For the past few years I’ve been taking a class in creative writing, doing one subject at a time, the bare minimum. I wrote this post about the class in early 2013:

I figure that one day, in a million years, I will be finished and at that time I hope I’ll be a significant way into my first novel.

It is freaking scary to even write those words.

One of the other hopes I have in doing this course is to push through the fear of having others read my work.

Once a week I have a three-hour on-campus class.We might do one or more of the following: in-class creative writing exercises, discuss readings, discuss writing techniques and/or critique each other’s work. There’s an art to critiquing that I’m yet to master but some of the others are awesome at it. I’m learning, slowly but surely from them.

The first time I read a piece of my own creative writing to a class was in 2010. I was scared. So scared. Like sick in the stomach, sweating kinda scared. After the class I went home and lay in bed and wondered, why I am I doing this to myself? Why am I putting myself through this pain and humiliation when I don’t have to? I wanted to literally hide under the covers and not come out for a long time.

Then after a couple of days I felt okay again.

These days I can usually share my work in class with only a few butterflies.

And every time I share my writing the fear is squashed a little more.

It makes my head spin though, that the one thing I really want to do as an individual makes me feel physically sick for a bit.

Like I’ve said on a comment previously:  getting the work out of myself feels like it breaks me over and over again. The place I go to, to summon up the feelings involves a process that at first is like cutting through long-healed scars. I don’t think of it as a catharsis. I don’t know what it is. I guess everybody has to find their own way into themselves, out of themselves and onto the page.

 

p.s Even though my posts here are few and far between, I’ve added this blog to my Bloglovin profile, so if you’d like, you can follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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You know what? After my last couple of posts I got spooked.
I slunk off to baby space for a while to recover.

Then I got a full time office job which I love but which I have acquired in addition to the three kids and the mister andthehouseandtheuni and now I’m in the very cool position of having too many things on that I love.

Something has to give. (And it’s not going to be the job or the three kids or the mister.)

But in the meantime I went to Problogger.

I hadn’t been before. Amongst the marvellous thoughts and experiences I had along the way, I, along with the 400+ attendees was told to watch this talk by Brene Brown on vulnerability and connection.

It’s such a succinct summary of everything that spooks me. Of what I know to be true, and of where I’m trying to go with my writing. Of where I already strive to go with my everyday life.
It’s a wonderful talk.

What do you think?

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sydney writers festival 2013

industrial lights

Text message: dear friend. cheryl strayed is talking at festival. must go. you?

The interview is being broadcast live at the Sydney Writers’ Festival in front of a cafe style seated audience. My friend and I get there early to save our spots. I’m an ABC radio nerd so I’m fascinated to watch the presenters and guests live. We watch a few segments before Fidler and Strayed come on stage.

cheryl strayed

Should I look at you or the audience? she asks. You can look at me, I think I hear him say.

cheryl strayed with richard fidler

“Holy Cats, you don’t mess around!” Dear Sugar says to Richard Fidler during a break in the interview.
“Neither do you,” he replies.

light bulbs

We clap. They are off air. People start filing out of the room. Fidler leans towards Strayed and kisses her on the cheek.
They are smiling and talking to one another.What is it to give over such intimacies to another this way?
What is it to lay yourself bare over and over?

What is it to be a writer?

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watch your step
“That’s interesting,” my partner said, peering over my shoulder at my blog dashboard.

“What is?”
“You have more drafts that published posts.”

Well, of course. I have plenty of ideas for blog posts, stories, and sometimes (although, admittedly not lately) plays. But ideas, or drafts, is what they remain because heaven forbid I make a fool of myself by posting something that’s not up to scratch. Not perfect. Wrong.

If you know me well then you know I have plenty of opinions. Plennnty. Sometimes I run through something I’ve been thinking about over dinner with my friends, or I tell my partner or my mum, or even my son. And by tell I mean rant about it for at least half an hour.

But I rarely express my ideas about stuff on the tubes because… I’m afraid.

Here’s something:

When I was in high school I was an oversharer. Before the term oversharer existed, I was sharing all over the place. It’s one of the ways I try to make other people feel more comfortable around me; I tell them goofy things about myself. There are plenty so it’s easy. (See what I did there?)

But I suppose it also came from a place of trust. I trusted that if I confided in someone they wouldn’t use it against me; wouldn’t talk shit about me.

Friends, I was wrong.

I was gossiped about hurtfully. It stings to this day. And I am nearly 35 years old.

Here’s something interesting:

A couple of years ago, someone from high school sent me a message on Facebook apologising for how they treated me back then. That was nice, wasn’t it?

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Tonight I don’t leave the house until twilight is falling.

I am never out at this time; when we walk home from school the mid-afternoon sun shines in our eyes and later dinner preparations render me housebound. When all those tasks are complete and the baby has been put down, it is night.

But on this evening the smaller children are having a sleepover, the teenager is with his friends, Mark is surfing. When I return home with my bit of newspaper and bag of chocolate the house is still.

Why, this is what it will be like when the small ones are teenagers and the big one is grown, I think.  All this quiet for me to fix my own dinner and do my own work. No rushing around to feed small mouths before they cry, no sports games sounding from iPhones or kids cartoons singing on and on on the TV.

Just me.

And all the time in the world.

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Once upon a time there was a woman.

She lived in a town with other women and children and men. She had her own man and child that lived with her, she called them family and loved them with all her might.

One day the man left/she left/she could no longer take the fighting/he could no longer take the fighting/it was hard to live with another person who wanted such different things/it was hard to see themselves through the eyes of the other/it was hard to see themselves.

And so it came to pass that she lived by herself, with the child.

And it was lonely.

And when the wolf howled in the night or the sound of feet echoed too close to the little hut where her child slept in the darkness she was scared.

And she thought, how can I do this all alone. Just me in this world. With this child that needs everything — so much more than I can give. And she cried.

Yet the child grew.

She taught the child everything she could think of to teach and hugged the child every time she remembered. She told  the child the truth about the world; about the good that exists in all people at the beginning and about the rules that their kind made to keep themselves dancing and singing and loving and feeling.

One day when the child was nearly grown the woman woke in the middle of the night to find the hut empty. Fear gripped her heart as beasts and predators pranced in her head.

When the light returned so did the child. Why have you done this? the woman asked. The child could not answer and for a time every night was a time to be afraid; a time when all her love was not enough.

Then one day the child turned to her and said, ‘What I believe in is you. What I am thankful for is you. And everything that you are I try to be and for everything that you have done for me I am grateful. I am a good person. And so are you.’

Once upon a time there was a woman.

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“There was something so valuable about what happened when one became a mother. For me it was the most liberating thing that ever happened to me. . . . Liberating because the demands that children make are not the demands of a normal ‘other.’ The children’s demands on me were things that nobody ever asked me to do. To be a good manager. To have a sense of humor. To deliver something that somebody could use. And they were not interested in all the things that other people were interested in, like what I was wearing or if I were sensual. . . . Somehow all of the baggage that I had accumulated as a person about what was valuable just fell away. I could not only be me -– whatever that was -– but somebody actually needed me to be that. . . . If you listen to [your children], somehow you are able to free yourself from baggage and vanity and all sorts of things, and deliver a better self, one that you like. The person that was in me that I liked best was the one my children seemed to want.”

Toni Morrison.

I have a new blog crush and it sounds like this.

Start with the ‘about’ …especially if you think the F word is not for you.  I’d love to know what you think.

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“We’re existentially alone on the planet. I can’t know what you’re thinking and feeling and you can’t know what I’m thinking and feeling… the very best works construct a bridge across that abyss of human loneliness.”

David Foster Wallace