Saturday, December 20, 2014

Farewell to fourteen

1. It's hard to think of a word to adequately describe this year: let's settle for hectic. But I have managed, in spite of everything, to write in the margins (ha! see what I did there?).

First, the indomitable Patricia McMahon and I have finished a draft and (almost) a redraft of Lark (can't sing) Jaz, or whatever the title will be of our joint endeavour. I have also redrafted the still-untitled (though I have some great contenders!) gymnastics novel, which will be published in June 2015 by Penguin. And my current project has just been supported by the Department of Culture and the Arts for 2015, and its panel of peers, for which I am immensely, indeed staggeringly, grateful.

This one is going to matter.

I am also beyond grateful for the Department of Culture and the Arts and the Copyright Agency for supporting my upcoming residency at Kindling Words East in the US, a residency specifically for professional writers, artists and editors - more of which in the New Year.

2. This is my summer reading list:

One of these things is not like the other
3. My old comedy buddy Jude Bridge won the Scarlet Stiletto Award this year: see here. Judy is a writer of quirky, funny, heartfelt short fiction: she's been published all over the place in recent years, and I hope to see a collection of hers on shelves near you sometime soon. You won't read anything like her anywhere. She's the one with the sausage in her mouth, from back in the day:

The wonders of latex
4. This is a blog about writing, but I have to acknowledge the hideous events of the past week, and shake my head in horror, along with the rest of the world. For my money, the best piece about one of the hideous events is Randa Abdel-Fattah: if you haven't read it, it's here.

5. A special thank you to The Literature Centre and its staff for its support of me this year, and to Writing WA. We writers and illustrators are so lucky to have such vibrant agencies supporting us in Western Australia. And, while I'm at it, thanks to all the SCBWI crew - you know why.

6. May 2015 bring peace to you all, joy if you can find it, lots of good books, good friends, good conversations. And time to breathe, reflect, and appreciate the life you have.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Persistence pays off

1. Way, way, way back a long, long, long time ago, I wrote about starting a new junior novel. I didn't think I would ever finish it, despite spending a wonderful few weeks watching the talented gymnasts at Southside Districts Gymnastics Academy in January 2011, courtesy of the coach and owner, the marvellous Amanda Quigley.  Well, thanks to some astute young readers (who loved it even without an ending) and other creative supporters, in January 2014 I finally finished the novel that I think will be called Almost Good Enough, and next year it will be published with Penguin. I can't tell you what it took to finally get to this point: it has been a very, er, eventful few years in between, and I am extremely happy to have it across the line.

Moral of the story: Keep Going. Just Keep Going. In writing as in all other things.

PS I hope to be able to deliver more exciting writing news soon.

2.  Recognition can be long coming. Witness these men:

My dad, waving at his wife, his daughters, his granddaughter.
3. It's been 40 splendid years of these folk: my primary school best friend sent this to me from England today. Oh nostalgia!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A is for April

1. It occurred to me that so much of writing is waiting: waiting for ideas to come, or the next scene; waiting to see whether publishers like your latest offering; whether readers like it. Writing is, in this sense, the antithesis of modern life, modern communication, which is all instant, and rarely cause for pondering or reflection.

Peripherally related to this: at the recent Perth Writers Festival, one of the guests at the opening party talked about hard-copy publishers as legacy publishers, implying, perhaps, that they were going the way of dinosaurs. But such publishing, like writing, will always have its place, I think, even if its role changes. Hardcopy books invite slow contemplation in a way ebooks don't (regardless of subject matter - who's with me?!). Not all stories require contemplation to be effective, but it is one of the things that matters to me.

2. The book I'm writing with the incomparable Patricia McMahon continues to be a joy, and, not only that, but we're getting closer to the/an end. The manuscript is fattening, and we're still bristling with new ideas.

3. I've just finished reading Christos Tsiolkas' Barracuda. It took me months to get through it: I wanted to savour every chapter. Has anybody else read it? It was thought-provoking at every conceivable level. Today the Miles Franklin long list was released, and it didn't appear, which is baffling to me. (Maybe, as happened to one of my favourite YA books of last year, the publisher didn't submit it?) Anybody else read it?

4. We've been getting out of the city on the weekends lately: visiting places not-too-far-away. Here is a picture of the moonscape-like Pinnacles. I'd never been there before - I'd always had the impression it would be underwhelming. It was not.

5. Life has been stressful lately, but I am lucky to work with great folks, with great ideas. Like, visiting new bars like Bobeche on a Friday night. Which serves a kind of tea I heartily approve of:

Monday, February 17, 2014

Fab in Fourteen

Happy New Year, dear reader! (You know who you are.)

This year is about Writing. Which shouldn't come as a surprise, coming from a writer, but the last couple of years have been, well, distracting, not to put too fine a point on it. So even though many aspects of my life are the same, and I am as pushed for time as I ever was, I am bringing a writerly focus to it all.

It's starting off well:

1. I sent off my first manuscript in years, after fabulous feedback from a colleague's 10 year old daughter and her friend (thanks, young Kate!) It needs work, but the act of completing it was A Thing.

2. Below is New York, in which I met up with the wondrous Patricia McMahon, co-author of my current project. We went to see The ABC: Why Children's Books Matter at the New York Public Library, curated by Leonard S Marcus. We both cried, listening to EB White himself read the end of Charlotte's Web. At other times, we trotted through Central Park, thrashed over our manuscript over lunch and dinner, took ourselves to the theatre. New York was fabulousness itself, despite the polar vortex that was being visited upon the city for the duration of our visit. It restoreth the soul.

3. I am chairing three sessions at the Perth Writers' Festival (see here for details.) I've never loved reading a bunch of books so much, and while I'm aware that really I should be a bundle of nerves at this point, I'm way too excited for that. Hannah Kent, AJ Betts, Will Kostakis, Claire Zorn, Joe Ducie, Sarah Turnbull, William McInnes.

4. Who knows, I might blog more, about Actual Writing this year.

Stay tuned. Stay warm. Stay well.

Grand dames meet up at Grand Central

New York Public Library: hitherto only read about in books

This should be a travelling show (hint). It featured 'our' Shaun Tan, too.

When advertising fails to anticipate Big Events

Imagining in minus gazillion temperatures