Tuesday, 25 May 2010

By request

Here is the original of my fabulous work of literature and illustration. I am acceding to this request because fiddling with images etc. is far more interesting than doing my income estimate for the next financial year. On such things does the future of blogging rest.

As with all artifacts there is a story behind the condition and survival of this story. As far as I can work out, I must have written and illustrated the story in 1976 during year one in Malaysia. My beloved teacher must have sent the story to my parents in Taiwan. They stored it folded with several other stories. Somehow it survived 13 subsequent years of moving back and forth from Taiwan to Australia, 21 years in storage in Sydney and now hopefully a final home in Marburg.

When we visited Sydney early this month, my mother handed the folded bundle to me and said that she hadn't been able to throw them out. I had no idea what they were but in the flurry of kids, trains, plane and car, thought nothing more of it. Putting away the last few items from our trip (yes it took me a while to sort myself out completely) I wondered what the bundle was. On the outside were scribbled card scores from a game I evidently played with my siblings and parents. The writing was mine but I didn't remember the game nor at the time did I notice what the paper was. One of my enduringly bad habits is scribbling notes on whatever scrap of paper falls to hand. This habit must have started sometime in my teens so the stories were lying around then and I wasn't one to let a scrap of paper go to waste.

Anyway, I finally unfolded the documents and discovered a remnant of my childhood. I clearly remember sitting in the sunny year one classroom that perched on a green hillside above a stream and with dense jungle close on the other side of the valley. You could look out the louvered windows and see vines, trees and the occasional monkey. I remember gripping my pencil and trying to use my best handwriting. I remember how I really wanted to make my teacher happy.

Now the school is no longer a school. That beloved teacher died long ago and I am most definitely not five years old. But it brings back many happy memories. I'm glad my mum hung onto it all those years.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Going back to basics

My first ever published story, by me age 5, from the school annual magazine.
Once upon a time there was a skeleton and a witch. they were enemies. one night the witch sneaked to the skeletons house. the skeleton was sitting in front of the fire eating Pancakes. by the corner of his eye he saw the witch. they began to fite. the skeleton won the war because he was stronger than the witch.

Illustrated by me with a very good representation of a witch and a very dodgy looking skeleton. Apparently he did like his food as his house was piled with pancakes and the tree outside laden with shiny red apples. Both interesting choices as I had probably not seen or eaten either of those foods at that age. Cultural imperialism anyone?

Naturally the punctuation and capitalisation were corrected for publication. What else are editors for?

Saturday, 15 May 2010

More definitions

Apathetic: having or showing no emotion or interest. From the Greek "without feeling" a- not, pathos- suffering).

Pathetic: arousing pity, or sadness or contempt...(colloquial) miserably inadequate.

I can't decide which definition suits me best at the moment so I (in the best tradition of the apathetic) flipflop between the two. Politicians have nothing on my changeability at the moment.

On one hand, I am busy and on the other, I am aimless in my busyness.

My goal: to be neither apathetic nor pathetic and to GET BACK TO WRITING.

On the other hand, my house is gradually getting tidy and there is a batch of hot spiced chocolate mini cakes in the oven. It's ironic that when my house is tidy, everyone well-fed and happy I'm unable to write. Perhaps those who say that misery and hardship are required for successful literary endeavors are right.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Defining autumn

How do you tell that it is autumn? Is it falling leaves and temperatures? Adding extra layers of clothing? Thinking of Christmas?

I know that it is autumn when:

The crows start to wake me up before daybreak.

The guavas ripen (not unrelated to the crows' revelry).

It's the Marburg Show.

I have to add a morning sweatshirt to my t-shirts and shorts.

It's dark when my alarm goes off.

The children don't want to get out of bed in the morning and neither do I.

I can't see my monitor clearly in the mornings with the sun on its northerly trek shining straight in the office window.

It's a long time till Christmas.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Lights will guide you home

Driving home from the airport in light rain, I knew we were getting close to home. Traffic was light -- it was after 11pm and good citizens of Ipswich and surrounds don't like to be out that late. I could appreciate the new sweeping curves of the motorway, the shiny "City of Ipswich" sign now adorning an overpass and my personal favourite: the red flashing lights of the broken hotel sign shouting what I am choosing to take as a message of everlasting Christmas cheer "Ho... Ho... Ho!"

I don't think Coldplay's very sweet lyrics were quite what was meant by these lights guiding us home.

It was a good long weekend away in Sydney visiting family. It's good to go and it's good to come back. It's even better when it gives you a chance to think and a few fresh perspectives. I'm currently between contracts and trying to put the time to good use. So far, everyday keeping on going has filled in all the gaps in my time. I don't seem to have as much time to do things as I thought I would.

It's been a few months since I picked up my manuscript and I want to go back to it with a fresh eye and try a few rewrites. There's a manuscript development competition coming up that I'd like to submit it to. Ten new Australian writers for young readers will get a week of development with editors from a major publisher. I'd really like to be one of the ten.

* I just realised that this is my 400th post. Thanks for sticking with me even though things have been slow in patches!