Monday, December 28, 2009

Where's Santa when you need him?!

Phew! I barely survived that Christmas period--I don't know about you. The Santa fantasy must have been invented by desperate parents who never want to enter another shopping mall again as long as they live. Imagine how much more relaxing (and affordable) Christmas would be if Mr Santa Clause could only keep up his end of the bargain...

All that fluoro lighting seems to have killed off my brain. So luckily for me (and you), rather than write a lengthy post here, I can refer you to this piece philosopher Damon Young invited me to write for his fabulous blog series in which authors and artists talk about their favourite tools...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A poem from Cate Kennedy to share

I seem to be constantly apologising lately for my lack of blogging action. This week, though I have a particularly good excuse, as I am doing an intensive novel writing masterclass--which, as it suggests, intensive!

It has been a rather humbling, daunting, confronting experience spending all day in a room full of accomplished fiction writers, when I feel like such a beginner, still trying to make the transition out of non-fiction and into fiction--and not just short stories, but a whole book. It has felt a bit like vomiting in public sometimes, sharing this very raw material so openly. (Sorry--that's not a very pretty picture, is it?)

What has really helped my (numerous) crises of confidence, though, has been the number of amazing messages I have been getting about The Divided Heart this week. I think this book must have just about the loveliest bunch of readers any book could hope for! I so appreciate the openness and generosity of spirit with which people write to me. Thank you Divided Hearties.

In the meantime, I just want to share this wonderful poem that writer Cate Kennedy (speaking of the wildly accomplished) sent me some time back after reading The Divided Heart.

I was sitting at my desk wrestling with a piece of writing one day, when up popped a message from Cate (that's her in the pic above), with this poem that summed up so exquisitely the very feeling I was struggling to articulate: the way children call on us/teach us to be present to the here and now--which is what is both so challenging and so wonderful about them. It was one of those synchronous moments.

Cate was one of the first women I approached for an interview for my book, only to discover she didn't then have children. (I felt mortified that I had been so presumptuous. Something about her writing had made me assume she was a mother.) She has since had a daughter, and now I wish I could do a second version with her in it!

(P.S. Just before you read the poem--for those still thinking/blogging/obsessing about housework issues, my sister has started a new blog, Work, Love, Play, and her latest post offers another interesting angle on the matter...)

Cate Kennedy

I have written this
with a body stretched and sore,
stitches swollen, torn by a crowning head
tongue thick with painkillers
and in the next room a cry for milk
to set my heart off like a caged bird against my ribs

And I have written this
dragging with me a lead apron of grainy exhaustion
page prickling through a stinging mist, mouth metallic with adrenalin
while she sleeps, frowning, tender as a camellia

I have written
all I could, in a gluttonous scrawling haste
hearing her call for me, crawling through the other room
written it washed with guilt, the soup burned to the saucepan
snatching just five illicit minutes to myself, for godsakes, just five

And I have written
as she sat under my feet pulling what’s hoarded from the shelf below
cringing at the sound of tearing paper
until the computer connection suddenly went dead
and she – gummy, triumphant, seated like the Buddha –
held the cable aloft, and waved it like a prayer flag

And I have written, like today,
as she stood by my leg crying with frustration
beating a tattoo onto my thigh with both hands
her face transposing everything, urgently seeking my eyes
demanding I turn away from this pointless thing
because out there, the whole humming world is waiting
See, says her fervent outstretched finger, see there
is the outside
trust me
everything you need is there

tell me you wouldn’t rise,
given that call,
and follow her
helpless and ardent
as a chastened disciple.