Saturday, April 27, 2019

The Wild West and a Writers Festival

Hi, I'm heading west next weekend to the Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival. I'm really looking forward to catching up with the sisters and other writers and everyone who comes along. Strangely, I don't feel nervous or apprehensive about public speaking this time around. One festival I appeared at, the organisers had me slotted in for two hours, talking on my own! I drove there with a pit of terror in my stomach. I lasted an hour on stage and by then the crowd, who'd been wheeled in from the local nursing home, had mostly fallen asleep. I generally have a great time at these gigs and often, after a festival session, I walk out of the room and can't remember a thing I've said.

I'm in good hands at MRRWF it seems, and there will be friendly faces in the crowd too. It's being held at the grassy, grapey expanse of Voyager Estate. Germaine Greer is speaking at the launch on Friday night and oh my god I am so bloody gonna be there.

Friday morning I'm doing a session with novelist Holden Sheppard (see the side bar for a link to Holden's blog) and poet Elizabeth Lewis about what makes a writer want to write. And more importantly, keep writing. Oh dear. That's me, stalking around my lap top like it's going to bite me if I get too close. Maybe it will bite me, or maybe I'll just produce a mediocre bit of writing. Self loathing or self doubt is both poison and fuel for writers. Then there is laziness and a house to clean or possibly even restump. We are introduced in the program as a motley mob, which is kinda funny as I gave the programmers my scruffiest but favourite author photo:

Things get salty in the afternoon when I get together with the brilliant Amanda Curtin.

Her novel Elemental begins in the early 20th century with the herring girls, girls who followed the herring fishermen as the fish ran down the coast of Ireland. Their job was to gut and clean the fish. It's a wonderful novel that ends up in Fremantle. Amanda and I have done sessions together before and both of our books are oceanic with all of those myths and superstitions attached to that way of life. Fellow inlet-dweller and fisherwoman of legend Ms Mer has my copy of Elemental and won't give it back, it's that good.

On Saturday, I get together with Liz Byrski, Jodie Moffat and Susan Sullivan to talk about the anthology we produced Women of a Certain Age:

Also at the festival will be Kim Scott, Germaine Greer, Anna Funder, Michael Leunig and Germaine Greer and heaps of others and Germaine Greer. Here's a link to the program:


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Light and Shade #2

  Out of some really dire stuff can come moments that are funny or wondrous. I never thought I'd be having a discussion on inter-generational male violence with a senior member of a bikie gang, but there you go. We ruminated on this topic at his kitchen table for an hour or more. Or the copper, a man who I went to school with. standing outside the morgue and patting my shoulder. He always seemed too nice to be a copper and maybe that's why he is so good at it. However all I could think, as he patted my shoulder, was how I wrecked his racing bike when he lent it to me thirty five years ago. Brought it back with the gear cog all mangled and he wouldn't let me pay to get it fixed.
  The funeral parlour scene, the final viewing of his body, fraught with politics, a family feud, a tiny red dress and the First Wives Club. The Mothers Us, steering ourselves away from the rather magnificent spectacle of genuine grief inside, having a smoke in the car park together. It turned into a kind of black British comedy with someone threatening to push someone else into the coffin and 'shut the lid'. Ethical me is sitting back and thinking, 'Now stop it Sarah, this is a very sad and confronting event' and Writer me is thinking, 'This is absolute gold. This is great copy.'

Monday, April 15, 2019

Light and Shade

I've had these crank phone calls since I identified his body and gave my details as the mother of his son to the police. 

'Please ring this number regarding the estate of your ex husband Mr Drummond' ... (he was so not a Drummond) ... or 'We are ringing regarding the insurance on the car crash.'

When I press the callers on details, they hang up on me. After the third call in the two weeks after he died, I began to feel a bit paranoid. I've never had such targeted calls before. Normally, they just want to tell me that there are problems with my internets. Was that form I filled out in the morgue compromised? I have no idea. Maybe it really is random scam. Dunno. There is not much normal going on anymore anyway.

I wish they'd washed his beard, the first time I saw him, after the last time I saw him. His beard used to be red when he was young. It hasn't been red for fifteen years. His beard had greyed over the years but it was red last Friday. A false youth stained with his own blood. I wished they'd washed his beard, as I slumped against the wall in the morgue, looking at him. Police waited outside with forms and frowns and nods and hellos. I'd been to high school with one of the coppers and wanted to hug him and say sorry for his racing bike whose gears I'd derailed and destroyed in the 1990s.

There was an insect like a midgie flying around the face, around the bloodied bandages and his skin and his tattoos and the cardiovac stickers stuck onto his chest where they'd tried to save him. I like to think he'd brought that midgie in from the bush and it had stayed with him. We kept trying to shoo this bug away and it wouldn't go away. 

We met later in the hospital cafe. All of us were thinking Fuck. and now ... what to do. What do we do next? What do we do?

Monday, April 8, 2019

Let it Ring

When the heart
Is cut or cracked or broken,
Do not clutch it:
Let the wound lie open.
Let the wind
From the good old sea blow in
To bathe the wound with salt,
And let it sting.
Let a stray dog lick it,
Let a bird lean in the hole and sing
A simple song like a tiny bell,
And let it ring.

Michael Leunig