Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Life will always be my inspiration

Yesterday I read an article written by novelist Susan Johnson published in the Q Weekend publication called Truth or Dare 

Johnson discussed how her new novel My Hundred Lovers is a mock memoir – it’s the story of a woman’s life told through her body’s memories. 

She says that as with her other books, she anticipates that some readers will confuse fact with fiction and mistake her actual life with her imaginative life, the world inside the book for the world she walks around in.

The main part of the discussion is centred on the strife she (and other writers for that matter) has found herself in when drawing inspiration for plotlines and character development based on family, friends and real life people she has encountered.

Johnson says ‘As long as there have been books there have been people unhappy about what is inside them’ arguing the case for a novel to be judged for what it is, not its source material.

Reading this article it got me thinking about the few stories that I have already started developing myself. I have thought up scenarios and character profiles and I will admit – these have been borne out of situations I’ve been in and people I know.

I have been slack and to be honest, only really work on these stories every other month...  

For a writer, I would have to assume that personal relationships and life experiences are the obvious choice for developing material to write a book or memoir. I myself am an avid reader and I automatically assume (apart from the obvious like Harry Potter or Twilight) that the storyline and the characters have been somewhat taken from the author’s real life and adapted in a certain way to be introduced to the reader.

I am lucky enough to have a large group of friends who are all so different – I couldn’t think of a better bunch of people to create interesting and complex characters from for my writing.

In the Q Weekend article, Johnson said she was a bit apprehensive about one story she wrote that drew obvious parallels between the main character (based on herself) and another (based on an ex-boyfriend). She received scathing emails, but luckily, didn’t get sued as other writers have…

I could not imagine receiving a defamation writ from a friend who was so aggrieved at finding them depicted as a character in my book. You should find yourself lucky to be deemed interesting enough to write about! 

Reading this story affirmed something in my mind – I will always write about instances and people in my life because life itself is the best inspiration for good, honest writing.

To all my friends and family – if one day I actually get any of my work published and you do think that a certain someone in the pages of my book sounds a little like you – trust me, take it as a compliment!

To borrow from Susan Johnson – ‘A book in order to become a book must be cut from its moorings and be judged for what it is, not for what it was once tethered to.’

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A case of moving on for Corby

Schapelle Corby has spent many years in Kerobokan jail since being sentenced in May 2005

After hearing news yesterday that convicted drug smuggler Schapelle Corby had been granted clemency by the Indonesian president, slashing her 20 year prison sentence by five years, I wasn’t sure what to think.

I remember being on uni holidays, chilling out at a girlfriend’s house when we turned on the TV to watch her being sentenced. It was pretty gut-wrenching because whether guilty or not, I felt so bad for her as she wept and begged for her pardon.

Being told you’re going to be locked up in a foreign jail for 20 years isn’t something anyone would like to hear.

Now all I can think of is what’s next? Her family is now saying she could be home as early as August if she is granted parole – but what is she going home to? Haters? Supporters? The media has played a huge role in how the nation has formed its opinion of this young woman and I am assuming that they will continue to.

No doubt there will be endless magazine stories, television and talk-back radio segments with all of the outlets scrambling to pay her top dollar for the elusive ‘exclusive’ tell-all interview. There will most probably be a book deal in there somewhere…

So in answering my own question, Schapelle will probably find herself very busy. Her mother was quoted today saying that she hoped her daughter would spend a lot of time once she was home just relaxing on the beach close to her Gold Coast home and go through a ‘cleansing’ period.

I always thought she was guilty by association and part of me feels bad for her – she has gone through a lot. When we went to Bali on our honeymoon in 2010 the airport had ‘wrapping’ services so that you could wrap your bag up in plastic to avoid anyone smuggling goods into your luggage. I couldn’t help but think of her case when I saw this.

She may have made some mistakes in life, but I hope she can heal and move forward. Despite Bob Carr denying he did a deal with the Indonesian Government to secure her early release, I think that this is good news for Schapelle and her family and hopefully will put an end to this saga and I wish her all the best.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Best birthday yet

The pretty lilies my husband sent to my office : )

So today is my 27th birthday and I just wanted to send a big thank you to all my beautiful friends and my wonderful family who have made my day so fantastic.

I haven't really done much today, apart from work, but the constant stream of thoughtful messages from loved ones has really meant so much to me.

When you're young you get a lot of joy out of new toys or bigger responsibilies - this birthday has given me so much in one day from an emotional perspective, I feel so blessed to have so many fantastic people in my life - I'm a lucky gal!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Can dogs take social etiquette classes?

My dog really likes to embarrass me.

This morning before I started getting ready for work, I was munching on toast and looking outside thinking how nice and sunny it was for a crisp autumn morning, when the dog started crying.

He was sitting outside, all his shaggy little legs and belly drenched from running around the dew-soaked grass, looking at me pathetically like he was the worst-done by animal in the history of the world (he only looks at me like that when I put him outside, and he prefers to be inside with me).

Naturally, I felt a bit bad (it’s like that ad on TV where the lady pulling out of her driveway catches a glimpse of her dog in the window and upon it putting its paw on the window pane, she goes back inside to give him a treat because of her guilt at leaving him all day) so I decided to take his royal highness for a quick walk before I left for the day.

“Do you want to go for a walk?” I asked the dog as I opened the screen door and reached out to attach his lead to his collar, to which he spear tackled me and, if I were over the age of 70 would have probably fallen over and broken a hip. We then proceeded to do what looked like a little dance as Charlie’s excitableness prevented him from sitting still in one spot, rather he pranced around me in circles, swooping out of my reach.

After finally getting hold of him, he pulled me much like a water skier is pulled by a jet boat, down the side of the house and out the gate.

Now I must tell you that in the estate where we live, there is a heap of construction going on – I can count nine houses alone in our street and in the next one up – so there are a lot of male tradespeople around the place.

It’s bad enough that I literally have to run with the dog in order to keep up with him (I look like I am being taken for a run, instead of the dog) but when the dog wants to stop to do his big load of smelly business on the lawn of a work site where six or so young guys are standing around doing their thing, well that’s just great.  

Also, I am usually pretty good when it comes to taking a bag with me on walk to pick up any doggy doo-doos, but this morning unfortunately, I wasn’t so prepared so I had to suffer the immense embarrassment of watching my crazy dog do his thing right in front of these guys. Hey at least the dog was enjoying himself.

Charlie may look smart, but he is a cheeky, naughy boy!

I usually don’t care that much what strangers think of me, but this was just way out of hand. I thought about calling out “I’ll just pop home and get a bag and be back” but I couldn’t even look up, I just pulled the dog along and proceeded to briskly march around the corner and back up my street. I didn’t catch any of the reactions of the tradies working on that particular house, for all I knew they could have yelled something out, but the violent drumming of my heartbeat in my ears blocked out all noise.

Charlie, now relieved, had stopped pulling and panting and was trotting next to me like a controlled, handsome little dog who was the poster child for good behaviour. He almost looked like he was smiling.

On our way back to the house a couple walking their two black Labradors were coming towards us. As he spotted them, Charlie nearly pulled my arm out of its socket as he barked and pulled himself towards them. "I'm so sorry, he just really wants to say hello," I stammered at the couple, who basically ignored me and kept walking.
So all in all, it wasn't a great morning for Charlie and I.

Even though I was furious at him for embarrassing me, I couldn’t stay that mad, after all he does spend over nine hours a day on his own just waiting for the moment the garage doors open and Ben or myself come through the door.

I’ve learned my lesson – to avoid embarrassment, it’s always best to go out with a bag and to avoid other people walking their dogs at all costs. And if I don’t need the bag on tomorrow morning’s walk, maybe I could wear it over my head as I walk past the now desecrated work site…

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Shades of grey

Recently I had the not so pleasant realisation that I am going grey.

I am two weeks out from my 27th birthday and I’ve found three grey hairs. Awesome.

I am not really sure how I feel about this – surely it can’t be because of my getting older? My mum didn’t go grey young… so I am blaming stress.

It is true that I am known to be a stress head, and now my head of hair is reflecting that.

I have had my hair dyed (I know, shock horror) since about year 9. I guess that the old hair dye is my only saviour in this case.

I could take the Yumi Stynes road and publicly state that I am putting down hair dye and making the choice to age gracefully, but honestly, I don’t think I’m there yet.

Instead, I figure that writing about it will help me deal with it.

On the Gold Coast where most are spray-tanned, made-up and Botoxed up to the hilt, being a 20-something with a few greys really isn’t going to cut it. I doubt my friends really would give a shit and probably would never see the said hairs thanks to the crafty work of my amazing hair dresser (love you Graham!) but I will know they are there, lurking under the creamy blonde and caramel tones of my recent colour job.

Really, I can’t say I am all that thrilled about it, but I can’t say I am that surprised. We’ve come of the back of a pretty stressful year so a few greys appearing really seems to be a reflection of that.

With the next 12 months sure to be another big one (with work and other things happening that I can’t yet talk about) I just have to take stresses into my stride and not sweat the small stuff. Otherwise I am sure there will be a few more greying friends who will be more than happy to join my party of three, already present, hairs.