Tag Archives: book

Under Pressure

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Under Pressure

‘Under Pressure’ (the David Bowie and Queen version) is probably one of my all-time favourite songs. If it were a movie I’d give it 10 pumpkins. It’s perfect.

It’s perfect for describing how I’ve felt in the lead-up to my 30th birthday. Not content with just sliding into a new decade like most folk, I decided it would be more appropriate to skydive into my thirties with a whole list of youthful challenges completed.

Of course, as the big day drew closer so did the Top 30 Challenge deadline…

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All by myself

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All by myself

List item number 26 challenged me to ‘Spend a weekend alone in silence – no TV, internet, iPhone, etc – to think, reflect, pray, whatever it is you do’. The challenge came from one of my oldest and dearest friends, Chris, who is currently in training to be an Anglican priest (and can therefore no doubt speak from experience when it comes to this kind of thing).

I don’t really pray much these days – I leave that to my skydiving friends. I’ve never spent enough time thinking (especially when it comes to thinking before speaking), and I’m sure I could benefit from a bit more time reflecting. It was a good challenge.

But, I didn’t pray this weekend either (well, not unless you share my rather convenient theory that to enjoy and appreciate life is to pray – I did plenty of that). I did, however, spend plenty of time thinking and reflecting… and doing “whatever it is I do” which is, of course, writing!

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Remote control

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Remote control

It is at about this time of day that I might usually tune into good old Dr Phil.

Instead, Andy has commandeered the TV, and (with just a hint of a smirk) informed me that “I’m going to be watching a documentary on the TV so don’t come out”.

Good! I’ll just sulk in here instead then!

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Write as reign

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Write as reign

It’s probably not all that surprising but I’ve become quite busy of late.

Between the Top 30 list and my day job, I’ve barely even had time to enjoy my most favourite of guilty pleasures: Neighbours.

I’m exhausted, and to make matters worse? Tomorrow, I up that ante just a little bit.

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That’s all she wrote!

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That’s all she wrote!

Watch that list item number 24, it’s a doozy! (Thanks Dave).

In fact, two people decided it was high time I wrote a book, which isn’t exactly fair considering I already wrote one, and it was specifically written for one of those people!

Back in Year 9 or thereabouts, I wrote a novella-length “fan fiction” about… wait for it… Hanson. While you could say I was a fan, and still am (bubblegum pop is the bee’s pyjamas), it was in fact the dizzying levels of teenyboppery of my friends and my own desire to write that led me to penning ‘High Doses of Obsession’.

I wrote it chapter by chapter and delivered it daily at school to my Hanson-loving friends, who devoured each page at a very flattering pace. My friend Carla wrote a similar story (in a far less sarcastic fashion) so it was quite the obsession itself for a while there. If I recall, the book centred around my friend Rachael winning tickets to a Hanson concert and inviting me along (much to the chagrin of the Hanson devotees Carla and Natalie). Of course we met the band, and Isaac Hanson (also known as “Spoony” due to his unfortunate resemblance to the reflection on the back of a spoon) fell hopelessly in love with me, despite me showing no interest in him whatsoever. Of course Taylor and Rachael lived happily ever after (no doubt producing a thousand kids – he’s such a “breeder”). The best I could offer Isaac was a lazy-eye healing kiss. Hilair.

(I do hope Rachael still has a copy of the book lying around somewhere because finishing it was quite literally my life’s greatest achievement. In hindsight I probably could have selected a less embarrassing topic, but then it wouldn’t have been so much fun!)

I should point out that ‘High Doses of Obsession’ was not my first book. The first was a picture book mystery called something like ‘Mrs Peacock and the Missing Telephone’, which I both wrote and illustrated myself. I don’t remember how old I was at the time, but let’s just say the telephone had a cord and Mum had to take dictation because I wasn’t capable of the actual writing part yet. I remember little about it except that it was written on perforated computer paper. Unfortunately I don’t think this particular tome survived.

Then there was ‘The Second Mothers’ Day’, which was a book I wrote and gave to my Mum at some point during primary school in a transparent attempt to curry favour. It was given in conjunction with a fabulously thoughful yet off-target Mothers’ Day-style gift. You know the kind of gift I’m talking about? The kind that says “Mum, you’re always cleaning – Here! Something to help you clean even more!” I know she cherishes it to this day because I saw her using it mere weeks ago! It was a set of two foam kneepads designed to help with floor-scrubbing and gardening, and she was using one of them to save her poor knees while ripping up bathroom tiles.

Best. Daughter. Ever.

The book itself was lovingly covered in the most hideous brown floral fabric you’ve ever laid eyes on and sought to explain the origins of ‘The Second Mothers’ Day’, which of course was a day designed (by me) to honour your mother at a time other than the traditional Hallmark Morthers’ Day… (It was not a revelation that I was, in fact, adopted and that my birth mother had attempted to contact me).

Anyway, I’m sure when Dave helpfully suggested that I write a book, he had something far more advanced in mind. A whole book? In one year? You’ve got to be joking! Then again, it’s my own fault for asking someone who has lived about ten lifetimes already to come up with something for the list. What’s your latest achievement, Dave? Award nominations at foreign film festivals? Seriously, if anyone has an interesting story to tell, it’s this guy.

And that’s usually my stumbling block when it comes to writing – a lack of inspiration. I have led such a charmed life that it hasn’t left much room for tortured self-discovery. Who wants to read a book about someone dutifully plodding off to school, then uni, then securing a number of office jobs before (presumably) bundling themselves off to the suburbs to raise 2.5 children? It’s the stuff of great living but not exactly great reading.

I’ve been told many times that I am “a great writer”, which is probably the greatest compliment I’ve ever received, and it’s been said by enough different people now that I’ve even started to believe it. At the very least I enjoy writing a lot (which is a relief considering it’s my job now). There’s nothing more satisfying to me than writing something that somebody else enjoys reading. Better yet, writing something that makes someone else laugh out loud! However, my recent magazine articles just don’t cut it, and my last newspaper attempt landed me in lukewarm water with my geriatric boss. Who knew a 70+ year-old would be reading the Careers section?!

It’s interesting that I should enjoy writing so much. I suspect it’s hardwired into my genetic code, with my parents both being fabulous writers. My Dad wrote a book that was so successful at the time that it was used as a university textbook and was even translated into Chinese. My Mum, to my knowledge, has never written a book, but has produced thousands upon thousands of high distinction-earning words over the course of her studies. I have to also mention my grandad again here because he too wrote a book that was published posthumously by my uncle in the early nineties. ‘The Mad Axeman of Amsterdam’ is a collection of half-imagined, half-true short travel stories and provides a fantastic insight into what was my grandad’s largely unassuming sense of humour.

There is something very special about creating, whether it be a written work or something more hands-on. I truly believe that by giving part of yourself to the World in that way you will also receive. This theory was proven for me just yesterday, when my previous blog mentioning my grandad revealed that (bear with me) Andy’s Aunty Lee’s Dad was a very good friend of my grandad’s for many years. In fact, her uncle Leo was my grandad’s best friend! To add coincidence to freaky coincidence, when I rang my Mum to tell her she said she had only just been talking about Leo before I called! I’m certain that I never would have discovered this link had I not started this blog. The World shrunk just that little bit more for me yesterday.

So, with all of that behind me, I suppose I’ve got the writing part covered. There’s just that niggling little problem of what to write about.

Recognising my complete lack of inspiration, and the looming deadline, I am trying a different approach. It’s an idea I’ve had for a while, and something I had originally planned to do with my friend Tracey (come on Trace, you know you still want to!) Basically, I hope to interview people who have led far more interesting lives than me and create a series of short, true stories based on their experiences. At this stage I’m looking to older Australians and I’ve created a Gumtree ad to get the ball rolling. However, I’d happily take on anyone with an interesting anecdote or two to share. (If you know anyone who you think might be interested – yourself perhaps? – please pass on the Gumtree link or simply let me know in the comments below!)

Alternatively, if that doesn’t work out, I’m currently accepting suggestions!

What do you think I should write about?