It seems ages since my last post. I’ve been in a strange space, repositioning myself in the world of writing and reading. On the one hand, I’ve turned over a new leaf with my writing. I’ve decided to stop banging my head against a brick wall and trying to find a publisher or an agent for my nascent books. One of them is still a work in progress, the Fairbridge biography, and I hope to be able to return to Perth next year to trace some loose threads in the stories, and in particular, to look more closely at the issues of abuse and institutionalisation of children. I won’t say any more about that now, as it is still at a delicate stage.
The other two books, a childhood memoir, and a book from my thesis, The Origami of Desire, are more or less finished, as much as any story ever is. I had become discouraged by, on the one hand, praise from people who have read them, and on the other, lack of interest from agents and publishers, and failure to be shortlisted for Varuna awards. Each time I returned to the narrative to reshape it, I was retreading old ground, and I lost energy and inspiration for the effort to publish.
After a few words from an old friend and mentor, I began to think that I need to write something new. So I have begun writing my mother’s story, using my memories and imagination, and her handwritten, unfinished memoir. I am enjoying it, and though I have only a few pages, I feel it is flowing. I also feel that telling our family story from her point of view will help me to understand better the failures and disappointments, as well as the triumphs, that are our story. More of that another time.
So I’ve put aside the grind of rewrite-revise-submit, and have decided, in the New Year, to do e-publishing. I had begun to feel disempowered, and frustrated by not being accepted, and at the same time, disappointed by a lot of what is being published and reviewed. It seems there are two parallel worlds: print publication and e-publication. And the world of print is becoming more and more beset with obstacles, not least of which is the relentless commercial imperative that drives publishers and agents to seek books they think will sell. At the same time, in my writer’s group, and in the writer’s residency that I recently did in Perth, I keep hearing and reading stories that entertain and enchant me, that deserve to be published, and I am again and again impressed by the creative energy of people who may never become well known and read authors.
My other innovation is Kindle. Some reading friends convinced me it is a great way to access books you might not be able to buy, books that are too big and heavy to hold in bed, classics, and more. I have always promised myself that when I have time, I will reread Shakespeare. But my complete Shakespeare weighs a couple of kilos, and is almost as big as my pillow. Not to mention War and Peace, Les Miserables, the novels of Balzac, Dickens, George Eliot, and more. All those great authors that I either visited and didn’t enter deeply when I was young and silly, or that I have loved and lost in my gypsy wanderings.
My Kindle arrived a week or so ago. I got as far as charging it and setting up a Kindle account, then I turned it off and forgot about it. Today, I made myself turn it on, and found to my surprise, that it was easy to download books. So I have War and Peace, and a book by Shackleton about his Antarctic exploration, waiting for me to enter.
You see, I’m a technophobe. I grew up in a house with no electricity or phone, and for some of my childhood, we didn’t have a vehicle, apart from a horse or our legs, and were miles from the nearest neighbour. I don’t wear a watch because I’m allergic to metal, but my years in the outback have given me an innate sense of time. But I am a mass of contradictions. I am wedded to my Macbook Air, and I have a mobile phone (but not an iPhone), and of course a car.
My next big step will be to acquire a GPS, so I can go to Sydney or Brisbane and not stress out all the time trying to find my way to where I want to go.
so the New Year has lots of challenges and adventures for me.