Month: June 2018

Fifty Shades of Grandma

I am (basically) the same age as Nicole Kidman and Kylie Minogue. We were contemporaries back in the eighties, trying to kick-start our acting careers. Um. Hold the bus, I want my money back cos I caught the wrong ride and ended up in feckin downtown Oldsville.

What happened? It’s not the genes. My mother looks more like Nicole Kidman than I do. It could be that I’ve lived a life of slothful excess, had five children and never much bothered with moisturiser or any kind of exercise other than belly-laughing and poking fun of women prettier, skinnier, richer and happier than me because they are soooooo fake.

I spent half an hour trying to pluck an invisible but spikey chin-hair off my jawline this morning before doing a weird thing where I scraped a bank-card along my jowls toward my ears because I read about it in a dodgy blog somewhere.

Kylie and Nic became superstars. I became a tragic, bloated, perennially¬† disappointed creature who lives on the sofa eating salt and vinegar chips, flicking at that damn annoying whisker. I coulda been a contender. Where did I go wrong? I’m not going to answer that because I’ve written two memoirs which kind of explain that in gory detail. The fact is, chips, cheap champagne, long afternoon naps, watching re-runs of Hamish and Andy’s Gap Year in bed at night while I eat a two day old curry of the damned and splatter yellow rice stains all over the sheets, is not going to win me the goddamn Academy Award I promised myself as a little hopeful, starry-eyed girl.

I’m about to have my fourth book released, the fifth will be out for Christmas. I’m writing like a crazy dervish now trying to catch up. Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans said John Lennon. High-five John. I have written a library full of lists of things I’m going to do. At the top of the list is the Academy Award. At the bottom, pluck that goddamned bit of wire out of my chin.

I’m going to channel Cher now and turn back time like a desperate rat on an anti-clockwise spinning wheel. I still feel twenty, or maybe thirty, inside my brain. My body just gave a wobble-laugh as I wrote that. Okay, thirty-five. So that means I need to shave off about fifteen years. I’m determined to be the hottest, most energetic, power granny on the planet. As soon as my hip stops clicking I’m going to crank out the old Jane Fonda VCR…..see OLD! NO! I am going to bop like a Barbie in front of Tracey Anderson because…Madonna and Gwyneth. I will drink green kale sludge. Whatever it takes. Because I feel like I’m in a canoe that is rushing toward the edge of Niagara Falls and I’m realising ‘almost’ too late that I have to start working hard now or it’s all going to get messy.

I woke up today and looked in the mirror and thought today….today you should get out of your p.j’s and slap on some lippy and get out of the house because frankly this gig as a full-time writer means I’m fast becoming a cross between Hemingway and J.D Salinger when I really want to be a cross between Madonna and Meryl Streep and J.K Rowling.

Writing books was my cunning back-door plan to get back into the film industry. Write the book. Sell the film rights. Star in it. Oscar. Four/five books later and I’ve ended up with my spreading butt cemented to the sofa while I tap out millions of words and eat Tim Tams. Not a Hollywood deal in sight!

This was not the plan. My plan was not unlike Nic and Kylie’s. You know….world domination in their chosen field. In the eighties Nicole and I acted in a movie each, both ‘discovered’ by the same director. She went on to be noticed by Hollywood while I cosied up to the cutting-room floor. Kylie bounced from Neighbours to ‘Locomotion’ to infinity and beyond…..and I sucked on a helium balloon and then sang that song at her twenty-somethingth birthday party. True story. Sounds kinda stupid now. Sounded kinda stupid back then too.

But stand back girls cos I can feel a second wind beneath me…(excuse me)….and my time is coming. I’m a late bloomer but just you watch out because I’m coming for you. It ain’t over til the fat lady sings and as I can’t carry a tune well I’ve got all the time in the world. That Fifty Shades book…that sold a gazillion so I reckon I’ll write a new memoir about my overdue rise to stardom and I’ll call it ‘Fifty Shades of Grandma’ and the movie mob will come knocking and I’ll play myself in the fabulous biopic of my life and voila ‘I’d like to thank the Academy….’.

So stay tuned for transformation. I’ll start tomorrow. I’m devoting the rest of the day to my chin stubble. I wonder if Nicole and Kylie get whiskers?

 

 

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Writing Memoir; open heart monography

I’m about to release my second memoir out into the wild. Am I completely mad? Well…now that you mention it. I’ve also published two YA novels so I can make some comparisons. I love writing. It’s therapeutic, cathartic, meditative, enlightening, enjoyable, torturous and sometimes even redemptive.

My first memoir was a coming-of-age tale of a wild and willful girl finding her place in the world. Although some of the subject matter was a bit risque (see sex, drugs and rock n roll) it was all relatively painless musings about my youth. We all went a bit off the rails during adolescence, didn’t we? Well. if you didn’t, you should have!!! Misbehaving, experimenting with illicit substances and bodies is a fairly mundane rite of passage and you just cross your fingers and hope that you come out the other side relatively emotionally intact…leaving broken hearts, empty bottles and frazzled, frantic parents in your frothy wake.

But this memoir feels different. I feel like, where I opened a window in my first book, One Way or Another, I’ve opened the front door, wide, with Madness, Mayhem and Motherhood. It’s kinda raw. It makes no literary pretentions, it offers no answers to the big questions and it isn’t a cautionary tale, nor one of triumph. It’s just my no-frills, hold-the-bullshit, nuts and bolts recollection of the nineties. I’d done the eighties thing in the rock memoir, big hair, shoulder pads and that severe line of rouge on the cheek sort of era and all that. Madness, Mayhem and Motherhood, let’s call it MMM, is the gritty tale of my decade of grunge. Seems my life rolls out against the musical background of the day….cos in the era of hip hop my frickin’ hip gave out. I don’t know what genre this decade of music fits into…complete leftover-scum-on-the-dog-bowl nonsense if my teenagers’ music is anything to go by.

Back to books. Memoir. Memoir is very much like sawing open your breastbone to sift through your innards looking for something that might look interesting on the page. I’ve recovered from my first one and waded on through comparatively easy rides through fiction where I just made up stuff about fictional character’s lives. That’s the stuff of dreams. Memoirs tend to be like living in a nightmare while you are writing/editing them. It’s so hard to relive your life and see all the places and situations where you should have or could have done better. Oh to be able to edit and proofread your actual life!! But alas you are stuck with your past. It is what it is. The trick in life is not to let it define you. It may be baggage but we can shed it, drop it by the wayside or onto a bonfire any time we like. But you can also just keep that baggage close by (in my case in a pile of ancient diaries and journals) and you can sometimes revisit and learn from both your mistakes and your successes.

Getting a bad review for a memoir hurts way more than one for a work of fiction for obvious reasons. Hexenhaus, my YA novel, was fiction, made up of fairy-tale forests and villainous villains and witch-hunts and hedgehogs….if someone didn’t like it, I didn’t take it personally. The gratuitous torture scenes weren’t everyone’s cup of tea. But a memoir is your thick, warm blood inked out onto the parchment of your own skin. It’s not about clever metaphors or snazzy literary devices. It’s just your head on the plate, your terrified eyes looking right at the reader, saying, ‘This is me. I am sharing me with you. Be gentle with me.’

It’s visceral stuff.

In the nineties, I was poor, I was mad and I was a single mother. Quite the recipe for disaster. And yet my story isn’t unusual. I’m not a famous person penning my gallant life story, I didn’t circumnavigate the world in a bathtub, I wasn’t the first woman to discover the invisible hairy marmoset lizard in the Galapagos. I just lived hand-to-mouth, making ends meet, wrestling the demon of depression, running amok on girls’ weekends, cask wine and crackers, Prosac and pizza….I still managed to drag home a famous muso but because it was the grunge era there were cockroaches all over the walls!! You’ll have to buy the book to discover if this said muso was from Cold Chisel or The Wiggles. There’s a scintillating hook right there for you. Yes, you have to buy it now!!!

Anyway….I will gnaw my fingernails to the knuckles as I wait to see how my pound of flesh in a book is received by the blood-thirsty, book-reading masses, shivering in me boots, hoping I sell enough to get my hip fixed (just kidding)! And I am grateful to have the distraction of editing¬† for my new YA novel in front of me begging for attention. It’s due out later in the year. Not one drop of my own blood was spilled in the writing of that one!!!

Madness, Mayhem and Madness. Out in bookstores on July 2nd this year (2018)