Creative flaccidity

It doesn’t happen often, but I’m feeling a bit that way today. And it’s frustrating. Because I only really have a few hours on the weekend to work on fiction. I tapped out about 1000 words of 90s novel, but they weren’t very inspired. They were limp and floppy. Hopefully next weekend will be better. I’ve had a hot-shit week though, here’s some sharesies:

Ransom jacket final.qxd:Layout 1* On Tuesday night I went to see David Malouf talk about Ransom at Reader’s Feast. I reviewed Ransom for B+P and was thus lucky enough to be one of the first people in Aus to read it. Lucky, because it’s spellbinding. He’s a master storyteller – and much of what Malouf discussed at Reader’s Feast was just that, storytelling. The elegant, poised and youthful (for his 70+ years) writer had his audience captivated, talking about living one another through stories, and being alive even in the years before he was born through the tales told by his parents and people coming and going in the house throughout his childhood. (I was nodding along, having written about my parents era and the place they lived in Smoke & Dancing). The storytelling of the cart-driver within Ransom awakens curiosity in the old king, Priam. So Malouf discussed storytelling and curiosity in general, it being something he is becoming more and more interested in, and sees as integral to our lives.

There was a large audience, and they asked very specific questions about passages and characters in his other books, quite obviously in awe of his intelligent creativity, and he answered humbly and generously. I thought about how positive and youthful he seemed and I figured that the curiosity was what kept him like this. It was inspiring. It was also inspiring how he talked about it not ‘technically’ being his first novel in 10 years, but the first to be published. For him, it is about the writing, and working on something for as long as it takes, until it is ready to be sent out into the world. He seems as though he has true enjoyment for his craft (and eavesdropping, he conceded to one questioner, something every writer takes delight in).

He read one of my favourite passages from Ransom, where Priam is encouraged to dip his toes into a stream. The reading was both humorous and touching. I thanked Malouf later when he signed by book. And I loved how Mary Dalmau of Reader’s Feast introduced him with genuine enthusiasm. He is her favourite writer – on a whole other plane than others, she said. ‘My author’ she called him, and thanked him for coming with the gift of a rare second-hand book (I didn’t catch what it was).

* I received confirmation today from the Emerging Writers’ Festival (May 22-31). I will be on a panel called ‘The Revolution will be Downloaded’ with Rachel Hills, Darren Rowse, and James Stuart, hosted by Karen Andrews. And I’ll be hosting the ’15 Minutes of Fame’ nights also. It’s going to be really fun and fantastic, and I’ll share more info in the coming weeks…

* Did you hear about the floods in Coffs Harbour this week? I felt quite emotional seeing many of my old haunts completely submerged! My family and friends are all okay and managed to escape damage to their homes. But check out these amazing photos that have been put up on Facebook, including this one (this used to be the highway…):

highway

(credit: Angela Blackman)

* If you happen to be in NSW, you can vote for the new People’s Choice Award in the NSW Premier’s Awards here.

* On Thursday at lunch time I recorded my first review for ABC Radio National’s Book Show. It should air sometime next week, and I’ll let you know. There will also be a podcast available. And why not check out Torpedo publisher Chris Flynn’s review of the latest McSweeney’s.

* On Thursday night I attended the launch of Brendan Gullifer‘s Sold (and you’ll hear more about this book when you hear more about the above!). The book, the second novel by Sleepers Publishing, was launched by Peter Moon, who you might remember from:

Of course, he was hilarious, and Brendan was too. He read from one of the ‘Dally Love’ chapters in the book – I don’t want to say too much (yet), but this is seriously a character you will love to hate. He’s awesome. Stay tuned. I have to say, Sleepers is doing some really exciting things in Australian publishing. With the Almanac, that I mentioned last week, and with Steven Amsterdam‘s Things We Didn’t See Coming, I see them as a publisher with a fresh, timely, and talented eye. I’m glad both authors will also be appearing in the EWF program.

* I was invited to two other launches that I couldn’t make it to this week. That of the 50 new ‘Popular Penguins’. Happy to see a good Aussie contingent, plus Lolita, and A Clockwork Orange on there. Many more on my to-read list. Also, the launch for Overland 194. I missed it but I bought my copy from Reader’s Feast and will probably review it again for you. This has become my only must-have journal, because I always learn something.

* Was excited to see a big, considered spread on graphic novels in the Australian Literary Review this month, by Cefn Ridout. Also enjoyed reading Louis Nowra’s taking-apart of Kristin Williamson’s biography of her famous playright husband David Williamson. A nicely diverse ALR this month.

* I’ll be reviewing some Melbourne Comedy Festival gigs for RHUM over the coming weeks, and I’ll post links here. Off to ‘Best of the Edinburgh Festival’ tonight.

* I was included on two lists this week. The Top 50 Australian Blogs on Writing on CopyWrite – I’m at number 33, but if you’ll notice, I have a default Technorati rating as I hadn’t yet joined this service. Now that I have it appears (with the combined scores) I’d be much further up the list. But Jonathan Crossfield said he will do it again in June, let’s see what happens! Actually, looking now, I have the highest page rank and the highest Alexa score… just doing the math (ow, my brain). By my calculations I am actually currently number four. But then again, a lot of the other Technorati ratings have defaulted to 5000000. But still, almost as blog-loved as Max Barry will do me just fine! Thanks!

The other, in The Australian, I wouldn’t really call a ‘mention’ as it’s the Crikey blogs in general, and it’s under ‘Politics & Policy’, hum, but they do only name four blogs in this ‘strong stable’ and I am one of them. Nice.

* Here’s something fun! David Nygren’s short story published in a spreadsheet.

* We reported on this in WBN this week – first news of the Books Alive campaign, 2009, which will be held in September. But I just love this out-take footage of Michael Parkinson and Tom Keneally from the TV commercial. Who knew Tom Keneally was so cute and cuddly-looking?

11 thoughts on “Creative flaccidity

  1. Hey, Angela, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere to you, regarding Jonathan Crossfield’s list over at Copywrites, I am a bit concerned about the guy’s methodology – did he, for example, pick his blogs first then do the stats? as it is absolutely mystifying that he would not have come across Matilda at some stage if he was looking at a Technorati search for Australian lit blogs. Weird.
    Also there is no way I would be in the top 50 based on stats, it is simply a longevity with the Technorati service issue, as you have correctly noted.
    And I didn’t actually think anyone takes that much notice of Technorati any more anyway, but I’m prepared to be challenged on that. (There are some interesting comments on his post announcing the lists regarding Alexa too). I realise I’m being ridiculously picky, but really, leaving Perry out is incredible.

    Fabulous to see the Crikey blogs on that quite copious and compelling list from the Oz, which has of course given Perry of Matilda the recognition he so richly deserves. Not that you deserve to be hidden away under Politics, of course 🙂
    and thanks for the great coverage of the Malouf event.

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  4. Hi Genevieve,

    I meant to say exactly that about Perry and I forgot! Thanks for adding it 🙂 He is the Australian litblogger. Lucky The Oz writer knows this.

    Yes, I’m not sure about the methods behind that either, or how Crossfield would miss Matilda? Perry is linked from the majority of us, and has high google standing.

  5. You’re better at that than me Grog! Such a well-rounded individual.

    I walked out of the comedy fest show I saw tonight with an image of Kevin Rudd reading German porn, with a prostitute, and fireworks (Canberra joke, of course). 🙂

  6. Intersting list of 50 popular penguins. “Picnic at Hanging Rock”? Don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who actually has read the book. “And the Ass Saw the Angel”?? ON this I know for sure I’ve never met anyone who has read it – thought only 1st year arts students in the 1980s went near it… Would much prefer having another listen to Murder Ballads myself.

    “Popular” seems to have ataken on a different meaning over at the Penguin publishing house.

    That said there are a lot of great reads there.

  7. Grog – And the Ass Saw the Angel makes sense as Text (who Penguin distribute) are releasing Nick Cave’s new novel The Death of Bunny Munro later in the year. I’m actually very excited about this.

    I also don’t know anyone who has read Picnic at Hanging Rock, but almost everyone I know has seen the film. Good to see Robert Drewe and Helen Garner on there (though that isn’t my favourite Drewe).

  8. Thanks for sharing your daily stuff Angela.
    You said: “I tapped out about 1000 words of 90s novel, but they weren’t very inspired.”
    Yep, I think that’s certainly the case for many of us writing fiction. When I first started in 1998 I thought everything I wrote was inspired, uplifting and all round brilliant. (It wasn’t of course. Sharing my work in writers’ groups soon smashed that illusion).
    Now I know it’s a process and the gems lie in reworking, and reworking, and reworking. It’s taken me a long time to get comfortable with the idea that my first draft will be shit, to be faced repeatedly and so intimately with my own inadequacy. I still get itchy when I sit down to right new stuff, or an overwhelming desire to do something else.
    In my experience, quality only emerges as we rewrite and edit. And experience helps us accept the whole thing is a process with a pattern.
    For me, straight out inspiration is rare. But when I get it right, usually on the third or fourth attempt, it makes me so happy I dance around the kitchen with my iPod on (another reason why writers should work alone!)
    Keep up the good work. Your blog is literary fresh air.

  9. Yes, rewriting is a HUGE part of it, and also something I didn’t learn right away. I love that moment when something just clicks into place on the 3rd or 4th draft. Dancing is often required! And thanks so much for the compliment Brendan 🙂

  10. Hi Angela

    Came across this post while searching your blog to see if you had mentioned the discussion about Landscape at the SLV tomorrow night.

    http://slv.vic.gov.au/programs/exhibitions/kmg/2009/independent-type/events/thursdays.html

    “Literary landscapes: From Hanging Rock to Footscray”

    You can tell what search term I used! I should introduce myself as someone who has read and loved Picnic At Hanging Rock, plus the separately-published “missing” chapter. That editorially-snipped chapter is one of my favourite pieces of Australian writing.

    Here’s hoping you actually get notice of comments on old posts!

    Greg.

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