Chinese Whisperings Take Five

As part of the publicity for Chinese Whisperings, Paul and I are asking each of the writers involved to answer five questions, the answers for which will run in a featured writer section called “Take Five” (yeah not terribly original I know!) in the right side bar, changing ever five or so days.

With Dale on the job behind the scenes building the structure for the website (kudos to you Dale!) and helping to tweak the template and design … it is time to start plugging in the information.

Paul had the brilliant idea that as first writer on the project I got first go at being the featured writer – which means I get my mug on the front page and in the funky side bar box.  While I’ve written up my bio, and my reflections on being part of the project, I’m yet to write up my questions, which are:

  • Pick one book from each decade of your life. Who would you like to give that book to and why?
  • Do you have a favourite place to write? If so where is it?
  • What is the worst “knock” you’ve had to recover from as a writer?
  • When do you normally do your writing? What do you most like/dislike about writing then?
  • What is the easiest element of writing for you? What is the hardest?

I have to admit I have been procrastinating from writing the answers – but I can procrastinate no longer!

And on the topic of procrastination – tomorrow is also the day to write up the last bits of the basic web content for Chinese Whisperings.  So if you happen by here and there’s something burning you want to know about Chinese Whisperings – leave your question in the comment box and I’ll ensure it gets answered on the website.

Fourth Fiction: Dare 8

With some of my humour crawling back in after my bout of sickness, I thought I’d take a crack at Fourth Fiction’s 8th literati dare – to caption the New Yorker cartoon below with something which relates to current news.

Before I unleash my witticism I have to give credit where credit is due – both brilliantly funny and bang on the money for current affairs. Thumbs up go to both Nora and Igor for the following captions:

NORA: “Tell the board I’m commemorating the 40th anniversary of the moon landing. And send the intern up with an American flag.”

IGOR: “What do you mean I can only see the solar eclipse in Asia?”

man on roof at desk

When they said they were trying to avoid the GFC – a clear run from the roof top was not what I was expecting.

Why Write?

writingPaul Anderson explores why people are drawn to writing in Manifesto, his Write Anything column today … and why he in particular writes.

Here is why I have written in the past and continue to do so now.

While there have been times when I have stopped writing, I’ve never forgotten how much I love to write and always known I will return. Writing is not only a safe harbour, but a comfy pair of shoes or coat you haven’t worn for a while which offers up forgotten delights in pockets.

I have been writing since I was ten years old. I discovered the thrill of writing in a set of picture/story exercises in Grade Five as part of the Olympic Games in Los Angeles that year. I only had to do one, but I did three – recounting the travails of Australian mascot Willy in various different events. It was one of those things – once started I couldn’t stop.  Twenty-five years later I’m still at it.

I wrote initially because I had the epiphany I could. I found I loved getting lost in words and worlds. When I look back at what was going on for me aged 10, I’m not surprised I was drawn to writing as it allowed me to control and orchestrate events on the page at a time when I was feeling swept away and mauled by events in my own life.

Later on in high school I began writing lengthier “novels” after a teenage literary hissy fit upon reading one of my cousin’s Sweet Valley High books. I started writing a manuscript (which I still have) because I was certain I could write something better – at least something a little less saccharine sweet. I initially wrote it for my cousin Melissa, but was soon writing it for my own entertaiment. It was arrogant  to think I could write better than a published author but it kept me at the page – and what was only meant to be 20 pages blew out to well over 100 pages during the summer.

I later went on to re-write that manuscript when we moved from Queensland to Victoria and I got a huge kick out of my friends taking turns in reading what I had written. I kept writing because I loved being read. Writing was also something which allowed me to stand out in my peer group as something unique (when I felt anything but) and as a new girl, at a new school, provided me with an “in”. It also kept me company in the lonely weeks as I tried to find my footing in a new school.

As I got older I wrote to try and make sense of the world I lived in. It was also a safe way to explore. I was not a particularly wayward teenager (who knows where I would have strayed had I not been straying on the page) but some of the themes I explored in my writing showed there was a gritty interior behind the sweet smile.

I lived a lot in my head … and being on the page was somehow a way for me to be both in myself and out side of myself at the same time.  It was a fantasy world where not only was I God but fashionista and beauty queen living through and via the girls and women in my writing. While lots of my characters were savvy and confident, they all had a very vulnerable core – and there were few happy endings.

Then, now, in the future – I will always write for the thrill of being part of a story as in unfolds.  There have been times when I’ve realised I’m holding my breathe as a I write, so caught up in the drama on the page (writing Demon Lover was one those moments and one of the reasons I love being an author on The Astonishing Adventures of Captain Juan). 

It was (and is) a form of escapism – but not of wanting to run away from the world I live in, but wanting to be in a different world … I’m not even sure if that makes sense? It’s like going travelling for the adventure rather than running away overseas.

I remember the dislocation I would feel as a teenager after being hunched over my desk for hours scribbling free hand.  It was like being dragged back, often unwilling (as my Mum called me to dinner) from another dimension.  I would often sit there and need to spend a couple of minutes reorientating myself with my surroundings, renegotiating my feelings. I don’t get this so much – but unlike my teenage years I don’t have the luxury of spending hours on end absorbed in one of my stories.

If I am totally honest about why I write now, I do so because I have to.  It is the air I breathe. The creative outlet that keeps me sane.  Writing makes me happy. Writing gives me a sense of freedom which few things are able to do any more.

Fiction Friday Hiatus

books on mobileIt has been more than six weeks since I participated in Write Anything’s Fiction Friday.  It has been an unofficial break to date – with my son’s birthday party cutting in the first week, a trip to the Bunya’s the second, a prompt I couldn’t make work the third, then two weeks away on holidays.

The break has made me realise I need to take an official break from writing new fiction and concentrate on the overfollowing folders of old work which needs revising, editing, critiquing and writing.

All of a sudden I seem to have a bee in my bonnet about getting some work published.

It seems as if the start of the year was about starting and the end of the year is about finishing.  There seems to be a balance in it.

The Griffith review is publishing a special summer edition of fiction this year. The deadline is the 5th August and the premise is to show something new about ourselves beyond the political and market rhetoric.

The My Sandals story (which I’m thinking of retitling something like “Perspectives from the Sand” or “Perspectives of Sand”) is a potential starter. It was entered it in  EditorUnleashed/Smash Words flash fiction competition with no luck – but I think it is suitable for the Griffith Review. The hard message beneath the veneer tells us we’re often wrong as parents and subject our children to pain and anguish in our quest to keep them safe. I just need to check the word count for GR.

I’m also working on the fourth and final section of Graceville. I had considered putting it up for critting for my QWC course but the time frames don’t merge in a good way. So will ask some friends to look over it for comment and submit it as well. I”m aware it is a highly experimental piece and may not be to everyone’s liking. And thus – need to find something of an ‘alternate’ publishing outlet for it.

Once those have been submitted – I’ll be looking at rewriting Light Years and also the unnamed long short story which I guess I should just refer to as Lea and Jude’s story for ease of mention.

I have the fun of putting up the Fiction Friday prompts in August – meaning I will possibly return to writing some Fiction Friday entries in September or October – or earlier… if the back log of rewriting and editing goes faster than expected.

I’ll be back later on with some ideas on the Blog-a-thon and Hartog.

Image from  Blog @lla tua biblioteca

Angus and Robertson’s Top 100 Books

Last year Paul Anderson and I got wrapped up in book lists – exploring the Waterstone’s Toast of the Century, the 106 books considered literary ornaments, as well a the 1001 Book You Must Read Before You Die. At the time I felt a little miffed. The lists were either American or English. What did Aussies think about books?

Angus and Robertson released last October (after the flurry of book lists had subsided in our blogspheres) their 100 Most Popular Books – compiled from 26,000 public votes here in Australia.

The list follows along with the books I have read in bold and the books on my to read list in italics? Here’s hoping I can fare better here than on the other lists.

1 Harry Potter series – J.K. Rowling

2 Twilight – Stephenie Meyer

3 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

4 The Obernewtyn Chronicles – Isobelle Carmody

5 My Sister’s Keeper – Jodi Picoult

6 To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee

7 The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

8 Breath – Tim Winton

9 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

10 Break No Bones – Kathy Reichs

11 The Power Of One – Bryce Courtenay

12 Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk

13 Magician – Raymond E. Feist

14 The Bronze Horseman – Paullina Simons

15 Mao’s Last Dancer – Li Cunxin

16 Memoirs Of A Geisha – Arthur Golden

17 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

18 Cross – James Patterson

19 Persuasion – Jane Austen

20 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

21 The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

22 The Secret – Rhonda Byrne

23 Marley and Me – John Grogan

24 Antony and Cleopatra – Colleen McCullough

25 April Fools Day – Bryce Courtney

26 North & South – Elizabeth Gaskell

27 In My Skin – Kate Holden

28 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

29 A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini

30 The Other Boleyn Girl – Phillipa Gregory

31 Nineteen Minutes – Jodi Picoult

32 Atonement – Ian McEwan

33 Shantaram Gregory – David Roberts

34 Pillars Of The Earth – Ken Follett

35 The Pact – Jodi Picoult

36 Ice Station – Matthew Reilly

37 Cloudstreet – Tim Winton

38 Jessica – Bryce Courtenay

39 A New Earth – Eckhart Tolle

40 The Princess Bride – William Goldman

41 Running With Scissors – Augusten Burroughs

42 Anybody Out There? – Marian Keyes

43 Life Of Pi – Yann Martel

44 Seven Ancient Wonders – Matthew Reilly

45 People Of The Book – Geraldine Brooks

46 Six Sacred Stones – Matthew Reilly

47 Memory Keeper’s Daughter – Kim Edwards

48 Brother Odd – Dean Koontz

49 Tully – Paullina Simons

50 Tuesdays with Morrie – Mitch Albom

51 The Catcher in the Rye – J.D Salinger

52 Eragon – Christopher Paolini

53 Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
54 It’s Not About The Bike – Lance Armstrong

55 A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

56 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

57 The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho

58 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

59 A Fortunate Life – A.B. Facey

60 The Mists of Avalon – Marion Zimmer Bradley

61 The Notebook -Nicholas Sparks

62 Water For Elephants – Sara Gruen

63 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom

64 The Host – Stephenie Meyer

65 Dirt Music – Tim Winton

66 Eldest – Christopher Paolini

67 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

68 It – Stephen King

69 World Without End – Ken Follett

70 Emma – Jane Austen

71 Temple – Matthew Reilly

72 Little Women – Alcott Louisa May

73 Lean Mean Thirteen – Janet Evanovich

74 Scarecrow – Matthew Reilly

75 American Gods – Neil Gaiman

76 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

77 P.S, I Love You – Cecelia Ahern

78 All That Remains – Patricia Cornwell

79 The Last Lecture – Randy Pausch

80 Past Secrets – Cathy Kelly

81 The Persimmon Tree – Bryce Courtenay

82 Husband – Dean Koontz

83 Plain Truth – Jodi Picoult

84 Wicked – Gregory Maguire

85 Spot Of Bother – Mark Haddon

86 Always And Forever – Cathy Kelly

87 The Road – Cormac McCarthy

88 Cents & Sensibility – Maggie Alderson

89 Me Talk Pretty One Day – David Sedaris

90 The Shifting Fog – Kate Morton

91 We Need To Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver

92 Everyone Worth Knowing – Lauren Weisberger

93 Hour Game – David Baldacci

94 Darkly Dreaming Dexter – Jeff Lindsay

95 The Woods – Harlan Coben

96 Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

97 Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides

98 Scar Tissue – Anthony Kiedis

99 Infidel – Ayaan Hirsi Ali

100 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks

Even on a list of “popular books” I still don’t fare too well.  Is there a list somewhere I might actually cross a few more off – 12 read and 12 to read for this one.  I guess if I was a huge fan of someone like Jodi Piccoult then I might have ben able to cross more off on this list.  Granted it’s a list from “popular vote” … but still. I consult one list and feel “not high brow” enough and consult another and feel “too high brow.”

The upside of this list is A&R now have shelf section in every store dedicated to the 100 books which meant I was able to the first time purchase a copy of The Time Travellers Wife and can’t wait for September when I’ve penciled it in to enjoy during Mercury Retrograde.

How many books have you read on this list or intend to read?

Fourth Fiction’s Dare 1

Constatine Markides has shaken up the Fourth Fiction pre-contest by restricting the contestants to one tweet a day – only to be used to participate in the daily literary dare.

Today’s dare is to provide the caption for this New Yorker Cartoon. Dan Powell’s had a crack and dared us to have a go to.  And well – you have to step up to the mark when dared.
Dare 1

I’m sorry you feel the wait is like being stuck in pergatory sir.  I assure you, the boss will be right with you.

Do any of my readers think the dude behind the desk looks a little too like Kevin Rudd? Was trying to be smart with a clear conscious and the devil as China – but brain to wacked with the onset of a fever to be politically clever.