makar [ˈmækər]
n (Literature / Poetry) Scot a creative artist, esp a poet
[a Scot variant of maker]

Monday, March 31, 2014

I'm pretty toughened to rejections but they still hurt, especially on a Monday morning when you're feeling a little delicate (I really don't have a good relationship with Mondays). Every time I get a rejection, all these thoughts flash through my head: who am I kidding? I can't write. I'm never going to write anything that anyone wants to read or publish. I've got no talent. I should just give up, do something else. Maybe I could be a florist...

And then I start to reassemble myself, piece by piece, until I'm back again: dreaming up stories as I wait for the bus, scrawling in my notebook while the toddler sleeps, trying to figure out the intricacies of a character and be present for my children. Just muddling through because I'm rubbish at everything else (okay, I'm quite good at making cakes) and because writing is the only thing that makes my heart sing. 

A little later today, this quotation from Junot Diaz popped up in my Twitter feed and it felt like a message; a reminder to move on and to just keep writing:

"You see, in my view a writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, because everything she does is golden. In my view a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway."

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I signed up to take part in the Australian Women Writers 2014 Challenge to read six books (and review four) by Australian women authors. So far, I've read two amazing books (Gilgamesh by Joan London and Cosmo Cosmolino by Helen Garner) and I'm just beginning a third (Burial Rites by Hannah Kent). I found them both fascinating in very different ways. I just wanted to devour Gilgamesh, carrying it everywhere and sneakily reading the odd paragraph whenever the kids allowed me too. I love Joan London's writing (The Good Parents is one of those books that has stayed with me) and this novel was full of adventure and the exotic, and was a wonderful escape from the reality of my days. Cosmo Cosmolino was a more uncomfortable and less easy read for me (a character with your name suffering a horrible death is always a little awkward...), but it was a powerful novel and ultimately, one that I will reflect on often. I think Helen Garner is an amazing writer but this was quite different from the other books of hers that I've read. Still, I found it bewitching. For me, both novels shared a pervading atmosphere and a powerful sense of place; qualities I very much like to find in a novel.

Monday, March 10, 2014

It's nearly four years since I started writing this blog. At the time, I was trying to find a way of writing that suited my new way of living. I was completely preoccupied with little people and our domestic world. I was feeling a bit desperate and I wanted to find a way of celebrating our days and being positive about the position I had found myself in. I once thought being a housewife was the worst possible fate for a woman but the blogs I'd discovered seemed to portray an altogether more appealing image, and one I was very attracted to. Here's what I wrote:

My recent thirtieth birthday prompted me to consider how different my life is from the one I once imagined I’d have. I thought I’d be a successful writer or artist, consumed by work, living somewhere fast-paced and urban, possibly married, but without kids. Babies were something you did after 35; then I’d get a nanny, so I could carry smoothly on with my brilliant career. Well, things haven’t exactly panned out like that! The girl who was once so angry and determined, who saw everything in black and white, seems to have mellowed into something far softer and far less serious. A mother of two, the bank lists my occupation as “homemaker”. I have one unpublished novel to my name and another simmering on the back-burner. I still wear a lot of black, but now it is covered in baby sick, mashed banana, and all manner of other best left unidentified substances. I don’t drink; I don’t smoke. My only vice is coffee, which I’ve limited to two a day (due to breastfeeding), but refuse to give up. I pad around barefoot in my 1950s cottage and more often than not, I feel like a 1950s housewife, cooking, cleaning and caring for the babies. And for the most part, I’m surprisingly happy doing this!

The down side to all this domestic bliss is that it’s near impossible to switch to writer-mode in the evening. When you’ve spent the day dealing with the relentless needs and demands of small children, your mind is not free to wander, but cemented down in the reality of moment-to-moment existence. How do you slip into the world of ideas when you have been so consumed by the thousand little things that occupy each day?

But why fight it? Why not just embrace all that is wonderful about being a mother at home? I am told, time-and-time again, that it will all be over before I know it and to make the most of these years because one day I will wish that I could do it all again.

So this is my blog; my way of sharing all the wonderful little things that make up our days. Here you’ll find recipes, photographs, a few hastily constructed sentences, maybe even paragraphs, the odd craft project, and many book recommendations. “Just enjoy it!” is my new mantra, so I hope you do…

As I've told people about my blog and they've started reading what I post, I've felt, at times, self-conscious about what I write. I don't want to offend people; I don't want them to think that I might be writing about them. I have no desire to hurt anyone, or exert power over them. I just want this place to be true. I have no objective with this blog, other than to use it as a means of expression, a place to vent what's in my head, and to communicate with others. Sometimes, I think I might just give it up, but I like blogging. I like the immediacy. Writing novels is a lonely slog through many, many drafts. Hitting the "Publish" button on a post provides a brilliant counterbalance to all that wading through page after page of words. Yep, I might keep doing it for a little while yet.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

I'm turning 34 this month and for some reason this seems like a big one. Not that I'm freaking out; just taking note. I guess it's because I'm now in my mid-thirties and moving into a different realm. I think I had a similar reckoning when I was 24. I remember realising that I wasn't young anymore and that this was it! My life, happening, right now. Looking back a decade, I can see that it was a massive year for me. I decided I didn't want a career; I left London and my job; I moved to a new city; I started living with my boyfriend; I went back to university; I made friends with some amazing people and fellow writers; I lost my mum to cancer; and I began writing my first novel. Strangely, it was one of the happiest and saddest years of my life to date. And it seems like such a long time ago. Some days I feel really old; some days I still feel young (and very silly). I wonder what this year will hold for me...

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

I'm really intimidated by successful creative people. I have been for a long time (thinking back in particular to my first job after university and how terrified I was of everyone) but I've only recently worked out why I turn into a nervous wreck around certain individuals. My husband says it's because they're higher up the (creative) food chain, but I see it a little differently. I feel like successful creatives, be they artists, musicians, writers, whatever, have crossed some invisible line. They've worked out how to make it; they've stopped pretending and have become the person they want to be. I don't know... perhaps I've got it all wrong. But if I wasn't so in awe of those on the other side of the divide, this is what I'd like to know: when you're a success (doing what you do + others loving it + getting paid to do it), do you stop having those shitty days when you completely doubt yourself and your ability to produce anything of any merit? Do you shore up evidence of your greatness that keeps those shockers at bay? Or does it get worse? I was just wondering 'cause I'm on the other side and today was one of those days.

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