Reading lists and book club

It’s that time of year again where the Listmaker of our book club receives the list for the year. In December, we all bring our suggestions to our Christmas dinner gathering. The Listmaker carefully writes each one down as we sit in a circle enjoying our sweets after our book-themed Kris Kringle. It’s a tough job for her as she always ends up with a list of over 50 odd books. Some of us come prepared with a basket of books to help influence by the look of the book, others have a paper list that they hand over. We leave having eaten, drunk and talked to our hearts content.

In January, the Listmaker brings a draft list to the annual picnic and over drinks and food in the Women’s Peace Gardens, the titles are debated – sometimes more fiercely than others – until it is too dark. Then before January is done, the list is sent out. Continue reading

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And that’s a wrap

My 2017-2018 summer reading pile

This year is about to end and in some ways I feel like it has only just begun. So much has been packed into the year and time has slipped away. It’s really easy to only focus on the things that haven’t been completed and the things that went wrong, but I need to also remember all the things that went right.

Publishing highlights

This year I had some poetry and an essay published in Shaping the Fractured Self: poetry of chronic illness and pain. I bravely volunteered to read one of my poems at the launch at the DAX Centre in Melbourne. Up until the moment I read it out loud, I wondered how on earth I managed to have words of mine sit alongside such accomplished Australian poets. The feedback I received from the audience, and since from members of the public, was overwhelming. It has been absolutely heartwarming to hear people say that I was telling their story and that I had put their chronic pain into words. My own chronic pain (migraines and neck and shoulder pain) continue, but I refuse to let them take control of my life. Many of the other poems and essays within this anthology remind me that it is important to live life to the full, but to also know when to shut the door, and take some time for self-care. There is a wonderful review of this anthology by Kevin Brophy in The Conversation. Continue reading

Letting the dust settle

This morning I woke after a drug induced sleep. Everything ached and my body screamed at me to go back to bed. I dressed, in my gym gear, ate my breakfast and drank my coffee. The chaos of the morning flew out the door one by one, and each with a different approach (slamming door while yelling out ‘Love ya, Mum’, slinking out silently, a kiss then a slammed wire door, and a hug and kiss). I sat at the table for longer than normal, coaxing my body to move, to do what it didn’t want to do. Finally, I tugged on my socks and runners and went to the gym. I always think on these tough days that all I have to do is get there. Once I’m there, I can always stop and go home. Most days I make it all the way through my program. Today I got as far as the last ten minute cycle at which point a sharp pain struck through my ear and temple and I had to stop.

This is all a part of living with chronic migraines. For the last four or so months (I’ve stopped counting), I have been in a constant state of migraine. Sometimes they are not as bad as others, but pain has been a constant companion. Today is my write-from-home day, the day I should be rejoicing and revelling in my fictional world, but instead I feel like I’m pushing crap up hill as I fight my way through the fog and discomfort. The good news is that I am attacking these chronic migraines in a number of ways as I can’t go on like this (anyone who has lived with chronic pain will attest to the depression that comes with it). Continue reading

Keep on writing

It’s been a while. A long time since I last wrote. I haven’t dropped off the planet, haven’t stopped writing. But life has been busy, and I’ve found it difficult to find something interesting to write about here.

One of the hard things about writing when you’re a student, a chronic migraine sufferer and a mum with three teens, is that there is only so much time. And when it comes down to it, I do only what I have to so that I still feel like I’m a writer. I write my daily pages, and work on my second manuscript (oh the joy in an unformed thing) and edit my first manuscript (read: beat it into shape).

Continue reading

Twenty-eight days 

28

Beware. This is a ‘journey’ post.

Twenty-six days ago I was sitting in my psychologist’s office (not something I would have done, or admitted to a couple of years ago, but now I wonder how people survive without brain dumping on someone who can help you sort out all the brain mess). We were talking self care and how it would be good for me to try to incorporate it into my every day (instead of an extraordinary occasion) with the view to chat about it when we caught up again in 28 days. She was concerned that I had stopped writing, that I had given up on the idea of my words making any sense, and that I wouldn’t allowed myself to look at my manuscript I had saved all the way back in November last month.

So, being a listy kind of person I knew it would start with a list. Continue reading

What to read in 2016

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Oh my goodness, there is so much to read this year! For a start there are the new releases from the likes of Tania Chandler, Kate Mildenhall, Olga Lorenzo and Jennifer Down to name a few (full disclosure and boasting moment: I know them all, studied with three at RMIT, and taught by one and they are all awesome writers). Continue reading

Please Don’t Leave Me Here by Tania Chandler book review

Please Don't Leave Me Here by Tania Chandler

I’m so proud of my mate Tania Chandler. She has just launched her debut novel, Please Don’t Leave Me Here.

Tania is one of the most disciplined and critical writers I know. I met her two years ago when she was still studying at RMIT. She said to me then that she was on her ninth draft of her manuscript and that she rose at 5am every day to write before the family got up (I know! 5am!) Two years later, and however many drafts later it is in print, and is a wonderfully compelling novel. Continue reading