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Here’s a tiny bit of book. My book. Yikes. 

Good grief, the last time I blogged was three months ago and I was ordering cheese for H’s exhibition. Well, the exhibition came and went and was a resounding success, and we have only just finished eating the thirteen kilograms of cheese that accompanied it.

My book is now at page proof stage, which for those of you not indentured to the publishing industry means the editing is more or less finished and the words have been laid (lain? anyone here an editor?) out into the design the pages will have when it is a real live bound book. It’s being proofread by a professional, and I’m reading it, and so are a few other people whose eagle eyes I trust. Next week I’m going round to an editor friend’s house to read it aloud to her, which will no doubt throw up a few more errors we can fix. It’ll be like audio books would have been in the olden days, before recording existed, when authors had to go from house to house reading their books aloud to people while they did the ironing, or sat in the back of the car reading to them while they drove to Canberra. (more…)

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Like sorting Lego into colours, listing your worries makes you feel like you’re making progress. In both cases this is an illusion.

I’m supposed to be revising my manuscript. I’m supposed to be making the characters appear at the right times and the jokes be funny and the poignant parts be more plentiful and the scenes that don’t carry the plot forward be gone. But I can’t because I have too much panicking to do.

When I get like this, my first instinct is to panic at other people. Those in prime position to cop the panic are H and my Mum. I’ve panicked quite hard at them over the past few days and they’ve, in one voice, said ‘make a list of all the problems’ and ‘take the list to your counseller and stop banging on to us’. Obviously they said this in a nicer way.

What they probably really meant was ‘make a list and publish it on the internet, so there is a permanent record of your lunacy’, so that’s what I’ll be doing this morning.

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IMG_5708On Sunday I started a three-day writer’s retreat at my parents’ weekend house in the country. The plan was to come home after dinner on Wednesday. Today, Tuesday, I finished that retreat, at 4.55 am.

I’ve done a couple of these little three-day stints in the past few months, and until now they’ve been fantastic for getting a huge amount of work done in a really short time. There’s something about not having to get small people’s lunches made, clothes on, and delivered to school and preschool, then not having to plan dinner, shop for dinner, and do laundry and bath, dinner and bed that really helped me focus on the book.

Lots of people, when I said I was going to the country on my own to write, expressed concern. Mostly the people who have actually been to the house, because it is big, old and, not to put too fine a point on it, haunted. (more…)

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Seven year olds can make their own fairy bread. That’s dinner for the rest of the year sorted. 

I’m a long way through the writing of this first book but I’ve hit a little wall. It’s not a big or hard wall, and it’s nothing to do with the book (which will be great and excellent so my publisher who reads this need not freak out and go into labour or anything), it’s just a wall with a sign on it that says ‘nearly there: reduce speed now’.

It’s to do with the fact that if I keep writing at the rate I have been I will finish it well before the deadline and then what fun will having a deadline be? For surely the only point of a deadline is for it to cause enormous trauma and misery to me and everyone around me, right? Like the deadline for my thesis at university, which was approached correctly, by doing bugger bloody all for months on end and then writing almost the whole thing the night before it was due. (more…)

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Here’s my awful ugly new desk chair, rehearsing its look for next Book Week, when it plans to go as Doris the Desk Chair Fairy

We’ve had Book Week, and now there doesn’t seem much else to look forward to until next Book Week. For my non-Australian readers (and WordPress would have me believe there are one or two of you in Papua New Guinea and Denmark), Book Week is a week when kids get to go to school dressed as their favourite book character. All through primary school it was hands-down my favourite day of the year.

To celebrate Book Week this year, I wrote a big chunk of Book and I exercised all my self-control to let May Blossom do her own thing for her costume. I’m reasonably easygoing about what my kids dress up as for things like Halloween and dress-up parties – usually at least one kid goes as some sort of cat — but I did have to take myself to one side and have a serious chat bout how I’m no longer the kid and I’m not the one dressing up and my child is her own person and thus should be permitted to have her own thoughts and feelings about books. Operation Don’t Be A Book Week Dictator went pretty successfully. I only made a few suggestions about Hermione Granger, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Heidi, which were all overruled in favour of someone called Lydia The Reading Fairy.

May Blossom is a fan of a series called the Rainbow Magic books. There are umpty-gasquillion of them and they are all nearly identical except for the fairy-protagonist. There’s Phoebe the Fashion Fairy, Melissa the Sports Fairy, Harriet the Hamster Fairy, Nora the Netflix Fairy, Abigail the Attitude Fairy, Ella the Eyeroll Fairy, Betty the Brother-hating Fairy. Some of those may be forthcoming titles. (more…)

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Curious George is a movie that can penetrate even the most noise-cancelling of headphones. Writing a novel in the same room as a four-year-old watching Curious George is not in my top 10 productivity tips.

It’s been a long time between posts here on Life With Gusto because I’ve been devoting my writing hours and, frankly, all my jokes, to this novel I’ve been working on. That seems to have paid off because a very nice fiction publisher at HarperCollins has acquired it, and its younger sibling which is currently only a gleam in its mother’s eye, for publication.

This is a dream come true, as I say in the press release they sent out today*, only slightly marred by the fact that I now have to do a huge amount of work. Now don’t get me wrong, I love hard work. Mad for it. It’s just that up until now I haven’t had to juggle a whole lot of it with those attention-sapping, disrespects of deadlines and creative process known as my children. But everyone else manages it and so will I, and I’ll complain about it extensively here on the blog.

The news of this book deal has been received with great excitement by almost all my family and friends, with the notable and vocal exception of Garnet. To be fair though, he’s been really sick the past couple of weeks with influenza, which is currently tearing through our community. (more…)

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J. K. Rowling almost certainly had this exact pencil case in primary school.

We’ve just finished reading the first Harry Potter book to May Blossom. It’s been excellent timing as, like Harry in the Philosopher’s Stone, May Blossom is about to start school. But I would like to make a complaint: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is unrealistic. The parts about the school itself are fine. Primary school is largely about confronting dragons and trolls, as far as I recall (although in my day it was more bomb scares and the ghost of Lady Hay). But the back-to-school shopping part? Utter fantasy.

First of all, Harry’s parents don’t have to do it, because they are conveniently dead. I’m not saying being murdered by Voldemort is preferable to a Sydney shopping centre in January, but it’s a close-run thing. Instead, Harry is taken by Hagrid to Diagon Alley, which is a lovely little one-stop outing. They begin in a  pub, where everyone’s having sherry. Smart move — sober back-to-school shopping is for fools. Next they head into the Alley itself, were all the ittle shops sell one thing each: robes, wands or critters. You know what is not like Diagon Alley? Chatswood. (more…)

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