Tuesday, 22 December 2015

A little story before Christmas

Two little girls are at my house. They are Asian. I mention this because little Asian kids are uber cute. One is called Lucy, and the younger one Lena.

I ask them about Christmas. I ask them what Santa is bringing them. They say they don't know. 
Lena volunteers, "We get a present from Mum and Dad as well as Santa."
"Oh," I say. "That's cool."
Lucy says, "Last year the present from Santa was wrapped in the same paper as the present from Mum and Dad." She stares at me and flicks the hair out of her eyes. "How is that possible?!"
I pull a face. "I don't know," I say. "How is that possible?" 
"Maybe Santa ran out of paper?" I suggest.
"Santa knows all our names,"  Lucy says.
(As in, you idiot, how could Santa run out of paper when he knows all our names!)

The End

Friday, 13 November 2015

Still Life : Woman with Boat

I feel a short story coming on … though to tell this woman’s story in less than the recommended 3,000 words would be an injustice. And to presume to know her story, to know what she feels, or thinks, would be arrogant.  So I’m going to leave it here - just the image - which simply is. And which may move you, or not.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Guest Post: Welcoming the lovely Jaclyn Moriarty

I've been following the posts of Jaclyn Moriarty on Tumblr for a while now, and last week's was particularly endearing. Anyway, I asked Jaclyn if she would share, and being the generous writer she is, she agreed. 

Jaclyn Moriarty

blogs on Tumblr. (jaclynmoriarty.tumblr.com). She is the author of The Colours of Madeleine trilogy, Feeling Sorry for Celia, The Year of Secret Assignments, and other books. She is the sister of authors, Liane Moriarty and Nicola Moriarty, and other siblings. At the moment, as a countdown to the release of the third book in the Colours of Madeleine trilogy, she is writing a Colours of Thursday blog. Each week she posts a colourful picture and says something about it. She admits that she would like everybody in the world to do the same thing. It doesn't have to be every week, she says. Just when you are feeling colourful. She loves the people who are doing this. (Note to self: Get to it!)  And she reposts her favourite Colours of Thursday posts from around the world. 

Colours of Thursday: I went to Fiji

Hi, it’s me.  I went to Fiji. 
(I see now that I should make this rhyme all the way through.)  

Hey, it’s me
I went to Fiji.
I got back yesterday
I wish I could’ve stayed

Well, that’s shaping up to be a pretty good poem.
But Thursday is giving me this look, like, Uh, what?  (It means it doesn’t want rhymes, it wants colours.) 
Wait, though, Thursday, I thought of some new lines.

I saw a sea snake
It wasn’t a fake
It was real.
(But I didn’t see an eel.)

Okay, Thursday, wait, I’m on fire.

Some days the sky was grey
Why does a donkey bray?
(And not a horse.)

No, seriously, that’s a good question.  

I went snorkelling
A man was chortling
(Somewhere in the world, I’m sure.)

What I mean by that is, I didn’t hear anybody chortle while I snorkelled but I honestly believe that somewhere in the world a man had just heard something funny and was chortling.  I stand by that.

I didn’t see the sea snake while I snorkelled
by the way
I saw it in a restaurant

Read that last line about the waiter very quickly.  Rush the words together.   Thanks.
(It’s true though, we were at a restaurant on the edge of the ocean and snakes kept slithering out of the rocks towards the restaurant!  (Ha, the cable on my desk just gave me a fright, but it’s ok, it’s not a snake, it’s a cable.)  Anyway, crowds kept forming as people rushed from their tables to see these snakes emerging from the rocks onto the grass.  Everyone was taking photos, and looking at each other in amazement.  Most snakes turned around and slithered back into their rocks but one snake kept right on slithering across the grass and into the restaurant!  The excitement was reaching a fever pitch, but then a man with small, round spectacles stood up from his table, plucked the snake from the floor and flung it back onto the rocks.  This happened in a flash.  Everyone was startled.  Then there was a mixed reaction: some were astonished by the man’s quick-thinking and courage - Whoa, that’s the kind of guy you want around in a crisis! these people seemed to say with the expressions on their faces.  Some were worried that the snake might have hurt itself when it landed on the rocks.  How would HE like it if I plucked him from the ground and flung him through the air onto the rocks? is what their expressions said.  And some had that slightly tetchy, annoyed feeling you get when you’re playing an intensely exciting game and then an adult steps in and calls it off.  Well, SURE, it might have been DANGEROUS, and I don’t actually know if these snakes are venomous or not, but WE WANTED TO KNOW SEE WHAT WOULD HAPPEN!!    

I experienced all of these reactions myself.  And later a solemn man explained that sea snakes are one of the most venomous in the world but they have tiny mouths so they can’t actually bite you, unless they get you here: and he pointed to the space between his forefinger and his thumb.)

Okay, well, Thursday is getting snarky now about how there wasn’t a single rhyme in that entire paragraph.   So here are the colourful pictures.  That’s me in the second picture waving at you!  Or wait, maybe I’m not waving, maybe I’m doing a kind of shrug.  Like,
Oh well, too late now,
I’m parasailing
(Not in the garage nailing
a picture to the wall)
Which, honestly, I could have been. 

Pictures by Jaclyn Moriarty

Monday, 28 September 2015

The bottom drawer theory

Mr Schulz, I love your little cartoon, but I can't just let it sit here without some explanation.

As writers we all experience this at some point in our lives.  We think our just-completed manuscripts are so damn good (we either think that, or we think they are just awful).  That is why the bottom drawer theory is such a good idea.  When you have typed The End or Manuscript Ends on the last page, don't immediately start typing up letters to agents, or composing queries to publishers in your head.  Put the manuscript away, preferably for quite some time. (This is easy to say, I know, but very difficult to do. I, myself, have never completely managed it.)  Put it away and do something else. Start a new story, if you like. Write some short stories. Read that new release you've been busting to get to.  Go walk in the park. Anything.  But do not go near your manuscript. 

After sufficient time has elapsed - like a month or two - open it up and read it again. You'll be surprised at what you find! 

(Mostly, the writers who thought their manuscripts were so damn good will be cringing and saying, Seriously, did I write this garbage?! While the ones who thought their work was just awful will be saying, Hmn, this is not too bad. There are some moments of brilliance here.)  

Friday, 11 September 2015

Queensland Literary Awards 2015

Delighted to announce that my gothic manuscript, Sargasso, is on the shortlist for the Queensland Literary Awards - Unpublished Manuscript / Emerging Writer Award.

Warm congratulations to my fellow nominees, Imogen Smith, Kate Elkington and Elizabeth Kasmer.  

Image Courtesy Google Images

Friday, 14 August 2015

In love with second person POV

You like to drift in the dark.

You can see in the inky blackness, the blackness that might or might not be the colour of velvet, the squid ink that cocoons you. Twists and wraps itself around you. Sinew around viscera.

You touch the dark. Or is it that the dark touches you? You get the two confused. What texture is dark? Think about it. Is it like soot? Is it like a shard of coal? Dusty? Something there but not there? The blackness feels thin and dry to you, like gauze. Or grit in your mouth. Sometimes you see through it, but you won’t divulge what you see. You don’t want to frighten the children. You can see in the dark but it isn’t sight that enables you to see. It’s some other sense. You have more than five. Only some of you know how to use them all.

The dark rushes and roars and whispers to you. Do you hear it? Quiet! It murmurs while it soars, and you have to listen carefully. It’s obvious it talks to you. But you are getting ahead of yourself. Sigh. You should start at the beginning.

In the beginning you could only smell the darkness. Hearing it, tasting and feeling it, took time to learn. You were but a splintering. Born in blackness. When you slithered out the moons were baby’s fingernails. They were the first things you saw—apart from the dark, which was a welcome relief after all that brittle white light.


Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Writing a book is a bit like surfing

“Writing a book is a bit like surfing . . . Most of the time you’re waiting. And it’s quite pleasant, sitting in the water waiting. But you are expecting that the result of a storm over the horizon, in another time zone, usually, days old, will radiate out in the form of waves. And eventually, when they show up, you turn around and ride that energy to the shore. It’s a lovely thing, feeling that momentum. If you’re lucky, it’s also about grace. As a writer, you roll up to the desk every day, and then you sit there, waiting, in the hope that something will come over the horizon. And then you turn around and ride it, in the form of a story.” ― Tim Winton

Friday, 10 July 2015

Winter is here

Sometimes you don't want to write hundreds of words. Sometimes a few lines are enough. I feel like that today. 

Winter is here. And I am stopping by these woods. Just for a little while. 

Just for a little while because I have promises to keep
and miles to go 
before I can sleep.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep. 

Thank you, Robert Frost. You are an inspiration. 

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Dirty Secrets

I am sharing some writing today. When I visit other writers' websites I always want to read some of their work, see how they write.
This story was written in the aftermath of the Queensland floods at the end of 2010.


I didn’t notice him amongst the crowd. Why would I? I was preoccupied, going through my goods and chattels on the nature strip. There was stuff out there that well-meaning people had turfed out, just bloody turfed out. Here and there I was salvaging what I could. Checking that anything of Linda’s had not been dumped in all that mud and slime. A glimmer of colour and I was on to it. I have so little of her things left.
            Of course I had a smoke in my hand. It helped to disguise the stench of rot. Overpowering, it was. After a few days it reeked not just from under the skirting boards, but from us. It was in our skin. On our breath. In our fannies when we squatted to pee. You couldn’t get away from it.
I was smoking because it calms me, you’d remember that. And I tell you I needed calming. I can deal with anything as long as I have a smoke in my hand. Cheating husbands, dying daughters, heart attacks in the bath –
Pass me the ashtray, would you?
It’s the ritual that does it. The comfort factor and all that. It’s the taking out of the cigarette, the three taps against the box, the fishing for the lighter in my pocket, flaring it and drawing the cancer into my lungs. And then bending over and racking with the bloody cough as I’ve always done. That’s the tops, that cough is. People think I’m dying.
            Anyway, I’d just lit up, and when I straightened and pushed the hair back off my sweaty face there he was. This bloke. Up close. Holding out his own smoke for a light. Startled me a bit.
I noticed the please straight off. He speaks in a cultured way, I said to myself. He says Please. Private school or good upbringing? Looking at him, hard to say which.
He appeared ordinary at first glance. Like the rest of us, nothing special. Filthy dirty, of course. We all were. No two ways about it. Filthy, sweaty. And rank-smelling. I tell you the stench got into my soul. Even now I struggle out to the line with the wash and catch a whiff of it, like it’s living under the house, in that damp corner alongside the laundry tub and the dandelions. Resting quiet as a grave. Waiting for next time. Huh! They said the floods of seventy-four would never happen again. If they say that about these floods we’ll laugh in their faces. Bloody spit more like.
            “Disaster, isn’t it?” he says and blows out smoke.
            I don’t recall what I said, something trivial. I had said lots of things to lots of people over the previous days such as I’m not leaving the house and Yes, of course I’m bloody all right, that kind of thing. They were strangers, all these do-gooders. And I was polite of course. Up to a point. Because as you know you can only really let rip with family. Speaking of which I have to say you took your time getting here. Granted we’re only half-sisters, but you’d do well to remember I’m the only rellie you have.
            So we stand for a little out the front under the shade of the Poinciana. The earth squishy under our feet. The sweat dripping off us. And the flies, don’t get me started on the flies. We’re saying nothing. Doing nothing. Just smoking. And every now and then I glance at him. He’s probably in his late thirties which, thinking over things, is puzzling. I mean, thirty-seven years I’ve lived in this old place, thirty of those with Trev and then seven on my own.  
That Trev…If he hadn’t gone and had a heart attack, he’d have a lot of explaining to do. That one time he came back from the Gold Coast with a bug. One of those bugs. Walked around clutching himself, he did. It was painful to watch. That other occasion he went to Singapore. Business, he said. I’m beginning to think there was something fishy going on there. But we won’t fret about that now. We’ll get to that in good time. We’ll get to a lot of things in good time.   
So there were all these do-gooders out in the street. Volunteers they called them. Volunteering for what, that’s what I want to know. Stickybeaking? People crawling over everything like ants over jam. Too many if you ask me. But of course nobody’s going to ask me.
You remember Joan Bennett from number twenty-one? Well, she was standing outside her place, holding on to the gate and sobbing fit to burst, and they hadn’t even got her into the house yet. You wouldn’t know but this is the second time she’s gone through this and the first time she still had her better half to help her out like. So in a way you can’t blame her for dropping her bundle. Talk to her now and she’ll tell you it was the generosity of people that undid her. The kind-heartedness. I don’t get all of that.
Jules, from across the street – she’s new, you don’t know her – she was pulling out canvasses from her studio. Pictures of mud, they were. Hosing them down against the wall to see if they’d come good. She was angry. You could see it in the way she thrashed the hose around. Tight-lipped, not saying much. She didn’t get time to move all them paintings, what with work and other things. I did wonder why he, this fellow, wasn’t over there helping her. She’s a pretty woman, Jules. Wait ’til you meet her. You’ll see what I mean. Nice-natured, too, for a pretty woman. Waste of time, her getting angry. Waste of energy, sobbing. Weeping’s okay. But that’s something you keep for the dead and dying. It’s private.
            Then, “Going to take out your carpet?” he says.
            “Your carpet. You going to get rid of it?”
            I throw down the stub and let it sizzle in the mud at the same time patting my pocket for another.
            He draws hard on the smoke and looks at me, narrowing his eyes against the sun. That’s when I notice he has nice eyes.
            “Might be a good idea to get it out now, while the trucks are still here to take it away.”   
            “Spose,” I say, lighting up and starting to rack with the cough again.
            “I’ll start on it,” he says. “Give you a hand.”
I grip the picket fence, draw in another lungful, and watch him jog up my front path and steps. Just like that. He has good legs like one of them boys from the gardening shows and it strikes me that his body is altogether nicely turned out. Like a hammer. I love a good hammer. The feel of it in your hand. Solid and smooth. Heavy. There’s nothing more satisfying than whacking in a nail with a good hammer.
Anyway, he’s jogging up the steps. We’re all close to damn near expiring in the humidity and he’s on the run. But I didn’t think anything further of it. Some people are just keen is all. And you’d know that on the whole I like a bit of enthusiasm.
            When I heave myself up the stairs I find the bloody door shut. Might not have been on the latch, I can’t remember. It certainly didn’t blow closed. We could have done with a stiff breeze in all that putrid mugginess and stink.
            So I rap on the door. “Oi,” I say, “open up.” He must’ve known that a woman does not like to be shut out of her own house because immediately the door swings open.
“Shh,” he says, putting his finger to his lips.
The cheek of him, I’m thinking.
            I have to say he’d worked quickly. Moved the old settee and telly onto the back deck and got one side of the heavy muddy carpet up off the floor already. You remember that grey carpet with the swirls of big yellow roses? Rolled it back, halfway across the room. And down on his knees he is, the carpet squelching a foul rancid ooze that ran across the floorboards and got up your nose. And from underneath it he’s picking up pieces of laminated plastic. Drooling thin streams of water the colour of Trev’s gearbox oil, they were.
            I could see there were photographs under the plastic and the muck but I just watched him, waiting for the explanation that never came.  
            “What are those?” I said at last. Measured-like, you know.
            “Just plastic. Nothing to worry about.” But he wouldn’t look at me.
            “Huh,” I said and hooked one out with my walking stick.
You know I fought against having a walking stick for a long time but what a handy thing it is. I used it on that mongrel dog last week, the one down the road, the one that races up and down the fence barking like a little Hitler. I gave him a blood nose...I’d like to give his owner a blood nose too. And not on the nose, if you know what I mean. Arrogant snot.
Anyway, where was I?
Ah yes, the plastic. The photographs. He tried to pounce on the one I had hooked out, but I flicked the stick near his face. “Leave off,” I warned.
            I took it to the kitchen. I carefully ran the water over it, and then I turned it right side up and laid it down on the counter and wiped it with the tea towel.
            Well, you wouldn’t bloody believe it.
I had to blot my face with the tea towel. “Jesus,” I said, steadying myself against the sink. I had to stop to light another smoke. Draw in a lungful. Go through the whole coughing business.  
It’s, you know, two blokes...
Well you can guess what they were doing. Hard at it, I tell you. Left little to the imagination.
            After a bit I noticed him waiting against the kitchen doorframe. He’d tucked the photos away under his shirt, against his skin. I could see an ear of plastic peeking out.  
            “You were a lot younger then,” I said. I was grateful I could string some words together.
            He nodded, held out his hand, and I saw the wedding ring for the first time. “Please?” he said.
I gave it to him of course. I mean, what was I going to do, fight him for it?
            But before he left, he cut up all that carpet. He cut up all that soggy, stinking mess and carted it out single-handed to the nature strip. Like a lot of things it hasn’t been replaced, but I’m getting by.
            And he made me a cup of tea. Let’s not forget that. On the gas-cooker, see. We didn’t have power for days. Bloody Energex.  
            Aww I can see you’re thinking.
It was a nice touch, I have to say. But for me it was watching him that did it. His hands reaching for the cup and saucer. His strong legs striding across my kitchen floor. He put everything on the tray, he did. Good upbringing in my opinion. You don’t learn those little niceties at private school. And did I mention his eyes were sensitive-like? Shy. Makes you wonder how a bloke like that got caught up with my Trev in the first place. Dark brown eyes, they were.
Well, what colour did you expect, blue?
            Anyway, I didn’t tell him about the other bit of carpet. Yup, I’ve got another piece. We all have our secrets, some of us more so than others, but you’d know about that.
The sewing room wasn’t touched by the floods. It’s up a step. Part of the porch. Trev built it in after you ran away. On that cool, leafy side of the house where you sometimes slept when you stayed over, remember? Blissful it is up there on a hot day. Last week, down on my hands and knees – a bloody effort it was I tell you – I  managed to get half the carpet up myself. That’s a job you can finish off for me. I’ve got other things want doing but you can start there.
I don’t know about you, but I like a little bit of nudity. And at my age I can’t be fussed about where it’s coming from or whether it’s in good taste.


Copyright K W George
(First published in Rex,
literary magazine of the
Queensland University 
of Technology, 2011)