10 things authors should NOT do by someone who did them all

No. 8

Just a few words on the bitter reality of rejections. After 35 years of writing, you acclimatise, I guess. One time, however, a newspaper editor rejected one of my articles. I heard he was going on leave. So I sent the piece back to the same section of the newspaper. He didn’t go on leave. And he published the piece. What does this mean? Sometimes they don’t read your copy, not even the title or your name before rejecting your work. Keep that in mind the next time you get a rejection.

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10 things authors should NOT do by someone who did them all

No. 9

Signings are hellish. Once I did a bookshop signing in Sydney after tennis great Evonne Goolagong Cawley! She was exhausted. I can only say ‘Heavens be praised! I have a short name’. Kids, however, are funny. At a school talk or a library event they’ll run up to you with a piece of paper torn from an exercise book and ask ‘Can I have your autograph? Who are you?’

10 things authors should NOT do by someone who did them all

No. 10

I’ve been a professional writer for 30+ years. I have 2 books coming out soon. A satirical novel on American Gun Culture, TARGET 91, to be published 2018. And a non-fiction with Doris Brett next year by a local mainstream publisher. Just some thoughts for younger writers apart from KEEP WRITING!

How to reboot your childhood imagination

A writer needs a vivid imagination. The superpower of childhood is a fantastical imagination but it is easily lost. Neuroscience provides an explanation for this.

In The Wisdom Paradox Elkhonon Goldberg explains that a child’s Right brain dominates until the age of 6 years. The Right brain deals with uncertainty, double meanings, metaphors, duplicity, the unexpected, the new. It thinks in pictures but, significantly, it is mute or it would be arguing with your Left brain, the language hemisphere, all the time.

Anything is possible for the Right Brain. The Left brain specialises in language. It sorts, judges, pigeon holes. It is trying to make sense of the world. We are conscious beings. We have to understand what is happening around us or, basically, we are mad. Your Left brain takes over your thinking after  6 years of age as language kicks in. You don’t have to lose your childhood imagination but if it is not used …. it fades away.

I loved maths. I studied Science engineering at university. I taught maths and chemistry for 10 years. All that maths set up railway tracks in my brain which I had to follow in logical steps to the predetermined destination.

I wanted to write. I needed my thinking to be reckless, crazy. It took me 3 years of reading to derail my mathematical mind. I read, in order, historical romance, Erotica ( one fictional glistening, muscled, well-endowed plantation slave still brings a warm smile to my face), science fiction, war memoirs, Russian novels and biographies of strong women.

Finally, I dumped the rail track thinking. Ideas pop out of my brain now like fire flies hovering over head. I have to prune them down to write a coherent piece. The first books i wrote were about my childhood. I relived it. I could walk into my families kitchen, open cupboards and see what was inside. More importantly, I could hear the voices. So Yes! I’m a little crazy. It  helps.

Your memories and the many worlds of your imagination are all there waiting for you to explore. All you need is a little practice.

If you want to reconnect with that vivid imagination of your childhood this clip by called Run Boy Run by Woodkid is SENSATIONAL. Watching it, I was 10 years old again.

Love the middle-aged, morose, driven crime novel detective.

Love crime novels. Love the middle-aged, morose, driven crime novel detective. Here are just a few of my favourites in this category: Morse, Lewis, Bosch, Wallander, Rebus, Perez, DCI Banks,  Frost,  Foyle,  Cannon,  Montalbano,  Harry  Hole,  Jesse  Stone,  George  Gently, Longmire.

Readers keep sending more names. Add Vera (fits the bill despite being female) and Jack Irish.

Spasming Vaginas, Dark Web News, Erotic IQ. Melbourne, we have to talk!

I nearly overdosed on Melbourne as you will see. But worth every minute. Here is the article  I  wrote  for  Independent  Australia.  You  will  find  all  the links to the various events here. I was a guest at TEDx Melbourne. 

I wanted to be Annie Oakley when I grew up. I think this might be why!!!

One day last week I overdosed on Melbourne: 17 Tedx Melbourne talks and performances at the  conference  centre,  South  Wharf,  and  then 1 0 The Moth Melbourne open mic stories hosted  by  comedian  Cal  Wilson  at  the North Melbourne Town Hall. Throw in some single-origin coffee, boutique tea, smashed ava, mini-chirizo burgers, wine in tumblers and whinging about the weather  and  I  experienced  that  singularity moment,  Melbourne’s unique edgy, bookish, intellectual, artsy vibe condensed into one day.

Spasming  vaginas,  erotic  IQ, buying  drugs  on  the dark web, playing soccer on top of Mt Kilimanjaro. These are parasitic stories that invade your thoughts and colonise your brain. But, of course, I’m getting them all mixed up together when they are quite distinct. The TEDx talks cover the intellectual turf. They promote edgy ideas.

The theme this year was Rebels, Revolutionaries and us and criminologist Dr James Martin put a convincing case that buying drugs on the dark web improves safety. It’s a sort of eBAY for ecstasy with supplier ratings and product returns. Laura Young organsied 60 women from 25 nationalities to play soccer on top of Mt Kilimanjaro. My favourites were architect Mond Qu who  invented  an  island  off  Mexico  and now has it recognised by Wikipedia with maps and pics. That’s Fake Geography, I guess, and Lisa Leong the rapping, ABC DJ corporate lawyer, who wants to make lawyers less robotic. Fake optimism, perhaps.

The Moth open mic sessions, which have been popular in the states for some years, delivers personal – very personal – stories. Participants  tell  true  stories  from their lives in 5 minutes. Could  you  imagine  standing  in  front  of  an audience talking about discovering you had a spasming vagina via awkward moments dating through Tinder? Then there was the girl who dated boys always waiting for her kiss-bliss moment to discover she was, happily, a ‘massive’ Lesbian. Is The Moth a platform for over sharing or authenticity?

I  asked  one  participant  what she gained from the experience. She had suffered a break down, driving for Uber while she recovered. ‘It’s a sort of therapy’ she explained. So telling your story to people who listen is, perhaps, the therapy you need when you are not having therapy.

My fascination with these two events is linked to an interest in starting a deeper conversation. Four  years  ago  I started  a  Salon  with  a psychologist friend, Dr Doris Brett. We called it the Sybils’  Salon  after  the  Sybils  who  had wisdom and insight and predate Plato. We devised some  questions  and  asked  10  strangers  to  share their stories in a non-judgmental, non-competitive space. That’s when the magic happened. Women who hardly knew each other dropped their usual defenses and told stories, wonderful, hilarious, sad, heroic stories about their  lives.  Energy  filled  the  room  and  the  buzz remained with all of us for hours. Indeed, research is now showing that connecting through face-to-face conversation is as good for our physical self as it is for our psyche.

Meanwhile, research by University of Arizona psychologist, Matthias Mehl, found that people who engaged in deep conversations, rather than endless small talk about the weather or TV shows, rated higher for happiness and  life  satisfaction. You  know  how much weather small talk  we  do  in  Melbourne.  If  it’s  not  the  weather,  it’s  football. Melbourne, we need to go deeper. Ditto the rest of Australia.

But how do you start a conversation? The TEDx Melbourne talks will be posted online. The Moth  sessions  are  continuing  in  Brunswick. Or you could try one of the openers from the Sybils’ Salon. These questions get taken home and raised around dinner tables and even ten year olds have chimed in. A sample question, for instance, is: ‘The Fairy Godmother is able to make  it  to  your  birth, has remembered to bring her magic wand and can bestow upon you one gift and one gift only. It can be a talent, a life circumstance or anything you choose. What will it be?’

Ask someone today, even a ten year old, you might be surprised at the answer.