Life

A Little Time Away

My dear bloggy friends,

I’ve been thinking on a more practical level (which, let me tell you, is highly unusual in the world of this cloud bouncing dreamer) and my thoughts have led me to a little bloggy holiday.

I’m questioning the sanity of this decision, given the lovely distraction this place gives me from all the yucky things of life, but I do think that even just a few days away might be nice. I’ve been blogging almost every day, for quite some time now. A little bloggy holiday might be quite a lovely thing, now that I really think about it.

Obviously, a lot of emotional processing is happening for me at the moment and, although I don’t necessarily feel I need to take a break from blogging…I figured it certainly wouldn’t hurt to take some days off from this little bloggy land of mine.

Things need to move in my world, and over the next few months, I’ll be slowly making some decisions in order to move them. The practical reality of a newly separated Mum of two little muffins hangs over me like a giant hand reaching from the sky, ready to squash me flat. In other words: I need to earn some money soon, or things are going to go from bad, to worse, to really terribly horrible. I’d like to avoid any sort of bug-on-windscreen action, If I can get away with it.

As much as I adore this beautiful bloggy land (and certainly don’t plan on saying goodbye to it anytime soon) my focus needs to shift to more practical matters, and the first of those is…how to turn the skills I have into the job of my dreams. I’m a writer. Right? I could write. But then what will I write about, and who will pay me for what I write, especially if I’ve given no thought to the words I have to share. There are many avenues I could begin to peer down, career-wise, and after I’ve wrapped my head around the emotional upheaval my beautiful little family is facing at this time— it’ll be time for this love-hearty dreamer to get busy.

A bit of time away from here won’t get me a job, or an instantly love-hearty life, but it will free up a little bit of energetic space, which I can then use to get a bit clearer on things. I’m so excited about the possibilities!

So! I’ll see you guys in…I’m not really sure how long actually, guys! It could be a few days, it could be a week that turns into two, I’m just not sure. But what I do know is that the time away will not be wasted. Life is too precious to be wasted on less than wonderful.

It’s time, now, for me to get clear on exactly what my kind of wonderful looks like.

And then make it happen.

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Books

Books Vs Social Media

I’m reading again. I’m reading a lot, actually. My goodness, it’s all the lovely things.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to read for all the years books went missing from my life. I blamed it on the quick and easy of social media. How convenient it was to click onto an article offered by Facebook, or Twitter, or whatever platform I was virtually chillin’ my life away on.

I first discovered Facebook in my early twenties, and WHAT wonder IS this! My goodness. The possibilities of that place seemed endless. In fact, were it not for Facebook…I’d not have re-met the man who eventually became my husband (and super fun guy Dad to my two beautiful kiddlywinks.)

I became so ‘into’ Facebook at one point, I considered it a problem. I was desperate to get rid of it because it seemed to be sucking so much life out of me, but how to take the giant leap away? It just would not let me go. It was my curiosity for what was going on in the comment section that found me in the deepest water. I was becoming deeply affected by ALL the opinions, and consequently, I was very slowly disappearing beneath them.

Looking back, I see what the problem likely was. All that social media drama must have been doing quite the number on my brain. No wonder the calm and quiet energy of reading seemed to have fallen by the wayside. My brain was addicted to noise. Not only was it addicted to the action…it was also addicted to being seen, to being heard, to being loved.

I don’t know when all that changed, but I know it was by happy accident. I think it was after the birth of my second child, maybe, when I was just too busy to even think about the delightful terrors gifted to me by the comment section. I was also in the thick of things with my Masters at the time—completely immersed in my little collection of short stories. It was such a swift and sneaky cut off, I don’t even recall the day I stopped and said, Facebook what, now?

And so, just like that, the addiction was gone. I will admit that I have really come to enjoy Instagram for the creative platform it provides (and the odd chance to share some of my bright and shiny pom poms with the world.) But I don’t see myself returning to that addictive social media space anytime soon. I lost far too much of myself there once upon a time—too many hours, too much of my calm and happy—to risk going back.

Not to mention my precious books. Sigh. Thank goodness I have them back again.

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A Blog a Day in May

The Best Thing I’ve Ever Written

I’ve just deleted it all.

On purpose.

Five whole paragraphs of the BEST thing I’ve EVER written.

We do that sometimes—us writers of words.

When ‘the force’ flies through us with alarming ease and grace, and we just know this is the one…until it’s not.

Because we’ve just read it all back.

And it’s not.

No.

Nopey, nopey…no.

Ah, yes. This creative life of mine.

What an absolute bloody shemozzle.

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Writing

The Happy Driver

Arki was a taxi driver, but in his heart he was a writer. He knew he was a writer because the words never stopped racing in his mind until they were out. Neither did the joyous feeling they stirred in him.

Everyday Arki would think up his words and send them into the world. He didn’t need a computer. He didn’t need paper. All he needed was to flash his words onto the windscreen of his cab, onto the night shining road, onto the cars that sped along beside him. He didn’t care where his words landed. All he cared about was that they landed.

He didn’t need his words to change anyone else’s life, either, because they changed his, and that was enough. In changing his life, they fixed a permanent light in his eyes that everyone who crossed his path could see and feel.

Joe, the frequent flyer who dressed for business and laughed like a monkey, slapped him on the back and called him, The happy driver. Jennifer, the lonely lawyer with sad eyes and a happy smile, insisted on a hug once they’d reached the office of a morning—just to say thank you. He’d wrapped his arms around her this morning and wondered if her eyes were closed and wishing to ‘catch’ some of his happy.

Arki had grown up with the burning need to change the world in some grand way. But as he drove along the road to home, thinking of his wife curled up on the couch and his baby boy, nose whistling in his cot, he smiled. He had changed the world in greater ways than he’d ever imagined.

And that, he thought, was good.

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Reading, Writing

Alexis Wright: Boisbouvier Oration, Melbourne Writers Festival

I’ve never read an Alexis Wright, book. Until she won the 2018 Stella prize, I’d never even heard her name.

But I can’t stop thinking about the speech she gave at the Melbourne Writers Festival on Wednesday night, and I absolutely think you should read it, here.

It’ll be good for the writer in you.

It’ll be good for the human in you.

It’ll just…be good.

I promise.

xx Brooke

I absolutely believe that we need deep thinking and deep imagination in our literature to shock the daylight out of us, to make us see what is happening in the world, to make us think, and if we teach how to read more deeply, think more, then perhaps, perhaps, we might stop harming ourselves and the planet.

Alexis Wright, Boisbouvier Oration, 2018

(One more post to go for my Melbourne Writers Festival series. I’ll try to get that to you over the coming days. xx)

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Nerdy Party, Writing

How Mood Affects Writing

I’ll be honest with you. I-am-cranky. There. I’ve said it.

And now I don’t even know what words are going to end up in this sentence because my fingers are just banging away without me even thinking, without me even caring about what comes out of this cranky mind of mine.

Now.

In the spirit of maintaining some of the glass half fullness that I believe to be a more accurate representation of me, I thought I might take this opportunity to gather in my little nerdy corner and make the most of this mood. To close my eyes. To breathe. To think all the lovely nerdy thoughts. And to have a little nerdy party.

You guys wanna come? We could hang out in the corner for a while, have a little chat about how language and tone indicate mood in a piece of writing? More specifically, we could analyse some little pieces of cranky me above, and try to dissect and plump up some of my cranky, writerly ways? (Omg. Fun, huh?)

Yes! Let’s DO this!

I suppose there were a few indications at the start of this little post of mine that may have given cranky me away.

Readers (ahem, humans) are creatures of habit, tradition, and pattern

In my experience, the sentence I’ll be honest with you often leads to something negative. So, even though the words themselves might seem kind of innocent—depending on the context in which they are being used—in this case, we all knew what I was really saying. (Hint. I am cranky!)

Example: ‘Omg, Brooke. I’ll be honest with you. These nerdy parties of yours are such mega buzz kills.’ (Sure, you guys. I know you secretly love them. Wink face emoji.)

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Impact. Start with a bang

In fact, if I was really serious about bringing a reader into my cranky world, I’d have completely chopped out the I’ll be honest with you, and gotten straight to the point:

I-am-cranky. Boom. Like a punch in the face.

Imagine if that was the first sentence? Right away the reader would have been invested in my story. They’d have been curious. By starting with the words, I-am-cranky…I may have raised their eyebrows, a little. I may have prompted them to say, ‘But Brooke. Tell us why!’

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Sentence length and flow

Humans really are creatures of symbolism and expectation, don’t you think? We often learn cool tricks without really even being aware we are doing so. One of those sneakily learned tricks is our ability to translate the flow of language.

You might have noticed my first few sentences were short and snappy, splattered onto the page like spitballs shot from the end of a pen? I suppose it’s dependent on many factors (such as culture or context) but often times, short sentences and singular words can indicate aggression. Anger. Hostility. (Ahem, crankiness.)

And then there’s the opposite side of the cranky coin. Long, rambling, breathy sentences. There’s something like one of those if you go back and have a look at paragraph two: a long sentence snapped in half with a single comma, delicately laced with the odd italic to really hit the cranky ball out to left field. (Btw. If we’re going to be really nerdy about it, bold seems a better way to emphasis angry words, to me. It’s just that italics is so much prettier, don’t you think?)

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Well! I hope you enjoyed my little nerdy cranky party. I sure did! In fact, have you noticed? I’m not cranky anymore! Just look at all the joyful exclamation marks a simple nerdy party can bring to this life of mine.

Yes. I really do think I should have more of these nerdy parties. Especially if I ever get the cranks up again.

Ps: Thanks for coming!

xx Brooke

Nerdy Party, Writing

An Audience With My Writerly Self

Hello Writerly Me,

It’s good to see you! Thanks for coming, by the way. No one else will be attending the party, sadly. Some were too shy to come. The rest: burning the candle at both ends, they said. Too busy for a party, they said. So that leaves…you. And me.

But, hey, that’s okay! When I really think about it I’m thrilled no one else is coming. I’ve been meaning to talk to you. Now seems like the perfect time. (Wait, do I hear crickets?)

Oh, sorry! How rude of me, please: take a seat.

Now. Writerly Me. I’ll start with a little story about how the two of us met.

When I first began writing creatively— you were there, humming away under my skin; a cute little engine you were, pumping ideas through me and onto those frightening white pages. So, yes. I knew you were there.

But I didn’t really know you then, did I? I didn’t recognise you, or the role you played in my writing. Luckily, that didn’t matter because you knew me. And you knew I needed your help to write. So, you kept coming back. Thank goodness.

The more stories I wrote, the clearer your voice became. You spoke for me: all I had to do was turn up at the desk and write what you told me to. In fact, you insisted.

‘Please,’ you said to me. ‘Just turn up. Write. Do nothing else.’ Remember that? You were pretty adamant about that part. (How’s your bum feeling, by the way? Sorry. These chairs are not okay.)

Anyway, you told me to stop thinking so much. Thinking does not belong in the world of pure imagination, you said. This was something I’d learnt the hard way. So much staring at the blank page; so much sifting through words, choosing only those that were pretty, or important, or…right.

Writerly Me, I think I finally get it. There is no right, is there? I will never know what kind of books Tom, or Jenny, or Joe Reader like. But I do know what kind of books I like. It’s quite simple, really. If the words that land on my page feel like warm chocolate milk to me, chances are those very words will feel like warm chocolate milk to someone else. (What? No, you can’t have a warm chocolate milk! This is still a party, you know.)

Trust that the magic will happen. You gave me those words, didn’t you? Yes. I thought so. You were spot on, there. Writing—creating anything, for that matter—is a kind of magic. So when I’m scared to face that blank page again, or when I wonder if all my previous stories were just one great big fluke, I think of you. I think of that magic wand of yours, how you flap it about and magic up a story, how you help me sprinkle that same magic all over the page.

Thank you, Writerly Self. No, really. Thank you. For coming to the party. For reminding me to trust in your magic. All writers are different, you taught me that. And although thinking and planning may belong at some other writer’s desk…they don’t belong at mine.

Magic belongs at mine.

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