I’m a 2018 Fresh Scientist!

I’m a Fresh (hence the lemon) Scientist!! As part of a national competition (funnily enough called Fresh Science), I’ll be heading to Sydney to share my work and undergo media training. Pimping a Southern Ocean (hence the Antarctica-shaped lemon juice) species that is well and truly frowned upon isn’t easy, but I think I’m up for the challenge. I can’t wait to see what I get out of this experience – If I’m lucky, my ‘yeah, nah, yeahs’ might even be refined to ‘yeah, nahs.’ Thank you to my science homes, IMAS and ACE CRC for letting me pull their purses strings (I wouldn’t be able to participate without this help and it is so much appreciated).

Image credit: My left hand. (featured hand is my right hand. My long tongue also provided inspiration, but I would like to stress that I possess much better teeth than the ones depicted).

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Music is the best memory maker …

Last night I saw Angus and Julia Stone play (I also picked up a very nice ringer tee to wear with my cord flares today). I first saw this eternally gorgeous brother and sister duo eleven years ago, when I was fifteen. This was at a one day festival in Tasmania called Southern Roots. I should also note that this was back before Tassie was even remotely trendy, so it was a pretty big deal. I was a very lucky kid, getting to see A&J, Xavier Rudd, Pnau, The Vines, Wolfmother, Ben Kweller and The Pixies. I fought my way to the front row for many of those acts, taking a break to only suck on a goon bag with my mates. About twenty minutes before leaving the festival (I had a 12 am curfew and was keeping a close eye on my Nokia) I also received what could be described as my first kiss from a seventeen year old boy who just reached my shoulders. Not much lip action in that one. Was more like a thumb war, but with tongues. We just about scraped the enamel off the other’s teeth, too. When I hopped in the car, Mum gave me a talk about how it wasn’t that ‘she didn’t trust me, she just didn’t trust other people’ and all I could think about was, if this is the amazing stuff that happens before midnight, then surely even better events await at 1 am and 2 am? I, of course, now know that absolutely nothing good happens at those wee morning hours and last night I very pleased to be in bed by 11 30. Time flies and music really is the greatest memory maker.

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Nuggets of wisdom

Even though today is Mother’s Day, I need to give credit where credit is due and send a shout out to to my dad, as well as my mum. As neither of them use social media it is, of course, a shout out they will never read, but I hope they already know how important they are. I also shout out to them regularly at home whenever I need their services.

First of all, with my dad, it’s not all nuggets of wisdom. Just the other night, I came home looking rather different, and he responding by staring and asking,

“You get your hair done?”

I was wearing my hair curly. My hair is naturally curly and genetically gifted to me by LOW AND BEHOLD NO ONE OTHER THAN MY OWN FATHER WHO USED TO SPORT A SIMILAR RINGLET FRO. What was different about my head was my face. I was wearing glasses for the first time in my twenty-six years of life.

 

Anyway…

 

Today, Dad did redeem himself (I also just wrote data instead of Dad and TOO MUCH SCIENCE).

 

“Just keep it in your arsenal,” he said.

 

We’re in the lounge room. He’s putting on his good trackpants and runners, about to go grocery shopping with Mum and I’m crying. I’m trying to hold it in, though, because, although my Dad loves me dearly, he’s also a factory worker, and, with alongside swing shifts do come mood swings. I hate to burden his sleep-deprived soul with my problems, but I can’t help it, because he’s a man that speaks my language. This morning, he didn’t disappoint. Those six words were exactly what I needed to hear.

What I’d read to Dad was a rejection email from an industry professional who I’d contacted about taking on my book. What made it so hard to read was the fact that it wasn’t an ordinary no. It was a no sandwiched in between some quite insane praise for my characterisation, voice, humour, beautiful descriptive passages and analogies, and ability to add a poignancy to the Australian landscape. No joke. Those are another person’s words, not mine. I want to put those good bits here, because we all know there are too many times in life where we are told we simply aren’t good enough. And I was so relieved to know that my Aussie writing style wasn’t being interpreted as flat-out bogan sentimentality.

But, for a debut, this individual found it too long and a bit of a mashup between commercial (more plot-driven) and literary (more character driven) fiction—this means that the audience isn’t clear, which isn’t a good thing for a debut author with no… audience.

So they said no to this book, but… wait for it… they said they thought I had terrific potential and that they want to read anything I write in the future.

After reading that to Dad, I think I fell to floor—pushed down by the weight of wanting to live up to this potential (I bloody hate that word, but it is a necessary, isn’t it?). In my mind, all I’m thinking about is what if I’m not funny enough this second time? What if I’m not good enough?

Luckily, Dad was there to reassure me once more.

“Mmmm, very, very good,” he said.

“Well, this one just needs to be shorter and a bit more meatier, doesn’t it?” called Mum from the kitchen (no doubt using her new measuring spoons gifted from her favourite, and only, daughter, for Mother’s Day). “Now, would you like us to pick up another packet of Sippah Straws for you from the supermarket?”

“Yes please,” said I.

My mum and dad then resumed their conversation with the dog, and left.

After they left I felt so lucky to have parents that (for all of their issyews) are far more practical, and far less analytical, than me (and far out are they funny). They’ve got a rain gauge in the backyard and Dad once took great pride in maintaining a very consistent pH in our pool, but that’s as science as they get. So, instead of dividing the email into % positive, % negative, they told me how significant it was that I’d made a genuine contact in such a cut-throat industry, and encouraged me to keep on going

I’m keeping on and I’m about 24, 000 words into the first draft of my new piece. I’m aiming for 80,000-90, 000 words (right in that word limit that publishers like for a debut). And oh boy, is there a plot.  So much so, that I have to be careful not to let slip my little twists. The main characters voice hasn’t fully come to me yet—I’m cringing as I’m writing that because I feel really wanky—but I’m getting close.

So, what am I meant to do with these rather nice descriptive passages and humorous chunks from the last piece? I don’t want to let them go and I don’t want to wedge them in to the current piece I’m writing. I think I’ll take Dad’s advice, “Just keep it in your arsenal.” I’m still waiting to hear back from a few more agents, but whatever the outcome my first novel is something I can come back to properly in the future. Maybe one day I’ll even have my own audience who will happily read it purely for my writing style 🙂 What I’ll also be keeping in my arsenal is a well-written thank you for this industry pro who took the time to give me that feedback. Very few people do that, and, if I ever find success, I would love to meet her and say cheers.

Before I go, I’d also like to apologise for slacking off with the posting. I did lose my writing mojo there for a bit. AND I’m also back on Tinder, so the left hand has been very busy (swiping). I tell you, there ain’t no day on Tinder quite like Mother’s Day.

“Come around to me house, don’t worry I’m a good bloke, though, I just took Mum down to Richmond to feed the ducks and out for dinner.”

Just disgraceful. I’ll stick to my imaginary men for now. I say for now, because you can meet the loveliest of people in the most ordinary of ways.

 

And that’s where I’ll leave it.

 

xx

 

 

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ANZAC Day 2018

As my time on earth continues to outrun yours, I think about you more and more. Alec Stevens was my nan’s brother. Died in 1943. Age 22. No wife. No kids. Resting in one of the largest unmarked graves: the ocean.

Lest we forget.
All my respect.

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I’m writing a new fiction piece …. have a sneaky look at what’s inside :)

When I was revising my first novel-length piece (I’m going to call it DADW… that’s the title’s acronym … although the title is no great mystery to my poor friends and family who have to listen to me inappropriately drop those four precious words into every conversation I can) my mentor, Alli, told me that I needed to get a little further under the skin of the characters. I knew what she meant. I also knew that if I wanted to do that, I’d have to dig a bit deeper within myself. So, I went out the rumpus room, dragged out my suitcase of emotional baggage and unpacked an array memories that hadn’t seen the light of day for years. Because all of these feelings had been kept in the dark for so long, they were actually very well preserved. They were fresh. And rehashing them hurt. In a way, the pain was great because it’s what got the heart of DADW really going. But far out, it was exhausting. I was scraping the bottom of my barrel of sweat and tears and for a while there I thought, “yep, this is my one and only and I’ll never care about anything else in the same way and this is all I have in me.”

Felt the same way about my first boyfriend.

We are no longer together.

Writing (and reading) really is a muscle. And not just in the respect that you have to keep on flexing it. It’s also a muscle in the respect that, if you overdo it, you go and give your fingers and your heart some rest, and it’s not long before you crave another workout.

So, I’m back on the horse, and I’m about 6,000 words deep into TLWTRR (try to guess that title, I dare ya).

What’s in this second piece? Well, I haven’t decided on too much. Most adult novels are roughly between 80,000-110,000 words (DADW was a big fatty at around 110,000 words), so I’ve got a fair way to go. What I do have, though, is a list of character names and qualities. I know what their goals are and what is standing in the way of them achieving these goals. What I also have is a small list of definite places/things that will make an appearance. They could end up playing a tiny role, or they could end up being a major element. Whatever their part, they’ll definitely be in there.

These very special elements are …

  1. Make-up.
  2. A vintage car (Australian make and model, of course).
  3. Regional and rural Australia.
  4. Federal government and resulting law.

TLWTRR will also be set in present day Australia, and, so far, it’s written in first person. So, it’s from the point of view of the main character. Like DADW, TLWTRR has romantic elements and a family-driven storyline. Both of these pieces deal with social issues, but in TLWTRR, I wanted to take social issues a bit further and look at modern government (specifically a conservative modern government) and how passed/blocked legislation affects the quality of life of Australians.

TLWTRR is coming along a little slowly at the moment. One reason for my slow progress is because I must finish off ye olde PhD thesis, but I think the other reason is that I’m a bit hesitant to, once again, really invest myself in people who aren’t alive and will never be alive. When I was writing DADW, the characters were with me 24/7 and the more I fleshed them out, well, the closer they were to really feeling like living, breathing entities. It was a weird feeling and one I wasn’t initially comfortable with. I mean, I wasn’t slipping into any overly-concerning delusional state, but I was very attached. There was quite a comedown after finishing DADW, but those emotions were eventually replaced by the real nice, warm sensation I felt from knowing that I was letting the characters go so that others could (one day) meet them.

So, what about the budding characters of TLWTRR? I think it’s their time to shine. I really want to get to know them… and I’ve definitely got a bit more left in the suitcase 😉

I’m really looking forward to sharing bits and pieces about how this new story all comes together.

And just one more thing!

I know what the elements of my new story might suggest but don’t worry, I am not doing a bogan Priscilla Queen of the Desert with a Pintara instead of a bus …

xxx

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