Friday, May 2, 2014

Books and blogs

It's been a long-time between drinks for me and my blog. I haven't been so well of late, but things are looking up and I wanted to let people know about a few things on the horizon:

Firstly, on May 29 at the Northcote Library I will be having a chat with Stella Prize-winning author Clare Wright about her book, The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka. Also women, writing, politics, creativity... ie. we'll just be having a good ol' gab-fest and we'd love you to join us.

Secondly, you should all read this lovely interview with Clare Bowditch over at Gab Williams' book book blog blog (along with all her other wonderful posts) - where she mentions that she'd "marry 'The Divided Heart' by Rachel Power". Well, shucks, if only she'd asked, I reckon The Divided Heart would've said quite liked to marry Ms Bowditch too!

And thirdly... I feel very sad - and more than a little distressed - that The Divided Heart is no longer in print and no-one can get their hands on a copy. I still get lots of lovely messages from readers, but also from prospective readers seeking a copy and I hate that I can't supply them with one.

So I'm in the beginning stages of seeking some new interviews with the plan of creating an updated edition. I don't know whether I will need to self-publish or if I'll find a willing publisher, but I am determined to find a way to get TDH out there again. Watch this space... 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Free online streaming of 'Lost in Living' on March 8

Watch the trailer for 'Lost in Living'
To celebrate this year's International Women's Day, filmmaker Mary Trunk is making her wonderful film, Lost in Living, available to stream for free online for 24 hours.

This is a chance to see Mary's profound look at the lives of four creative women as they struggle to navigate family, work and creativity.

The film will be available on demand on March 8 from 8am PST time (that's US time - currently 11 hours behind Australia) for 24 hours.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Divided hearts

Currently on in Sydney is an exhibition that the artists say has taken its name from my book.

When they contacted me to ask if they could name their exhibition "The Divided Heart", I had to move beyond a fleeting sense of possessiveness and remind myself that before the book was printed, it was my publisher who said: "I've found the name of this book; I think it's "A Divided Heart".

I always feel slightly embarrassed that the title wasn't my idea, because it's clearly so right. My only suggestion was the shift from 'A' to 'The'!

It is not a phrase I have any ownership over. It does nothing more than describe the experience that so many mothers instinctively relate to.

So much that is written about being a mother and an artist uses exactly the same, if not very similar, words. And when my book is reviewed, this is the phrase that most often gets quoted as resonating with the reader:

“A divided heart; a split self; the sense that to succeed at one means to fail at the other.”

These artists generously asked my permission to use some of those words, but really it's just that, in terms of using them as a title for the a creative response to the experience of being artist and mother, my book just got in first. The feeling is universal.

"The Divided Heart" is a group exhibition about navigating a balance between creativity and motherhood. It is on now at Gaffa Gallery in Sydney.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Spreading the love: Big Hearted Business Virtual Conference launched today

http://bigheartedbusiness.clarebowditch.com/bhbvirtualconferencesalespage/?affiliates=13
There are a lot of amazingly creative people out there. Then there is that rare beast who is both a startling talent and who also wants to use that talent to create some real change in the world.

If you know Clare Bowditch like I do, you'll know that when this woman believes in you, she becomes not only your friend but your greatest champion.

Through all the time in which she has been cultivating her own creative career, Clare's determination to see others succeed to bring her friends along with her has been an equally mighty, passionate force. 

That means that there are times  those times when you feel less than deserving of her persistent faith in your potential when that can be wee bit confronting. It's not always easy to face up to your deepest desires. But Clare will remain determined to see those around her be the best they can be; to help you find a way to do the things that actually make you happy.

As a long-time friend of Clare's, I've been lucky enough to be among the beneficiaries of her constant encouragement over the years. But with Big Hearted Business, she's now sharing the love far and wide, so everyone can get some of that tough (and oh-so-warm) love in their lives.

Clare really believes that with the right knowledge and support you can “Do What you Love, Make Money, Save the World (even just a little bit)” – and the enormously generous speakers at her BHB Conference offered the practical, living proof of how. 

Since that event, I've heard from so many women who've said the conference finally gave them the permission, the confidence and the tools to forge ahead with their creative lives. 

If, like me, you were there, you probably can't wait to re-live it and finally get down all those pearls of wisdom you wish you'd written down at the time! 

And if you weren't among the lucky few to win a golden ticket, Big Hearted Business has launched its BHB Virtual Conference 2013, so that you can watch all the best bits anyway. 

http://bigheartedbusiness.clarebowditch.com/bhbvirtualconferencesalespage/?affiliates=13  
This virtual version is a "super-highlights treasure-chest" of the finest moments from the BHB Conference 2013. It includes talking videos, downloadable audios and transcripts of most of the keynotes, stories, question-times and exercises.

And most importantly, thanks to Catherine Deveny, you'll learn how to develop serious “F*ck off Status” some of the best advice you could get on putting fears and doubts in their place and getting on with the creative dream!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Motherhood, time and the art of surrender

For my birthday this year, my partner gave me the most thoughtful possible gift: a week at Varuna, the writers' centre in the Blue Mountains.

I have been to Varuna several times now, and each time induces a different emotional response -- sadly, often characterised by an existential crisis on the first or second day that finds me wandering the streets of Katoomba in a state of panic about my neglected creative "practice".

Between full-time work and my family's needs, my life feels almost entirely controlled by external demands, so time at Varuna is usually the first chance I've had to stop and really think for months. This time, after a particularly busy period at work, I also seemed to have completely lost the ability to structure my own time and felt completely at sea! 

Of course once you finally get your bearings, you realise it's already Wednesday and what felt like a luxurious surfeit of time stretching out in front of you suddenly seems to be spiralling rapidly toward the inevitable end date. But a luxury it still is. A chance to once again glimpse the possibilities, if nothing else. Each time helps me remember that to write is really just to pay attention to what's around you -- so simple, but so easily lost in the chaos of "normal" life.

Angst-ridden moments aside, each time I'm at Varuna there are also lovely instances of synchronicity. Years ago, I was doing a residency alongside poet Kylie Rose, who left a book outside my door: Object Lessons by Eavan Boland. It was the perfect thing at the perfect time. Boland provides such an acute description of the new relationship with the sensory world (and therefore, peculiar form of creative power) that comes with mothering that she almost single-handedly inspired the conclusion to the book I was working on, which became The Divided Heart.

Julienne van Loon
This time, writer Jane Messer just happened to mention a Griffith Review essay, "The Play of Days", written by Julienne van Loon, a novelist who was at Varuna at the same time as Kylie Rose and myself all those years ago. At the time, she had recently won the won the Australian/Vogel Award for her first book, Road Story.

I recall discussions with Julienne and the other residents about the feared threats motherhood might pose to a successful writing life. So it was doubly fascinating for me to not only discover that she had had a baby but that her experience had been characterised by such blissful surrender to her son's agenda-free pace, amid all the risks that that state poses to our "selfhood", which she describe so beautifully in her essay:

I have taken twelve months leave from my usual work to be home with a new baby, and one of the biggest adjustments I had had to make is to arrive at a new understanding of time, one measured only by the fragile, mutable pattern of basic human needs: sleep, food, warmth, contact. ... And it doesn't matter. Unless you can't shake the itch for something more meaningful to do.   

Yep, that pesky itch...

Thursday, May 2, 2013

In Conversation with Jo Case

This Sunday author Jo Case and I will be having a good ol' yarn (but in public) about her wonderful, moving and very important new memoir, Boomer and Me: A memoir of motherhood, and Asperger’s.

The event is at the The Sun Bookshop in Yarraville at 11am. Jo has written a very candid memoir about coming to terms with what it all means when her son is diagnosed with Asperger's. We'd love to have others join the conversation. 

The event is free but if you want more info, you can ring 9689 0661 or email info@sunbookshop.com.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Why you must see "Lost in Living"


It has taken me two weeks to write about Lost in Living here since a copy of the DVD arrived it in my mailbox.

I just haven’t been able to find the words to encompass my feelings about this remarkable documentary.

Still now I don’t know how to express my admiration and gratitude for it. The final film is even more wonderful than I expected it to be when I first heard from director Mary Trunk a couple of years back and watched the early footage she shared online.

Made over eight years, Lost in Living has been a labour of love for Mary, and the time and passion she's invested is evident. It is such a moving and profound document of the situation for mothers trying to maintain their work and their identity as artists.

It never ceases to amaze me how familiar and universal the issues are for creative women: the guilt and frustration, as well as the perspective and motivation, that comes with motherhood. The terrible feeling of being constantly torn in two... And what a comfort it is to hear other women describe the same feelings we all struggle with.

As Caren says: “I still don’t know how to make art without having time!”
 
Lost in Living features four utterly candid and down-to-earth artists: painter and mother of seven Marjorie Schlossman; prolific author Merrill Joan Gerber; and friends actor and filmmaker Kristina Robbins and visual artist Caren McCaleb.  

Together, these women offer great insights into the nature of creativity, the complexities of mothering and the intensity of friendship between women. It is fascinating to see the contrast between the experience of the two older women -- the isolation they have felt and the impact of that on their relationships -- and that of the two younger artists, whose barriers are more personal than societal.

There is nothing I can say here that could do this film justice or describe the power it had on me. Watching Lost in Living, I cried bucketloads. I've seen no other film so successfully investigate the fraught relationship between motherhood and art, and all I can do is urge you to do everything you can to get your hands on a copy.

While you wait for it to arrive, you can read this great interview with Mary about motherhood and the creative process.