My Christmas Story Published

Last month, my wonderful friend and mentor, Edwina Shaw, had a short post on her blog about waiting. For me the wait is over – my Christmas story Bondi live on the 12 Days of Christmas site.

The 12 Days of Christmas is a collaborative project based on the lines from the Christmas carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas. It is the creative brain child, of the amazingly talented Jim Wisneski (you can read a great interview with Jim on Jon Strother’s website to do with the creation of the project). Not only can you read the stories (for free) on the blog, the final collection of 24 stories will be available in paperback and you’ll also be able to buy a t-shirt!

The call to action came during NaNo via a RT from the beautiful Emma Newman (whose ten lords a-leaping goes live later this week) and I should have said no. There were only two spaces left when I looked and neither really jumped out at me. On top of NaNo, there was a 1st Dec finish date for Chinese Whisperings and 4th Dec finale for Fourth Fiction. More writing and projects than one woman alone should be able to sustain.

But I said yes, jumping into the dark abyss of  ‘no idea’ with the prompt Seven swans a-swimming under my arm. The end product, is possibly my best work to date and I am immensely proud of it.

I’m also very humbled to have had the opportunity to have shared this work in it’s early drafts with five really special people who looked into my story and my characters and saw things I just couldn’t see myself. As a consequence Bondi is a much better story for having had their eyes and insights over my work (which again goes to show the absolute importance of sharing your work with others you trust!)

It was a difficult thing to do, being the end of November when I had the first whopping great draft of 6,000 words and I had to do something I NEVER do. I put a shout out through Twitter and Facebook for beta readers, given Paul was busy with work,  Annie wasn’t in the country and Ben, along with many of my other writing friends, was flat out nailing the last bits of NaNo and then recovering from it.

Thank you Edwina, Jen, Rob, Diane and Rebecca. Also thanks to Scott for the idea of the Sydney Swans as the swans in the story (it’s OK – that’s not actually a spoiler) and to Claire Halliday for sharing her rant about busking on Twitter – the list of paper work is the actual list given by Claire (as yes she gave me her permission to use it!). I gave the daughter Claire’s name in honour of the gift of this life insight and the rest of the story grew around it.

So, I unveil the first few paragraphs of my story – but for the rest, you will have to hit the  Read On link and whiz across to blog specially set up by Jim for this project.  And if you do, please leave a comment, however small, to let me know you’ve dropped by.

I look down at the pile of paper sitting on the kitchen table and the list Claire has prepared. My shoulder starts aching.

“You need all of this?” I’m in utter disbelief at what she’s presented. Claire’s face is earnest and eager. Mine twists into a frown and I try to rotate my shoulder.

I admire my ten year old daughter’s thoroughness and organisation. Claire is her Matthew’s daughter, despite the dark curls and amber eyes inherited from me. In the past year I’ve barely been able to scribble a simple shopping list, much less ensure I get everything on it. He should be helping her through this, not me.

I don’t want to rain on her parade, but I’m appalled by the fact she needs a council permit, written proof of ten million dollar public liability coverage, written approval from the local traders association, shops and residents just to play some bloody Christmas carols on her flute to raise money for UNICEF.

But I owe this to Claire–to jump through these paper-trail hoops, so on behalf of ‘All Ye Faithful’ she can bring some ‘Joy to the World’.

“The problem is the public liability cover.” She points to it, highlighted in bright yellow on the list.

“Are you intending on wrecking a yuletide swath of death and destruction through Bondi?” The words are out and hanging between us before I realise what I’ve said. The utter absurdity of the local council bureaucracy has brought part of the old me back. “Honestly Claire,” I say quietly, “why don’t you just wander downstairs and play.”

“And break the law Mum?” There is a dramatic gasp, which would sound melodramatic from any child other than Claire, who was already too serious about life before last Christmas. “Are you really encouraging me to do something illegal?”

“All I’m suggesting, is this,” I motion to the printed piles of paper, “is lacking in common sense.” I throw my hands in the air and stand up. “Last year…” I catch myself this time and rather than finish the sentence I get up and walk out. Claire deserves better from me, they all do but I just don’t know how. Read On