Archives for category: Healing

Well, that was rather a long stretch between posts, wasn’t it?

We are both still here, though. Helen H has been busy gaining herself an MA in Creative Writing and I’ve been busy coming to terms with one of life’s curve-balls.

I remember last year some of our readers (are you still out there, readers? I wouldn’t blame you for wandering off…) were surprised that Helen and I had only met once for five minutes. Since then, Helen came and stayed with me for a night and was the guest poet at a local live poetry night. She read beautifully and sold lots of copies of her chapbook. We had some great chats and a fantastic morning of op-shopping.

Then, over the summer I spent a delightful day with Helen at her place. There she is (above) sitting at her kitchen table. Her house is wonderful – a true artist’s nest – and we spent the day in animated conversation about writing & the writing world and our hopes, ambitions, delusions and dilemmas…

Now we are tucked up our separate corners of the country, both working on editing/polishing/refining/reworking our poetry manuscripts. Wish us both luck!

Now that she’s slept on my living room floor and I’ve drunk tea at her kitchen table, I feel like we are ‘proper’ friends…not just an online project.

Sorry about the long absence. It is lovely to be back.

New in the Leaf Journal:

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Inspired by HH’s cake tour of Melbourne – I made this image.

The text (from a vintage childrens’ book) says: ‘She bought some honey and rose leaf meringues and two loaves of violet petal bread.’

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HH responded with the above collage. (We are big on the cake theme!)

The text says:
Atomic Housewife – so easily satisfied.

‘The year 2000 used to seem so far ahead into the future – we would all be eating pills for dinner and driving spaceships – but already it is slipping into the past.’

New in the Daler Journal:

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I made this one, last year. The text says:

‘If you can raise your eyes up from time to time and take in the horizon you will remember that there is and wild and lovely world beyond the parametres of your small and dusty brain, your stale thoughts.

Look into this.’

To which HH responded with her experiences playing around with Keri Smith’slatest art exploration books:

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‘Poking holes into this page using a pencil – frees me up!’

and

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on Keri Smith’s manifesto ‘How To Be An Explorer of the World’ Helen says:

‘(a colour photocopied page) from my new personal journal. Addicted. Doodles are good & idea 23 ‘Document shapes made by water’. Try this!

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It’s been rather a long time since I updated the journal project on here. Sorry about that! These pages were actually made late last year, early this year….somehow now it is March.

I have been very busy back inside that aforementioned dusty brain. However, it’s bright and fresh out here in the world – & it’s nice to be back.

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I just read this book.
I have to confess – I picked it up in the library getting my Penelopes confused and thinking it was going to be by Penelope Lively, a writer I love, so I was a little confused at first to get home and start reading and realise I was reading a New Zealand book! But I have READ Penelope Todd’s ‘Zillah’ books for young adults and enjoyed them very much indeed, so it was a happy accident.

This book is an account of Penelope Todd’s realisation, as her children were leaving home, that she felt completely empty inside, confused and as though she had been role-playing her life instead of living it genuinely.  In the book, she candidly reveals what it took for her to feel at home in her own skin again. She was most courageous and did things that most people only daydream of doing – she changed her name, she engaged in three years intensive Jungian therapy, she questioned her Christian faith and came out the other end a non-believer, she took a writing retreat, sans family, in a remote part of Spain (hence the title), she even flirted with an extra-marital affair.

I found the book engaging and read it in two binge sessions. There was something very comforting to me about reading this intelligent and pragmatic woman’s story.  There were several excerpts which moved me to copy them out into my journal. Here’s one – she discusses the contradictory impulses of the writer:

“The impulses are contradictory: to remain hidden; to come out as escort to your writing. The  writer’s life is a strange dance between the two. You write in long seclusion, knowing that what comes onto the page is a mix of bone and viscera, tough and tender; the things you’re proud of and thing that have the potential to shame you; then the work is ready and you can choose to herald it with a bold bragadaccio, walk coyly or proudly at it’s side, or be dragged in it’s wake. I alternate between the last two approaches, suspecting always that the flame of joy, unhooded, will invite the snuffer.

When the work isn’t perfect – and it never is – you are braced for every kind of ridicule. Sometimes there seems to be too much riding on it all and you think you’d rather sell confectionary or deliver mail for a living.

However, I recently found out that a family motto from my father’s side was Portet Vive. It behoves us to live. I choose a magnificent over a mundane interpretation. It behoves us to live well: richly, broadly, deeply and intricately – which adverbs for me, describe the route that writing seems to take.”

Amen to that!

There were a couple of things that I didn’t like so much in the book, one was that the author has a fascination with insects and writes about them frequently throughout the book – insects she observes in her surroundings and their metaphorical power for her. I found these bits a little forced, at times. The other thing is towards the end of the book she writes, verrrryyy vaguely and cagily about an extra-marital affair she flirted with but did not consummate. While I understand that she is writing about real people and has the feelings and privacy of those involved to consider – the writing around this stuff was so very cagey, the details so skant I question whether she needed to leave it in the book – in the form she offers it, it doesn’t add much.

These very minor considerations aside, I heartily recommend this book! It is full of wisdom and the story of her time at the Spanish retreat is compelling and at times, amusing. Penelope Todd has given all writers who are also parents a real gift with this book – she shows that it IS possible to have a fufilling creative life and a family. She talks eloquently about the struggle and the juggle. The writing is witty and eloquent and I came away feeling most heartened.

I also recommend her young adult novels – they are gripping, hip and edgy.

I just finished an entry for a big fancy schmancy poetry award.

It took a couple of weeks to get the entry together. It was not an altogether enjoyable experience, being pushed up against my work so closely…mostly what I could see was the work’s inadequacies. But it’s done now and it sits in its benevolent white A4 envelope, ready for me to post off in the morning. Whew.

Now I wait, probably for months.

The way these things go, you only hear something if you win…otherwise, one day you are casually blog-surfing or reading literary periodicals in the library and WHAM! there is a little article about the winner of the very competition you were waiting to hear that you’d won. Ouch.

It’s the writer’s lot. You have to get used to rejection, to not placing in competitions, to a lot of people being very ambivalent or worse, disdainful, of your work.

When I get a rejection letter, I usually feel how Magnus looks in the photo above.

I’ve worked out a way to cope with it, though. I call it my “one day sulk policy”.

It goes like this – on the day that I get the rejection letter, or find out I didn’t win the fancy competition or whatever…I let myself sulk all I want. I can bitch to my friends, I’m allowed to be melodramatic and self-pitying and I can wail and stomp and be completely childish and petty. Believe me – I go for it. Right down to the hair-tugging and existential angst: “what’s the damn point of anything, anywaaaaay!” sob sob sob…

And then, the next morning. I have get over it.

I have to wake up, open google and look for the next thing to send poems off to.