Monthly Archives: June 2010

Write what you know.

If you’ve ever done a writing course, you will have heard the rule: write what you know. Pretty straight forward advice.  Like me, you might have decided to stay within the safe confines of your areas of knowledge. You can’t get things wrong that way, right?

Following the above rule you give your characters the same job experiences, food preferences, thought processes, lifestyles choices as yourself. Safe and simple.

That’s what I thought. But somehow I found myself writing a romance novel when I know nothing about love. How did that happen? And I set part of the story on a dairy farm. I thought I knew nothing about that, but it turns out my great grandparents ran a dairy farm in Western Australia. I had no idea until after the book was written. What part of me was drawn to explore love and dairy farming?  Certainly not a conscious part of me.

Perhaps we write about what we need to know. We write about what mystifies us, what rules us, the emotions that brew below the surface of our everyday lives. We follow a whisper at the level of our DNA. We write the unknown in order to make it familiar and more accessible.

Or at least I think that’s what happens.

Do you write about what you know? Or what you need to know? Has your writing surprised you? Have you ever thought, where did that come from?

XXX

[Thank you so much to BrownPaperBagGirl and also CreativeBarbedWire for this award. It’s taken me a week to figure out how to get it posted here – just drag and drop – and it makes me happier than you can imagine. Thanks guys. My first award. Yay.]

I think what I have to do now is tell seven things about myself. Here goes:

1. I am far more sensitive that I let on.

2. Coffee is my favourite way to feel good in the morning. The joy of getting all the elements right; temperature, grind, milk texture, the pouring together. It’s alchemy, it’s love, it’s a constant joyous juggle of  external factors.  When it’s done right – bliss.

3. I don’t trust people who don’t like animals.

4. Mowing the lawn is like vacuuming outside; boring and tedious. I do, however, love it when all the grass is cut.  But I want it to last forever. Confession: sometimes, in Summer, I try to almost kill it by cutting it really short in the hope that it will burn a little and grow back more slowly. Sorry, grass.

5. I believe we are too visually dependent. If we couldn’t see, we would stop judging each other on inconsequential things like appearance, race, age, height, fashion sense.  We would listen more to each other. We’d perhaps live at a slower pace, enjoying simple things like breathing and sharing conversations.

6. I have moments when I don’t know anything at all. I feel empty. But I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing .

7. Some of the people I’ve “met” on this site are just beautiful and I feel inspired when I read their blogs.

Thanks guys, that was fun.

xxx Lisa

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I love libraries

Let us just consider, for a moment, the humble library. It is a place full of books.  That fact alone is enough to secure a place in my heart. But wait, it gets better; not only is this place full of books, but the kind people working in the library will let you take these books home free. As many as you can carry. And I can carry a lot!!  Yes, free.  Grab as many as you like and then take them home.

Or alternatively, flop onto one of their couches and read, read, read, until you escape your body. When you lift your head, you will be surprised to notice, through blurry eyes, that you are not in the middle of a desert, out in space, inside the head of a murderer, you are safe and sound in your local library, surrounded by other book lovers.

And gone are the days of the sour faced, nasty, finger-glued-to-lips librarians frowning at the three-year-old having fun discovering a pop up book, or the old guy laughing in the autobiography section, or the teenagers using the computer to look up something for their Art History project.

These days, they’re friendly, they’re warm, they’re even sexy. Who wouldn’t want to hang out in a library?

So, I’d like to officially offer my love and appreciation of libraries and librarians around the world for sharing the gift of books, and making me feel at home.

Hip hip hooray!!

Which library do you love?

My favourite is Yarra Junction.  I’ll be having a launch there of  Milk Fever on Saturday 10 July at 11am. All very welcome. I warn you though, the librarians here are so gorgeous and friendly you may not want to leave!

* Here is a terrific article. Thanks William. Click here to read.

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I wish I’d written that…

When I was studying music at college, I went to the movies with a boyfriend, also a musician, and just before the movie began the THX theme started playing. On screen, appeared the words, The audience is listening.

The  music theme is simple. It consists of two notes; one high, the other low. And they slide towards one another.  So, the high note descends, the low note rises, until they become one note.

Beautiful.  Stunning. A whole world of meaning expressed with humble simplicity.

My boyfriend leaned towards me and muttered out of the corner of his mouth, “Damn, I wish I’d written that.”

I didn’t get it at the time. But now, through reading I understand exactly the longing and frustration my friend experienced in the theatre that day. When something is brilliant, and simple, one feels as if it was an object of great value, plainly in front of your feet, for all to see, but overlooked through laziness or inattention. Two people walking along a street, one spots the fifty dollar bill on the pavement, the other only notices the rubbish  in the gutter.

These gems slip by us if we’re not careful.

If a piece of art is complex and brilliant, something in the league of Shakespeare, or Mozart, for example, it is appropriate to simply bow down to the master, and acknowledge that the art has passed out of a mortal’s reach. And that’s okay.

But when a writer, artist, musician finds brilliance in simplicity, one can’t help but feel slightly envious. I wish I’d thought of that, written that, composed that.

There is a part of me that enjoys the experience too. I’ll read the same sentence over and over, letting the elegance of it fill my head, wishing I’d had the foresight to discover such simple beauty. I’ll dissect the sentence. Examine the words from both sides, searching for clues. But sometimes, there are no clues, nothing to discover, just simple prose.

And I’m left thinking, once again, Damn, I wish I’d written that.

Who inspires you to try harder? To reach a little further with your own writing? Who leaves you wishing you’d written that?

For me, it’s Rose Tremain.


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If you were stranded on a desert island….

Right now, I’m dreaming about being stuck on a desert island, not because I want to get away from society, I’m happy for society to come right along with me, but because of this rain, rain and more rain.  And cold weather. Two weeks into winter and I’ve had enough. I want warmth and sunshine.  Far North Queensland is starting to look like heaven right now. Palm trees

Anyway, let’s imagine for a moment that your normal life has dissolved into vapours, and you find yourself lying on a beach in paradise. You don’t need to worry about getting sunburnt, losing your passport, or Bali Belly.

Footprints at coastal sand

Nope this island is perfect in every way. 

You have a beautiful beach house, overlooking azure oceans, perhaps the odd dolphin jumping around in the waves. The scent of tropical flowers and sea breezes; warm sea breezes. There is a master chef on hand, who is not only very good-looking, but cooks all of your favourite meals (which do NOT make you put on weight, just in case you started worrying about that} You have fresh water, happiness and sunshine, and any companionship your heart desires.  There is just one little snag…

You’re only allowed to take one book with you.

biblical pages

Ah. Agony.  One book.

Which one would you take?

[Note: smart bloggers have already enquired about a time limit. And rightly so. It makes a huge difference, doesn’t it? You’d probably take a different book if you knew you were on this island for the rest of your life, compared to one week, right?  War and Peace as opposed to Breathe.

So, I’ve decided on a two or three week stay. Hopefully, that’s enough time for you to relax, unwind, dance, swim and play, and finish your favourite book.]

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If books are like babies, then blogs are like lovers

I must admit, dear blog, you are definitely exciting to be around. I love spending time with you. You make me laugh.  You’ve made me cry but I forgive you. When I’m with you I see the world through different eyes. You’re full of fun and occasional mischief, you’re intelligent too. I love your sense of humour and appreciate the way you lift my spirits when I’m feeling down.

But you are very addictive.  Aren’t you?  I’m sure I’m not the first to tell you this.  And I sometimes wonder how faithful you are. I suspect you lavish attention on other people when I’m offline.

So, I’ve decided to cut down a little.  No, I couldn’t give you up completely. You know I’m hooked. But the baby is almost due, and the house need cleaning and someone has to do the day to day mundane household chores. And you certainly won’t.

Did you hear me?

No?

You know the saddest thing is; you won’t even know that I’ve gone….

xxx

Lisa

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Why can’t you see how precious you are?

If you could see yourself through my eyes, you’d smile more. You’d have a bounce in your step, you’d laugh at the little things that went wrong in your day. You’d be kinder to yourself, you’d try new things, you wouldn’t be afraid to make mistakes or risk looking foolish.

Half of the things people said to you when you were a child were a lie. You are not stupid, or clumsy, lazy or bad. You were being manipulated into obedience, because most adults can only handle kids when they are quiet. Adults like low-maintenance.  You can’t blame them; they were stressed, these well-intentioned parents, teachers, pastors, neighbours.  They just wanted a peaceful life.

Sadness

But the truth is; you were magnificent, you were filled with a sense of adventure and hope, you had dreams and planned big. You expected to master the world.  You were smart, funny, sensitive, energetic, beautiful and wise.  You still are.

You may be reading this shaking your head. Perhaps you think that I can’t possibly know you.  Perhaps you feel that you’ve got something to be ashamed of, guilty for, afraid of, enraged about, but  no one – NO ONE – here has lived a life without mistakes  and regrets.

By my calculations, 95 % of people are basically good. Sure, there are people cheating on their partners, taxes, bosses and friends.  People who need to have a good long look at where their life is going.  But dishonest behaviour stems from a terrible fear of inadequacy, a fear that needs won’t be met without theft.  Which of course, comes from the lies of childhood.

The truth is, you are as magnificent today as when you were six years old.  I can see it. I bet those who love you can see it. And if you feel like no one loves you, then start loving yourself.

No matter what you think you’ve done wrong, you are still beautiful, still worthy of love and good things.

Students

It’s time to see how precious you are.

Click HERE if you still need convincing. [Thanks Brownpaperbaggirl for reminding me of this today.]

x Lisa

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How can you know someone intimately and still get their name wrong? And other notable book launch moments.

The Milk Fever book launch was a day that came wrapped in a pretty box. The forecast was for rain and cold weather but the sun made an appearance, albeit briefly. A huge arrangement of “Secret Admirer” flowers arrived as I was making coffee; working out who sent them was relatively easy as only four people call me “petal”, and the other three fessed up quickly.

I remembered everything I needed to remember, which wasn’t much.

My family and friends took care of everything else, which included, but wasn’t limited to; organising the catering and drinks,  producing huge posters of the book cover and sticking them everywhere, straightening the seams on the back of my stockings, pouring champagne, fixing my nail polish, (because my hands were unsteady}, reminding me not to drink too much, bringing food, loading and unloading boxes of stuff, giving me a guest book for everyone to sign.

There were people doing the money side of book sales, saying kind words, taking photos (which I will post soon}, reminding me not to drink too much, making canapes that looked too good to eat, and yet eaten they were, sending me secret signals to smile, while I was squirming with embarrassment at all the kind words being spoken by the angelic, talented MC.

There was generous praise from a beautiful, warm-hearted, best selling author, an angel singing her latest single, which she subsequently titled “Julia’s Song” after the main character in Milk Fever, floral arrangements that took my breath away. Every copy of the book was sold and orders taken for more.  I was hugged to pieces and loved it.

A perfect day.  Until, a Leo (read; ‘honest’} friend, told me that I’d spelled someone’s surname name wrong in the acknowledgment’s page.  Impossible, I said.  So I marched over to ask my friend if this was true. Yep, he admitted, I got it wrong.

At which point, a Scorpio (read; witty} friend said something that I can’t actually print here, but it was along the lines of, “how can you know someone so intimately, and still get his name wrong?”

That is a good question. But in my defence, I… I…  Okay, there is no defence, I should have checked and double checked.  But if it’s any consolation, there is a copy of Milk Fever out there that has my name spelled wrong. It was a lapse in concentration, a slip of the pen. I wrote Lia, and had to squish in an “S” between the two last letter.  And yes, Lisa is my real name and I’ve been writing it correctly for years.  But we all make mistakes.

The good news is, I stuck to my “two glass limit”, woke up full of sunshine, and received giddy calls from people the next morning who read the book overnight and fell in love with it.

When I first got the good news that my book was going to be published, I couldn’t figure out if that meant I was lucky, or clever. Standing in the room on Saturday with so many generous, warm, smart, funny, loveable people, I realised that it was the former; I am very, very lucky.

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