I can’t remember the last time I sat at my desk to write, which is awful, but on the plus side I’m back from hols and can face the mountain of work awaiting me with relish rather than horror, which means life is back to normal.
I went to Parental Unit’s early for Christmas, as I desperately needed some rest and there isn’t much to do in their country town other than sit around. As usual, the trip down was beautiful, not least because the everlastings were out and the hills looked as though clouds had settled upon them.
I slept, wrote, looked after the whippet for two days while Parental Unit went to Sydney to see the Francis Bacon exhibition, and had a book signing at the local Dymocks store. There, to my delight, I met a girl who I went to school with and hadn’t seen for twenty years. We had lived on neighbouring properties before mum and dad moved into town, and she was blind, and I was deaf, and we both went on to get PhDs. Dad and I also had a look at the second hand bookshop which was co-owned by John Rooney, the doctor who had saved my life when I had meningitis, a synchronicity I always like as deafness set me on the path to writing. Also, if we hadn’t moved to town at all, I doubt I would have learnt that one could travel to change one’s circumstances, nor would I have had the benefit of an English teacher who pushed me and treated me like an adult, which also helped me to gravitate towards writing.
I swam in the local pool, which was nearly empty of people and painted a beautiful deep blue, and rode my English bicycle (too heavy for Brisbane’s hills, so it has been relocated) with Dad, and got hayfever. And I went through some 1500 links for the 2012 Australian Women Writers challenge, in preparation for rounds ups on diversity, short stories and poetry next week. As I worked my way through them, I marvelled at the sheer number of books that had been consumed and, as far as I could tell, largely enjoyed.
I found out about the challenge in May, and started reviewing at that point. Below is the list of books by Australian women writers that I read last year, with links to the books that I reviewed. I didn’t set out to read a certain number, and I don’t think I will next year either as reading is one of the few things I don’t drive myself to do, and I’d like to keep it that way.
1. Gillian Mears, Foal’s Bread
2. Anna Funder, All That I Am
3. Sophie Cunningham, Geography
4. Sophie Cunningham, Bird
5. Kalinda Ashton, The Danger Game
6. Melissa Lucashenko, Steam Pigs
7. Janette Turner Hospital, Forecast: Turbulence
8. Carrie Tiffany, Mateship with Birds
10. Favel Parrett, Past the Shallows
26.Jessica Anderson, The Commandant
The challenge also asked that we read outside our genre but I largely failed at this. I can’t get turned on by a book unless the writing is good, which is why I gravitate towards literary fiction. I also don’t have a lot of time and prefer to read texts that will help me hone my craft. Having said this, Margo Lanagan’s Sea Creatures (speculative fiction and young adult) was one of the best things I’ve read for ages and has prompted me to read more in this genre.
I’ve really missed reading my nineteenth century fiction, and would like to read more of that next year, so I think I’ll be reviewing more of the likes of Baynton, Praed and Dark than contemporary fiction.
Christmas was somewhat chaotic once everyone arrived home, as I was buffeted by a house full of varying personalities. On Christmas Day we sat beneath the wisteria until the heavens opened, then dashed inside to eat dessert. Boxing Day saw us travelling to see the rellies, which was fantastic as the cousins (many now attended by ankle biters) hadn’t been together in one place for years. I returned to Bris Vegas to find grasshoppers had made lace of my rhubarb and the Venezualan guppy had lost his friend and was doing circle work around the tank again. The candy striped shrimp has also disappeared so I suspect he has gone to his maker too. There wasn’t much I could do about that, so I repacked my suitcase with three bikinis and some sun dresses, and caught the train to the Gold Coast for a New Year extravaganza which involved some innovative Rubik’s cube costume changes. And 2013 began in the best way possible: on a beach, in a bikini, beneath a sun umbrella, reading a book.