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Dear Readers,

Grief can be, for some, an extremely private process. So it is for me and my family.

I just wanted to let you know that I haven’t abandoned this blog. It’s just that I’m finding it hard to write amusing posts about arse worms or being called a Ukrainian Clown Whore at my own husband’s 40th birthday – not when people I love are suffering so much.

So please consider my silence to be an ellipsis. A pause in my speech.

In the meantime, while you’re all waiting for me to return, I’ll try make a weekly offering of either a photo for discussion or a post I’ve uncovered in the NDM vaults.

THIS WEEK’S OFFERING: “The Inadvertent Vibrator“.

Love from

The NDM.

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(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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A lot of people say to me “How’s the book going?” and I always give a gay little laugh and reply that I’ve started a Microsoft Word document and called it ‘synopsis.doc’.

The people then chuckle merrily and say “No, really. How’s it going?”

It’s usually at this point of the conversation that I hastily create a diversion, such as pulling a bottle of Johnson’s Baby Powder out of my bag, wrenching off the lid and, shouting “POOF!!!!”,  throwing talc over us all and then running away very very quickly.

Yes, I’m trying to shield us all from the terrible truth is that it’s the end of February and I haven’t done much  more than start that Microsoft Word document.

There’s a commonly-held belief seems to be that now I’m not blogging three times a week, I must have lots and lots of time to dedicate to writing my book. And while I do have a bit more time, I am spending it on other, way loftier pursuits.

The following random thoughts that I recently had provide a sterling example of such way loftier pursuits:

– Hmmmm…. Why does the word ‘umlaut’ not actually have an umlaut actually in it? It seems somewhat hypocritical. Note to self: write a book called ‘The Hypocritical Umlaut’ (and by ‘write a book’, I mean open a new Microsoft Word document and name it Synopsis2.doc).

– Wouldn’t it be better to rename ‘The Hypocritical Umlaut’ as ‘The Hypocriticäl Umläut’?’ That’d be ironic and cool people like irony, in an ironic kind of way. They tend to wear ironic hats while they do it. Which is never a bad thing.

– Perhaps the irony would be lost on those less cool readers (without the appropriate ironic head wear) and I should rename the book ‘The Ironic Hypocriticäl Umläut’?

– Is ‘The Ironic Hypocriticäl Umläut’ too wordy or is it not wordy enough? You know, considering the recent trend in literary titles like ‘The Incredible Amazing Tale of the Women Who Knit Stuff And Solve Mysteries In Their Spare Time Secret Club Society’ (And yes, I made that title up. Note to self: create a Microsoft Word document called synopsis3.doc because I could totally be onto a winner with those knitting female detectives).

– It’s definitely not wordy enough. The title should totally be ‘The Incredibly Curious and Staggeringly Loud Incident of the Ironic Hypocriticäl Umläut’. Yep, that’s it RIGHT THERE.

– You know, my blog post titles are never long enough. It’d be so cool to have a blog titled ‘The Incredibly Curious and Staggeringly Loud Incident of the Ironic Hypocriticäl Umläut In The Blog Post’. In fact I should write one right now. It might feel more satisfying than creating another Microsoft Word document.

– But hang about… Would titling the blog post ”The Incredibly Curious and Staggeringly Loud Incident of the Ironic Hypocriticäl Umläut In The Blog Post’ kind of ruin the punchline of the blog post?

– Um, is there a punchline? Is there ever a punchline?

–  No, there’s never a punchline.

– Fuck.

And this, people, is what I think they call ‘writer’s block’.

(*throws a handful of talcum powder, shouts “POOOOOFFFFF!” and is gone…*)

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It goes without saying that I’m extremely popular. I get a lot of emails. Like a lot a lot. And increasingly, more and more of them are like this:

Hi there,
I came across your site and thought it was neat! I was wondering if you
offer any advertising opportunities? Please let me know if you do, I have a
client that might like to advertise on your site.
Thanks,
Lindsay

I like to respond to such emails in the following way:

Dear Lindsay

I’m thrilled that someone finds my site ‘neat’. Most people use words
like ‘appalling’, ‘slovenly’ and ‘extremely alarming’.

I’m curious to know what kind of advertiser would want to associate
itself with a site in which an inflatable Brad Pitt wears a beard made
of pubic hair, topics such as anal grooming are discussed openly and
grown women wearing half a bird on their head attempt to
prostitute themselves at the races in order to get free drinks.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

The NDM

Funnily enough, I have yet to hear back from Lindsay – or any others of her ‘ilk’.

Then the other day I got a personal email from a PR chick at Ikea Australia, making me an “offer I couldn’t refuse” regarding their recently launched loyalty scheme called “The Ikea Family”. It’s the kind of thing that makes you worry you’ll wake to find a horse’s head in your bed upholstered in ‘Snöa Flinga’ fabric.

Turns out it really was an offer I couldn’t – or rather, didn’t want to – refuse.

In the interests of full disclosure, I know this PR chick well – I like the cut of her jib. I have gone drinking with her. I let her beat me at online Scrabble. I even gave our mutual friend JS an inadvertent vibrator in her presence.

However, this is not a good enough reason for me to ‘sell out’. After all, I generally don’t play the ‘blogger game’. I don’t run giveaways (although I’m making an exception for the lovely ladies at Cocktails At Naptime in a week or so), I don’t do product reviews or even take part in blogging memes. I just keep writing away in my little ivory blogging tower – although it’s more brown than ivory because I’ve failed to clean it for a few years.

The fact was there is something about Ikea that I really like. There’s the promise of cheerful livable storage solutions in extremely small spaces. My house is currently small and cheerful. But there is nothing livable about it. And most of our storage solutions involve shoving things under the bed.

Also, the words ‘goody bag’ may (or may not) have been mentioned.

“How big is the goody bag?” was my first question when I spoke directly to my Ikea-based friend. “Can it, say, fit a flat-packed kitchen??”

Apparently not. Still, a girl can dream.

So here’s the deal: Ikea are sending a car to drive me and my three children to Ikea where they’ll give me a personalised tour of the store while my children play it up big in SMÅLAND. We will then dine together in the Ikea restaurant on meatballs, mash and (my personal fave) lingonberry sauce (I don’t know what a lingonberry is, exactly, but I like its work) before being returned home. With my goody bag.

The kids are particularly excited about ‘SMÅLAND’. And so am I. One friend said her son absolutely loved going there but that she, herself, was a bit suspicious about the fact that they made her check him in at one desk and then pick him up from another. She suspected they might “process” him in some way between the two desks.

“They probably flat-pack him and then reconstruct him with an Allen key,” I remarked. “I bet he’s returned to you better than ever, though – you know, he probably has that serene feeling you get after you’ve had a spinal readjustment at the chiropractor.”

So yes, I’m extremely excited at the prospect of my children being serene.

And to be frank, I’m extremely excited about my goody bag (did I mention there was going to be a goody bag?). I particularly look forward to watching Sven, the handsome Swedish handyman who will obviously be one of the ‘goodies’, construct my brand new kitchen in a single evening while I sit back and drink lingonberry Schnapps. (Again, a girl can dream, right?).

Anyhoo, I just thought I should warn you all  that I’ll be writing about my initiation into the “Ikea Family” one day soon. If anyone has any objections to me pimping my blog this way, please let me know and I’ll reassess the situation – after I’ve digested my meatballs, that is.  Oh, and seen how handy Sven is with that Allen key of his…

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Dear Readers,

I’ll admit that I had to check on dictionary.com whether this was Not Drowning, Mothering‘s ‘biannual’ or ‘biennial’ . Both sounded too close to ‘bi-anal’ for comfort, but you can’t argue with Mother English.

In any case, today marks two years since I opened a WordPress account and started writing. 446 posts, approximately 223,000 words and 7,121 comments later, I’m still here.

To help celebrate this momentous occasion, I invite you all to share your favourite Not Drowning, Mothering post in the comments below. A loose description using key words (i.e. ‘vomit’, ‘Hugh Jackman’ or ‘lactating asian babes’) would be suffice – I will provide the link.

I thank you all for your valued readership and remain, as always, your humble blogging servant,

The NDM

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The man looked listlessly out of the window of his corner office window. Nobody had warned him when he became a literary agent of international renown that he would have days as dull as this one.

“Dolores!” he shouted to his secretary through the intercom. “Let’s play emails! I want you to find me some pathetic little blogger in Australia so I can fuck with her mind!

A few hours later on the other side of the world, a small-time blogger ever-so-lightly battered in kid snot, checked her email.

“Ooo-Ooo-Oooh!” she called out to her husband. “A literary agent of international renown has contacted me. He wants to help turn my blog into a book. A BOOK! WITH ACTUAL PAGES! … Maybe even with a photo on the back cover of me looking off into the middle distance with my forefinger finger placed poignantly on my cheek!”

“Uh, is this one asking for your credit card details?” her husband gently asked.

“No, no. Not this time,” the blogger replied. “Although I should add that the daughter of the Late Sheriff Kindimbu is totally going to get back to me about that book deal. I just know it.”

The blogger replied to the literary agent of international renown’s email in short polite sentences that attempted to mask her excitement.

The secretary duly printed out the response and brought it into her boss.

“The pathetic little blogger has replied,” she told him.

“How desperate does she sound?” the literary agent asked.

“She’s trying to play it cool.”

“She’ll crumble,” the agent mused. “Mark my words, Dolores. She’ll be like so much feta over minted pea and chili soup.”

He turned back to looking out the window, his mood somewhat lightened by the prospect.

Two weeks later, the blogger was still waiting for a reply from the literary agent of international renown. She’d spent the entire time waiting for car horn outside her home signaling the arrival of the agent’s company limo, replete with a chilled magnum of Moet in the back and first-class tickets to New York. But the limo never came.

Feeling a little disappointed, she spoke to her friend L, who was knowledgeable in the mysterious workings of the publishing world.

“Time moves differently for these people,” L assured the blogger. “Two weeks would be considered a knee-jerk instantaneous response. Give it time.”

Still, the blogger sent another email from her other email account. You know, ‘just in case’ the first email had been banished to the agent’s Spam box because of the unfortunate and entirely accidental inclusion of the words ‘enlarged penis’ in its subject title. Or ‘just in case’ the agent’s cat had pissed on his keyboard and short-circuited the whole computer, destroying the email forever. Or even ‘just in case’ his mail server had been repossessed by Level 3 Operating Thetan aliens.

The weeks rolled by and turned into months. The blogger’s hope slowly turned brown around the edges and began to stink of despondency. It got to the point that if the limo turned up, she’d probably have given the chauffeur the finger but still drunk the champagne, straight from the bottle. And then ended up, completely pissed, signing a contract with the literary agent anyway.

Finally, after two months of waiting, she decided – on the advice of her friends – to send a follow-up email. She tried to keep it light and casual but she knew, in her heart of hearts, it was the email equivalent of standing outside the agent’s window with a karaoke machine, singing ‘I Want To Know What Love Is!’ by Foreigner.

“Oh, yes,” the agent murmured, when his secretary read out the email. “She’s my bitch now…”

And he told his secretary to write back to the blogger saying he’d decided “not to pursue the project but wished her all the best in the future.” Yes, that would do the job nicely.

Those words were like itty-bitty knives in the blogger’s broken heart. “But he came to me…” she whispered to nobody in particular.

As chance would have it, however, the telephone rang a few minutes later. It was the Australian Tax Office ringing to remind the blogger that if her freelance earnings as a writer exceeded $75,000 within one financial year, she would need to register for GST. She was a mere $74,700 away from that amount.

“At least the Australian Tax Office have faith in me,” she philosophised. In fact, as her friend SeraphimSP went on to suggest, the ATO were probably about to offer a book deal. Yes, that must be it. Now she just had to wait for their email. Oh, and the ATO limo.

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The other day I was trying to get down a ream of paper from the top shelf so I could refill the printer, when I fell off the stool I was standing on and banged my leg really badly. A few days later, I got a bit bored and ended up drawing two eyes, a nose and a mouth on the subsequent (and massive) bruise with a magic marker, intending to a list it on ebay along with the claim it was an apparition of Jesus  just so I would have something to blog about.

And then all of a sudden something else to blog about landed in my lap in the form of my very first rejection letter.

Now, before you get all impressed that I’ve only ever received one rejection letter, I should also add that I’ve also only ever sent in one submission for publication. Statistically, it’s not looking good.

Here is what the letter said:

Dear Not Drowning,

Thank you for submitting your article [title omitted] for consideration by our editorial review committee.

Your work has been reviewed but has not been selected for publication because it was totally crap and we hate you and would rather drink a pint of our own piss than publish your article.

Fuck off, loser.

Yours, etc.

[Name omitted]

Okay, so I may have reworded it slightly for the purposes of this blog. But I’m merely telling it as I read it, people!

Having never received a rejection letter before, I began wondering what it was that I was supposed to do. Replying seemed to be the polite thing, but what to say?

I toyed with the idea of boldly rejecting the rejection letter by replying something along the lines of:

Dear [name omitted],

Thank you for submitting your letter for consideration by my editorial review committee (i.e. me).

Unfortunately, I am unable to accept your letter at this time. I therefore look forward to seeing my article [title omitted] printed in your publication in the near future,

Yours, in anticipation

The Not Drowning Mother

And then I remembered how sending a picture of a vegetable porn star to The Bloggess had led her to endorse my 2010 Bloggies campaign and I knew that words were not enough. After all, I’d also tried to get Eddie Perfect‘s endorsement, but that had totally failed simply because I didn’t attach any photos and not because I had come across as desperate or unhinged or anything.

So I’ve been thinking of sending this instead:

Dear [name omitted],

Thank you for submitting your letter for consideration by my editorial review committee [i.e. me, a bottle of Angus Brut Brut de Brut and half a family-sized block of Cadbury’s chocolate].

I am thrilled to inform you that your letter has been accepted for publication in my blog.  Yay, you!

Unfortunately, I am unable to pay you for your work but would instead like you to have this photo of “Bruisus Christ” (attached), especially since the timely arrival of your letter gave me something to blog about and ultimately prevented me from selling my leg on ebay.

Maybe you’d like to publish it?

Yours, a little bit desperately,

The Not Drowning Mother


Yep, that’ll definitely get me published. Either that, or a letter from [publication name omitted]’s lawyers. Or maybe even a group of angry fundamentalist Christians picketing my home to get my blog closed down. Whatever. At least I’ll get the attention I’m obviously craving. Yay, me!

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