Friday, 28 May 2010

Future Elimy’s Library

When I grow up, I am going to have a scary gothic library, ala Northanger Abbey.  It will look something like this.

0415billkingston_co_ukThis will be my office, my desk will face out the windows over something inspiring like a lake maybe.  Not something stupid like… oh I don’t know, how about the back of another house?

If that’s not possible I would settle for the set from Black Books but I’m a neat freak so it would look more like this:

110AV20071025D6787.jpgThat’s right, it will have shelf walls.  But obviously I won’t have a white couch.  That’s just asking for trouble. 

If there is a cranky, drunken Irishman named Bernard living there, that will just be a bonus.

Some things to think about, anyway.  Don’t give up, Self, think of the shelf walls.  Think of the scary library.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

I got turned around again...

Last night, I made a decision. Today, I was going to get all my writing stuff organised for this holidays. I was going to make big plans; writing retreats, competitions, and last but not least, I was going to work on my novel. But this morning I got up and something had changed.

The drive was gone. I didn't want to write. I didn't want to read. I didn't even want to watch TV. I blame the weather. Whenever it gets drizzly and overcast, and I am cooped up at home, I get grizzly and restless. I'm serious. A few weeks ago, it was drizzly and overcast AND there were police helicopters flying around all day AND I got a dvd stuck in the dvd player, so when mum called how to find out how I was going, naturally I burst into tears. Today, I'm not quite at the tears point, but I would enjoy breaking things.

I've been trying everything. I tried rereading what I'd already written on the new draft. I got all my writing gear out of its little box and made a pile on the bed. I took photos of the little pile. I had something to eat and watched TV. I looked for one of the DVDs that makes me want to write, but I haven't been able to find the disc for months. (The film is called Orange County, if you're interested.) But it was no use. I am not feeling it today.

This sucks. A few months ago I was feeling great about my book. I was thinking that this would be my year, that I would enter the TAG Hungerford award and maybe I would even win. And then I got turned around again. I realised that I clearly know nothing about the time period... too bad I really hate researching, because I tried that today too. And then I wrote something, about 500 words. And then I deleted those 500 words because they were awful.

I think this afternoon I am going to be reading my own manuscript. Prepare for an even worse melancholia than this one, world, because I am my own worst critic!


Here is the aforementioned photo. Yes I own a smurfs pillow.

Monday, 17 May 2010

There'll Be None of That

Write what you know.

Honesty is the best policy.

Just some advice to live your life by. Because, you see, you can either hide how uncool you are, or you can celebrate it.

This is me. Or it was, Halloween last year.

I'm supposed to be dressed as a convict. And yes, I am stabbing an apple. I used that skewer to write my name in stab marks and it was excellent.

Have you ever had a moment in your life which was so banal that you wanted to dissect it and see if there was actual emotional value to what happened to you? I have those moments all the time. I like to make sense out of them by giving them narrative structure. And I think I am getting better at it.

Writing about yourself should never be about gratification or about attention though. I think that's wrong. I think it should be about making sense of things in a way that helps other people connect to you. It's about that moment when someone picks up what you've written and says "I've felt that way too." It's about the moment you can write down who you were on a particular day in the most honest, accurate fashion possible.

Sometimes that can be scary. Mostly because in six months time when you read what you've written, you don't feel the same way anymore. You're not the same person anymore. You might not even like that person. (Example... pulled out my favourite combo of tangerine jeans and high tops the other day and thought WHAT WAS 17 YEAR OLD ME THINKING???!)

So yes, scary. But important. I was here on this Earth and I experienced things and I interpreted them a certain way, and yes writing strict fiction is important too, when it comes to exploring themes and issues and whatever. But memoir is important too. And fictionalizing things that happened. One day I won't be here anymore but my writing might be. My hope is that one day, a scared weird little girl just like me will pick up a volume of my short stories, or one of my novels and read it, and feel just a little bit better. I want to be an everlasting brain hug.

That'd be nice.

Maybe not too realistic though.

But there will be no hiding.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

A Week in My Writerly World

I'm on Facebook when a student who is in the same Creative Writing class as me starts up an instant messaging window. He wants to talk about the piece he'd brought in to workshop earlier that day. He wants to know if I was holding back, trying to be nice about it. The answer is, of course I am. I am a ruthless critic. I am a perfectionist. I am a complete bitch when it comes to editting. Worse even, when the work is my own.

We talk about problems with his piece for a while. He takes it well, maturely weighing up the pros and cons of my opinions. He is a good listener and I feel like my thoughts, as a fellow writer, are respected. It is a satisfying headspace to occupy. I do feel a tad guilty though. Who am I to give writerly advice to someone who has taught people to write outside of taking this course for longer than I have been able to write my own name??

Then, we talk about the problems I am having with my own piece. Talking it through with someone whose opinions I value (and whose approval I seek from week to week) helps me see where I can take my assignment to make it work for me, rather than against me.

I get to work.

THURSDAY I write an essay on Nazism for history, get a DVD stuck in the DVD player and nearly have a mental breakdown because the helicopters flying over my house all day (we have a local mystery) are driving me insane. The overcast weather drives me stir crazy.

FRIDAY I am desperate to write, but I have to go to work. By the end of the day, the inspiration is gone and all I am desperate to do is sleep.

SATURDAY I work again, and then go to a friend's birthday movies and dinner outing. Good friends, good food and great laughs alleviate my stress and put me back in my happy place. Still no writing.

It was 11pm. I'd just finished some pretty intense university notes on the Holocaust, and to get my mind on less depressing things before I fell asleep, I was thinking about the street that I live in. My brain started up like someone had plugged it into my laptop and pressed the power button. Ideas. Everywhere, words, making sentences, making a story, making a story question for me to answer. Just who is the guy next door? How close is he to the character I imagine him to be?

I resist the writerly urge, thinking to myself that I have an early start the next day. There is no time to stay up until dawn scribbling. I will not be able to keep my eyes open. My penmanship will be atrocious. The idea might strike again, and it isn't that good anway. But my journal (purple at the moment) sits on the desk next to my bed and it calls to me. "Write in me!" she says. (Why is my journal a girl? I don't know, I'm just the writer!)

I turn on the light, and I write until I feel like I've been awake for days. The story is very basic, very teenage, very fanciful. But feeling satisfied that I wrote it, I go back to sleep.

MONDAY I go to uni and come home to work on that essay some more. I accidentally watch too much TV. I forget that I am even writing a novel. There is only Cold Case, and Nazi Terror.


I mean to only type up my workshopping piece for the following day, but I ended up under a fictive spell. The story grabbed me and before I knew it, it was 10. 30 pm and I still wasn't ready for the next day of classes (never fear, an early start remedied that... joy /sarcasm). What I ended up writing was nowhere near enough. I plan on writing more. There is more to say. My fingers are itching to type!!

WEDNESDAY a.k.a. today.

I finished my creative writing assignment... Well. The creative part. Also, Metior issue 3 came out at uni... check out page 47 for yours truly. Had my doubts as to the merit of the current piece. It hadn't been allowed to sit for as long as the piece in Issue 2. Oh well. Issue 4 will commence after exams. The theme is "black". Now. How exactly does one write about Black in an unconventional way? And how do I go about recruiting a poetic sidekick for my segment, as requested?

All these and more answered in the next thrilling installment. Provided I remember.

Monday, 3 May 2010


As I said to a friend of mine last night, I should come with a disclaimer.  So here it is for the world to see:  CAUTION.  This girl will write about you.

I always try to be as honest as I can be when I write short stories but it needs to be taken into consideration, the old adage, “Show me an objective piece of writing and I will show you a blank piece of paper”  (Proper referencing unknown.)  There are many things that inspire me.  John Mayer’s music is sublimely calming at the moment, I find my Australian Literature unit a source of no end of amusement, and I really enjoy reading the old classics.  But what inspires me most are the people in my life.  I may never publish it, but I will write about you.  And you should learn to deal with that.

I mean it as a complement a lot of the time.  Other times it’s a form of self reflection.  Mostly it’s just the way I process the things that are happening to me.