Friday, January 9, 2009

New beginnings

This little doll is one made by a sensational blogger no doubt already known to many of you, Loobylu, aka Claire Robertson, who's had more than a few generous words to say about The Divided Heart, for which I am most grateful. She is one of those crazily talented crafty types who seems to have found the knack of living well and being true to herself, and yet is also wonderfully open about how tough it can be to maintain that balance (for want of a better word). Claire mentions my book in her latest post as one of the inspirations for her recent decision to start writing a novel, in the sense that it reminded her "that I had always wanted to be a part of that action". Without wanting to overstate my contribution to what I'm sure Claire would have eventually found herself doing no matter what, I feel really chuffed that someone might have found the book galvanising in that way--and that it might have played some small part in the work happening sooner rather than later. My only advice to Claire would be: be cautious about talking about the plot/themes etc of your book too early. I learnt the hard way that revealing too much to soon can have the terrible effect of killing it off. Having said that, I can't wait to see the end result when it arrives!

Talking of new arrivals, I spent yesterday witnessing the glorious birth of my new little (yet to be named) neighbour. Apart from my own, I have only attended two births--both of them the daughters of my wonderful friend, fellow community member and angelic songstress Emma Tonkin, who showed such grace under pressure--and used that voice to full and impressive effect. Never have a I heard vocal chords utilised so powerfully (as the nervous-looking women in the waiting room could testify to)! What can you say about an experience like this? It is a privilege beyond words, and the pride I felt in my darling friend, who endured what was (by any standards and especially for a second birth) a seriously gruelling, long and painful labour, brought me to tears. It was a reminder of the way birth takes us to our absolute limits, physically and mentally, and that no matter how much those in the room care and are working to be there for you, it is one in which you are ultimately alone--just you and your body (and your baby)--working through this enormous transition of becoming two from one. I was there to look after Emma's other daughter, Stella, so that she could see her little sister being born, and it was a pretty special day of bonding for her and I, too. (My kids were also pretty chuffed with the deal--my son spending the day watching movies with his best mate, and my daughter hanging out at the house of Ms Clare Bowditch, her favourite second mother, along with Em, recently returned from musical adventures in Berlin--read more here.) All round, an incredible day. It feels feeble to say thank you to Emma for letting me be part of such a significant aspect of life (her life and life in the biggest sense of the word), but I feel grateful in a way I can't find adequate words for.

10 comments:

Emma Kirsopp said...

just so you know, several people I have spoken to have found The Divided Heart galvanising (amazing, actually). Even for those of us who do not have children.

Rachel Power said...

Emma, that's a lovely comment. Thank you. It really pleases me to hear that artists without children did not feel alienated by the book. That was one of my greatest fears. While the choices creative women have had to make over the centuries have often been painful, women artists have perhaps also been in a privileged position to make more highly conscious decisions about such things because they already have something that provides so much meaning in their lives (and takes up so much time and thought). I think it's still a fascinating and under-researched subject...

Home Girl said...

my memories of being in labour are so intense and personal - i'd really like the opportuniy to witness someone else's birth (your description of two becoming one seems so appropriate). btw i gobbled up your book over our christmas holiday and am planning to write an blog entry bout my thoughts. i thoroughly enjoyed it - seemed a perfect tonic to my own divided heart. plenty of resultant galvanising going on at home girl HQ!

katiecrackernuts said...

What a special moment to witness. And yah to Claire for just "puttin' it out there".

Rachel Power said...

Thanks you lot. Your blogs inspire plenty of creative action, too. I see Bec (fellow Sunrise kindy-goer) in your pics, Home Girl. What a small world it is!

little red hen said...

Thank you for the comments on my blog. Yes I recently realised you had changed the name of your blog I have been meaning to change it.but for some reason my blog does not always allow me to make changes to those bits at the side????(computers)I will get onto it. I was given your book by Kirti (skeleton woman) soon after it's release and she refered me to your blog. Thanks for the inspiration. I've often thought I had nothing to say ie. in my art works but reading your book helped to confirm my thoughts that motherhood, which I think is undervalued in general in our society, is in fact a valid and noteworthy subject to work with.

genevieve said...

Beautiful post, Rachel.

I also have a copy of your book and think it's terrific. The 'reported speech' interviewing style is a little odd, but the content is amazing, and it is an important book. It is puzzling that quite a few people have suggested that it is written for a small audience (creative women with children) - HUH!!! I fart in their general direction.

Regarding birth and singers, congratulations to your lovely friend - but do warn her to look out for the vocal chords next time around if at all possible - I was warned to take care especially whilst pushing, no low guttural sounds (that advice came from an opera singer.)Clearly she got through okay this time, so that's super, and best wishes to all. This old chook is signing off now...particularly loved that chapter with Robyn Rowland BTW.

Rachel Power said...

Thanks so much for those comments. Yes, I can see why the interview style seems a bit unusual. I originally wanted to publish a book of straight interviews, but my publishers were pushing for something less stilted, so I guess we came up with something in between. The difficulty for me was that I wanted to keep each conversation separate rather than just use the material for my own discussion, or arrange the book thematically. Those decisions were a bit fraught. Ah, well, I have let it be what it is now, and so glad you all got something out of it. I agree the implications of this discussion go beyond mother/babies, but it's a struggle to convince many of that.
My birthing friend is an Alexander Technique practitioner, and so it was fascinating to hear the way she used her voice, which I think she would have been doing very consciously. I did wonder if she discovered added range, though!

Kerry said...

Hi Rachel. I just bought your book, though I'll have to wait for it to make its way across the sea. Can't wait to get my hands on it though, and see what everybody is talking about!

genevieve said...

Very interesting to hear that was a joint decision regarding the interviews, Rachel, thanks for sharing that.

Regarding the voice, I'm sure your wise practitioner buddy of course has it all sorted. And I think the worst thing that might happen really is that you could end up a bit throaty-sounding - not good for opera, but probably quite exciting for a blues or jazz singer :-)
And thanks for the link! I still have to add you, I think. Must go and check.