Transition Girl

Why transition girl?... Best answered by a quote from the Iliad....."The soul was not made to dwell in a thing; and when forced to it, there is no part of that soul but suffers violence."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

becoming a writer

“Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was in vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes to make it possible.” (T.E. Lawrence).

Lawrence’s words have long inspired me to pursue a passion for writing, the genesis of which has shaped my creative process for decades. I have been writing fiction a very long time. I wrote my first short story as a twelve year old, when I was housebound for a number of months due to ill health. The story was about strange green slime and the mysterious disappearance, one by one, of the siblings who stumbled upon the substance. Writing was a form of escape for me back then, processing emotions experienced in ‘real’ life within the landscape of my overly active mind. The isolation fed my imagination. I created my first world – aliens, languages, culture - as a fourteen year old. I wrote my first ever novella as a parting gift for my favourite librarian and it still sits on the shelves of her old haunting ground at my former high school.

Moving to Melbourne in late 2004 motivated me to shift from HP Lovecraft style published short stories and poetry to full length features, though I continue to write short stories when my mood demands that form of artistic outlet. My favourite short story composed in recent years was about a giant spider that believed it was a cat. My first novel was published in late 2009, a philosophical piece contemplating the question what defines the core essence of an individual. I am now writing my second novel in the fantasy genre exploring the mythology of gods. I have to admit I write under a pseudonym as a way of keeping my professional career and my other passion separate. That, and it is really hard to explain what the hell Barney the giant spider says about me.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


first kiss
where you go from
being a stranger to
knowing someone.

And every kiss after
is merely a shadow
of the first one.

the moment lost.
the motions found.
likes clocks we chime
in time with a beat
that matches no heart.

(inspired by Mad Men)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I think I may need to contemplate another meditation class. I am now well into my second month of insomnia and it is seriously affecting my judgement. (Although it is proving to be extra valuable time to write on the second novel.) Today I am sharing a poem I wrote back in 1983. I was but a wee child when I wrote it and only just beginning to learn about poetry and writing generally during a prolonged period of being 'housebound' due to ill health.

A snapshot moment in time. And while the waking dream source of my insomnia inspiration back then still punctures my nights occasionally, the sleeplessness reminds me of it now. Be warned, it is modestly dark piece and not worth reading if you want your mind to stay in a happy place.

I pray tonight I’ll find some peaceful sleep
amidst the thoughts that lurch and creep.
Instead, lie awake, alone at night,
To yet again face the morning light.
No beauty in a dawn seen through weary eyes;
Again there’ll be no compromise.
A sleepless night, the unsteady beat
of a heart that fears the nightmare’s seat.
The heartbeat shouts from its confining space –
flowing out quickly in an irregular pace.

Why, you ask, do I feel this way?
And long to see the light of day –
come creeping, seeping into the room
when the echoes of sleep have refused to bloom.
Shadows of the night crawl, as I lie awake;
watching them restlessly; see what they create:
A tall dark figure, with a knife in his hand –
the thoughts wander, now, it’s blood trickling like sand
From the knife that’s fallen to the floor;
a shadow of rustling leaves rushing to the door.

The minutes are hours, the seconds are years,
time seems eternal when all of my fears
Amplify and horrify the sleepless night
and faces of death grow to threaten my life.
Sounds come crawling along the wall,
to drown the shouts of my echoing call.
For help, for mercy - why do I resist?
The nights without sleep - why do they persist?
When will sleep ever come?
Or will death end the daybreak’s sun?

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

the swimming club

I saw a thought provoking play earlier this year, called the Swimming Club by Hannie Rayson - a Melbourne Theatre Company production. The story was about a group of six friends reuniting and reminiscing about their past – some thirty years ago (in the early 1980s) when they first spent time together on a working holiday on a Greek Island. The present is middle-class, middle-aged, mid-career and mortgaged to the hilt. Life issues no return tickets. With reality far from their idealistic dreams, the play is successful in showcasing not-quite-satisfied characters seeking to rekindle the fervour of their youth.

I was rather struck by the theme of idealism lost through the passage of time. It made me wonder how the optimism I am sure we all embraced as teenagers and young adults one way or another got diluted as we experienced more of life.

As twenty year olds, we were unbridled in our enthusiasm about grand adventures and other great prospects of what was to come in life. No fear of the consequences of our actions. The exuberance of youth.

Now, not quite as old as the characters in the play, but certainly knocking on the door, somehow cynicism has crept in. Slowly but surely, it slipped in through the cracks, like an insidious fog. And somehow, it now fills every inch of our homes and engulfs us in a cocoon. It is on the one-hand comforting, as it seems to provide a form of security shield, protecting us from the vagrancies of emotions that come tagged to those events we call life experiences. But, on the other hand, it is unsettling, as it seems to represent a barrier, preventing us from embracing connections with the level of intimacy needed to appreciate those life experiences to their full potential. It is a cool blanket that sustains our discontent.

“You can’t just dig up the past and go back there as if nothing has changed. You are a different person.”

I know that my memories of the past, by virtue of their being a distortion of the truth the moment they were created and filled in my mind, are selective. But why does time and experience change our outlook so much? I do not think I am a different person to who I was as a young adult, at least the essence of who I am is the same. And yet I look at the world with eyes so removed from that youthful idealism now. So much so that if I were to go back in time and possess my own body, it would feel alien to me. I do not doubt that I would make so many different choices. But this is not regret.

“You are in the middle of your life, but you are nowhere near the centre of it.”

We start as children completely lacking any degree of self-consciousness. We present ourselves to the world so transparently and, in our minds at least, we are the centre of the universe in those moments. As we get older and the world around us apparently more complex, our sense of self becomes (paradoxically) simultaneously stronger and weaker at the same time. As Hannie scripts it in the play (paraphrased), we experience some relationships that resemble a series of burglaries – slowly losing our humour, our joie de vie, our self respect with each robbery. We start playing roles as soon as our reserve is given birth. And we hide behind those roles with a false bravado as if it will protect us from all evil. The roles that gradually erode our foundations to the point where we feel like we are observers only.

As a good friend of mine said to me, "when we're aware of the masks we still have the option to take them off, when we "become" the masks we disconnect from our true nature". It is possible that we forget who we are if we rely on the masks too much. And an upside: "if we ever commit to working on ourselves these "masks" provide us with some incredible moments when we take them off because we didn't realise they were there!"

Wearing too many masks - it doesn’t have to be this way. Life is only as complex as we choose to make it. Keep it honest. Keep it simple. There is something to be said about the exuberance of youth. And there is nothing wrong with wanting to recapture that spirit.