I talk to my inner lover, and I say, why such
We sense that there is some sort of spirit that loves
birds and animals and the ants —
perhaps the same one who gave a radiance to you in
your mother’s womb.
Is it logical you would be walking around entirely
orphaned now?
The truth is you turned away yourself,
and decided to go into the dark alone.
Now you are tangled up in others, and have forgotten
what you once knew,
and that’s why everything you do has some weird
failure in it.

From Kabir translated by Robert Bly.


Here’s something I wrote way back last January, when I wasn’t feeling so great about having my story published. It seems like a long time ago now.


As 2013 rolled to a close I considered my position at Uni. Knowing I was unlikely to return, I submitted: I handed in a piece to the Anthology. That book was one of the reasons I’d chosen UTS over Sydney Uni back when I was accepted into both Masters courses at the end of 2009. The dual acceptance, at that time, felt like an achievement in itself.

The Anthology ‘congrats’ email that landed in my inbox read something like this: I am writing to inform you that your submission [insert name of story that isn’t mine here] to the 2014 UTS Writers’ Anthology has been shortlisted – congratulations! There were over 300 entries this year, many of a high standard, so we’re pleased to be able to extend this opportunity to you.

A few emails went back and forth confirming that it was actually my story that was shortlisted.
Then I told Mark.
I’m not surprised, he said, not looking up from internet banking.
I commented on his lack of revelling and fanfare. I told him that this moment, where he didn’t look up from the internet banking, will make it into a story one day.
But you’re not acting like it’s a big deal, he said.
It was true, I wasn’t: I was conflicted.

I’d submitted the most recent story I’d written. It’s not the story I thought would be my first published story. It’s not even a story I wanted to publish.

Maybe that’s just how these things go.

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For the past few years I’ve been taking a class in creative writing, just doing one subject at a time. I wrote this post about the class last year.

Early 2013

One day I guess I’ll be finished this degree — hopefully by then I’ll be a good ways into my first novel?
It’s so scary for me to even write those words.
Another hope I have in doing this course is to push through my fear of having others read my work.
So once a week I go to a three hour on-campus class. This involves in-class creative writing exercises, discussing readings, talking about writing techniques and/or critiquing each other’s work.
There’s an art to critiquing that I’m yet to master. Some of the others are awesome at it, hopefully I’m learning from them.

The first time I read a piece of my own creative writing out loud to a class was in 2010. I was scared. So scared. Like sick in the stomach, sweating kinda scared.

After that class I went home and lay in bed and wondered why I was doing this to myself. Why I was  putting myself through this pain and humiliation when I didn’t have to.
I wanted to hide under the covers and not come out for a long time.

After a couple of days I felt okay again.
Now I can usually share my work in class and only feel a bit nervous.
Every time I share my writing the fear is squashed a little more.
But it seems crazy to me that the one thing I really want to do as an individual sometimes makes me feel physically sick.

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.

*    *    *

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, where I showed my soft underbelly, I felt… not that great. I went away for a while to recover.

Then I got a full time office job which I love, but which I now have in addition to the three kids, my other blog, the mister andthehouseandtheuni and now I’m in the very cool position of having too many things going 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 for the first time.  Along with the other 400+ attendees I was told to watch this talk by Brene Brown on vulnerability and connection.

It’s such a succinct summary of so much 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.

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?


watch your step
That’s interesting, said Mark, looking over my shoulder at my blog dashboard. You’ve got more drafts that published posts.

Yeah, it’s true. I’ve got plenty of ideas for blog posts, stories, and sometimes — although not lately — plays. But ideas, or drafts, is what they stay because, you know how much I’d hate to post something that’s not up to scratch. Not perfect. Wrong.

If you know me in person, you’ll know I have plenty of opinions. Sometimes I run through something I’ve been thinking about over dinner with my friends, or I tell Mark or my mum, or even my son. And by tell, I mean rant about it for at least half an hour. But I don’t do that so much here: online, in public, 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 of things to tell, so it’s easy. (See what I did there.)

But I was also really trusting. I trusted that when I told other people my secrets they wouldn’t use them against me; wouldn’t talk shit about me. I was wrong. People talked about me. Not in a good way. That school stuff? It really stays with a person: I’m nearly 35 years old.

Here’s something: 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.

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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.