When I deferred my second year of Early Childhood Education and went to TAFE to study Professional Writing and Editing, I was about 18. Mum quietly told me about how Dad had secretly mentioned that he wished he’d been brave enough to do something like that when he was my age. But things were different back then. Dad’s parents wanted him to be safe and secure. Like any parents would. And he wanted the same for me.
Writing is neither safe nor secure. But TAFE was not such a dangerous place. It was where I met my future husband, figured out that poetry was more than a historical fad or teenage scribblings in the back of a VCE school diary (you know, with love heart dots on top of all the i’s?). It was also where I started writing my first verse novel – ‘It’s Your World’.
Then there was a whole bunch of time – let’s call it ‘Youth’– where there was much partying and quite a bit of trekking around Parts of Australia. Bush camping, desert eclipse festivals, baked beans were warmed in op-shop saucepans over roadside fires. Scribbling more stories here and there in notebooks. I left a pillow somewhere near the Flinders Ranges and took every possible beachside backroad from Noosa to Phillip Island.
In retrospect, perhaps this was brave. If taking a sharp left off the Nullarbor into the who knows where, somewhere near the Great Australian Bite, fits the definition of ‘brave’. Brave or stupid. It’s a fine line at times. But I made a decision, some time ago, not to be too bothered by lines. On a page, in the sand, on a face.
There was the University Arts degree era – let’s just say, some people caught on fire. No casualties. But lots more stories and lots of writing. Trying out some of the more academic stylings.
Life complications lifted me from dreams of a Masters or a Doctorate and flung me back to the beautiful Mornington Peninsula where my family were struggling with Dad’s early onset Lewey-body dementia. Once home, that old TAFE manuscript came out of its box. Next came marriage and babies and building a home, learning to deal with Dementia Dad and toddler taming. But the manuscript wouldn’t go back in its box, so ‘It’s Your World’ was born.
Submission, submission, submission. Rejection, rejection, rejection. Some advice from the helpful souls at Writers Victoria and the friendly folks on The Content Couch (hosted by Jo Johnson). And, finally, ‘It’s Your World’ was published by Guillotine Press. I was an author. The manuscript; a book. And the story continues but I’ll save that for some kind of creative non-fiction…
Dad passed away, leaving a combination of sorrow and relief. But, a few months later, my second child arrived. A companion for my first born; my dark & mysterious little weapon. My second daughter was not at all dark. She was a surprise of blonde hair and the bluest of blue eyes.
It’s been a while since I warmed baked beans on a roadside fire or left a pillow in a national park. I’ve done the writer’s group thing, fiddled with self-promotion & marketing, got sick, got well, discovered a love of performance, and, homeschooled my Prep & Grade 3 girls through lockdown. I don’t usually do the café writer thing. I usually sit in the middle of my king size TEMPUR bed (just like they say you shouldn’t) or, according to my husband, in doorways, on the kitchen floor or in the wardrobe. Because there are always more stories.
I still missed formal study but writing clubs, poetry groups, grand plans and a side order of Martial Arts all helped fill the void. Then the pandemic & lockdown lifted me from a growing sense of ease and flung me into the role of Mrs. Mummy Master with a side order of open mic Zoom nights and the epic tale of Virtual Kristy: the lockdown loser…
With the girls back to school, I’m happily but without expectations of ease, getting back to writing and talking about writing and studying writing. As a postgraduate student, I’m Mastering the study cloud of Deakin University and adding more hats to my hatstand. Anyone else remember that story book, ‘Caps for Sale’? The one with the monkey business…
I’m still on the Mornington Peninsula, cohabitating with psy-trance creator, classical/jazz pianist, wine rep, Psychology student and all-round spectacular husband-dad-guy, Oliver Lindenbrook, and our two little Gyoerfflings. I’ve navigated the medical system, homeschooled children, met some people, farewelled some people, got back to my own formal studies, and, begun to settle into this new abnormal. It isn’t quite the 2020 or 2021 I’d expected. But, I’m starting to think Dad may have been right: it’s a brave woman that attempts to juggle building a literary career with the demands of a busy family, keeps up the apocalypse-readiness training (ninja-style), and, will attempt to accessorise appropriately for any occasion.
No expectations. No monkeys…