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Bye, Beautiful and places in the sun

Writing can seem like a lot of effort for little reward.  Your books (if you’re lucky enough to get published in the first place) might be ignored, go out of print, drop off the radar (or never be picked up by the beacon in the first place), or date too quickly (I believe I mentioned a phone box in my first novel, just as one example).  Now there is a whole new level of uncertainty with the demise (they say) of the bookshop and the unknown quantity of the ebook.

I am therefore more than usually gratified that Bye, Beautiful, six years after its release, is still getting attention like this.

Also, I spoke at John Curtin College of the Arts last week, and was presented with a range of remarkable interpretations of Bye, Beautiful, like these:

In other news, I recently drove 2000kms with an old school friend to visit another old school friend on her mango farm.  It reminded me of how important high school is, despite its limitations or otherwise – and regular readers of this blog will know I haven’t always been inclined to speak fondly of my alma mater – and particularly the importance of those formative friendships.

I also learned that I’m a pretty good shot with one of these:

And that fanging around on one of these in the dunes is about as much fun as there is:

While waiting

1.  I’m waiting for the final edit for Losing It to arrive in my mailbox. While waiting I’m pondering a) who should launch it and b) what the playlist should be.  My wishlist for a) includes Bettina Arndt, Kathy Lette and Germaine Greer (actually, the person I’d really have liked to launch it is the fabulous, late Dorothy Porter, RIP), or a smart, funny, sassy young woman.  Any suggestions, let me know.  I’m hoping to launch in Perth and Melbourne in April.

For b), I have a list of the obvious suspects from the days of my youth (Salt n Pepa, Prince, U2, Prince, George Michael, Prince) and a few from my daughter’s iTunes catalogue (Jizz in my Pants by Lonely Island for one).  However, the problem with contemporary music is the embarrassment of riches it provides in such matters.  (Listened to the lyrics of 50 Cent’s Candy Shop lately?)  I don’t have any problem with sexual explicitness, obviously, but I do have a problem with the way that female pleasure doesn’t seem to rate a mention in pop culture (Missy Elliot notwithstanding).  Part of the reason I wrote the novel is because it’s perfectly fine for young female characters to fall in love, but God forbid they actually might want to have sex.  Sex and romance get horribly tangled, and girls get a raw deal.  Anyway, I’ll get off my soapbox.  As with a), any suggestions, let me know.

2.  I’m discovering one of the perils of being a mid-career writer: the email that tells you your novel is out of print.  I’m up to the point where practically half of my catalogue falls into this hideous category.  However, The Girl Who Fell Into A Book has just been given a new lease of life in this:

Details here.  If you have a girl aged between 5 and 7, it’d be an awesome Christmas present.  Just saying.

3. If you had a choice between peace and excitement, what would you choose?  Last weekend I got to combine both with a party for my cousin’s 40th and staying in a place where my morning view was this:

before going for a swim in an ocean that looked like this:

Spring reflections

*  I once had a poet friend** who would start a new writing project on the spring equinox, without fail, every year.  Winter was her fallow period; summer was all golden phrases and Fremantle sunsets.  If I were able to write to my natural writerly inner clock, I’d probably be the same.  Now, I take time wherever I get it: insomniac mornings, blustery weekends, in my head while swimming laps or sweating on the cross trainer.  It has occurred to me lately that I’ve got used to this compression of time.  Which doesn’t, as I’ve said before, make it easier not to have big chunks of days or weeks in which to write: I have a big project I am itching to begin but cannot until I know I have guaranteed space to complete it.  But I’m learning how to cut my suit to fit the cloth.  There is something joyful in this, and I’m enjoying writing more than I have in years.  I’m not doing anything ambitious or groundbreaking (right at this moment) – I’m having fun.  And who knows what the equinox might bring?

* I’ve tried to comment on the nice comments y’all left after my last post, but Blogger says I’m not authorised to access my account (I know!)  Anyway, what I tried to say was, thank you, and I will let you know if there’s a launch.  My daughter was going to do the honours but she’s gone all mid-teen self-conscious on me.  Kids these days, pffft.

*  I’ve been madly harvesting and cooking the last of the winter greens: kale, spinach, silverbeet.  The broad beans are flowering promisingly but holding back the pods (probably it’s too early), but the onions and garlic are fattening nicely.  For the first time I’ve planted flowers that aren’t bulbs: I have little pots full of purple pansies. 

* The spring equinox hosts my birthday, and my birthday resolution for this year is to find new and creative ways of being naughty (as opposed to being bad, you understand).  A former friend** once said that the older you get, the harder it is to be naughty.  I’m bound and determined to buck this trend, but in case my imagination fails me, please feel free to let me know any naughtiness I can lawfully indulge in at my advancing age.  Also, am I the only one who has birthday resolutions?

* In the shopping centre yesterday I saw two of the girls I met over the summer while researching my junior novel.  Which I took as the universe’s way of saying, get on with it.  So I am.

**Well, she probably is still my friend – I just haven’t seen her for an age: such are the perils of day job plus writing plus family plus plus plus … JTK, if you’re out there, hello!

***Who also might still be a friend: see above.

Chess Nuts in reviewland

It’s always nerve-racking to receive your first reviews for a book – almost as nerve-racking as wondering if you’re going to get any. So I was very pleased that Chess Nuts has had two great reviews, last week by Jane Barry in The Courier Mail and this week by Susan Hewitt in The West Australian‘s West Weekend magazine.

Jane Barry commented:

Lawrinson addresses a salient topic in her writing. Why can’t teenagers feel free to pursue different interests and not worry so much about losing face with their peers? Over the years towards maturity, how many opportunities are lost, or passions suppressed, just for the sake of worrying what others will think? She also writes with a clear understanding of the intricacies of chess and the almost complete absorption it demands. References to famous quotes from chess masters appear throughout, lending an air of credibility to the author’s research. A good book for any teenager, especially those who need prompting to follow their own interests.

Hewitt says:

This book is aimed at primary school kids, and even those who can’t read it themselves will find it easy to engage in the story. All the lessons about acceptance and getting on aren’t daggy or teacherly, they just kind of work themselves in.

It’s interesting that the two reviewers have a different take on the audience for the novel: I think it’s because kids read differently, it would entirely depend on individual interests and reading levels. Hence the madness of the age-banding proposals that were (are?) being debated in the UK.

On another note, it’s delightful that The West has entirely modernised its reviewing of books, thanks (I believe) to new books editor Will Yeoman. At last!