Monday, March 10, 2014

The Observer Leaps Onto Life's Court

Just call me Action Woman. If the date of the last blog doesn't tell you something about my life, I don't know what will. 

I am so enamoured of playing the observer role, noting journeys and character in my always-present journal, dreaming up poems about the garden I watch all day from office or playroom, listening to conversations of people, birds, aeroplanes, the wind ...

And yet I live an extremely active life. My sports are diverse: leading leadership programmes; creating an import business with African friends; attending and performing at poetry readings and writers' salons; writing three memoirs; submitting writings to magazines, anthologies, local arty projects (poetry published in two anthologies and at one railway station as a result since 2013); creating an anthology of Moon Poems with two friends online; participating in interesting art events (ever heard of Zentangling? I found out about it on Saturday) and writers craft sessions locally; meeting with three working groups in my town (Community empowerment, library BacchChat Sessions, Writers Craft creators); attending weekly fitness classes and choir practices; coffee and chat sessions with friends; and looking after my elderly mother's needs as well as working for money for a global company from home full time. You don't know how I fit it all in? The secret is planning and being able to be and do where and what I said I'd be and do. 

There are the short-term projects as well - volunteering at the regional Singers Festival in early January, attending a Training and Development weekend for my leading of Leadership programmes, having a "Now I'm 64" event two weeks after my actual birthday with 20 women sharing their 2013 accomplishments, and getting ready for my son's official entry into the Greek community by marrying the beautiful Eleni. We're up to the bit where Eleni and I go seeking the perfect outfit for Mother of Groom. I'm glad I've got an expert with me!

My next project is to create a Write-A-Thon to raise money for books, and collect books, for refugees in camps. 

That'll do until June.

I'll let you know how all that goes. Cheerio.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What Happens To The Arty Life When One Is Not Being Arty?

Just love a chance to advertise Poetry!

A rather wintry Spring in our Steps

Librarian, poet and cartographer in front of The Map

Answer: it vanishes!

Today I finally got almost everything in this Arty Room organised. I even found writing magazines I had dumped on a coffee table and forgotten to read. I was tut-tutting to myself about being conned into paying fraudulent subscriptions! Such is the rapid switch my mind makes when I stop being responsible for my environment.

I find reading the newspapers, even the Age, tests my tolerance, so I only do it when I want to tone up my ability to be bigger than my petty and misguided thoughts. I've been doing it a lot since September 7th, Federal Election Day. 

Anyway, the Spring in Our Steps Walks and the Writers Craft sessions have been fun. I was featured reader (poetry) twice at two separate events on one day. And completed two writing gigs at two very different festivals (one celebrating folk music, the other entertaining a city of children).

I moved the piano from my office once a whole set of new office furniture arrived. It's now in the restful reading and music room with all my treasures. I have found myself wandering in, sitting down, playing sonatinas slowly. It is very relaxing.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Moving the Creative Centre of My Home

What a business! It seemed so easy, on paper. To transfer all creative materials to the room with a door, and create a reading space in the room without. Two weeks later, I'm able to type on the laptop at my writing desk, surrounded by That's Not Art, Creative Memories and Writing resources. The other room is still chaotic. 

What's satisfying, though, is to sort out what needs to be recycled either to Op Shops or Gumtree. 

And ... the creative spirit is never still. Having contributed to stamping out measles on the planet, and having created the map of Moorabool Shire in poetry, I now am aiming to create a garden celebrating Inspiration. The idea is for people to plant a small flowering bush with a plaque acknowledging one person they met in their lives who has inspired them. And a booklet of the stories about these inspiring people. All to be done by 30 Jan 14.

This weekend we launched Writers' Craft monthly sessions, with a fascinating session on Short Fiction led by Tru Dowling from Bendigo. We had just enough table space for the ten of us to try out exercises she suggested, and I was pleased to meet three young women recently moved to Bacchus Marsh who are passionate about writing.

I dashed off afterwards to catch the last minutes of the Community Art Garden Launch at the local Baptist Church. Looking around at the people there, I recognised at least 80% of them and had to acknowledge to myself that I have become truly "embedded" in this community over the past 5 years, and that is an unfamiliar yet pleasing - even exciting - experience.

After that, off to Woodend for Chamber Poets #8, another enjoyable poetry reading and music session. What I like most is the generous allowance for Open Mic readings, which take up the first half of the 2-hour session. Myron Lysenko is also an entertaining host and compere and the arty venue provides plenty of visual pleasure as well.

Now to make sure I create time in my schedule to ensure I complete my Zambia 1976-78 memoir by 30 Jun 14.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Saturday: It's National Bookshop Day and the proprietor of our local Collins Bookstore has organised some bookish items in the middle of the Shopping Centre. And there I am, whiteboard marker at the ready, asking, "Who would like a poem today?" The first hand goes up. She's about 6 years old and she wants a poem about a Unicorn. Anything special? Its horn. (Firmly stated). Want it to rhyme? Solemn nodding, she's not quite sure why I'd even ask. And here I go, straight onto butcher's paper clipped to a board.

I read it out, her sparkling eyes my just reward. Would you like to take this home? YES! Hmmm. We thought no-one would want the products and were planning to pin up the poems on bookstore windows/walls. That plan goes by the wayside as poem after poem is definitely destined to go to domestic display. They all rhyme. I think I write about 10. Elephants, giraffes, princesses, and the joys of being a parent, the satisfaction of reading books, and others, all get created by my black marker on the flip-over sheets. A rare occasion, however, when I don't make copies with carbon paper. It's only after they've all gone that I realise I could have captured every poem on camera.

So that's a half-hour's work, in which time the chairs set up for the audience creep closer, closer, until all the children are practically sitting on my knees, and reading along as my words appear on the paper.


I'm followed by two very talented writers from our local area - Tor Roxborough, whose 15th book is a brilliant fantasy with contemporary and Australian themes called The Light Heart Of Stone, and Allyse Near who has graduated from her Professional Writing and Editing Studies in Ballarat to also write a fantasy: Fairytales for Wilde Girls - a novel.

These two inspiring sharers agree to be my speakers for our fourth Writing Craft Session in December. Phew! Glad that's settled. November is poetry with Myron Lysenko and Heather Marsh; October is script writing with Genevieve Messenger. But who will talk to us about writing short fiction? Neither of the well-known people I've asked can do it. 

Aha! At the Poetry Slam at Bendigo Writers Festival on Sunday, I find exactly the right person: Tru Dowling, who teaches exactly what I want to know about at Bendigo campus of Latrobe University.

Today, Monday, is my last session with a delightful U3A group in a neighbouring town. We have had so much fun these last four weeks, I hate to stop, but the group is now empowered and enthusiastic about continuing to meet and that makes me happy.

And that's what writing is all about for me: community, connection, creativity ...

Friday, July 5, 2013

As winter blows in with frost and biting winds, and I continue walking regularly, I come across some puzzling abandonments ... whose ugg boots are they and why are they here?
It's a good season for scrapbooking and writing. In the world of the former, Creative Memories has been in receivership and now bought out by a company that does not distribute decent tape runner. So tomorrow my sister and I are heading to a Big Town to suss out the options at scrapbooking shops. I am so not into stamps and pink floral papers. Have got plenty papers, album covers, lettering ... and anyway, my major task is to do the journalling for four of the five albums on my trip to Zambia in December 2011.

My brother, sister and I sorted Mum's travel photos a couple of weeks ago and found some great shots of Mum and Dad on Norfolk Island, in the outback, and in Europe. My favourite is a black and white 5x7 picture of Mum apparently enjoying sitting astride a doleful donkey.

That's Not Art Inc has created three workshops for Spring - felting, mosaics and screen printing. And I will start an art journal any minute now!!!

On Sunday, I'm at Newport Fiddle and Folk Festival writing poetry on the spot. A friend is coming as an amanuensis or apprentice, I don't think she has worked out which yet. Nevertheless, I've set up a clipboard and carbon paper for her, and must find her a decent pen. 

I have created a getting-published campaign, consisting of monthly deadlines. My first effort was 500 words for a project called Travel Tales on ABC Open, which features regional writers, photographers, people of interest. I was quite chuffed to see my piece online with a photo of the bridge across the gorge at Mosi-Oa-Tunya. (Of course my travel tale was about an incident in Zambia in the '70's) 

Inspired by having to craft a piece that short, I set up another blog last night. You can read more of my travel tales on Jaywig's Journeys ( I am going to work my way through every country on the planet, in verse or prose,  real or imaginary ... in reverse alphabetical order!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

It's a Long Weekend and I thought I'd spend it writing memoir. However, in the absence of a proper plan, my actions have been more eclectic. As a writer, I have discovered so many fun things to do regularly - Chamber Poets in Woodend, The Salon at Writers Vic, a course at Writers Vic called "Writers' Toolkit" ... I've also booked into The Discovery of Joy online project with Writing Our Way Home and registered for a Character Development course at Writers Vic and Poetry workshops via Australian Poetry later in the year. I'll be going to the free ABC Open session in Ballan next week, and local RAV sessions next month.

Our first session of The Writer's Toolkit started a little shakily as no-one could get our leader's computer and its Powerpoint programme to work. But once we started, it was an eye-opener, an introduction to sites like Feedly, Diigo, Evernote and others. Our homework is to register with Diigo, which I've accomplished today, and to upload a link to an online resource I already use, which I haven't done. 

I've also forwarded the mini project of distributing Mapping Moorabool in Poetry booklets by emailing several people requesting information (addresses etc). I've cleaned up my Inbox. Although it's not empty. Yet. I've trawled sites like Australian Poetry, and planned who I'll call about what and when. I discovered the wonderful writing and photographic opportunities on ABC Open, and bookmarked them. And now I'm on Evernote, I can begin to store bookmarks more accessibly. 

Yesterday an old friend of Mum's came for lunch and it was 5pm before I could do anything playful. However, I managed to print the travel photos of 2011, so am ready to complete my records of Life in 2011.

Meanwhile, the Librarian has begun a conversation about setting up a different kind of writers' group, possibly in Ballan, where skills get shared and we develop our writing - skills, profiles, "platforms"?

I gave it some thought today, no conclusions yet. I brainstormed some more about what to do with my Community Arts Grant, and how, and when. Nothing set in concrete yet. At the Chamber Poets last Friday night, I asked Myron to work with me. That dovetails nicely with Lyn's suggestions at Harvest Writers to have people walk together, write impressions, read as a group.

I bought an A4 Quill Presentation Diary with black pages last week on a whim and plan to add "Artist's Diary" to my fun times. Time now to cook dinner.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

My friend who has moved to a property in Bungal, past Gordon and Mt Egerton, showed me her screen printings yesterday when I visited her. There was a series of a bird and a cage (bird upside down inside cage, bird standing inside cage, bird walking out of cage). The cage had no bars. It was rather like Sylvia Plath's bell jar. It set me thinking about the theme: I have an empty bird cage outside my art room, its floor littered with dead leaves, sodden after rain right now. I have a drawing I did in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, way back in 1980-something, titled "The Empty Bird Cage". I have a postcard with a similar image. This inspired my newest poem on Jaywig's Jotter, called "Just a Thought". I am going to explore the theme, and maybe with other women, maybe as part of the Community Arts Grant project ...