1) Ridiculous Footy Comment of the Week

"The players do add value to the game."
Er, yes. Hard to argue with that one. It would be rather dull if we turned up every week to watch a ball sitting in the middle of the ground and a few umpires twiddling their thumbs, wouldn't it?
(From "Footy Confidential," Ch 9, 25/5/09)

2) Perils Of Writing

This week I went op-shopping with Penni (we're allowed some time off, aren't we? We have to slip free from those shackles and emerge from the Writers' Dungeon occasionally.)

As we wandered the aisles of my local super-savers, I found myself drawn to all kinds of odd garments, things I'd never normally try on. I ended up with a great haul - a long purple velvet skirt, two gorgeous velvet jackets, a soft dull green top. It was only after I'd bought them that Penni said, "You do realise all those clothes belong to India?"

India is "my" character in the book we're co-writing. She's a tarot-reading, goth-y, hippy chick who drips with velvet, scarves and silver jewellery. I had been channelling India the whole time we were shopping, and I now have half her wardrobe. Gulp.


Fifteen Minutes, Two Points and Heartbreak

The lovely Steph has interviewed me here. I love being interviewed but I find it very hard to say what my favourite books are; there are so many. I need a whole library. It was fun thinking up a superhero though. My team was actually banned from one particular trivia competition because we were just too good (that's our story anyway.)

In other news, my boys had a heartbreaking near-win on Friday night, against Geelong (who are the best team in the competition, so far unbeaten, and were themselves cruelly robbed of the premiership last year). Captain Brad Johnson had a shot at goal after the siren which would have stolen the game; the kick went wide and we ended up losing by two points. Michael and I were watching on TV and we'd jumped up when Johnno got hold of the ball; for one ecstatic moment we were sure he'd kicked a goal to pinch the win, but then we realised he'd missed and the world came crashing down. Ah footy.

It was interesting that the victory song in the Geelong rooms was the most half-hearted rendition I've ever heard. Mick Molloy later described it as "a devastating two point win" which is how it must have felt for the Cats. And poor Johnno looked in agony. Michael couldn't sleep for hours, god knows how Johnson must have tortured himself all night. Of course it's nonsense to say that one kick can win or lose a game, but boy it must feel like it sometimes.

Next weekend we're taking the whole family to Canberra to watch them play the Swans, so let's hope for a victory to soothe the pain.



Did I mention I'm working on a top-secret urgent collaborative project with a good friend of mine? It's going really well, in fact we're in the final strait, with only a handful of chapters to go. If anything, we've written too much already, which is a luxurious position to be in!

I don't want to talk about the actual book itself (more on that later), but my Mystery Friend and I (oh okay, you all know it's Penni) agreed the other day that it's the perfect project for working mums.

Because we're taking turns to write chapters, the person who's "off" can't think too hard about what to write next; you have to wait and see what happens, so you can fit in with what the other person's said. (We do have permission to tweak each other's chapters, but so far we have only used that right sparingly.)

Because each chapter is only a couple of thousand words, there's no temptation to push yourself too far -- "Oh, I'll see if I can write four thousand words today..."

Conversely, because we know the other author is waiting for the next installment, there's no temptation to be completely slack -- "Oh, I think I'll forget about writing today and just eat chocolate in front of Oprah." (Not that I would ever do that.)

Best of all, there is the constant fresh surprise of a new chapter, new action in the story, appearing every few days without any effort on your part! It's magic! It's like the novel is writing itself!

And because we've set up the outline and agreed to it, we're free from that torture of indecision that always strikes midway through any writing project -- "The second half is rubbish, the plot doesn't make sense, I know, maybe I should write it from the pig's perspective!" Paradoxically, there's been some security in giving up total control.

But equally, for the first time, I genuinely can't see inside the heads of all my characters, because, well, they're not all mine! At first it was deeply scary writing dialogue and action for someone else. But it's become easier, as I've grown to know and love the characters better.

The whole thing is/has been a huge amount of fun, and in unexpected ways. More later.


Things I Could Do Right Now Instead Of Writing

stack the breakfast plates in the dishwasher
listen to the Grade 2s reading at school
fill out Steph's interview questions
make the beds
footy tipping
ring my mum
confiscate all the toys in the living room in accordance with my new pack-it-away-or-lose-it policy
read the paper
make a cup of tea
check the letterbox
figure out the route to my sister-in-law's where I have to drive tomorrow


What I Picked Up At The Library Book Sale

This sale in the local scout hall is my three-monthly treat. Lots of people seem to treat it as a book exchange, so you can often pick up good quality non-library books, too. This was my haul:

For Evie
The Fairy Catalogue, Sally Gardner Full of fairy and fairy tale items (wands, dresses, castles) you can order by wishing.
I Spy School Days I pretend this is to encourage Evie's powers of concentration and observation, but I secretly love these puzzle books myself.

For Alice
The Kid's Book of Chess A good basic primer with lots of pictures of knights and queens and soldiers. Alice knows all the moves but she likes it best when our queens and kings chase each other round the board.

For Michael (who almost became a military historian and knows more about WWI than anyone I've ever met; one day we'll have to write a book together)
A Foreign Field, Ben Macintyre "A true story of love and betrayal in the Great War." Michael's read 100 pages already so it must be good.
Boys of Blood and Bone, David Metzenthen Another war book. I'm looking forward to this one too.

For me
Great Ideas for Tired Parents, Michael Grose Because I can't resist a parenting book. And I'm tired.
Oyster, Janette Turner Hospital Don't know anything about it, but I know JTH is an amazing writer, and I have to read grown-up books sometimes.
Life Lines: Australian women's letters and diaries 1788 to 1840. Now my interest in Aussie history has been piqued, I snatched this up with glee.
Queen of the Flowers, Kerry Greenwood Because I love Phryne Fisher and I haven't read this one!
We Are The Weather Makers, Tim Flannery An early cry to action on global warming. I'm kind of dreading it but I need to read it.
The Adventures of the Christmas Pudding, Agatha Christie I seem to be on an Agatha jag at the moment. If anyone asks what I read as a teenager, I must remember: lots of Agatha Christie. This is short stories so it should take about five minutes to gulp down.
A Sound Of Chariots, Mollie Hunter I grabbed this because it's a Collins Lion from the 70s and some of my favourite childhood books were Lions (Gillian Avery, Noel Streatfeild, Alan Garner). It's a very intense semi-autobiographical account of a young Scottish girl dealing with her father's death (he was wounded in the Great War -- another war book!) by writing. Having never heard of Mollie Hunter I was surprised to see that she's still alive and was writing in 2003, and there was a list of books as long as your arm. and she won the Carnegie Medal. I'm astonished I haven't come across her before. Not sure if it would appeal to kids now, but I'm immersed in this one.

All this for $7, not bad eh?



I'm in the middle of a top secret urgent collaborative project about which I can say very little, except that it's a YA novel. This morning I found myself writing a scene where two girls alter their appearance, and in doing so, take on aspects of each other's personality.

It struck me that variations of this scene have appeared in several of the books that my collaborative partner and I have written lately. The girls swap clothes, change each other's hair, put on makeup or take it off, and become different people. It's all about trying on different identities, becoming someone else for a night or a day. It's almost too obvious to note that this experimentation with identity, trying to work out who am I? is a central project for most young people. It's the time in your life when you have the most freedom to play with different looks, different ways of being, when all your options are open.

Little kids do it too. This week Evie has been to kinder once as Snow White, once as a fairy and once as a "schoolgirl."

I wish I'd had more confidence, when I was sixteen, to try different styles of being, but I was crippled by acute self-consciousness and my main desire at the time was to be invisible. I didn't realise then that strong visibility can be a disguise, too, and perhaps a more effective one, than trying to melt into the shadows.