Ah, to write. To do it for the joy alone. I am addicted to creating and recording. I am also addicted to discovery. How does that writer do it? How did they come up with that? How did they capture just how that feels, or what it would feel like, or how it would feel to be someone else?

Smells and sounds. I love seeing how writers describe these, and I love trying to do it myself. I love the challenge, too, of trying to write something that is unique, allowing it to be yours, but learning from what has already been done. It really, really is hard. It really is a challenge. And it is wonderful. I would like to be challenged by this all my life.

Now, the ol’ weekend round-up. A combination of me things and literary links and happenings that I feel like commenting on.

* Did you read Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs as a kid? Well today is May Gibbs’ birthday (she’d be 131!) and if you’re in Sydney you can attend a celebration, honouring the author and her generous legacy – on her death in 1969, she left the copyright of her works to Northcott Disability Services and The Spastic Centre of NSW. The details are: Sunday, 18th January, at ‘Nutcote’, May Gibbs’ family home in Neutral Bay. There’ll be special birthday event with cake-cutting ceremony at 12.30. Address: Nutcote, 5 Wallaringa Avenue, Neutral Bay NSW 2089. Phone: 02 9953 4453. Nutcote is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 11.00am to 3.00pm. You might be interested in the author’s biography: May Gibbs: Mother of the Gumnuts, by Maureen Walsh (Sydney University Press).

* I went to the launch of The Lifted Brow 4 on Friday night. Unfortunately I was incredibly tired and in a bit of a blue mood so I didn’t stay for the whole show. Who was the special guest? I enjoyed Fulton Lights from Brooklyn, who had a bit of a Springsteen vibe (with more electro-edge). The rest of the skinny-geek-chic bands I found, honestly, a little boring. But then, I was already tired and moody. I have read a few stories in the issue so far and there have been a couple of goodies. The LB team decided to make this one a bumper issue and include many overseas ‘names’ – the cover boasts the likes of Neil Gaiman, Sarah Manguso and Joe Meno – some amazing writers, but from reading some of the stories one wonders if they did just accept anything from some overseas writers in order to maximise sales with names … but I will read on and see how I go with the rest. Christopher Currie‘s The Maverick is a hilarious and sharp story about a modern wannabe noir hero-cop. The journal is probably worth buying for this alone. The best part of the night though was when I’d been eyeing some immaculate-looking poser-type girls resting against the wall, and then in walks Josephine and Jess. They were such a contrast. They both dress very feminine but have such strong and forceful presence. Their eyes were a little glazed, they had massive smiles and gave massive hugs and were a little sweaty and just beating with life. It made me so happy to see them.

* A launcheroo is coming up for Torpedo 4, at Readings Carlton on 13th Feb. It’s their tribute issue to Richard Brautigan. See more info here. 

* The January 2009 issue of The Short Review is out, the best online review site for short fiction collections.

* And yet another launch coming up is one for the very respected yearly fiction journal Sleepers Almanac No. 5. Here’s the info from their email:

To kick-start the year, the Sleepers Almanac No. 5 is hot off the press and ready to be celebrated. Melburnians, please come along to:
Date: Thursday the 12th of February
Time: From 6pm till 8pm
Place: At the Trades Hall Bar on the corner of Lygon and Victoria Streets, Carlton – now enter via Lygon Street.

This year’s Almanac is an absolute treat, with stories by Eleanor Elliott Thomas, Virginia Peters and Patrick Cullen, amongst many other riches, and including cartoons from the excellent Oslo Davis and the brilliant Andrew Weldon. It’s our fifth and we’ve hit our stride; and as we’ve aged, we’ve also upped the font size!

At the launch, there will be readings, shenanigans, and a chance to meet many of the authors. The Almanac will be available on the night; and in all good bookstores after February 1st for RRP $24.95.

‘Sleepers continues to work a crucial nerve in Australian writing.’ – Nam Le

Sleepers Publishing has also ventured into novels. Their first two releases are due out soon – Steven Amsterdam’s Things We Didn’t See Coming (remember I loved his story in Overland 192?); and Brendan Gullifer’s Sold. They’ve kindly sent me copies, so I’ll at least get around to one of them in the next few months. Really keen to read Steven Amsterdam’s.

* Today I’m having a drink with the lovely Krissy Kneen, who’s book will be coming out with Text later in the year (remember, she was one of my ‘Best Unpublished Books’? – so many of them are now going to be published!). After that, I’ll be meeting up with Lisa Dempster of Vignette Press, and Cassie Flanagan of the Adelaide Format Festival, which I’m also looking forward to. I’ll keep you posted on the festival, which will be held in March. It’s been a productive weekend overall after meeting Gerard to map out our screenplay, then writing 90s novel at the SLV for about three hours yesterday. Last night was Seinfeld and wine (well deserved, yes?).

* Writers at the Convent is coming up in Melbourne on February 13, 14 and 15 (I was in Venice that time last year!). See the program. Yay, Peter Goldsworthy and Charles Darwin-related things!

* This is a gorgeous article on Janet DeNeefe (via Beattie), who runs the Ubud Writers’ and Readers’ Festival, which I really hope to get to this year. I went in 2006 and it was seriously amazing.

* I didn’t think I had much this week but this has turned out to be huge – sorry! Coming oh-so-soon: An introduction to two of my favourite poets; an interview with Christos Tsiolkas, author of The Slap; and a combined book/film review of Revolutionary Road with my good friend Mr Celluloid Tongue. And just a week til I see Neil Young in the flesh!

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