Numbers, Solitude, Cinnamon Cookies + New Voices
Mar 7, 2009
According to my dashboard, this is my 200th post since I started this blog in May 2007. And you know what? In the past couple of years through this blog, my novel manuscripts, my short stories and thesis, and my work, I’m quite sure I have written over a million words. I mean, I probably average 2000-3000 a day! Other numbers: I exercise on average one-and-a-half hours a day, I read on average two hours a day (wish that were more), I sleep on average four to five hours (I’m working on this), and thus lie awake stimulated/frustrated by thoughts and ideas for about three hours a night, I see one or two movies a week, I spend on average three nights at events or with friends, I spend five days at work, I spend a very small amount of time of washing clothes and dishes, I take five minutes to put make-up on, and I watch zero television.
I was the only person in the cinema by myself last night, that I could see. This interests me. Because it doesn’t bother me to be alone. I have many friends that I could have invited, whose company I enjoy. Instead, it was just me and chocolate and Rorschach (Watchmen ‘Read and Seen’ coming soon…). Last Sunday night I saw Taxi Driver and Easy Rider alone at the Astor. I did invite someone at the last minute, but they were busy. There were many people alone in that session. I think there is a very fine line between solitude and loneliness. Solitude I enjoy, I crave, I need – but loneliness can slip in easily and unexpected. I relate to Travis Bickle at the same time as he makes me cringe, feel hollow. I love Midnight Cowboy because it speaks deeply of connection – so fleeting, possibly hurtful, possibly impossible. I love it when it all goes wrong for the characters. I feel it is truthful. I feel scooped out by the end of Easy Rider but also feel like someone has looked me in the eye and told me the truth about freedom. Often I’m afraid to share the experience with someone in case they don’t feel the same – in case they try to gloss it over. By the end of the weekend it can sometimes tip into loneliness.
* I went to two great launches this week. Bel Schenk’s book of poetry Ambulances & Dreamers was launched at FAD Bar/Gallery, down one of those fun little lanes off Chinatown. The poems are simple, modern, resonant – and many also engage with the subject of solitude.
The other launch was of Sleepers Publishing’s first book, Steven Amsterdam’s Things We Didn’t See Coming, which I reviewed earlier in the week. I got to meet Steven and eat his delicious cinnamon cookies. The introduction from Toni Jordan, author of Addition, was gorgeous. She said to the small, eclectic (and quite distinguished) room ‘look around you, look at the people on either side of you, lock this in your memory – because this will be a moment in history’. I don’t doubt it. For the record I was standing next to Dan Ducrou, who is a launch-whore like me and has been shortlisted for the Vogel, is also a Varuna alumni, and has been published all over the place; and a guy called Gus. The new editor of Voiceworks, Bel, was nearby, as was Jessica Au, a writer I’ve admired for a long time and now have met. Was very excited to hear she is working on a novel. I also got to see Emily Maguire briefly, but she had to go before I could go and gush to her about how great I think she is. I hope I’ll have a chance to talk to her properly one day. Steven Amsterdam wrote in my book ‘Be prepared for anything’. I’m not quite sure how I can do this, except perhaps keep going to the gym so I’m fit and strong and can superhero my way out of any situation (sorry, still Watchmen on the brain). I should probably also stock up on Steven’s cookies for emergency energy needs. And decide on those ‘desert island books’ that many people I know keep talking about.
I’m very happy to report that Steven will also be doing a ‘responsive’ interview for LM.
* Just finished reading this month’s Australian Literary Review. My favourite piece was Mark McKenna’s ‘Silence Shattered With a Whisper to the Heart’, because it engaged me and taught me about a writer/activist and his works – Henry Reynolds. A friend on Twitter remarked that they were disappointed with the ALR because it had no new voices. I’ve been thinking about this a bit over the last few days. My opinion is that as long as ‘established’ voices provide interesting insight (and the ideas are fresh), I don’t have too much problem with ‘established’ writers/critics taking up the pages. It’s a small country, and it is very difficult to break into the realms of reviewing and intellectual debate in some of the major newspapers/magazines, but surely we do need something to aspire to? It would be great to see ‘new’ voices, but not just for the sake of it – for the fact that they’re providing some essential addition to public cultural discussion. And there were, actually, a few names in there I hadn’t heard of, so I don’t know if it’s technically true. What do you think about old/new voices in mainstream media? I would very much miss Robert Dessaix if he got shunted just because he was becoming old hat.
* You might recall that I am curating the 15 Minutes of Fame segment at the Emerging Writers’ Festival. I have been handed the shortlist by the lovely organisers, and I am trying to put together an interesting program of a mix of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and children’s which will run over three or four nights during the festival. I didn’t realise how hard it would be. I can think of questions I’d like to ask them all. I’m grateful for the opportunity to do this, and also for the opportunity it gives these writers, many of whom don’t really have the resources to promote their work otherwise.
* Only one week until my participation in the Format Festival! Please come along if you’re in Adelaide (the 15th of March).
* Here’s a really handy blog/site created by Sophie Moon on where and when to submit stuff! It’s called SnUfft. Thanks Sophie for collecting these mags and comps for us.
* Pick-‘n-mix links:
Adoring Carly-Jay Metcalfe’s blog Chasing Away Salt Water; discovered New Zealand artist WD Hammond after I saw his artwork on a book cover; awesome to see one of my favourite writers, Joe Meno, talking about the influence of music on his work and learn about his new novel in the process; writers on writing for a living – a joy or a chore? (via Beattie) – what do you think of this?; The Short Review names 96 short story collections published in February; March 2009 in the US is ‘Small Press Month’, great idea!; a wonderfully haunting short story recommended to me by Ryan O’Neill – ‘Mary Postgate’ by Rudyard Kipling – save this for when you’ve got a moment to read and let me know what you think.
* Coming soon: Eva Hornung interview; Charlotte Wood’s literary space; a poem by Geoff Lemon; Read and Seen – Watchmen; and tons more reviews…