Has Australian Writing Finally Come of Age?

Those in the know would perhaps argue with my title, claiming that Australian writing came of age many years ago, with the likes of Peter Carey, Kate Grenville, Tim Winton and Elizabeth Jolley portraying ‘the Australian way’ in no uncertain terms. I must admit though, that for me, Richard Flanagan’s success in winning the 2014 Man Booker Prize with The Narrow Road to the Deep North, caused more than just a little shiver up and down my spine. In a good way.

Flanagan had previously been nominated for literary awards for his first 3 novels: Death of a River Guide (1994), The Sound of One Hand Clapping (1997) and Gould’s Book of Fish (2001), which won him the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 2002. However, his most recent success, was not only loosely based on the story of his Fathers’ survival of the Burma Railway, but he is touted extensively as the best Australian Writer of all time.

Now, call me parochial, but he is also the first truly Aussie, Man Booker winner since Peter Carey’s History of the Kelly Gang won the gong in 2001 (forgive me DBC Pierre, but you only lived in Australia til you were two and then ostensibly grew up in Mexico).

And he is is a Baby Boomer!

Why does this inspire me to the nth degree? Well, because we all have a story and for most of Us, that story is the reason why we write. To banish the ghosts of our past. Flanagan went boldly and wrote his story as a Baby Boomer in Australia today AND was acclaimed for it’s strength and honesty. And without he himself being a refugee, migrant or any other cross cultural mix, that has become the fodder for Man Booker winners over the past decades.

Awards are political, I hear you say. It depends who Is sleeping with whom. Yes, yes. Personally though, the reaction to his novel has given me hope that I may still be able to get my story out there for all the world to see. Humble, anonymous, Baby Boomer on the trash heap – ME. And exorcise a few obstinate demons, while I’m at it!

‘The Meat in the Sandwich’ – Baby Boomer Style

Life never ceases to amaze me.

For weeks now, my daughter has been back at school. The summer holidays alas, are but a dim memory and life has returned to a banal sense of normalcy. Routine, chores, peace at last….NOT!

Where does it come from? One thing after another. Always when you’re FINALLY back on track? The year is already flying by and this is my first real blog post since the Happy New Year epistle. Why, why, why?

A ‘Eureka’ moment this morning prompted me to reconsider what I’m doing wrong and I discovered that I am suffering the effects of ‘Meat in the Sandwich Syndrome’. To clarify, “I am the meat in the sandwich” has always been one of my mothers favourite sayings. I grew up in a tri-generational family situation, with Nanna (Mum’s Mum) living with us, Dad primarily away for work and my brother and I, like any brother and sister fighting and arguing with each other constantly. Life ticked along nicely until Dad came home for a day or two. The juxtaposition of Dad and Nan altered the family and Mum was thrown into the role of referee/diplomat, crying, “I’m always the meat in the sandwich”.

Fast forward 30 years…

Whilst Nanna has not been with us for some time and Mum and Dad live alone, there is still an occasional ‘meat in the sandwich’ moment in our extended family circle. Particularly when Dad and I spend any time together. However…..recently I have come to the conclusion that the mantle of playing the ‘meat in the sandwich’ has been passed to me. And I don’t like it!

How many Boomers out there can relate to this scenario?

I have an only child. A beautiful, bright but naturally hogging the limelight teenager on the brink of womanhood. I have a long suffering, incredibly stubborn, but gradually withdrawing husband, who these days tends to read in preference to arguing. And of course, a Mum and Dad, who are doing fine, but gradually aging not so contentedly. There is also an eerily present but not, brother, sister in law and kids as an aside, who occasionally make an appearance.

The characters have been introduced. Let’s set the scene. This is my life….

I don’t work. I only have one child. What do I do with all my spare time you ask? I am busy most days of the week, taxi driving, cooking and generally keeping my small nuclear family ticking along. My husband works nights, sleeps most days and I have approximately 7 free hours when my daughter is off my hands. Enter stage right – Mum. Loves me to come and visit her Tuesdays as this is usually the only day Dad is busy until late afternoon. That’s fine, but hubby has every Tuesday off.

OK, so Saturday might be better. Not really. Dad is sometimes out, but daughter has softball fixtures at the local club all morning. And of course, Mum has lunch at 12.00pm and then her sister phones and they talk for a couple of hours from 12.30. This activity also occurs on Tuesdays making it double the problem. Fine. What about Fridays?

Not a bad idea Fridays, but usually both Mum and Dad are home together, so Mum can’t get a word in and hubby has every second Friday off. But wait -daughter is exhausted and has softball practice after school til late as well. A busy day. Let’s try Monday. No, no, no – you know that’s not going to work. Mum and Dad go shopping and then out to lunch. Daughter practices softball with a friend after school. Hubby gleefully out of it from working all weekend.

Thursday? Mum and Dad do a top up shop….and neighbours may pop over…softball practice in afternoon…..

So the upshot of all this spare time is that I never know what I am doing, am constantly negotiating and re-negotiating times and activities and don’t have a clue what will happen next. Daughter’s ill, Mum’s computer isn’t working, hubby has to go to the hospital, Dad is annoyed, the pay didn’t go into the bank. No problem. Just call me one stale and exhausted ‘meat in the sandwich’ with too much time on her hands.

I’m just going to sneak off and celebrate completing a blog post with a coffee…what, no milk? And there’s the phone. I may post again by September!

 

No NaNoWri Mo This Weekend, But Memories of JFK.

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Yes I know you’ve been waiting for an update, but it has been a very busy few days. Nonetheless I can confidently assure you that I have written over 15000 words of “The Last Baby Boomer” thus far. Just nothing this weekend….no blog posts anyway….

To make matters worse, I have been having really weird dreams of late. Apocalyptic, frightening and senselessly violent dreams that leave me feeling completely exhausted. One such dream had me at the event that has dominated a good chunk, well really, my whole life. The assassination of JFK. Instead of recounting the crazy turn of events that came out of my brain that morning, I thought that I’d share an interesting article about how entwined JFK’s memory is with the Boomer generation.

AP Essay: For Boomers, JFK Death Ripples Still

November 9, 2013 (AP)
            By TED ANTHONY AP National Writer

The president with the easy grin in whom so much hope was invested. His wife, forever frozen in pink and pillbox hat. The motorcade. The sunny day. The shadowy man in the window with a rifle. Even more shadowy, the man on the nearby “grassy knoll” who perhaps existed, perhaps didn’t. The flickering, silent color film of a leader’s final moments. And the way it is described, even now, by so many Americans: the “loss of innocence” that left us vulnerable to so much of the heartache and tumult that was still to come. If, that is, we were ever truly innocent in the first place.

We should move on, maybe. But we don’t. From that moment in Dallas — that moment scoured and buffed for so long, visited and revisited by so many people with so many agendas for so many years — from that moment until now, Americans will not let go of this event that changed so much and, just as significantly, was thought to have changed so much more. Even as the world lurched forward, Pause was pressed on that moment, and Play has never really been pressed again.

Why? Here’s one two-word answer: baby boomers.

It is they who have carried this torch, they who have fueled its flame. When talk turns to the inevitable question — “Where were you when you heard the president had been shot?” — the dominant answer in American culture is this one: “I was in school.” It is almost as if no adults were around on the Friday of the assassination, except as bit players. This is because baby boomers — who were, indeed, in school that day — are the ones who have shaped the national memories of this event.

For this generation — the Americans who were 17 and under on that day and, today, are from 67 down to, say, 49 — the assassination of John F. Kennedy remains the watershed event that birthed the decade we know as the ’60s and rippled out, year after year, into politics and science and art and culture. It has been a singular snowball rolling down a hill, still gathering debris and holding onto momentum as it hurtles through succeeding generations.

“This murder in broad daylight … Everything changed,” says Oliver Stone, the boomer director who served in Vietnam and made a movie about it before turning his distinctively critical lens on the Kennedy assassination.

Because he knows what becomes clearer with each passing year: For better and for worse, it was the event that defined the generation that has defined the way we look at the world today.

———

“So, what constitutes a Baby Boomer? Opinions vary, but most agree that a Boomer was born between 1946 and the start of the Vietnam War (about 1963). I, however, submit that a real Boomer is defined by the recollection of a world-changing event: JFK’s assassination.” — Ron Enderland, operator of a blog called “I Remember JFK: A Baby Boomer’s Pleasant Reminiscing Spot”

———

To define the collective traits of a generation — to broad-brush millions of Americans with a statement like “they think” or “they believe” — is a futile pursuit. Many have tried, particularly with the boomers. Most have fallen short. The group is too diverse.

Responsibility?

Now that I am well under way with my novel, I actually looked up and breathed for a while today. Decided to take a leisurely scroll through Facebook… and was incensed by what I saw.

It seems that our newly elected conservative government has decided to do away with everything of a social justice nature. In addition it has, true to form, started buddying up with some of the wealthiest citizens of this country, Australia to further line they’re collective pockets.

No surprise, you say, but at the risk of sounding like a Baby Boomer, I have never in all of my years seen such a blatant display of the misuse of power as is being rolled by the LNP today on both a State and Federal level.

Not only is the Hon. Campbell Newman, Premier of Qld, changing the laws of this country almost singlehandedly, but he is not enlisting the assistance of any kind of legal mind on the matter. Yes, bikies that form gangs and run illegal business for profit should be stopped, but there is a process for that very thing. I know a few bikies and they are not all bad. As a Justice of the Peace, I have occasionally had to sign off on a warrant or a demand to hold a suspect without concrete evidence. The role of the JP in this case is to ensure that the police do not infringe on any personal rights that the detained person has, including expediting a release within a reasonable timeframe, should no evidence surface.

Where does a Politician get off changing this rule willy-nilly to allow the Police to keep bikies locked up for an indefinite period?

On the nationwide front, I was saddened to learn that the Federal government, last week abolished AUSAID, our government aid program. As an ex Aid Worker, I can attest to the fact that AUSAID, despite it’s faults, assisted many worthwhile projects to enable some of the world’s poorest to improve their life, health and education. Of prime I importance was a maternal and child welfare program that was actually enabling women in remote areas to better access health services during pregnancy. With the highest rate of maternal and foetal complications in the world, PNG’s cultural and geographical challenges make sit literally a deadly pursuit to attempt to have a baby in most areas of the country.

What the …….hey ho is going on with the world?

My last pet peeve is that, said government is also cutting back programs to decrease emissions and actively seeking to dismantle the carbon tax. But worse than that, they (again without any known consultation), have decided to change the international rules on the language that describes people with refugee status. Detainees now are treated as criminals, kept in sub-standard conditions and not allowed the due process of justice within international frameworks.

Maybe it’s just me, but if bikies, refugees, women in PNG and assorted other groups are denied the generally accepted course of justice, where is that going to take us?  Many will be caught in the crossfire, including families and children.

I fear for what the world is becoming and I’m sure this isn’t just because I’m a Baby Boomer!

NaNoWri what??????

The second day of the Na No Wri Mo 50000 word novel project. Word count : 7400

Beginnings are easy. With the 50th birthday out of the way, NaNoWriMo came all too soon.

Nursing a stomach ache from lashing out and eating non-gluten free birthdy fare, yesterday was a ‘write off’ (in a good way). Neglected my household chores, didn’t attend my daughter’s school function and no blog post was forthcoming. Instead I wrote. Who knew that gluten intolerance could be so inspiring?

Today-not so. Super softball Saturday, lunch and a movie or two later and I’m frantically typing this pathetic excuse for a blog post…so typical of me.

No excuses. I’m happy with my progress, but…the burning question dances wildy through my gray matter-will I get to write tonight? Methinks not.

The natives are restless. Time to cook.

*Groan*

How to Find the Right Editor – A Boomer Perspective

Editers Edeterz Edditters

I’ve done it, I’ve finally done it! After weeks of dutifully filling in my Submissions Log, scrutinizing Writer’s Market from cover to cover and surfing Writer’s web pages from dawn until dusk, I’ve cracked it. The formula for success as a Freelance Writer!

And being a generous soul, I’ll share it with you. No, please don’t send money. Your success will be thanks enough for me.

It all started a couple of weeks back when my partner, eyeing yet enough rejection letter on my desk, quietly asked when the income was going to start rolling in?

EXCUSE ME?

At first I was angry. I mean I’d only just begun my heady journey to fame and fortune as a Writer. I forced myself to calm down – after all, what does HE know about a Writer’s life? About what it takes – the agony, the frustration, the loneliness?

Slowly I raised my eyes and looked into his face. I reassured him that actually I’d been doing very well. I’d sent pieces to about twenty publishers over the past month and had three articles published. Yes I’d received 11 rejection letters. Yes my income thus far amounted to the princely sum of $94.

OK, I wasn’t earning my keep and tended to neglect household chores for the hallowed grounds of cyberspace, endlessly searching for inspiration, but BY GOD, I’M A WRITER! And that’s what we do.

I felt vindicated as I explained to him that things take time. That I’m trying to find my voice, that my rejection letters have been very encouraging’. Blah, blah, blah!

I was uneasy nonetheless. There must be some way to prove to him that I’m going to make it. That the frozen meals and dusty house, will all be a thing of the past when I earn enough to employ a housekeeper to attend to our every need. But it was no use. He was right.

Not being able to sleep, I pulled an ‘all nighter’, analyzing every aspect of the articles that had been accepted for publication AND the ones that had been rejected. Was it timing? Were they new publications? Or was it my brilliant insight into the issues that I was tackling?

Then it dawned on me. Blindingly clear, a revelation so obvious that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t realized it before. It was the Editors – those gatekeepers of the written word.  Bless their little hearts.

After searching my Submissions Log once more, I realized that I was indeed right. All the Editors that had accepted my articles had names that started with a ‘T’.  Terry, Tracy and Tina!

I hear what you’re saying. Yes it could be a coincidence. There had only been three articles accepted for publication and granted, three out of twenty isn’t the best odds. It could be a random twist of fate. Or was it? I decided to test my theory!

Gathering up all of the pieces that I considered to be publication-worthy, I immediately sent out another 40 submissions. I divided these submissions into two groups and sent one half to Editors with a T’ name and the identical article to Editors with a non-T’ name. A couple of weeks passed and I started to get a few replies. Rejection letter after rejection letter appeared, until, I had an acceptance email from another Tina. Bingo!

Waiting patiently for the mail each day, I discovered, to my amazement, that three ore articles were accepted for publication. One by an Editor, called Thomas, one by a Trudie and the other a Travis.

If you don’t believe me, please feel free to try this method for yourself. Look up your Submissions Log and write down the initial of the first name of all the Editor’s who’ve been kind enough to publish your work. You may well be surprised.

One request though. Whilst there remain Editors on earth whose names begin with T’, please don’t submit to them. They’re mine!

Good luck and good Editor hunting.

Boomer Logic #7 – Do not under any circumstances listen to your partner’s, mother’s, daughter’s, best friend’s or cat’s opinions on your writing. These people are like the ‘devil’, the willing accomplice of an idle mind.”

 

NaNoWriMo 2013: Baby Boomers – Want to Write a Novel?

Ok, I’ve decided to take the plunge. I will attempt to add 50000 words to finish ” The Last Baby Boomer” novel by 30 November. Wish me luck!

The WordPress.com Blog

It’s just a few days until November, and you know what that means: National Novel Writing Month, better known ’round these parts as NaNoWriMo, is near.

Have you always wanted to write a novel?

We know some of you have been waiting all year for this month! For those of you who are new to this project, here’s the gist:

View original post 894 more words

Blogging For Idiots

Repost from an earlier blog of mine – Writus Interruptus

Fortuitously, my daughter has absented herself on a school camp. Two whole days to myself….what to do?

Blog….of course, what else.

Happily returning to my Writus Interruptus Blog, I realise, with not a small amount of trepidation, that my previous twelve posts have NOT been published.

Not intending any slur on WordPress, I have to admit that the fault clearly lies with me. My inexperience has caused me, in my stolen writing moments, to neglect to press the Publish button. Not once, not twice, but 12 times!  Der…..!

My neglected posts stare accusingly at me from the Drafts page.  Unwittingly unpublished, unviewed and uncommented  on.

Further to this humiliation, I look back through my Pages, New Posts, My Dashboard etc. and am forced to face the reality that I did not place any tags, links or ping backs on my site. I meant to.  In fact, I could swear that I did this in May.  As a result , I have VERY FEW Views and ONLY ONE Comment on the posts I did manage to publish.

Alright, I concur that the Views are all from me and I hastily posted the Comment under an assumed name this morning.  There – laugh all you like.  My blog is a Claytons blog, a non-blog and I am a failed blogger!

Which leads me to the title of this Post.  Is there a  ’Blogging for Idiots’ book out that I can borrow from the library?  Or a concise website that explains how to bring traffic to a blog.  Before I add insult to injury and ruin any chance of ever having an audience for my blogs, please advise me what I’m doing wrong!

I’m now too deflated to post all of my Saved Drafts today.  So I’ll start with one – written some time ago and try to pick up the pieces and redeem myself to my non-existent blogees.

“BEFORE you get blogged down by the technicalities of creating your new blog, visit the help pages on WordPress, several other writer’s posts or try to locate a copy of Blogging for Idiots.  I’m told that it actually exists!

Writus Interruptus wins again!  AAARRRRRR!

The Baby Boomer Death Counter

 

 

After spending sometime online conducting research for a novel I’m writing, I discovered a shocking fact. There is a whole movement out there in cyberspace bent on facilitating the demise of the Baby Boomer. In fact there is even a Baby Boomer Death Counter at the below link (warning – only for the morbid).

http://www.jameslove.com/Baby_Boomer_Death_Counter.html

Now I am not a Group #1 Baby Boomer, but one of the Jones Generation being born after 1955. I found out yesterday, much to my horror that, irregardless of the group we belong to, there are many a Gen X,Y,Z,W or Vex person who is looking forward to our premature downfall. There are web and Facebook pages with titles such as, “Die Boomer Die” (content obvious), “Boom Town”, which documents our demise in detail and my personal favourite, the blog, “How to Kill Baby Boomers, Dead”.

To add insult to injury, there is also a cheery novel entitled “Boomsday“, which suggests within it’s evil little pages, that we should all be offered assisted suicide as a way to save money for future generations. On the up side, it was also suggested that this would only occur after the government paid for a little holiday for us wrinklies – our last hurrah! The upshot of all this is that we Baby Boomers should be all but a dim memory by the year 2050.

AM I the only one who wasn’t aware on any of this before yesterday?????

Well, I have suffered my fair share of ageist discrimination – nothing more, nothing less than the average woman over 45, I suspect. But…..how dare they!

Inspiration comes in many forms. And so to my blog. Stopping short of an all out counterattack on the’ Die Boomers Die’ group, I ‘turned to WordPress. Fellow Baby Boomers. WE do not have to take this lying down (or even sitting in our Jason recliners). We will not be stopped. We have things to say…and by golly, we will speak out about this injustice to these most valuable members of our society. I invite all of you to contribute! Post, comment, vent, gibber…….whatever it takes!

But for now – adieu until tomorrow. It’s almost 9.30 and I need my beauty sleep.

Comrade Vikki aka. possibly the last Baby Boomer!