Writing About the Writer

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I’ll be honest. One of the things I love about writing is the anonymity of the craft. Call me a coward, call me shy, but I hide behind my characters. Of course, there are glimpses of me within the story.
Smoke and mirrors.
Catch me if you can.
One cannot help but leave an imprint when exploring the depths (or shallows) of human character. One of the joys of writing is discovery: discovering your characters and in the process, discovering yourself. However, it’s time to come out of hiding. After all, as a reader, agent or publisher,  you need to know what I’m bringing to the table.
Petals and thorns.
Sweet and sour.

So here it goes.

1) I’m a goth. I love black. I’m not afraid of the dark. In fact, I embrace it. The quiet solitude of the dark hours, the still waters of the dark depths; these are a joy for me. There in the dark womb I find inspiration and the most primal truths. And it is these things which inspire me to write. The need to understand the dark depths of humanity and myself.

2) I’m a hippie. I love flowers and trees, kittens and puppies, peace and love. Nature is a balm to my soul. My special place is the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. There’s magic there. Faeries flit between the trees, Yowies live in the depths of the valleys and it’s said a panther roams the wildest terrain; an army mascot apparently, abandoned after the war. It’s hard not to be inspired by nature and myth. There’s spirit in nature. You can breathe it in and feel it course through your veins.

3) I’m a warrior woman. A dragon slayer. I run with the wolves. I’ve known victory and I’ve known defeat and I’ve learned from both. The only thing to fear is fear itself and I’ll have none of that debilitating negativity. I fight for the underdog. I speak up for human rights. I stand for freedom and justice. I’m fearless when it comes to writing too. I love strong characters. I love characters who discover their strength through adversity. Don’t we all find that resilience when the waves pound our shore? Is it not through the fire that gold is refined? A smooth sea never produced a skilled sailor. I’m not afraid to be bold. I’m not afraid to be wrong. I’m not afraid to kill my darlings.

4) I’m left of centre. Really. The square peg in the round hole. I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s brought me in contact with people I might otherwise never have crossed paths with. The rich, the poor. The good, the bad. Everyone has a story and I love those stories. Those stories have taught me that beneath our masks and pretenses, we are all achingly, wonderfully human. I wonder why we hide our vulnerability, for that is often what makes us most beautiful.

5) I’m scarred. Literally. I nearly died as a baby. I had a rare congenital deformity that necessitated a year of tube feeding until I was finally operated on at a year old. There were three babies operated on for this condition in 1962. I was the first. One died, another had to be operated on again in puberty. I escaped unscathed until a few years ago, when my oesophagus closed up. Again, I nearly died. I lost a dangerous amount of weight and aged overnight. I spent three months in hospital, one month of which was spent deciding how to fix the problem. I was the first operation of that kind the surgeons had faced. I was a guinea pig. Later, I was told clearing my oesophagus was like jack hammering through cement. It was a painful, frightening experience but don’t get me wrong. I’m not looking for sympathy. It remains one of the most valuable lessons of my life. I saw others face death with less hope than I was given. I saw them face death with dignity and courage. They were heroes. I remember looking out of my hospital window before my operation and seeing a small bird being chased by a crow. As I watched, the little bird turned and swooped its predator, escaping death with a slight of wing on the wind. I took it as an omen. I lived.

6) I’m a mother and grandmother. My children are wonderful, warm, compassionate, courageous human beings, both because of me and in spite of me. My grandson is an old soul. He amazes me continually and I’m excited to see where his journey will take him. I’m blessed.

7) Did I mention I love animals? Not just kittens and puppies, but all animals. Currently, our menangerie consists of seven cats (including three kittens), three dogs and four horses. My daughter rescues horses that are in danger of being sent to the slaughter house. We take in strays and rehome them. I’m a terrible sook. I’d keep them all if I could. Every single one.

8) I’m a loner who loves people. I’m the one in the corner at the party, quietly observing everyone. If I’m even at the party. I’d probably prefer to stay home with a good book. Perhaps this is an advantage for a writer, for writing is a solitary existence punctuated by long nights and frequent forays into a fantasy world that others regard as daydreaming. I do like small gatherings though. I enjoy shooting the breeze with friends, or discussing current affairs, conspiracies and the ways of the world.

9) I’m an artist. I work in all mediums, including digital. I’ve sold several paintings and created two book covers. I’m inspired by the creativity and vision of others. At the moment I’m exploring abstract landscapes. It’s a challenging process in which one deconstructs the complexity of a scene, drawing out the most important elements and reconstructing them into a new vision that inspires an emotional response. It’s a process that applies as much to writing as it does to art. Which leads me to number 10.

10) I’m a writer. I love writing. I love creating. And I’m more than a little OCD about it. I’ll go back over it again and again (with regular breaks to preserve sanity) until it flows. Until it feels real. My mother was a teacher for 30 years so I’ve been raised by a grammar nazi and a little of that has rubbed off. Not that I’m script perfect. I have a habit of burning the midnight oil, which often requires revisits to check for typos. In fact, this very experience has led me to revise my manuscript (again) and change a few things, hopefully for the better! So I’m open to suggestion. And improvement. The most important thing to me is that the characters have their voice, as it is they who really tell the story. I’m just the conduit. And until it flows, I’m not safisfied. Maybe writers and artists are never really satisfied. Such is the joy of creation and I can’t imagine doing anything else!!

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