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).

A part of me that feels guilty for not having rocked up to my blog since before Christmas and written, but in reality, with home life being rough for me, getting from one end of the day to another has been a win.

Something I’m always reminded of when things are extraordinarily tough, is paring it back to remember what I need to do (self-care) to survive this. Two of these things are to read, and to write. Writing on a daily basis helps me breathe and enables me to understand what is going on, and reading allows me to escape. My daily journal is a must, as is my Gratitude Jar (I stole the idea from Anita Heiss).

In good news for my fiction writing, I finished another draft of my young adult manuscript in late December and put it out to my readers. It was such an anxious time waiting to hear back from them, but so lovely to get such positive feedback when I did. I have now made edits on the feedback and am resting it again while I get going on the sequel. I love this stage of first draft. It’s fresh and raw. Anything can, and does, happen. Characters come alive and surprise, and extraordinary things jump onto the page.

I’ve also started facilitating a writers group at a municipal library. It was delightful to meet  a group of eager writers all at different stages of writing, and all with different writing goals. It also reminds me about how far I have come in the last four years with my own writing.

Something I’m really looking forward to is seeing some of my poetry in forthcoming Shaping the Fractured Self: Poetry of Chronic Illness and Pain, (UWA Publishing) early this year.

Since the start of the year I have read some great books, and have many more waiting for me to read. Some standouts so far are: Georgia Blain’s Between a Wolf and a Dog, Melissa Ashley’s The Birdman’s Wife, and John Ironmonger’s Not Forgetting The Whale. One of my reading promises is that I read widely, out of my genre and books by Australian women writers. One of these was Love Elimination by Sarah Gates, which was a fun romance story based on the many dating reality shows on at the moment. I’m currently reading Stan Grant’s Talking Country, which is blowing me away.

There is so much to read this year with, again, a number of friends having books published. Some debut books to look out for are Wimmera by Mark Brandi, And Then There Was Light by Emily Brewin, and Death by Dim Sim by Sarah Vincent. Then there is always the massive pile of books beside my bed that threaten to smother me.


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 


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

My Favorite Books About Writing Nonfiction

There are some good books here. The Artists Way and Bird by Bird are both books that have been continually recommended over many years and I now dip in and out of.

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

41lhhayQO9L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I always love reading about writing. I caution students about spending so much time reading about it that they never actually do it, but these books in particular have been invaluable in shaping my own approaches to writing. Some of them focus on nonfiction specifically, while many are great for any kind of writing:

The Artful Edit, by Susan Bell: I use this every time I do a self-edit on a manuscript. It’s also a fun book to read straight through. She uses the editing process for The Great Gatsby — detailed in letters between Fitzgerald and his editor — to show how editing makes everything better.

The New New Journalism, by Robert Boynton: Interviews with all the rock stars of current creative nonfiction — Ted Conover, Erik Larson, Susan Orlean. This is like a fan magazine for nerds like me.

The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron: 

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