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Posts Tagged ‘calling yourself a writer’

(OPENING PARAGRAPH DESPERATELY TRYING TO DRAW THE READERS IN)

Contrary to popular belief, it’s unlike me to write fan letters. Other than a letter I wrote in 1983 to child actor Henry Thomas commending him on his fine work in the role of Elliot in ‘ET: The Extra Terrestrial”,  I have concentrated my efforts in writing finely-crafted and entirely ineffectual letters of complaint.

For example, I once wrote a letter to The Wiggles, complaining about a fifteen dollar balloon we’d bought at their concert which floated away before we even got back to the car. (HISSES:) Because those skivvy-wearing fucks were totally responsible for that bloody balloon and one day they’ll realise their mistake and their cheeks will burn shame of it all. BURN, I TELLS YA.

(ATTEMPT TO GET BACK ON-TOPIC BY USING THE WORD ‘ANYWAY’)

ANYWAY, a few months ago, I felt strangely compelled to write my literary crush David Mitchell a fan letter. I can not tell you why. Nor can I tell you why I chose to start the fan letter like this:

Dear David,

The last time I wrote to one of my idols, I sent her a picture of a Vegetable Porn Star. Luckily for you, this is not one of those letters.

Sadly, I didn’t get a response. For a long time, I blamed my opening paragraph – after all, all writers know that you’re only as good as your opening paragraph. But then, having recently been utterly delighted by David Mitchell speaking as part of the Melbourne Writers Festival, I realise my mistake was NOT sending the picture of the Vegetable Porn Star.

We live and learn, people. We live and learn.

(CUE: PATHETIC SEGUE)

Interestingly enough, I’ve also learnt that I am no self-starter when it comes to writing my so-called novel. And so I have had to take drastic steps: I have formed a Writing Group with my friend KK.

A lot of people have asked me what business I have starting a writing group with only two people in it. It’s less of a ‘group’ and more of a ‘couple’, they’ve said. Those people are sooooo pedantic.

(THE POINT IN THE POST WHERE THE TITLE IS EXPLAINED)

“Why, we’re a Writing Couplet!” I said to those people. I’m a Writer, you know.

The inaugural meeting of our Writing Couplet was held last Friday at the cafe-slash-bar where KK is currently the poet-in-residence. This afforded me the extremely satisfying experience of walking into a place, striking the bar with my fist and demanding – DEMANDING! – to see the poet-in-residence. Everyone should do this at least once in their life.

(THIS IS WHERE I GLOSS OVER THE DETAILS BECAUSE I’M FEELING LAZY)

As for what happened during our Writing Couplet meeting… well, the first rule of the Writing Couplet is you don’t talk about the Writing Couplet. Instead, someone takes minutes (including a tally of how many times each person had to go to the toilet) and then fails to write them up.

(NOW WATCH ME MASTERFULLY BRING THE POST BACK FULL CIRCLE)

But I will tell you this: KK and I unanimously voted David Mitchell as the patron saint of our Writing Couplet. I don’t know about you, but I can feel another fan letter coming on.

(AND NOW, THE LAME ARSE ENDING)

The End, By Me.

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Once upon a time, I caught my husband laughing at his own joke and, when I questioned him about it, he said he was thinking of wearing a fez to breakfast. This became the centrepiece of a post called “A Husband By Any Other Name” and subsequently resulted in my mother making my husband his very own fez, which he sometimes wears to breakfast. So that worked out nicely for everyone.

So it was only natural that my mother’s next project, after reading my post “What a W***er“, was to find me a black wool beret – you know, the type to be worn by other Creative Types, such as Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso and, er, Frank Spencer.

After much searching, she finally found and purchased one last Sunday while we were all out at a countryside market. I immediately put it on and came over all writerly.

“Hussshhhh,” I said to my husband when he tried to explain to me how he’d arranged with my mother to meet us a particular place in half an hour’s time. “My mind is a maelstrom of metaphor and I’m going to start onomatopoeia-ing any moment now. Please don’t bother me with your jibber jabber.”

Next thing I knew, I found myself totally lost in the markets, looking for my mummy, with my fly completely undone and my beret askew. True story.

I thought that might have been the end of it. But then the very next day, my children had a series of wardrobe disasters that I can only ascribe to the Beret Effect.

I accidentally gave Tiddles McGee a pair of his brother’s underpants to wear, which (along with other things) swum loosely around in his trousers.

The Pixie, who had dressed herself in the morning, wore her skorts back to front all day, resulting in a hospital gown effect where the skirt bit looked as if it could flap open at any moment and reveal her naked bum.

And Mr Justice confessed he’d put his school jacket on upside down and got himself “all confused” because his pockets weren’t where he expected them to be.

Yes, by accepting and wearing that beret, I had definitely turned my children into Writer’s Children.

Anyway, on our way out of the school that afternoon, I saw the Mild-Mannered Lawyer’s son in the distance, wandering around the school grounds by himself. My first reaction was pure joy because I finally remembered why I’d walked around all weekend with the words “Green Stockings” written on the back of my hand (I was supposed to give the MML a pair for an Incredible Hulk costume, of course!). My second reaction, however, was concern.

The children and I followed him into the school office where we found him reporting his mother to the staff as Missing In Action. I boldly intervened.

“Excuse me, [Master MML] but isn’t today a Monday?” I interrupted. “Doesn’t your mum work on a Monday? Aren’t you supposed to be at afterschool care?”

Master MML looked at me with some confusion. And no, I wasn’t wearing my beret at the time.

A quick call to his mother from my mobile established that Master MML indeed should have been going to afterschool care and the school office allowed me to take him to the appropriate meeting point, despite my strangely dressed children and General Writerly Air.

Apparently the MML later made a follow-up phone call to the school to complain about her five year old son being left to wander aimlessly around the school. And though she didn’t mention it to me, I expect she added the words “especially in the company of Writers”. Honestly, I don’t blame her. If I were her, I wouldn’t want my child to fall prey to the Beret Effect, especially if green stockings were potentially involved.

I’d detail more but right now I’ve got to go sit at a streetside cafe with my beret on and gaze meaningfully into the middle distance… with my tshirt inside out and my shoes on the wrong feet, no doubt.

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And so we come to the end of summer holidays and we return to school… 

The kids have been in training for this moment for some weeks now, tucked up in their beds by ten each night, rising at eight the next day, breakfasting by about half-past ten, getting dressed shortly before midday… All totally on-schedule for getting to school on time for nine o’clock… in the evening. I think I now understand why they invented Night School.

This year is going to be a very different one for me. For the first time in seven and a half years, I am going to have some real and regular *Me* Time. Not just the kind of Me Time that is stolen while the children are transfixed to Ben Ten Alien Force Season Two or when I thrust my children into my returning husband’s arms and flee screaming to the local supermarket with a hip-flask of absinthe. I’m talking Me Time which involves two of my children being in school and one child being in kindergarten. For two and a half hours per week. 

Yes, two and a half hours!  My cup runneth over! But hopefully not with cheap champagne or vodka cocktails because that two and a half hours is on a Monday morning and picking kids up completely shit-faced at the start of the school week is not becoming behaviour for a pillar of the community like my good self.  

Of course it will take some time before I actually get my two and a half hours. The kindergarten “transition” schedule takes a very slowly-slowly approach – starting with 45 minutes and increasing each weekly session by 15 minutes until you finally build up to the full two and a half hours shortly before the child’s 18th birthday. Whereas the school transition program, in comparison, is the equivalent of unceremoniously dumping your child in the deep end without a life jacket. 

Tomorrow is The Pixie’s official first day at the school. I’m going to be entrusting her to the care of an age-old institution that will see her through the next 13 years to adulthood. My little girl. My aching heart. 

Anyway, it’s good to know she’s entering this next phase of her life with no small amount of ambition. Why, just last weekend she asked me “What will you be when you grow up?”

Now, whether the “when you grow up” part was a compliment or an insult, I couldn’t be sure but I decided to push past it and answer her question honestly.

“A writer!” I exclaimed with gusto, sharing my hopes and dreams with my precious little girl.

“No! Not a writer! I meant a real job. Where you actually *do* something,” she replied, somewhat annoyed.

“Oh,” I said. “Could you give me an example of a ‘real job’?”

“Like working at McDonalds,” she replied, adding somewhat enthusiastically “I could come to work with you sometimes!”

Yep, should have seen that coming. But perhaps not her next statement:

“When I’m sixteen, I’m going to work at McDonalds. And then I’m going to get married!”

That’s it, my sweetheart. Aim for the stars! And one day you might just have two and a half hours to yourself like your mama.

Mmmmmmm….. two and a half hours….

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I am reluctant to call myself a “Writer”. I feel it’s a bit disingenuous to hang my whole identity on an activity I do less than 5% of the time – if that. I mean, I spend 33.3% of my time sleeping (or trying to sleep) and I don’t go around calling myself a Sleeper or even (more accurately) an Aspiring Sleeper.

Of course, one might argue that so much of what I do with the rest of my time informs my writing and I’m always thinking about it – thinking, thinking, thinking… But then, one might also argue that so much of what I eat informs my bowel output. ‘Nuff said.

My husband – who is currently working on his own Top Secret writing project – and I often accuse each other of writerly behaviour. 

“Oh, you’re such a Writer!” we say to each other.

When my husband complains about something trivial, I toss a casual “Go write me a sob story, Writer Boy!” his way.

And when I say I need to take some time out for my blog, his retort might be something along the lines of: “Well, you’d better grab your beret and go find yourself a fucking street cafe.”

Of course, the time he said that to me, we were staying in Blinkton at my mother’s house, which is at least 50 km from the nearest street cafe – unless a cup of instant coffee in a polystyrene cup drunk while squatting outside the local truck stop counts. Is that behaviour befitting a Writer? I can’t remember Nicole Kidman doing it during her turn as Virginia Wolf in “The Hours” so I’d say not. (Note to self: must buy prosthetic nose). 

Anyway, it must be said my husband goes a bit strange when we’re in the country, and not just because he often does a lot of goddamn writing there. For one thing, he fancies himself as a bit of a Country Boy and starts offering to write “Spirit Of The Man On The Land” guest posts for my blog.

For another thing, he makes grand statements like “I understand The Land. Unlike you city writers. You’re like Vincent von Gogh staggering drunk around my sunflower plantation. OF COURSE the sunflowers are going to look all squiggly when you’ve drunk that much absynthe.”

And I’d say he has a good point if he wasn’t being such a goddamn writer about it. 

Anyway, if you’re wondering what has sparked all this writer talk, I’ll give you the lowdown.  I just got one step closer to being able (but perhaps not yet willing) to legitimately call myself a Writer. As of yesterday, I became a guest blogger on kidspot.com.au . There’s a retro-NDM piece up there now but there may be some freshly-baked posts up there one day soon. 

Oooh, look at me! I’m a guest blogger on a major Australian parenting site! La-di-dah!

(What a Writer.)

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