1. I’ll skim over the progress of my novel, because it’s going slowly and there’s not much to report. However, I do have plans to devote myself to it this weekend …
2. I have two doctor friends who’ve also written novels (both of which are marvellous reads, I hasten to add), and we’ve met a few times to share writing and feedback. Already, I can see our feedback is changing from carefully chosen words and tentatively made suggestions, to what we really think, and honest feedback is such a gift.
3. Dear Michelle and Jacquie, You were right: Nora was too insipid and that knitting scene was really pushing it too far. Thank you for your honesty. Love, Louise. x
4. Last Friday, I went for a dermatology review. I thought my appointment was half-an-hour earlier, so I had a long time in the waiting room, pondering my sun confessions. I don’t mind disclosing that I didn’t use sunscreen as a child—I don’t think it was even available. But I feel silly admitting to the coconut oil, and the sprawling on a towel trying to toast myself. Hardest to confess, however, are the solarium visits …
5. The dermatologist started the examination professionally, slipping his magnifying glasses down over his eyes, and scanning my face and chest. As soon as he saw my abdomen, he said, ‘It’s lily white.’
After a brief pause, I said, ‘I haven’t worn my bikini lately.’
6. (And after four kids, I don’t think I’ll be wearing it again.)
7. This week, I also sat in the waiting room at the Department of Transport while our younger daughter sat her driving test. I’m pleased to report that she passed.
8. I’m also worried and anxious and nervous that she passed.
9. Once again, I spent time in the waiting room at the AMEB*, although I wasn’t so nervous waiting through that exam.
Years ago, when I first sat in that room, I think I held my breath until my little lamb emerged from her time with the nasty wolf examiner. These days, I’m more relaxed, and this time I took my camera to help pass time. However, in the middle of her exam my daughter happened to look out the window and see her mother wandering the grounds, camera to face, snapping away.
8. I can’t have put her off too much because she passed.
9. And I managed to take a couple of nice shots:
10. I also attended a Mother-Son breakfast with my elder son, organised by his school. At its close, the Headmaster addressed the boys:
‘The mark of the man you are, is how you treat the women in your life,’ he said.
I thought they were beautiful, and pertinent, words.
11. A few times this week, I’ve felt awed by my children and the people they’re growing into. When they were born, I imagined what their characters might be like in the future, and I envisioned a kind of hybrid of their father and me. As they grew and developed, occasionally I spotted similarities with one or other of us, but often, they took me by surprise, and I wondered where on earth they’d come from—they were nothing like either of us. Sometimes, I found it hard to just let them grow, naturally, and become themselves, but now I look at them and the individuals they are, and they’re more delightful than I could ever have imagined.
*AMEB=Australian Music Examinations Board
Some photos from my week:
Lastly, I consider myself very lucky this week, in that my daughter has granted permission to post this video of her singing at a recital last weekend:
I do so enjoy your mental meanderiings during your week. and catching up with your kids. Your writing brings me smiles and sets off some nostalgia of when my kids were young and new to the world with such ideals and hope. Thank you. I have no idea what the letters for the second test stand for – over here we undoubtedly use something different. Love you. Keep up the good work. You inspire me to get back to my writing.
Mental meanderings is a good way of describing it, Betty, because it’s exactly what they are—I write the thought as it comes. I love writing more in-depth pieces, but at the moment, because I want to concentrate on my novel, I don’t want to spend too much time on these blog posts. I must say, I have an increasing list of topics I’m itching to write about. But first, I must finish this novel …
A lovely account of your week, Louise – what you’ve written about your children is just beautiful, as are your photographs :-). My girl is getting bigger every day and I’m starting to see glimpses of the adult she will be one day – it’s an extraordinary thing to go through, isn’t it? And your two doctor friends sound great – honest solid feedback like that is just invaluable, a real gift as you say – I always greatly appreciate it when I get it too. Hope this coming week is a good one for you too xx
It’s exciting to watch children develop and grow. The funny thing is, you glimpse their future personalities at a very young age, but you don’t realise what you’re seeing. And still, they continually surprise you, too!
The feedback has been invaluable. I know when it’s nailed a problem, which I can then fix. I don’t know about you, but when I’m writing something that’s not working, I find my motivation dips. Once I know the problem, I can fix it, and my writing drive returns.
I hope you have a lovely week, too. x
I’ve been really lucky to find an editor who can clarify all those little plot niggles I haven’t been able to sort out – I’ve learned so much from working with her on these first two books. And I find that a big sign for me that something isn’t working is when I can’t figure out exactly where to place it in the story – then as soon as I delete it (or add it to the rapidly growing page of ‘notes’) it’s as though I free up the flow of the story again and find it much easier to move forward. xx
Yes, I’m learning to spot scenes that interrupt the story, rather than wrestle with them, trying to make them fit. I do similar to you—I have an ‘Out-takes’ file, so the scene’s not deleted, not straightaway, and I still have the option of using it if I find a spot for it. Sometimes, with a few tweaks, it will fit somewhere else, and I love it when that happens. But it usually doesn’t!
I must say, I’d love to work with an editor, that’s why I want someone to like my story and want to take it on …
Yes, isn’t it great when that happens? I’ve written scenes that I know are necessary to the story, but they’ve just been in the wrong place – that’s where Lucy has been a massive help. Have you considered having an edit done on your work anyway? For me it was quite a different experience to a beta read, and, because I employed Lucy myself, I didn’t have to agree with everything she said (though I did agree with 99% of it). I do have fingers and toes crossed for you and your book, from what I’ve heard of it the story sounds wonderful and quite moving xx
Thanks for your encouragement. The thing is, this agent gave me heaps of feedback and I’m still working through that rewrite. (I’m realising, I’m a very slow writer, mainly because: kids.) I had my novel appraised about a year-and-a-half ago, when it was still embryonic, by a writing consultant (not an editor). She read my story and spent two hours with me, helping me straighten it out. It was so worthwhile. Once I’ve done this rewrite, I think I’ll just send it out, and if there are no nibbles from agents or publishers, I’ll put it aside and start a second novel—I don’t think I could stand spending any more time on it!
Oh, you’re very welcome 🙂 Did this agent say they’d look at your story again once it had been reworked? Just wondering, as they’ve given you such specific feedback, if they were then interested in representing you – for them to take the time to do so is a pretty special thing. And I hadn’t realised you’d already done the writing consultant thing – it is so very helpful, isn’t it, when someone for whom it’s a job takes an objective look at your work. And I agree there comes a point where we need to step away from our work and move on to pastures new – you never know, either it will be picked up now or you may come back to it in a year or two and see exactly what you want to do with it. I wish you all the best with it, can’t wait to hear how it all pans out xx
Yes, she said she’ll take a look once I’ve rewritten it. I was also contacted by a publisher, who’s waiting to read it. That’s why I’ve decided to take my time with this rewrite, and really give it my best shot. I’ve also decided that if they do reject it, I’ll put it away for a year or two because, as you say, I’m sure I’d return to it and see exactly what’s wrong and how to fix it. I wish I could transport myself away from it now, and read it objectively. It’s such a shame we can’t always see the forest when we’re in amongst the trees!
Gosh, it all sounds very positive – I can understand you wanting to take the time to get it as right as possible. I do agree with what you say about being unable to see the forest for the trees – when I published Oak and Mist I thought it was as good as it can be, but now when I look at it I see words or sentences I’d like to change – I think though this is part of every creative process and there comes a time, as you say, when we need to step away and work on something else.
Oh Helen, if the only things you’d change are a word or sentence here or there, I’d say you’d got it pretty much as good as you could! You’ve done well! I was about a third of the way through your story, when I had a couple of draft novels to read, and I haven’t had a chance to just read for enjoyment again, yet. I will get back to your story because I was really loving it! And I’m not just saying that—I really was, and I want the time to read it properly and savour it.
Thanks Louise, that means a great deal to me that you’re enjoying my book – it’s a very nice thing to think of you wanting to take the time to read it properly. To be honest when I look at it now it’s hard for me to see the story with fresh eyes, so to hear how other people see it is lovely. Thank you xx
What a fabulous week Louise, had me smiling, thank you x
Thanks, Rae. I’m sorry about missing the talk on Wednesday—I went to bed at 7:30! I hope you enjoyed it!
Beautiful, Louse. And what a gorgeous Mum you are! Even if your abdomen is Lilly white and your bikini-wearing-days are over. Your children, it seems have been well-worth the many sacrifices. xx
Thanks, Marlish. Yes, my bikini-wearing days are well and truly in the past. Not that I made the most of it when I could have worn them—I never liked flashing my lily-white abs!
Your post is such a wonderful reminder of the inspiration that is all around us! Listening to Alex evoked the feelings that some of your passages described so beautifully.
Sharing the passion and the pain of writing with trusted others is extraordinarily valuable and also a lot of fun – exciting to see everybody’s babies evolve. I can’t thank you and Michelle enough for your insights and sage advice on my writing.
PS I did the coconut oil too … And when pocket money was tight even baby oil. Serious groan!
Oh my word, yes, the freakin’ baby oil! I would have used cooking oil, anything, I was so desperate for a tan!
Haha! You’re right, I’ve ‘borrowed’ from real life for some of the singing descriptions in my novel!
And sharing writing is valuable and fun, as you say, and an absolute pleasure and privilege when you find the right people with whom to share. I’m extremely grateful for everyone who’s taken the time to read my novel and give me feedback.
What a talented family you have, Louise! I sang with a classical children’s choir for about 13 years and enjoyed your daughter’s performance – her voice is lovely and she has a great sense of musicality. I agree with what you said about being surprised by our own children. I can see much of my husband and myself in our boys but then they come out with things that are totally foreign to me and completely their own. Such a joy watching them discover who they are and where they fit in the world. 🙂
Wow! I’d love to know which choir you sang with, Nicole. Music brings me so much pleasure, and the kids have been brought up with it as part of their lives. Luckily, they’ve all loved it, although they haven’t always enjoyed practice!
My greatest joy so far has been watching our kids grow and seeing them become something completely, and surprisingly, different to what I thought they’d be. Not just different, but better! There have been times they’ve made decisions that I haven’t agreed with—like when our daughter gave up violin—but I just had to let her do it, and get over myself! More and more, I’m seeing how right the decisions they make for themselves are, and how happy and committed they are to doing the things they enjoy. It’s made me really question how much we try to mould and shape our kids, and how hard it is to resist doing that because we think we know best. But we don’t always …
Your daughter’s voice is amazing!! Oh my goodness! I did all my Speech and Drama training through the AMEB and Trinity and then sat hundreds of students (including my own children) through the exams as well. I’m glad those days are over. Love your photographs, especially the teacup and pencils.
I did them as a kid, too, and used to get really nervous. They’re good for discipline, and for feedback, but, like you, I’m looking forward to the day I don’t have to sit in an AMEB waiting room ever again!
I’m glad you liked the photos—I’m so enjoying taking them!
I slathered myself in baby oil as a teenager, roasting on Mullaloo Beach eek!
I bet you did—we all did! I remember lying for hours on a beach, skin slicked with oil, flipping my body over every so often so I wouldn’t just roast one side. Then peeling my skin off a few days later!