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, June 22, 2011


A tagline is one of the most powerful elements of a story's marketing process, whether you are marketing a book, a screenplay, a movie, even work of non-fiction (as I have to do in my day job). Even a completely crap story can seem like the coolest thing ever, if you have a potent tagline that has people talking about it.

Making a good tagline is not easy and more often than not, we borrow heavily from words previously used. One of two taglines I'm using to pitch my trilogy is in fact a quote by Aristotle: "the energy (of the mind) is the essence of life". The other is an inscription on the temple of Apollo in Delphi loosely translated: "know yourself...and you will unlock all the mysteries of the universe". Both are cryptic enough to give nothing away about the actual story and both are descriptive enough to tempt someone to read on. Whether these eventually become the actual taglines to market the trilogy in practice doesn't really matter, at this stage of the writing process, they are providing me with a clear direction of what the story means to me.

Reflecting about a possible tagline of my environment the last two weeks and where I am right now, I can say it probably would be: "the pity party is over." I have worked the last 20 days straight on the day job, which means I've only been able to write two scenes in the third novel in the limited down time I've had given that extra workload. I've been more withdrawn than usual as a result. I forget sometimes how much I need to write fiction to keep my head space in a better place. Without the discipline of several hours of uninterrupted writing at least once a week, an unmet need builds inside of me and festers like a septic wound. Trying to squeeze two months work into one month is never a good place to be in any event. But I need to accept that this is what it is, move on, and look forward to the opportunity the next month of changed circumstances will offer instead.

One bright spot task I've been given during the last few weeks has been that I've been asked to facilitate one of my team's planning sessions. Normally I don't like getting up in front of large groups of people. I don't think anyone does. I work with such a wonderfully creative team and they have given me a lot of leeway to present taking full advantage of something I know something about - story telling. My preparation for that has allowed me to reflect on some of my favourite taglines from movies I've enjoyed over the years. One of my all time favourites was the tagline for the film "The Royal Tennenbaums": "Family isn't a word. It's a sentence." The film is not everyone's cup of tea - few people I know appreciate the pacing of this film, but I think it is a pearl. And THAT tagline reeled me in, hook, line and sinker.

I will have more time to write in July. The new month cannot come a day too soon. Beating down a desire to Spring clean in the middle of winter and wanting to give stuff away. Hard to know if this is a good or bad thing. Could be embracing my inner Buddhist. Could be clearing away the cobwebs. Could be returning to clean and clear clutter free lines within my home. Could just be procrastinating.

Friday, June 17, 2011

nervous no.2

An ancient piece of writing - early poetry.

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 seconds are hours, the minutes 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?

(First penned in 1983. A long time ago.) It seems some sentiments come and go, then come again.

Friday, June 10, 2011

the silent death

The rhythm of a distant drumbeat.
Flickering lights reflect the shore of a bay.
Catching the corner of some floating debris.
A full moon hides behind the swirling fog.
As its falling fingers draw more carefully
a now shapeless silhouette.

Once suffocated by mirrors and dreams.
The curse, stiff upon its hinge.
Moist, ripe, heavy as the night.
Has cut to pieces,
but now well out of sight.
No warmth, no touch.
No light can creep in
from its secret hiding place.
No sudden flashes burning now.
The blood sucked away.
Drained from a well worn dead face.

Memories crushed
by the tireless waves.
Small pieces, in little pieces.
In darkness,
the silver cages cut.
The body became
the flesh.

The silent death.

(First drafted in 1984. This edit, version 3, redrafting this morning, two paragraphs from the original removed and those that remain reworked completely, is a snapshot of sadness permeating my psyche today.)

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

trials and trails

I wrote one very short though potent scene last weekend. This lack of product was not because of my usual procrastination efforts but because I had to spend several of my precious weekend hours working on the day job. And this continuing trial may well be the case this coming (long) weekend too where I can neither attend the writers' conference sessions currently in my diary or spend the time writing a few scenes of the third novel. No weekend for me.

As a trusted adviser in the day job, a request for my expertise is at the whim of the boss. The boss knows I am spending most of my July somewhere far away, while someone else housesits my inner city abode. I'll be on a recharging spiritual journey treking on trails in remote parts of the top end of Australia. Somewhere that is at the edge of the earth, as far away from people generally as possible. Knowing this deadline of my absence is looming, I was asked last Friday to write a major paper before I leave - it cannot wait until I return and the request comes sugar coated with much feedback on how much the boss values my advice.

It probably helps that I respect greatly my current intelligent and thoughtful boss. It is incredible how the right work environment, a little bit of Zen in prevailing attitude, and just the right amount of stroking, will inspire me to above and beyond efforts to deliver what is asked of me. I realise that I might start my month's leave in July already exhausted. But it is a hell of a lot better than the alternative, which would be cancelled leave, unfortunately a choice that has been made by previous bosses in my career. Deep breath, do not dwell on the past, look forward to the future.

It is a future that already includes an event planner for the launch of the second novel early in 2012 and a photographer who will be taking my publicity photos. Great friends with amazing talent who inspire me.

Come July, my biggest decision will be whether to pack the mini notebook to jot down creative ideas while miles away from anywhere or to go 'old school' and bring a pen and paper! Then just let my dreams take me where they might under the bright stars of a wilderness sky.

Thursday, June 02, 2011


I was so drained from my executive love in, I did not write very much at all last week. Still stuffed - completely. Why is it that introverts find being around people so exhausting?

I'm here now, wiping the sleep from my eyes, remembering just how hard it was to write anything last weekend but grateful I have an almost people free weekend (other than being triple booked on Saturday night and not entirely sure how to manage that) to focus on creative endeavours.

I 'lost' a couple of weekends of productive writing getting side tracked with the dilemma of pondering the question, just how many perspectives should I draw upon in writing the third novel. There are five key protagonists in the story who, between them, provide the spectrum of positions needed to generate the conflict that moves the plot along. The first part of the story is these five perspectives on a single event to set up the rest of the story.

When I started writing the second part of the story, my first draft had five scenes and five perspectives as the story unfolded but only one related to the main protagonists. I was quite happy with the draft but then wondered why I had gone to the trouble of choosing these five protagonists if they were not going to be my focus.

I spent time asking a few friends and a work colleague of mine who is an avid reader whether they would enjoy a book told only from certain perspectives or if pivotal but minor characters pushed the plot along on occasion. They all sat on the fence and did not offer any answers. (Aside: though the work colleague has asked me to dedicate the third book to him now!)

So I spent a couple of weekends reworking the first few scenes of the second part to change the perspective. In some cases, the end product was better, in others it was not. By the third weekend, I had reverted back to the original scenes for those scenes that were not working from the (constraining) perspective of limited eyes. Decided the development of the story would be more interesting if I continued to use some minor characters at times when the main characters were otherwise occupied.

Will need to do a serious amount of writing this weekend as next weekend I have to be at a writers conference. Still struggling with the notion of attendance at such a thing as my hermit leanings, and (some might say) slight paranoia at being forced to share some of my creative intellectual capital, make this a tall order. Comfort zone be damned? Wanted: an excuse to stay in the cocoon.