1. Who do you think you are
Am feeling a bit hesitant as I write this blog. "Who do you think you are?", you might ask, "What makes you think that you have anything valuable to say?" Well, I answer, I think I'm just a very ordinary person, recording the events of the last twelve months that led me to 'jump ship' and try to find my 'right livelihood'. Do I have anything valuable to say? Maybe not. I'll leave you to be the judge of that. But what I would hope is that at some point you connect with me and I with you, the 'ahhh, yes' of recognition, that's the very greatest pleasure in being a writer.
2. the story continues...
My disassociation with myself persisted in the weeks that followed winning the competition. If I compare the road to the moment of winning, with the road to that other happy day when my dreams of having our own home was realised, there is a significant difference. That dream, the one that began on the verandah in a rented home (see earlier blog) was driven by love, responsibility and duty to my family. The motivation was intensified by need, primarily because it was for others (though of course I benefitted too). In some ways, this made it easier. This time, however, the motivation was driven by more self-serving principles. Whether because of some self-confidence issues, a complacence with the quality of my life, or a nagging sense of guilt that to serve yourself was the ultimate act of self-indulgence and selfishness, it made the journey a little harder. One thing that I was certain of was that ageing had nothing to do with it, except perhaps to provide another prick of motivation - better hurry up before it's too late. So, in the weeks that followed I lived in a fog, not quite believing it was happening to me. There were telephone interviews, photos taken of me in 'writer's pose', newspaper articles, and a contract to sign. Rupert and Neti were leaving home. Had I prepared them for the world out there beyond my cupboard? At work I basked in the well-wishes of my wonderful colleagues and lovely girls that I taught. At home, well, I can't say enough thanks for the sincere joy expressed by my family. But while I waited for the November date of publication, I had to settle back to work and write a thesis that was now moving into its eighth year. Towards the middle of the year there was a subtle shift in my psyche. Family illnesses, demands of juggling family, study and full-time work were starting to take their toll. My yoga practice was shifting too; it was going to have a profound effect on helping me to take the plunge. But more of that later.
3. There goes a great man
My copy of Peter Steele's last book 'Braiding the Voices, Essays in Poetry', came in the post yesterday. Peter died recently. I had the great privilege of being under his supervision for my MA, which happens to be 'Whispers in the Wiring'. Before I met him I had already written a good third of Whispers. Rupert is a Jesuit priest. Peter Steele was a Jesuit priest. In a scene in the novel (already written) Athena goes to Rupert's office in the university to interview him. The day I met Peter, I sat in the chair opposite him at Melbourne Uni, as Athena had sat opposite Rupert. I looked around the room, as she did. Oh my God, I thought, I'm caught in a scene from my own novel! Peter Steele's intellect was WAY over my head, nevertheless, I could not help but be inspired by him and in awe of him. Whenever I came for our regular meeting, I would look across his desk to my manuscript, searching for that little red tick that meant he liked what he had read. I didn't get many of them, but they were gold to me when I did. A favourite memory was when he paused by a painting of Jesus and two of the Apostles, as he was seeing me out of his office. 'Look here', he said, pointing to the hand of Judas, 'See the dirt under his nails?' I gulped. I left the office and, after he had closed the door behind me, I stood for a moment in the corridor, profoundly moved. Peter Steele S.J. A.M. was a wonderful poet, intellect, and a man of faith.
There goes a great man.