Sunday, October 31, 2010

Eternal soundtrack

Inspired by Mike and the 'geezer jamboree'(!), I'm mulling over what music I'd want to take to the hereafter.  You're supposed to be limited to seven songs, which makes things tricky.  My seven tunes today might well differ from my seven tunes tomorrow.  Today's pick, in no particular order:

Tuxedo Junction, Glenn Miller
A Town Called Malice, The Jam
Tinseltown in the Rain, The Blue Nile (It's sheer accident these first three start with 't'!)
Sing, Sing, Sing, Benny Goodman (also handy because it lasts 9 minutes)
Dancing Queen, ABBA (you knew ABBA had to get a look in, didn't you?!)
Subterranean Homesick Blues, Bob Dylan
A Day in the Life, The Beatles

 What are yours?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

When your best just isn't good enough

I don't know whether it's because of the amount of US television/music/movies our culture is saturated with, but it seems to me that Australians are becoming as obsessed with success - usually measured in tedious material terms - as any of our North American counterparts.  It's all about being a winner, fulfilling your potential, reaching your dreams.  If you don't have - or strive for - a great career, a fabulous family, and a whole pile of Stuff, there's something wrong.  (Or maybe that's just living in a big mining town, I don't know.)  We're expected to aim high, and if you miss, it's your fault.  You're not talented enough, determined enough, focused.  It's all about you.  You're in a race, and there's no dropping out. 

This attitude has become attached to writing, too.  If you don't win prizes, write bestsellers, get grants or make a living from it, there's something a bit sad about you.  You should be out there promoting, getting your name known, increasing your sales.  The more people buy your books the better, right?  Aren't you going to be the next J.K. Rowling?  Not going to do NaNoWriMo?  A thousand words a day, fifty thousand words a month - write until you're sick of your own words?*  What kind of writer are you?

So much of what is important about writing is so easily lost.  The pleasure of making a story take shape, of massaging a sentence until it is supple, of going beyond what you think you can do.  The physical delight of your hand moving on a page.  The satisfaction of printing out new pages, still warm from the printer. 

Writing is not a competition.  The point of writing for me - aside from its intrinsic satisfaction - is communication.  We're telling stories, sharing stories. 

Finding connections. 

Getting real.

If writing isn't about that, you'd be better off becoming a lawyer.** 

* I'm not dissing NaNoWriMo, but I wonder how there can be joy in it.
** I'm not dissing lawyers either.  Some of my best friends are lawyers :)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Things in spring

1.  I have started a new kids' novel.  I felt despairing after my no-more-YA pronouncement; then I had more ideas for YA novels; but I returned to despair knowing I don't have the time to bring the ideas to life.  So I took my notebook on the train, and en route to work I wrote down any and every idea that entered my head, hoping that one of them would be for something shorter and more manageable.  One was.  It has grown legs, and now I'm seeing if it will be able to run and leap. 
2.  It's planting season.  If you'd told me ten years ago I'd develop into a mad keen gardener I would have sniffed and told you you must have the wrong person. My one failed attempted at growing basil (basil!  how hard could it be?!) convinced me I was a brown-thumb.  Enter husband with mushroom-compost-toting abilities, a bunch of newspapers and giant pots, and presto, a (food) garden has been born.  (Only food - the rest looks like the overgrown jungle it is).  For the last few weeks every meal has contained our potatoes, broad beans, spinach, herbs, onions, spring onions, leeks, and the garlic isn't far away (Doust, are you paying attention?!).  The Good Life indeed.
3.  I've been cycling around the lakes in my suburb, delighted by the baby ducks and swans, the swarming insects in the trees, the abundant blue of Perth spring skies.  By the fact of being able to cycle at all, given that I couldn't for so long.  The joy of skimming over footpaths, bending into curves, pedalling through the warm air, feeling strength returning.
4.  John Lennon would have been 70 today, and I didn't need Google to remind me of the date.  He talked before he died about how life would be long, that he would have decades of creativity ahead of him.  A reminder to waste no time - creatively or otherwise.