Tag Archives: France

Writing Memoir: Unpacking the Past.

While being November, there’s been a lot of talk in the blogosphere about NaNoWriMo and many have leaped onboard the Nano juggernaut. How many words have been written. How people are progressing towards their target. Or, if things aren’t progressing as hoped, there are tips, words of encouragement and probably even a stiff drink or caffeine hit as well.

Being the sort who’s usually easy lead astray, I almost jumped onboard the NaNoWriMo juggernaut myself. However, thankfully I recognised a distraction for what it was and kept walking. I am quite proud of myself because I usually lap up such distractions and wake up in a different universe before I realise just how far off course I’ve ended up.

However, even though November in Sydney is a lousy time of year to embark on any kind of lengthy writing project, after almost ten years of fiddy faddling around with the Book Project, I am finally making headway. I bought myself a set of multicoloured cards and a file box, a box of black pens and a packet of multi-coloured pens and the research process is well and truly underway. Of course, buying the pre-requisite stationery is an important precursor to writing. However, I’ve also progressed to typing up excerpts from my Paris journal, revisiting Paris through Google Earth and getting in touch with people I met.I’ve even been re-working poems and writing new ones.

The Book Project is on. It’s definitely on!!

However, I always knew writing this story wasn’t going to be easy.

Of course, writing any great story isn’t usually easy. It’s exhilarating but there’s usually at least some kind of hard work involved…or much angst. As much as angst hurts and even destroys, it also does wonders for my creative juices…just like some huge, salivating slobber-dog eyeing off a bone. (Remember Beethoven: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShFd7rYSTkE)

Writing on the Window Sill at the Hotel Henri IV July, 1992.

Writing on the Window Sill at the Hotel Henri IV July, 1992.

At the moment, I am immersing myself in the Paris part of the story. While in some ways Paris might sound a bit clichéd and what hasn’t been written about Paris? However, I was an Australian in Paris and this story is going to land in Australia and even criss-cross the Nullarbor a few times between Sydney and Perth and even head North up to Geraldton. So, it’s not your classic Paris story at all!!

George and I at Nature's Window, Kalbarri North of Perth in 2002.

George and I at Nature’s Window, Kalbarri North of Perth in 2002.

I know I’m sitting on a great story. That’s not a point of pride or showing off. It is an adventure where the landscape reflects an inner journey searching for all those answers that we look for in our twenties yet through a distorted perspective. I had undiagnosed hydrocephalus, or fluid in the brain, which was an absolute time bomb ticking in my head which ultimately exploded. Yes, it wasn’t pretty either!

However, brain surgery, family friends, my faith and much reading and soul searching brought me to a place of healing. Not perfection but healing…an important distinction!

My husband and I met in the aftermath of that catastrophe and he loved me and accepted me (well, most of the time) for who I was. It was as close to an unconditional love as you could find and we’ve been through immense struggles, argued, almost fallen apart but we’re still together. We’re still walking together…along with our kids and the two dogs.

Our Wedding Day

Our Wedding Day

One of the troubles I’ve had with writing the parts of my story before meeting my husband, is that they do not involve him. That’s awkward in itself because like most of us, I’ve shut the door on all of that and we don’t talk about it. We don’t need to. However, through writing a memoir, it’s inevitable that a lot of this other stuff is going to dug up and even if it didn’t involve sex, there were intimate emotional attachments and these also encroach on what we have. After all, a marriage isn’t just about sexual fidelity. It’s also about sharing yourself, your heart and soul and grey matter.

When writing a memoir, there can potentially be a very broad cast of what might be minor characters in my story yet they’re still the protagonist in their own life. They don’t need to end up being a character at all. They’re just hiding under a rock and no doubt want to stay there in peace.

I need to respect other people’s privacy and also their need to have their integrity left in tact. They need to be able to walk down the street and feel good about themselves no matter what someone might have written about them. That’s even when it’s tempting to wield the pen, when you can’t use a sword. A bit of poetic justice might feel justified but writing a book is a responsibility. I am carrying all these people on my shoulders through what I say and also what I don’t say.

It’s no wonder I haven’t told this story before.

However, it’s a story that needs to be told. Too many of these motivational speakers and writers out there are selling false dreams. That if you want something bad enough, you can make anything happen. That’s just not true and it makes people feel like losers when they can’t pull of such miracles for themselves. Indeed, when they find out they’re only human!

I have had some incredibly dark moments along the road and these happen. People, especially young people, need to be equipped to get through and learn the incredible lessons these moments give us rather than avoiding the struggle or giving up but I also believe they often need a helping hand.

I’ve also got to be honest and say that I want to make it as a successful writer. I want that book published with my name on the spine and I want a bit of credibility. At the moment, I’m a gunna-do and that is even worse than being stuck in a real job.

Hey, Ive just written  1,074 words about getting started. I wonder if that counts towards the word count? Actually, I think it reads like a Mission Statement. A rather long one but something to keep me going.I’m going to need to remember why I am doing this and the hours mount up.

Any thoughts or suggestions? I’d love to hear from you!

xx Rowena

PS: I’m excited!

Easter is Growing Up!

This year, there was no Easter Hat parade with all the school children singing: “Here Comes Peter Cottontail hopping down the bunny trail…” www.youtube.com/watch?v=0G6F0pyaT7c Both kids are in primary now and considered too mature for such childish things.

Yum! All that yummy Easter chocolate!

Yum! All that yummy Easter chocolate!

To add salt to the wound,  crime to end all crimes, the kids shot the Easter Bunny, Santa and the Tooth Fairy with one very effective bullet not so long ago. For years I’ve been telling them they had to “believe to receive” but seemingly weren’t listening. They weren’t happy when I didn’t leave any Easter eggs out.However, they hadn’t left any baskets out either.

A very Happy Chappy!

A very Happy Chappy!

Somehow, I don't think eating a Lindt carrot quite qualifies for the Paleo Diet!!

Somehow, I don’t think eating a Lindt carrot quite qualifies for the Paleo Diet!!

Further breaking with tradition, we’re on holidays and so we didn’t make it to Church and even though we did try to find a service, we still missed out.

It’s also hard to think about the symbolism rebirth of the resurrection which is more in tune with a Northern Spring than Autumn in Australia where the leaves are changing colour and starting to die  as we head towards Winter.

In other words, our Easter was all topsy turvey and upside down. No regrets because we had a fabulous day. It just wasn’t how we usually spend Easter.

Yet, as John Lennon said:

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”.

However, while the kids were too grown up to believe in the Easter Bunny anymore, they were still keen for an Easter Egg Hunt and we invited the kids from next door over to join in the fun. We had a second hunt today and the rain hit just as the search began. Oh yes! Our scruffy Lady puppy dog snatched one of the eggs and tried making a speedy getaway as Geoff chased the dogs out of the hunting grounds. We don’t feed our dogs chocolate but we’ve only had Lady for about 6 months and she knows all about chocolate. She loves it and appears at the light whenever chocolate appears much to her disappointment. Chocolate, especially dark chocolate can kill dogs.

"Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day. I have a wonderful feeling, Everything's going my way"-"Oklahoma".

“Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day. I have a wonderful feeling, Everything’s going my way”-“Oklahoma” Frank Sinatra: www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNm76stOJis

We were also thrilled that after two days of solid rain and predictions of more to come, that the clouds lifted and we woke up to bright, glorious sunshine and we were out the door to make the most of what had been “the view”. The dogs were particularly thrilled and as soon as the gate was open they sped down to the beach. However, it was high tide meaning they couldn’t get very far on foot and so we bungled them into the kayak with me and they certainly got more than they bargained. Bilbo’s lucky his claws didn’t get stuck in the plastic. He was very uncomfortable and not the courageous adventurer at all!! You’ll read more about that as the A-K Blogging Challenge continues under K: Kayaking with Dogs.

Kayaking with two dogs onboard certainly is an acquired skill, especially with Bilbo who hates getting his paws wet and prefers terra firma.

Kayaking with two dogs onboard certainly is an acquired skill, especially with Bilbo who hates getting his paws wet and prefers terra firma.

My parents came round for an Easter meal. While setting the table, I discovered the glass table top reflected the clouds and immediately grabbed the camera:

Sunseting over Pittwater with the cloudy sky reflected on the dining table.

Sunsetting over Pittwater with the cloudy sky reflected on the dining table.

Despite wanting to keep this post simple, I couldn’t resist looking up Easter traditions around the world:

Sydney, Australia: The Royal Easter Show: http://www.eastershow.com.au/

France: If you fancy some spring cleaning, head to Alsace in France: http://www.frenchmoments.eu/easter-in-alsace/

Italy: we have Pan di Ramarino: http://sociopalate.com/2015/04/02/golossary-pan-di-ramarino/ and Agnello Pasquale, A marzipan lamb, is a typical Sicilian Easter dessert.http://sociopalate.com/2015/03/30/golossary-agnello-pasquale/

Ireland: http://www.irishcentral.com/roots/how-the-traditional-irish-easter-was-celebrated-120536204-237383821.html#

Germany: A beautiful German Easter tradition is the Osterstrauch. This is a branch or small tree decorated with hollowed-out eggs: http://www.quick-german-recipes.com/easter-in-germany.html

Argentina: the world’s biggest hand-made chocolate Easter Egg:http://globalnews.ca/news/1922341/giant-easter-egg-cracked-open-in-argentina/

Latvia:When I was in infant’s school one of the Mums who came from Latvia taught us how to make coloured eggs boiling up brown onion skins to make the dye. As young child, I was amazed! Check this out: http://www.latvianstuff.com/Lieldienas.html

The Phillipines: https://mangosalute.com/magazine/what-do-filipinos-do-during-easter

Weird Easter Traditions Around the World: http://www.mirror.co.uk/usvsth3m/flying-bell-weird-easter-traditions-5451736

Preparations for the Easter Hunt.

Preparations for the Easter Hunt.

How did you spend your Easter? I hope you had a wonderful day!

Anyway, we would like to wish you all a Happy & Blessed Easter reflecting on Christ’s resurrection while also enjoying all the fun stuff as well…Easter eggs, Easter Egg hunts and making all sorts of Easter arts and crafts.

Love and Easter Blessings,

Rowena

PS Here are some interesting Easter curiosities from around the world: