Saturday, November 26, 2016

On Writing

About six months ago I went to the library one Sunday afternoon and searched for the book 'On Writing' by Stephen King. I'd heard it was a great book for writers and I was ready to be inspired.

Despite the catalogue insisting there was one copy available, the helpful library person (librarian?) and I could not find it and believe me - we looked. Since then it has sat quietly on my card, a simple request for a book, going nowhere.
Three months later, knee deep in second hand books I'm sorting for the school white elephant stall and it appears in my dirty hand like an offering from the volunteer /writer gods. So I take it home and begin to read, but very slowly, I can't fully absorb myself into it. This is an old dusty book that has a lot of great stories. It sits by my bed and gets picked up maybe once a week and now that I think about it - I haven't read any in over a month.
Then today I'm once again spending some Sunday afternoon time at the library and I enquire about another book I have on order. It's available for me but not at this library, it's at the other one which doesn't open on a Sunday. The librarian looks pleased though and tells me to hang on for a minute because there is something out the back for me. I think she means another copy of the new David Baldacci I'm waiting for and I'm a bit excited waiting for her to return.
She brings me out a brand new edition, clean smelling, paper back copy of 'On Writing'. It looks and feels so full of promise - I can't wait to read it. (Still looking forward to picking up the Baldacci tomorrow though).
Two weeks ago I bought myself a $400 laptop, so I could/would write more. Finding the energy to write out the thoughts that swirl around your mind into something cohesive, that connects, that is's intimidating. Yet it's also joyful, liberating.
Yesterday I received some wonderful praise for this blog. It was unexpected and heartfelt and it lifted me up to the clouds. Connection through words on a screen.
I think what I'm feeling might be called inspiration...

Thursday, November 17, 2016


When I was a kid I loved singing. I was in the school choir, I got to sing with Kamahl in 1987(?) and Peter Combe live on stage. Wonderful experiences, the excitement and joy of singing together as a group. I loved it.
Then at some point, probably age 11 or 12 I lost interest. Maybe it became embarrassing, nerdy or maybe it looked like I was trying too hard. So I stopped singing in public and instead shut myself in my room and sang into my hairbrush.
I knew I wasn't a great singer, but occasionally I could pull off some serious Tori Amos or Madonna. But I stopped being able to sing in front of people. I could manage a soft drone, but singing from my belly - I physically couldn't do it.
For years it's been on my bucket list. Learn to sing. I figured if I could sing well I wouldn't be so scared to sing publicly. Unfortunately I was too shy to get singing lessons, so I just continued to sing alone in the car or very softly around people.
A few things happened that changed all that. I started singing to my kids and sometimes, if no other adults were around, I sounded good! I sang those nursery rhymes loud and proud.
I also started going to a monthly Taize session, where for 40 minutes we sing/chant in candlelight. The darkened room helped and if there was someone there who could really sing, well occasionally I could join in with them, lifting my voice and feeling that release. I started to feel connected again.
Finally, I made a friend who whenever we got drunk together would insist upon playing songs we all knew and loved from the 70s and 80s and we would sing. Loudly, drunkenly, passionately. I stopped feeling so shy and just enjoyed it.
So this same friend and I found a choir run by Sing Australia every Thursday evening. The first night we went and they asked whether we were alto or soprano I nearly ran out the door. Thank goodness for Leigh, with her quick wit and dry humour, we stayed. We sang, mostly quietly but there were moments of letting go, joining in. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming and the best part was we weren't the only ones singing out of tune! Nobody worried about that - they were there to sing! Just sing. It didn't matter if you weren't 'good'.
Tonight was our fourth visit. I'm getting louder, braver and singing from my belly. There are moments when my skin tingles all over because together we are singing and it is glorious. Granted there are other moments when I think oh god make it stop this is terrible, but mostly it just feels good to sing. Tonight, at the end, we sang Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen and it was magnificent. I'm pretty sure he might have heard us in heaven.