Archive | November, 2011

Am I am writer?

29 Nov


I am a writer. I’m not saying I’m a successful writer nor am I an overly-productive writer. I’m not saying I’m a good writer nor am I saying I’m a writer who enjoys writing very much.

I am a writer who is too influenced by the work of others. When I discover my own voice it’s then that I will become a successful writer. I wonder how old I will be when I find my writing voice? I am impatient for it but I also know it will happen when I am ready. When it comes I plan to write non-stop. I want to create a body of work that I’m proud of and I want to live through it in the form of teaching, appearances, movie adaptations…did I mention that I’m a dreamer too?

I am too influenced by the work of others. The novel I have been struggling to finish for the past six years segues from style to style. When I was reading James Patterson my chapters became short and my writing became choppy. Then I picked up Janet Evanovich and my dramatic crime novel started including food and wit. In desperation I picked up Stephen King’s non-fiction book On Writing which I read at least once every six months. After reading him I always feel closer to finding my writing voice but when I revise my work and I realise I am writing like him.

When I blog I feel like I have captured my writing voice, but blogs are not a book. They are what I do while I wait for inspiration to strike. Actually, it’s not for want of inspiration but I certain lack the discipline to write when it get hard.

I am a writer, for better or for worse because I have always written. Life is my research and my body of work will one day emerge. Do you know what it is that you have to do with your life? Do you know your dream? Are you good at it yet? Are you a work-in-progress like me? Are you still young enough to think you have it all figured out? Or are you old enough to know you may never get there?

Write or die trying is my new motto. And this blog is my way of practicing my craft.

La Dolce Vita – Jo Abi

Happy kids

28 Nov

My sister makes fun of me for some of the advice I give to our kids. She thinks it’s too grown up for them and they don’t understand what I’m rambling on about. They are aged 2 – 8. I think the older kids get the gist but I don’t expect them to understand it fully yet. What I do plan is to say it so often throughout their lives that they recall it when they need it most.

My latest offering is that they are responsible for their own happiness….not their friends, not their parents, not their teachers, not any game, toy or gift. They and they alone control their feelings and they and they alone are responsible for their happiness. One of our kids in particular is always telling me that they are bored. I used to try to find them something to do. The last couple of times I’ve lovingly informed them that that is not my problem but theirs and that there is a house full of activities waiting for them to discover. I told them to have a walk around and find a cure for their own boredom. As they wandered off I added that sometimes being bored is good because that’s when they get ideas for things.

I can imagine my sister’s reaction when they say this back to her. Aunty Jo says….but I will persist. This advice goes for adults too and it’s something I tell myself often.

How will you make yourself happy today. And how will you teach your kids to be responsible for their own happiness? I really and truly believe this may be the key to happiness for all? Simplistic or simple? But you get the gist.

Too hot!

20 Nov

Some days are just too hot. It’s Sunday and it’s still warm from yesterday. In fact, it was a warm night of fitful sleeping and the kicking off of blankets. This morning it’s already muggy before I’ve even gotten out of bed and I know it’s a day for hiding inside until well after lunchtime when maybe the kids and I will venture out into our backyard to play in our sprinkler.

Kids and heat do not mix. It requires military-like preparation to leave the house. Nothing can be forgotten. You need the usual nappy bag, snacks and changes of clothing but in addition – on a really hot day – you need lots of drinks, money to buy new drinks when the ones you pack are too hot to provide any relief, sun-block, hats, sunglasses and someway to keep the grownups calm so they can deal with stinky, sweaty, cranky kids once the novelty of being out of the house and the reality of being in the stifling heat kicks in.

My son wants to go to the beach. We used to live in Bondi and both crave a visit to the ocean. My plan was to leave my babies with my husband (it takes him a while to get moving on a Sunday due to a hectic work schedule) and we would head off as the sun rose and enjoy the beach until about 11am when the crowds descended. It’s hard to explain to him that it’s too hot for the beach. It’s a day when ice-cream melts before you can eat it, when you get sunburn no matter how much sun-block you put on and when your energy levels take a dramatic nose dive after a couple of hours of doing anything but just laying there. And you know, kids don’t let you just lay there. There would be the running away from the water, the collecting of shells, the building of sandcastles…I’m tired just thinking about it.

It’s morning. I’ve eaten toast for breakfast with my favourite butter and strawberry jam. I’m sipping coffee (position well away from the computer) and sharing my thoughts with you. My plan is to hide inside for most of today but the kids beg to differ. “Mum, can we play in the sprinkler?” I start to say no but instead I say yes. So my resolve lasted for about half a second. They threw off most of their clothes followed by the smearing of sun-block on little tummies and on pink ears, hats and the back door is thrown open.

It’s hot out. The concrete is already warm. It’s glary I need my sunglasses more as I get older, even to put the washing on the line. They are already squealing in delight. We have made lots of jelly and it will be ready just in time for me to use it as a bribe to get them inside when the worst of the heat hits. I will try and enjoy a few minutes of sunshine, I will not get angry when they accidentally spray me with water, I will mediate all disputes with the patients of an angel and I will remember to put the sprinkler and the hose away so our lawnmower man doesn’t accidentally run over it. I will hang out all the washing and remember to take it down before it fries to a crisp and I will indulge in some air conditioning – all the while trying not to worry about our next electricity bill.

This is, after all, Australia. Bring on the heat.

La Dolce Vita – Jo Abi



Laptop vs Coffee

19 Nov

Hot coffee is one of the worst liquids that can be spilled on your laptop…that and juice and probably acid. I was working on a blog on Friday, sipping my coffee, feeling creative when a toy came flying through the air, hit my coffee cup and spilled it’s entire contents all over my laptop. I screamed, turned the laptop off and turned it upside down to try and get the coffee out. I heard something sizzle. I left it for two days and now it won’t start. Bye bye laptop.

The worst thing is that it wasn’t my laptop. It belongs to my last employer and they were due to pickĀ  it up next week. I am ashamed to admit that I contemplated returning it and pleading ignorance to it’s demise. But I would feel too guilty. So I am going to try to have it repaired and I’m sure it will cost me all the money I was saving to buy my own laptop.

So I am on my husband’s crappy old computer. I hate the screen – it is way too big and bright. I hate this keyboard – not all the keys work immediately. It’s slow, moody and unreliable. And my children keep kicking me off it to play superhero games.

I feel like my creative tap has been shut off by the death of the laptop I wrote on every night. I feel so sad that I killed it after all it did for me. Thankfully all my documents were backed up. When I say backed up I mean I had emailed them to myself for easy access from any location – my own version of a cloud.

So I will soon be getting to know a brand new laptop. My sister has offered me her old one but I feel like I deserve a new one. I want one that is untouched by others, under warranty. For some reason I want it to be red. And because I have recently been accepted into my Masters in Creative writing course at Macquarie University, I feel like I deserve.

I won’t be drinking coffee while working on it. In fact all liquids and projectile toys will not be allowed anywhere near it.

La Dolce Vita – Jo Abi

Should I go back to work

6 Nov

Movies like Sarah Jessica Parker’s latest I Don’t Know How She Does It don’t hold any interest for me. Struggling to have a career and be a mother isn’t funny. It’s hard, heartbreaking, conflicting and soul-destroying.

I always thought I would be a working mum. I thought I could find balance and I thought my husband was supportive of this decision. He wasn’t and after having my kids I wasn’t so sure I wanted to be away from them as often as I would need to be.

Having children is a blessing. I thank God for them every day. But does that mean I don’t get to work? Is being a stay-at-home mum best for them? What about what is best for me?

I have two boys and a daughter. My little girl is 2 and since having her, my desire to go back to work has been stronger than ever before. That’s because I find myself wanting to be someone she can look up to and admire. I want her to see me as a successful, happy woman. I want her to see that she can talk to me about her life, how to balance everything. I want to become the kind of woman I one day want her to be.

Every couple of years I am offered a job that is very difficult to turn down. I have turned down four jobs so far since having children. This latest job offer is the one I have considered most seriously and I am so conflicted.

If I go back to work it will be a sacrifice for my family. The financial benefit is minmal. It will be difficult to adjust. It’s an inflexible job and leaving to tend to family emergencies will be difficult. But I may not find a job this good again. I have no idea what to do and no one to advise me as to what to do. I have never felt more alone. I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t.

So I think I’ll give this movie a miss. I don’t think having to lie about why you are running late for work is funny. I don’t think missing out on important moments in my children’s lives is fodder. I read the book years ago and felt quick sick the entire time. I felt so sad for her and her children. I could see everyone’s point-of-view but what was the solution? Where was the balance? And how can mother’s stop feeling so alone in the dilemma.

La Dolce Vita – Jo Abi

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