Sunday, 15 April 2012

Between the sheets

I love going to bed.

Before you get carried away thinking this is going to get sordid, let me explain.

There’s a moment – when I slide my toes down to the end of the cool sheets, when I pull the light-as-a-feather doona up to my neck and rest my head on the soft pillow – when I’m in heaven.

It’s a moment when I reflect on how lucky I am to have a roof over my head, food to eat, and a healthy body. A moment when I think I love white sheets.  How could you have any other colour? And there’s something about crisp cotton too. And the window being open and letting in the night air. And the rustle of the palm trees outside.  

Last night I found myself sighing out loud.  Actually it was more like a groan. A happy groan. 

And the loved one looked at me over the top of his reading glasses and said, “What is your problem?” 

I said, “I feel like a bear.” 

I don’t look anything like a bear so why I said that I’m not entirely sure. 

I think it was good to get the weight off my feet. I think I was saying I felt comfortable in my own skin (I think that's bear thing, don't you?). I think I might even have been suggesting I wanted to hibernate for a while.  Whatever.  I love my bed. 

And now to something more serious, which is still, in a way, between the sheets. The sheets of both a book and a newspaper.

This morning in the paper I was reading about M.L. Stedman. In case you don’t know, M.L. Stedman is the author of The Light between the Oceans, which describes as “a captivating, beautiful, and stunningly accomplished debut novel – the story of a lighthouse keeper and his wife who make one devastating choice that forever changes two worlds.”

Stunning cover, by the way.

The success of The Light between the Oceans has propelled its little-known author into the spotlight, and the gist of the words in the paper was that the columnist had got wind of a 2008 anthology of short fiction published in the UK featuring emerging writers, and three of Stedman’s short stories. The columnist said that [with the success of the novel], “M.L. Stedman would probably like to forget her first published stories. However…” 

This suggestion worries me. Why would M.L. Stedman like to forget about these stories? It seems to me to be a respectable and honourable thing. I mean we’re talking about being published in an anthology of short fiction with five other emerging writers, with a launch and readings and champagne (I’m guessing, I wasn’t there), not about being published in some second rate, little-known, seedy magazine.  Why would this be something that M.L. Stedman would like to forget about?

All my stories, everything I’ve ever written, are a part of me, a part of what makes me the writer I am today.  And, yes, some of them are best not brought to light, they’re certainly not memorable, but I am not, I repeat not, and won’t ever be – let’s be clear about this – ashamed of them.

*And If you’ve read all the way down to here, then I am supposed to remind you to vote for me in the People’s Choice Awards.  Click on the little shiny blue and yellow badge at the top of the page. Ta and thank you, and may you be blessed with twins. Not really.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Knock, knock

Recently I talked about my love for narrative that takes me on a journey.  Complementary to this is something I noticed about the photographs I’ve taken over the course of the last four months:  I love a good door.

Or a stunning entrance way. Or a foyer.

When I was overseas in February I took several pictures of doors I found in Bruges in Belgium. It seems they love a good door, too. 

And I remembered that in one of my trips to Melbourne, I found some excellent doors. And numbers.

My fascination with doors seems to be the thrill of what lies on the other side. Imagining what goes on behind the door. What's waiting to be discovered.  Anticipation, of course, plays a huge part.

I thought about some of the doors in my street. Behind number nine, for instance, is Elizabeth  who lives with her son, Robert. Elizabeth is in her eighties. Rob was injured in a car accident when he was a little tacker and isn't capable of living on his own. They have a fox terrier called Mick and the pair of them walk him up the street every afternoon at four. Elizabeth always looks very grand; lipstick, lovely dress.  Next door to me is Alice, whose husband has Alzeihmer's and lives in a nursing home. Alice has two daughters, one lives in England and the other here in Brisbane. I think she paints as a hobby. We don't talk much because recently she came over to my side of the garden and without consultation ripped up one of my shrubs that was leaning over the fence between us.

Do you see where I am going with this?    

If you are still wondering what doors and the narrative journey have in common, I'll be honest and admit that I wasn’t sure what the connection was until I started writing this blog. And then because I was writing and thinking about it, ie brainstorming, the answer came to me.
A door is like the cover of a book.  Opening a door is similar to opening a book. Both give you the possibility of a narrative journey, one journey being fictional, the other realistic. 

I spent a little time reflecting on book covers I've loved, covers which thrilled me and made me think about standing and waiting in front of a door. And opening it...   

I've shared some of these covers with you.