Friday Book Club

I just realised that I haven’t blogged today.
I have spent the day standing around in the sun and so I am a bit pink in the face and a little sore in the head.

But I do have something to talk about.

Yesterday I was able to watch Jennifer Byrne’s interview with Margaret Atwood on this week’s First Tuesday Book Club. It was funny and entertains but also shattered a few illusions.

Margaret Atwood has a very soporific voice.
And she was born in 1939! That’s the same age as my grandfather!
It is odd because I don’t read her novels like that. I read them as youthful and vigorous.
And she just doesn’t sound like that.

But she said what I was thinking. And that’s you can’t just learn to be a creative writer. You have it or you don’t. And not any number of courses at uni or online or writer’s workshops will change that.

But you should read her books.
Especially Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood. Those are the best.

Coming up on my next blog: Shopping for The Dress

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Gate XLV

Would it have been preferable for god not to have created humanity?

A fascinating question.
History written by the victors, all history written by humanity.
Would it matter if there were no sentient beings like us?
We care because we are here, but if we weren’t here would there be something or someone else to care?

Even our language is so humanity based. Personal pronouns to describe life. A non specific nameless IT for everything else.

Why does humanity matter?

And the answer to the question first posed?
It would have been better if God had not created humanity, but now that the deed is done let us examine our own deeds and repent.

Coming up on my next blog: I find some time to do more reading.

My whole life flashed before my eyes

Creative writing is one of those things which you either have or you don’t. I don’t really think that you can work on being a good imaginative writer.
Most people tend to try and write too much (which is what I think has given rise to the teen trilogy, but that’s another blog post). They try to write someone’s whole life, everything that happens in a single day, year or lifetime. And it ends up sounding like a recount. This happened and then that and then this other thing. There is no time for description, for getting to know things and characters.

In a good novel things happen, but not at the expense of the reader’s understanding, or their entertainment.

It is better to have one idea.
In detail.
Descriptive detail.

But then things can go the other way.

Where something is so concentrated, so detailed, that it becomes boring. Like the Tom Bombadil bit in The Fellowship of the Ring.
I
just
don’t
care.

At school I chose the English that let you be creative (that is, I studied all the English that I possibly could, that the curriculum would allow). And so part of that was writing an extended piece and I chose short story. I feel now that I may have been better off choosing essay, but hey, I was young and naïve and thought I could write. What I realise now is that I could not. Half way through the course I had finished my first draft and the feedback I got was that it was too complicated. People didn’t understand what I was trying to say. So in the end I pretty much had to rewrite it. And it didn’t turn out much better but it was at least a little more entertaining and straightforward.
Let’s just say I wrote an epic fantasy story about good and evil.
Really, what was I thinking?

And when I read things that other people wrote for the same course, my husband for example, I wonder why I even bothered.

At university people were also subjected to my attempts at creative writing. But this time it was creative non-fiction. It sounds like an oxymoron but I think it is my favourite form of writing. I wrote my favourite thing ever for that course.

Luckily, I have rambled so much today about creative writing that I won’t actually be doing any in this post.

Lucky you.

And after yesterday’s post this article in the Sydney Morning Herald Queen of Shock Fiction Brought to Book. Which I clicked on because it sounded suitably salacious on a Wednesday afternoon after work, but within which I found my niche genre.

autofiction – a form of fictionalised autobiography –

I feel like all writers must do this in some form or another. Though perhaps it is best if you only use yourself and your own stories.

Coming up on my next blog: I try and use ABC iview.

And then this happened

Today I have had cause to look at what a journal is and why people write them.

Apparently there are ten reasons and they are mostly health and stress related. That, or it’s an obligatory component of some kind of course, say uni or school.

People seem to journal so that they can talk about themselves and what they know. It seems to be a really personal thing that does not necessarily need an audience.

Another aspect of this study has been to discern the difference between a journal and a diary. According to the internet a diary is merely a record of events. The boring recount of today I did this and then this. Whereas, a journal is apparently reflection on those events. It is thinking about and commenting on how things made you feel and why they happened.

Which leads me to the question – what is a blog?

Sometimes it is a simple record. Posting pictures is not very insightful or deep, but at other times it is more like a journal. Like today, where I discuss what I have done and think about why. Does that mean a blog is its own genre?

It kind of reminds me of the differences between biography/autobiography and memoir. I like the sound of memoir better. It sounds more romantic, enigmatic and interesting. Biographies and Autobiographies though imply a whole life. Birth to death in every minute boring detail. Even the word autobiography seems and sounds long winded.

I guess what I really like doing is being meta. Thinking about thinking, being self conscious (and therefore clever and post modern).

And if I ever write something serious about my life I am going to coin a new genre – meta memoir.

Coming up on my next blog: More self indulgence of course.

All Men Choose the Path They Walk

Over the last week I have watched the Rolf de Heer film The Tracker. It is an excellent film about power and fate and justice. One of the best things about it are the Peter Coad paintings used to depict the violent scenes rather than having them played out in live action.
And it has a killer soundtrack by Archie Roach.

One of the best and most important songs is All men choose the path they walk.
Check it out online here. This is an excerpt from the film itself.

What I think Roach (and by extension, de Heer) is saying is that power is in our own hands and our fate is not determined by chance or by those around us but by our own actions.

And yet one of the lines goes

some men run from a fate they can’t avoid

Fate because of their actions or fate because that is the will of the world?

The idea of fate is also a predominant theme in Shakespeare’s plays (if you recall I just if she’d reading Hamlet for the third time). Things go awry in Hamlet when the natural order is disturbed and fate is put off course. There is a great image in Hamlet where Rosencrantz likens fortune’s wheel to a woman and says that you don’t want to be at her head of feet, but rather in her nether regions. As if fate is just a matter of luck and good and bad things are just a half spin of the wheel away.

What I don’t understand is man’s whole fascination with the idea of fate. Well, I do understand it but I don’t really see reason for it. It’s this whole higher power business. That surely, I can’t be held accountable for my own actions and there must be something bigger than me out there to take the blame/justify them.

There’s not.

All men choose the path they walk.

Coming up on my next blog: Let’s leave it up to fate.

Oy, with the Poodles already!

Today has been an exceptionally long day.
It started with a whole field of cows sitting down and ended with this

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I drove the the same shopping place twice today. So that meant four times past the small clown car and the giant blow up clown face advertising the Moscow circus that will be happening in June. And four of the same joke from my Mum that some clown had left their car by the side of the road.

It also included a fly over to celebrate the bicentenary of the crossing of the Blue Mountains. 70 planes, the most ever in Australia. You’d think that when they use the word fly over all the planes would be out at once. But apparently fly over means all the planes staggered out over two and a half hours. So I only saw five of the seventy.

It was two trips to pick up a cake that was never made and forty minutes worth of waiting to get our very large amount of money back. Which we did, it was just very stressful.

And that meant I only had twenty minutes to get ready for the party.
And the party was awesome.
It looked so good.
I can’t wait til the wedding!

Coming up on my next blog: Too tired to think.

Food for Thought

Fridays actually all about food.
One of the perks of the new job (and having great friends) is that I now read a lot more cooking magazines. That’s because I am now at the shops to us them, have time to read them and was given a subscription to one for my birthday.

My usual routine is to plan my weeks meals and do the groceries on Sunday morning as soon as the local supermarket opens. The plan hasn’t changed this week, it’s just that I have a lot more time to think about what I want to eat and a lot of new recipes to choose from.

I have decided to make one treat dessert type thing too this week. That is, as well as all the dinners I will cook.

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This week I probably won’t cook on Saturday and definitely won’t cook on Monday and Tuesday, which just leaves too late dinners on Wednesday and Thursday and a normal one on Friday. I don’t usually plan weekend meals, I just kind of wait to see what happens.

So some ideas this week are,

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And I bought a new magazine this week called Nourish that had some interesting and seemingly incredibly healthy things in it.

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So maybe I have two weeks worth of dishes planned already (I was intending to put an exclamation mark there at the end of the sentence but when I did it looked a bit try hard seeing as I’m only copying pictures of what I may cook and not of what I have cooked so instead I thought a full stop (and this tedious explanation, as if you wanted to know that much about my thought process) in its place).

Coming up on my next blog: Time to be Engaged! (There, I found palace for that displaced exclamation mark).

How do I compare thee?

Poetry and me don’t normally gel. I don’t mind reading it if I have to but I never feel satisfied when I do. It’s like verse novels, they’re kind of like graphic novels in that they’re not really real novels.
What I really don’t like I think is enjambment and the way poets confuse their meaning on purpose to make themselves look smarter and me dumber (the syntax of that sentence isn’t really helping my cause in showing my smarts).

But this week I have spent some time looking at a few different poem types, and I am remembering the bits of poetry I do like.

My two favourite forms at the moment are limericks and haiku.

I have always like haiku, it is so sweet and serene and I like writing about nature. It is also a good form for summary as David Bader shows in his book 100 Great Books in Haiku.

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Or how they are doing the news on The Feed

I think half the battle with poetry appreciation is that a lot of what is considered good, and classic, is really old and therefore even more difficult to understand, because not only do you have to figure out poetic language, you also have to be able to read 19th or even 18th or earlier century English.
So here is a little something I created about a poem that I like.

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I particularly like this Blake poem because there is an excellent appropriation (is that the right word) of it in that great children’s poetry compendium Alright Vegemite:

Tiger, tiger
Burning Bright
Who the hell set you alight?

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Coming up on my next blog: Friday Favourites

Wishes 2013

Well it was going to be roast pork.
I was going to show you my fabulous skills of putting things in the oven and cooking them.
But now I cannot.
And you want to know why?
It’s because nowhere on the packet does it say in large red letters that the thing needs to defrost for 24 to 48 hours.
That’s at least one day.
And with the weather we are having it was definitely not going to defrost in less than eight hours.

So I will still be using my awesome turning on the oven skills, but it will be frozen fish fillets and sweet potato fries.
Much less exciting.

Something that is exciting is that today is vacuum cleaning day.
I love. Vacuuming now that I have an awesome vacuum cleaner. I love being able to see all the dirt I have cleaned up.

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Today has been my second good day in a row at my new work. I am feeling like I am getting the hang of things and feeling settled.

Yesterday was an extra good day because I got the most awesome best present of all time.

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And what it has taught me is that if I ask for things on the Internet my wishes will come true.
So now I am going to make all my wishes here on my blog, and double them up on twitter to make sure I get what I want.

Wishes 2013
Dear Internet wish gods, may I please:
Win the lottery so that I can open my own bookstore and just read books all day.
Suddenly become ultra creative and be able to paint and write in a way that others will appreciate.
Be given a cerval or corgi or standard poodle as a pet (I will also need a fence to go with this).

Now I just sit back and wait.

Coming up on my next blog: I finally give in to poetry.