specialised magickal audience?  That will change what detail you include, how much explanation, etc.

In your section about becoming a Reiki Master, for instance, I have no real picture of Bill, or Ann.  I need characters. (In Eat, Pray, Love, the characters Gilbert builds are very real for the reader, and we have a stake in what happens to them, their triumphs and falls)

So, SHOW ME the dragons.  SHOW ME the world you inhabit and the people around you, and how the dragons slid into place, or not.  Now that Andrew is gone, for instance, is his protective dragon still with you?
For that matter, what was Andrew at heart?  Another dragon?  If not, what?  How did your dragon self get on with other creatures?


Me:


I guess my audience is the people who, over the years, have asked me to please write about this stuff — most of whom were at least interested in magick and energy. In which case, I can probably stop worrying about being perceived as a nutter or a liar. 

Andrew was an angel. I should write a whole piece about that.

Ta; good questions.

I've never read the Unreliable Memoirs, nor Eat, Pray, Love (though saw the movie). It must be time I did.

And, having freed myself from the restrictions of the Life Writing Group's 1500-word limit, I must also free myself from considerations of keeping blog posts short. Might be time to set up the blog in a different style.

You have been a big help. xxxxxx


The upshot of all this:

I'll keep the posting to my memoir blog, and rename it to be 'magickal' rather than merely 'psychic'. (But the posts that got transferred here can stay here too.)

I'll try a layout that gives brief intros to longer posts.

In the writing, I'll go for broke!

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Writer's Journal: Scared of Being Weird

I left the Life Writing group. It was a long way to drive, and doing it weekly was costing too much in time and petrol.

And there was another reason. I was about to get into the really weird stuff about my psychic life, things that I usually don't talk about at all. If I say these things, my mind assures me, people will be convinced I'm a total nutter. They'll stop taking seriously anything I say.

Well, I have nearly finished a long chapter about dragons. People imagine dragons to be non-existent. How can I possibly put it out there that not only do they exist, some hang around with me? That they can travel inter-dimensionally (like fairies)? That the ones I know live on a far planet in another dimension, close to a planet where angels live? That I myself originated there (long, long ago) and was once a dragon? 

Preposterous! Madness, or merely fiction? That might be the kindest reaction I would get. Yet if I don't include this stuff, what a cop-out. That would be a memoir that merely scratched the surface — albeit that surface is already out of the ordinary. Interested people have been asking for years that I write this memoir. Having finally committed to do it, I think I must be truthful. So I'll write it, and then worry about how it might be received.

The next question is whether to blog it now or keep it private until I have a whole book. But I am posting this — albeit to a blog which is not read by many, has hardly any followers and receives no comments. To post anything at all, anywhere at all, is daring. 


Saturday, August 03, 2013

A Psychic Memoir?

I did start one, with its very own blog. Eight posts later, I have brought it all over here into this blog instead, and have given each of those posts the subtitle 'Autobiography excerpt'. I found myself wanting to write about bits of my life not directly related to being psychic.

Where will it all end up? Lots of different memoirs? One whopping great autobiography? Who knows? Best I just write it first, and then figure out what to do with it. Meanwhile I am still labelling the psychic reminiscences with the tag 'psychic memoir' — so if that's what most interests you, it hasn't disappeared.

Happy reading, folks!