Strong Women – In Reality And Fiction

Strong Women – In Reality And Fiction

This week I’ve been inspired by women standing up for themselves and for others in the face of what seems to be a bad B grade movie. Scenes of women marching in cities all over the world flooded the internet (see pics here) after Trump’s inauguration along with a myriad of articles, posts, tweets and images promoting sisterhood and unity. Influential women around the world have addressed the issue in person and in print. In Washington Gloria Steinhem applauded those who protested and urged women to follow their instincts. And in Sydney, writer Jane Caro urged marchers to ‘keep fighting’. On almost every continent women banded together to express their outrage and unity. In recent times the word feminism has been much maligned. Like every political or social movement there are certainly extreme versions of it, but historically it’s been the more extreme individuals among us who have most successfully effected change. And let’s face it, where would we all be today if the suffragettes hadn’t stood up for their rights and votes, or if no bras had been burnt in the 60’s? Personally, I’ve never had a problem with the word or the idea. Surely feminism is all about championing women’s rights and I’m not sure why anyone would have a problem with that. Women standing up for themselves is one of the main themes in my writing, and while I might only write commercial fiction and my books aren’t going to change the world, I’d like to think that the strength of my female characters is one the main features of my writing … In Blackwattle Lake, Eve...
On Friendship, Mortality and The Ice Bucket Challenge

On Friendship, Mortality and The Ice Bucket Challenge

If you’ve read my books you’ll know I write a lot about loss and grief, family and friendship. They’re preoccupations of mine, not on a conscious level, but on that deeper plane that we tap into when we write from the heart. Lately though, I’ve spent more time consciously pondering these things and this post explains why.   For a long time now I’ve been in denial about my age. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not getting around in short shorts anymore or booking in for plastic surgery anytime soon. But suddenly, in my early 50’s, I’m feeling my mortality. That’s not old, you may say, and I agree. The thing is, my closest friend has Motor Neuron Disease and it’s making me think hard about so many things: my phobia about getting old, the things we never say enough to those we love and my ideas about true friendship.   I read a great post this week on Brainpickings, by Maria Popova. (You can read the post here). It featured a number of quotes about friendship, my favourite one being this by C.S. Lewis:     In other words it vastly improves the quality of our lives. My friendship with my ‘bestie’ is proof of just that. She’s the same age as me. We met in first form and have been friends for 40 years. We laughed our way through school together, and although she finished two years earlier than me we spent almost every weekend going out to parties, bluffing our way into pubs and clubs even though we were under 18, drinking more than we should...

Office Inspirations: Words And Images That Keep Me Writing

At the recent memorial service for Hachette CEO Matt Richell, tragically taken way too early in a surfing accident, an extract from Raymond Carver’s This Morning was read along with a number of other passages from Matt’s favourite works. The passage from This Morning had been printed out and taped by his desk, the words which had inspired him so much in life now left to comfort those mourning his death. (You can read a tribute to Matt Richell here) I’d only had the pleasure of meeting Matt a couple of times and didn’t attend the service but reading about it made me think about the words and images pinned to the cork-board above my own desk: the moments they capture, the inspiration they provide and the intricate ways in which they represent both my life and my writing .So I’ve decided to use these words and images as the inspiration for a series of blog posts.  They’ll be posted in random order with a brief commentary on what they are and why they’re on my board. I hope you enjoy reading them and would love you to share your own inspirations.         Three poems are pinned to my corkboard, The Journey and Wild Geese by Mary Oliver,  and The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry. I was first introduced to these poets many years ago by one of my mentors Joyce Kornblatt. Joyce is a writer, a buddhist and a psychotherapist and runs amazing workshops that put you back in touch with your creative self. I discovered Mary Oliver while revising my first (unpublished...

Did Your Writing Year Get Off to a Flying Start This January? What’s Next?

So how did your January go? Did you achieve all you wanted to writing wise? Or when you tally up your words does the total fall drastically short of what you wanted to achieve? My January was both good and bad. I managed to do more blog posts than ever before (thanks to all my new followers by the way), did a rough outline for a possible sequel to Blackwattle Lake, and wrote up some notes for a new novel. It would have been nice to achieve more but then I did have plenty of time to relax, think, and clear my head. Part of me would like to whine and moan and self flagellate about all the things I didn’t get done but the other, wiser part says that we writers are way too hard on ourselves and need to lighten up a little. There are times when we write a lot, times we write a little and times when we don’t write at all. In that spirit I’d like to share this Writer’s Manifesto.   (Courtesy of Melissa Bowersock (http://wanatribe.com/profile/MelissaBowersock) Whether your January was as productive as you would have liked or not now is a good time to take stock – decide what worked and what didn’t, what your goals are for the rest of the year and how you will go about achieving them. And above all, as the manifesto above says, remember that writing is a journey not a destination. Enjoy the small projects as well as the big, value the words for their own sake and for the joy you get from them as...

Daring To Dream: Students and Writers Making a Difference

Last Friday I had an inspiring day which can be summed up by these three words: Daring to Dream. First stop on my schedule was a visit to Kambala where I was doing a presentation for Room to Read, a fantastic not-for-profit organisation which I volunteer for and which I’ve mentioned in this blog before. I had been invited to the assembly to tell the primary students more about Room to Read (www.roomtoread.org) and why education is the key to ending the cycle of poverty. 5R were also on the agenda for the assembly and began their “show” with a presentation called Dare to Dream in which each girl stood and told the audience what she “dared” to be when she was older. Hearing the girls talk about being actors, architects, doctors, writers and a whole array of other wonderful occupations gave me goose-bumps. These 11 year olds are being taught – and rightly so – that they can do and be anything, an opportunity that was denied to women only a couple of generations ago, and is still impossible for many women around the world. How fortunate we are to live in a society where gender equality is openly promoted. Of course the glass ceiling still exists in many areas of the business world but for these young women the sky is the limit so kudos to the teachers who are encouraging such determination and optimism about the future. The girls have so far raised almost $1500 to help girls in Zambia have an education that will allow them to fulfil their own dreams.   Stella, a third grader in...

Maya Angelou Wisdom For Women

As a writer of Women’s Fiction I’m always on the lookout for articles and stories dealing with issues relating to women. This week in her blog Naomi Simpson shared some wonderful words of wisdom from writer Maya Angelou that I wanted to share with you here. For those of you who don’t know Naomi she is an inspirational businesswoman and founder of leading online gift retailer Red Ballon (www.redballoon.com.au). You can follow her on her blog at http://naomisimson.com/. Maya Angelou is a “remarkable Renaissance woman who is hailed as one of the great voices of contemporary literature. As a poet, educator, historian, best-selling author, actress, playwright, civil-rights activist, producer and director, she continues to travel the world, spreading her legendary wisdom.” (www.mayaangelou.com) I hope her words resonate with you as they did with me.     A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE … enough money within her control to move out and rent a place of her own, even if she never wants to or needs to… something perfect to wear if the employer, or date of her dreams wants to see her in an hour… A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE .. a youth she’s content to leave behind…. a past juicy enough that she’s looking forward to retelling it in her old age…. a set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra… one friend who always makes her laugh… and one who lets her cry… A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ……. a good piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in her family… eight matching plates, wine glasses with stems, and a recipe for a meal, that will make her...