Tuesday, 17 February 2015

This is hungry work

That’s a line from a Hozier song (yes, the one everyone has been listening to).  Writing work feeds into itself, to some extent, but the material that nurtures it comes from everywhere.  Writing work is hungry work, always seeking out new morsels.

I’ve started printing out the lyrics to some of my current favourite songs, and tacking them up on the walls of my office (using the term ‘office’ here in its broadest sense), so I can see the way words work in different combinations and contexts.  Poems go up too – although I’ve always thought that lyrics qualify as contemporary poetry – and sentences or phrases from books, photos, scribbled scraps of overheard conversations, pics of artwork, postcards, pamphlets, notes, business cards, newspaper clippings, drawings (usually done by my kids), jokes, Post-its, and other ephemera like feathers, leaves, and on my desk, random stones and mementos, including two conkers from a tree in Hyde Park.

I like the bower bird approach.  I’m not a tidy person by nature – tidiness is something that has instead been drummed into me by over a decade of householding for a large family.  When you have four kids, you maintain organisation or you flounder in a sea of chaos.  So I am tidy, but if you look around my work space, you can see that tidiness is an imposed state of being.

I collect things – knick knacks, oddsy-sodsy things…memories, I guess.  Do they help me work?  I don’t know.  I think so.  They remind me that for all the structured thinking necessary for daily routine - the mental order I apply to keep to diary dates and planned events, the discipline and compartmentalisation required to sort out work and parenting and weekly grocery lists and everything else - the part of me that writes needs randomness, and flow, and a certain looseness.  The mind has to be allowed to roam and wander and free-range if it wants to create.  It’s something I’ve discovered, or rather I’m discovering as I go along, that way of keeping ‘loose’ in my mind during the course of the day.

Lately, amidst all the bustle of book launching, I’ve been feeding myself with music, and with some great books – I just read Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel, and it was beautiful, full of poignant desperation and starlight.  It reminded me strongly of On the Beach by Nevil Shute, not just for its themes (which are similar to Shute’s, although not as grim) but for its evocation of human fallibility and longing and nostalgia.  I was gifted my copy of Station Eleven by Kirsty Eagar – a gorgeous gift, thank you! – and now I’m thinking deeply about a book I’d like to gift to her (we seem to have started our own little book club).  I’m going to be doing a longer post on workspace and working habits for Kirsty’s blog in a few weeks – when it goes up, I’ll let you all know.

First review: I was given a heads-up (thank you, Sera!) about the first review of Every Move, which I’m thrilled to say was glowingly positive, in Kid’s Book Review.  What a relief it was to find out that people are enjoying the book!  After all my nerves and anxiety, I’m starting to relax a little – it’s a great weight off my shoulders.  Thank you to everyone who has tweeted/texted/pinged me to say that you’re loving Every Move!  There’s nothing more satisfying than finding out that the work you’ve put in has been worth it.

Blog tour details: Ahh, okay, now this is still being finalised, but I can reveal some of the blog tour stops now.  More fine-tuning will be reported on soon, but here’s the schedule so far -

5 March: Genie in a Book

Please do drop in at the tour stops and say hi (or, y’know, read the articles and reviews) – I know most bloggers enjoy it when people leave a comment or two!  Some of the tour stops will involve giveaways as well, so if you’d like a chance to win a copy of the book, keep a lookout.  I’ll be doing a giveaway of the book here, as well, sometime in the next few weeks.

And you’re coming to the Every Move launch party, right?  I hope you are, if you live in Melbourne (or especially if you’re coming from afar), because me and Adele Walsh would love to see you – remember, it’s at Readings Carlton in Lygon St, on Monday 16 March from 6-8pm.  I’m trying to think up some nice food to give people who have gone to the trouble to come, because I don’t reckon corn chips and strawberries will cut it this year…should I go the kabana and cheese platter?  I know some folks who would like cake too (*cough* Allen and Unwin team *cough*), so I’m gonna aim for variety J

Anyway, I hope you’re having a good week, and if you have any catering suggestions, please leave a comment below!  Take care –

Xx Ellie

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