Writing at Super Zu and other oxymorons.

Recently I posted about some of the restrictions we place on our writing, such as needing the perfect, conducive atmosphere; maybe a studio space and hours of uninterrupted time. These restrictions only succeed in one thing and that is curtailing our writing.

In an effort to demonstrate that it is possible to ‘write in the cracks’ as my friend and legit fabulous author Catherine Deveny says, I am writing this post from the seventh circle of hell – Super Zu.

For those of you who have blessedly avoided indoor children’s playgrounds let me give you a bit of an illustration. Upon entering Super Zu all of your senses are instantly assaulted in every way. Your eyes are blinded by the overwhelming scale of primary colours – how can there be so much blue, yellow and red in one space?

Your ears are swiftly overcome by the screeching of a thousand children, not in fun it would seem. Surely some blood-curdling terror must be befalling them to elicit such pained cries.

As you wind your way through the shrieking, oblivious children your olfactory senses are the next cop it. What even is that smell? A fart? Actual poo? It’s also a bit sweet, like maple syrup. You look around trying to identify the source so you can set up base camp as far from it as possible. But it’s no use. All the children are either pulling out wedgies or pulling out boogers and eating them. Any one of them could be the culprit.

You find a table as far from the masses as possible. Naturally it has been relieved of all its chairs since it seems to be a rule that you can only enter Super Zu with a minimum of 15 children. So you beg pardon and interrupt all the parents group chats to see if there’s possibly a spare chair. ‘Oh gosh sorry, we need all 35 of these’. Ok.

Eventually you find a seat that’s been squirrelled away up the back, along with a broken high chair and some random plastic balls from the ball pit. You take it, knowing it’s either going to collapse under your weight or it’s been pissed on.

Finally you sit down on your pissy chair at your miserable little table for one. Your solitary kid is long gone, elbowing their way through the crowd to get to the big slide. You take out your laptop and place it in front of you, rest your wrists on the edge of the table and…wait. What’s that? Why are your wrists sticky? You look down and realise the remnants of a milkshake are gently oozing their way out from under your laptop and onto your arms. Perfect. Do you have a wet wipe? Do you bollocks. You mop up the mess with the wafer thin serviettes from the cafe and curse your decision to come to this den of squalor in the first place.

The only sense that has yet to be abused is that of taste and you’re likely to escape unharmed there since no morsel of foulness from the ‘cafe’ will cross your lips.

Oh well, as Meatloaf sang, One out of Five Ain’t Bad. I’m going to finish off with a little poem about everyone’s favourite indoor play centre:

Super Zu, Super Zu

What have I ever done to you?

Why is it so freakin loud?

Why is there such an unruly crowd?

Why does everything smell so bad?

Why do kids scream like they’re sad?

Is there any food to buy

That hasn’t been in your deep fry?

Tell me is there any chance

That that kid hasn’t wet his pants?

At the top of the giant slide

That’ll make a slippery ride

And would it be ok to buy

A seat for every bum inside?

Oh Super Zu, Super Zu

Honestly, it’s me, not you

On the whole you’re really great

To take the kids for a play date

But overall I think you’ll find

It’s very hard to write inside

Although it seems that’s not quite true

‘Cause here’s a poem from me to you

Ah Super Zu. What a special place. And in fact, it is possible to write while you’re here! I hope you all have a wonderful day, wherever you are and however you can fit in your writing. I definitely need a cup of tea now. Until tomorrow xx

Women of words

I was perusing an op shop the other day, as I frequently do, when I discovered a gem of a book hidden in the overcrowded shelves. ‘Women of Words’ revealed itself to me and I snatched it up to determine the premise. ‘A personal introduction to more than forty important writers’ the front cover read. Edited by Janet Bukovinsky Teacher.

I am deeply interested in reading female authors, watching female written and led movies and TV shows, so there was no doubt this book was right up my street. I paid the princely sum of two dollars and made my way home, rather impressed with my find.

Reading the work of other writers has always been a great source of inspiration for me and having my writer’s notebook nearby as I read has been critical for my recording of words, sentences and ideas that appeal to me as I go. I knew this book was going to yield an abundance of literary treasures, so I sat down, pen and notebook at the ready and began to read.

The first author to be examined was Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) who was, quite scandalously at the time, a huge advocate for women’s rights. In 1792 Wollstonecraft published A Vindication of the Rights of Women, which is considered one of the first feminist works in modern English literature. She had revolutionary views on abortion and divorce, and was, by all accounts, a woman of formidable intelligence. She died soon after giving birth to her second daughter – Mary Shelley, who went on to write the incredible novel, Frankenstein. What a family!

Women of words goes on to share an excerpt from one of Wollstonecraft’s works; a letter included in her book titled A Short Residence in Sweden, Norway and Denmark. The letter and her journey show her to be an adventurous, forthright woman who lived her life the way she wanted to. One particular passage stopped me in my tracks as it seemed to be still so relevant today. However I hasten to add that in today’s world, both women AND men, fall victim to this:

My clothes, in their turn, attracted the attention of the females; and I could not help thinking of the foolish vanity which makes many women so proud of the observation of strangers as to take wonder very gratuitously for admiration. This error they are very apt to fall into; when arrived in a foreign country, the populace stare at them as they pass; yet the make of the cap, or the singularity of a gown, is often the cause of the flattering attention, which afterwards supports a fantastic superstructure of self-conceit.

Mary Wollstonecraft

Oh what a line – ‘which afterwards supports a fantastic superstructure of self-conceit’. It makes me think immediately of people at the gym, who stare longingly at their own selves in the mirror palace for extended periods of time, while others, who may glance at them from time to time, do so out of sheer wonder, rather than envy or attraction.

Here again you can see the power of the writer’s notebook – scratching down incredible lines like that one and allowing it to lead you in your own direction, is a gift that writer’s really can’t live without.

I am going to keep reading Women and Words, learning about remarkable writers and expanding my writer’s notebook as I go. The next author is Jane Austen and, I’m not shy to say, I am a superfan. I love her writing, her descriptions of the social intricacies of the time, the humour in her words. I shall keep you posted on the women I encounter throughout the book and will share some of my particular favourites as I go.

As for you, are you reading anything at the moment? Do you keep your writer’s notebook handy to save those all too fleeting thoughts? Feel free to share any wonderful words, phrases or ideas that bloom as you read the work of another writer. Until next time, enjoy some tea and some writing xx

Smoke gets in your eyes

Today I got up and checked the EPA air quality rating, which is normal now. Can we go outside or is the air too hazardous? Nope. Too hazardous today. Change all the plans you had that involved outdoor time. Change your mindset. Because it’s not about ‘what do you want to do today?’ it’s about ‘what is it safe to do today?’

I live a reasonable distance from the fires that are razing our country, so I can only imagine the horror of living near to, or within the path of, one of these insatiable monsters. I used to live in a country town that was surrounded by forest. It was stunning, but it terrified me in summer. When the thermostat reached 40 degrees I would pack up the kids and drive to my Dad’s house in the suburbs of Melbourne, just in case. Perhaps that sounds alarmist, but I’ve always been pretty cautious where my kids are involved.

Driving to a lunch date today, the sky wasn’t visible, as it hasn’t been for much of January. Just a grey haze, that resembles a sea mist, but instead of the refreshing, salty, sea air, we’re trying hard not to breathe in the putrid smoke.

And it’s just so sad.

So much about this summer has been sad. The fires, obviously, the loss of life, both human and wildlife, the choking air, the fact that there’s still a discussion about whether climate change is real. It all just seems so sad. And yet, we cannot allow ourselves to succumb to what feels like an unbearable sadness. We have to continue donating, creating, sharing and helping in any way we can, not only to aid the fire-affected communities, but also to give ourselves purpose in the face of such desolation.

As I drove home from my lunch date I started to think about what I’d be willing to give up to meaningfully change my life for the sake of our planet. I started a poem:

Would you park your car for good?

In the garage of forever

And ride your bike instead?

Would you cease the unceasing consumption?

Of things and clothes and stuff

And make do with what you’ve got?

Would you put the convenience of the shops

In the back pocket of your memory

And grow your own fruit and veg in the yard?

Would you allow the taste of eye fillet

To gently ebb away

As you embrace a vegan life?

Would you forgo the European vacation?

Because the carbon footprint is bearing down

And take the kids on the train to the high country?

Would you do these things in the face of

Those who cry

‘It won’t make any difference’?

Would you secretly wonder to yourself

Will it make any difference?

When your neighbour still waters their driveway.

Would you do all or some or none of these?

When push really came to shove

And the country was on fire?

I’ve given my own self something to think about today. How do I want to live my life? How do I contribute to the catastrophe that has been unfolding in recent years. In order to contemplate these questions I most definitely need a cup of tea. I’d be very interested to hear how the fires have been affecting your thoughts and life? Until tomorrow xx

Photo Credit: Yarra City Council

One star, less if I could…

Humans are a funny bunch aren’t they? Sometimes they blow you away with their compassion, generosity, intelligence and kindness. Other times, you feel like you couldn’t be more disappointed in them. The bushfires in Australia have yielded examples at both ends of the spectrum. On the one hand, the firefighters and volunteers have sacrificed everything to protect us, Australians have banded together to donate, create, collect and deliver as much money and goods as they possibly can, artists have auctioned works and some journalists have covered the whole tragedy tirelessly and with fidelity.

And then on the other hand…well the other hand is just empty. Empty of leadership, of compassion, of truth. The other hand is worthless and useless but thrusts itself loudly into the path of others, insisting on handshakes. It also sprinkles a fair helping of misinformation and blame around. The other hand is a constant source of disappointment and shame.

The bushfires have certainly highlighted the entire spectrum of humanity in Australia from the uplifting, inspirational humans, to the self-serving, fear-mongering trolls. The good news is there’s many, many more of us who care and feel deeply about showing kindness and compassion, and those who don’t seem to be a sad but powerful group of ageing men.

But this post was not meant to be a scathing critique on the woeful leadership this country is currently enduring, though I’m sure you’ll forgive that it cannot be helped when one turns one’s mind to the situation. This post was intended to be a light-hearted look at one of the other ways humankind shows just what a bunch of jerks they can be, and that is through online reviews.

When I started working in retail at the ripe old age of 14 years and 9 months I was told that if a customer is satisfied they’ll tell one person about their experience but if they’re unhappy they’ll tell nine. NINE PEOPLE! Woah. That was a lot! So for the most part I was the cheeriest checkout person at Woolies, before I upgraded to the cheeriest ice-cream scooper at Cone and Cup in Myer Melbourne. (I did have one run in with one customer who was vile and actually said to me ‘Don’t you know the customer is always right?’ to which I replied ‘Well if you’re such a soft-serve expert why don’t you strap on an apron and come do it yourself.’ Unjustly I got in trouble for that).

Nowadays though we have online reviews and your audience is unlimited. My partner and I often find the comments people bother to write incredulous, particularly the one star ratings. Now for me, to leave a one star rating anywhere, I’d have to be verbally abused, or a severed finger turn up on my plate, or some other such horror. But not so for many of the ‘HUGELY DISAPPOINTED’ reviewers out there. I particularly enjoy the reviews that read something like this, ‘everything was amazing, but…’

‘Cafe was cosy, nice ambience, the food was excellent and the staff attentive, but when I asked the waiter to tell a breastfeeding mother to cover up they refused! Can you believe it? I had to eat while someone was flashing their breasts around the cafe like a stripper. It was as though I was being breastfed. One star, less if I could.

I understand that sometimes people have legitimately bad experiences, for instance if the cafe in my fictitious example had’ve asked the breastfeeding mother to cover up then, yeah, one star. But if you read any of the one star ratings they’re generally a great big pile of self-righteous nonsense, often with some racism sprinkled in for good measure.

Recently on a holiday in Malaysia my partner and I decided to create a list of reasons whinging punters might write ‘One star, less if I could’ reviews about the hotel we were staying at. Here we go:

No hot chips available by the adults only pool – one star, less if I could

The water recirculating through the pool pumps was too noisy! Spoiled the ambience – one star, less if I could

Too much lime syrup in the Gin Fizz cocktail. Made my mouth tingle in a bad way – one star, less if I could

The sand on the beach was too course, needed to be much finer – one star, less if I could

The haze was too hazy, couldn’t see the view properly – one star, less if I could

No ambient music by the pool, could hear the children laughing incessantly – one star, less if I could.

I love lists like these. They’re fun and you can add to them at any time. I can absolutely imagine myself creating a character who is perpetually disappointed in experiences and leaves ‘one star, less if I could’ reviews ad nauseam.

Grab your writer’s notebook and have a go yourself if you fancy. Perhaps make a cup of tea and give yourself a ‘one star, less if I could’ review for poor steeping, premature bag removal. Until tomorrow xx

A Barber Cuts My Hair

I had a lot of time to think today. I was bag-holder-in-chief at Luna Park. I’d like to say that I smashed all the rides with the kids but, since riding in the passenger seat of a car now gives me nausea, hurtling myself in every direction in a small, metal bucket may actually be the end of me. So there I was, perched on a seat near the Scenic Railway, or on a seat near the Enterprise, or on a seat near the vomit inducing Power Surge, just thinking all the thoughts one thinks while watching the microcosm of life at Luna Park go by.

And there is quite a lot to see. If you’re anything like me you can happily people-watch for an obscene amount of time, falling ever further down the rabbit hole of ‘what’s their life like?’ and creating infinite backs stories for these strangers.

What caught my attention today though was a young boy, perhaps a teenager, and his hair was remarkably similar to mine. Super curly on top and shorter around the sides. It got me thinking about the journey I’ve been on with my hair and the way hair seems to be so caught up with a woman’s worth.

A few years ago I shaved my head to raise money for the Leukemia Foundation’s Greatest Shave. I’d done it once before but this time was different because I was using my platform at the school I worked at to raise more money. It felt different in another way too. This time it wasn’t just about raising money for cancer research. This time I felt compelled to do it to show people that absolutely nothing important about me is visible from the outside. My hair, face, weight (my teeth!). That is all superficial and inconsequential.

Everything important about me is visible through my words and my actions. My hair does not make me a ‘better’ person, or more worthy of attention, praise or love, but society tells us that it does.

K Portier

In the lead up to shaving my hair countless people told me how ‘brave’ I was. I understood what they were getting at but I didn’t think it was brave. Why should it be ‘brave’ for a woman to cut her hair or shave her head? The fact that so many people saw it as a brave act only served to highlight my point – that a woman’s hair is irredeemably entwined with her worth and without it we’re somehow less than we were.

The day arrived, my head was shaved, and the students cheered. I raised somewhere over $5000, and loved the feel of the wind on my scalp. For about 2 years I kept my hair at number one or two length. I got used to the ease of it and I liked it, much to the surprise of many who couldn’t help saying things like: ‘Oh you’re keeping it shaved? You like it then?’ Um, yes. I do. But thanks for letting me know you don’t.

When I decided to grow it out, or at least try to (the possibility of me hating the awkward middle stage meant I was likely to strip it all off again) I decided to visit a barber. I wanted to keep the curls that had grown back on top, but get a fade on the sides. I found a place, local to me, that was reasonably priced. As I expected, all the barbers were men and I found the experience intimidating. I have begun a poem in an effort to capture my discombobulated feelings. It’s not finished or polished, but I needed to write it. It’s called ‘A Barber Cuts My Hair’

Entering the barber shop

No one looks up

Shavers dance across mens heads

And I sit down

A man waiting next to me

Sniffs and snorts loudly

Scissors trim wiry beards

And I sit quietly

A poster watches over me

She winks from behind her cascading curls

Dark, discarded hair makes patterns on the floor

And I sit timidly

There’s no one left but me now

A barber calls me over

‘Does your husband like shaved heads?’

And I sit straighter

‘I don’t have a husband,

But my boyfriend thinks it’s lovely

Not that I asked him’

And I sit thoughtfully

‘I guess you wouldn’t like it then?

If your girlfriend shaved her head?’

‘Oh no I prefer it longer’

And I sit bravely

Clippers shave my wooly curls

I feel it coldly skim my scalp

His fingers gently move my head

And I sit calmly

People’s eyes are on me now

A woman in the chair

I wonder if he resents me?

The barber that cuts my hair.

I haven’t decided whether I’ll keep growing my hair or go back to the delightful, wash ‘n’ go ease of the shaved head. I guess at some point, no doubt on a scorching hot day when my hair is irritating my neck, I’ll fly straight back to my barber and have him shear it all off again.

Until then, it’s time for a cup of tea and a rest for this weary Luna Parker xx

How to write when you don’t want to.

Today has been the trickiest day for me in my new ‘writing everyday’ regime. I slept well but woke later than usual. Organised myself for dance class and took off. I sweated like a sweaty person through 3 classes (they’re only 30 minutes each so it’s not as hardcore as it sounds) and returned home.

As I walked through the front door the state of disorder really struck me and I was unable, as I mentioned in a previous blog post, to walk past it and go write. It had gotten to the point where there was so much clutter around I actually felt a bit claustrophobic. So I tidied and cleaned and rearranged until I felt calm. I made myself a cup of tea and thought:

I really cannot be arsed writing today.

Surely one day off will not a habit break?

As I sipped and ruminated on the idea of skipping writing my blog post today a different feeling overtook me. One that I’m not very used to. It was a feeling of motivation and it was coming from my own self! My brain was telling me to go sit down, make the time, follow through with my plans. So here I am.

What I’m discovering is – one day off may not a habit break, but more days on will a habit make. My bum is in the chair and I am writing. Whether it’s any good or not is irrelevant, the important thing is that I am here. Where as in the past I would’ve given in to that first feeling of can’t be arsed and thrown myself on the couch to binge watch some BBC comedy, not so today. And I’m not naive enough to presume there won’t ever be a day where I don’t come and sit here and write but the reason will be a damn sight better than ‘I can’t be arsed’.

Writing is hard and some days are harder than others, so here’s a little motivational poem to encourage you to persist even when you don’t wanna:

Don’t be so lazy, you right bloody tool

Go do some work or you’ll feel like a fool

The TV’s not moving, there’ll be time for that

But not ’til you’ve written some words you wee brat

Don’t say ‘tomorrow’, today is the day

Right now is the time, so get on your way

Take out your notebook, your favourite gel pen

And write ’til your finished, and then write again

All of the things you’ve been thinking about

Write from your head and write from your heart

Never quit writing, today is the day

The world’s waiting to read what you have to say.

Voila! Encouraging no? Pour yourself a cup of tea, pop your excuses in the bin and write. You’ll feel better for it xx

Non, je ne regrette rien

Edith Piaf’s song has always been a favourite of mine. I loved the way it sounded and the crescendo always made me feel the importance of her words despite the fact that I didn’t understand any beyond the title. When I started learning French as an adult one of the first things I did was print off the lyrics and try to translate them. My rudimentary effort went something like this:

No, absolutely nothing

No, I will regret nothing

Neither the good

Nor the bad

They are equal to me

Edith Piaf poorly translated by me.
Listen to the music and, whether you understand the words or not, how does it make you feel?

One thing is patently clear from this exercise – French is a very beautiful language. The reason I bring this up though is to turn our minds towards our own lives and think about how we too, can sweep away any regrets we may have and start anew from today.

In the Kristina Karlsson book I mentioned a few posts back, she shares the writing of Bronnie Ware, a palliative care nurse who wrote a book about working with people nearing the end of their lives. In it she lists the top 5 regrets people had before their death. They included the following:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked as hard, or as much
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings more
  4. I wish I’d been better at staying in touch with my friends
  5. I wish that I’d let myself be happier

When I read through this list the first two stuck out to me like sore thumbs. I’ve often changed course in my life, deviating from what I truly wanted, because of other people’s judgements (real or imaginary). Or I’ve just been too scared to do what I really want because of my crippling fear of failure and humiliation.

Probably everybody can relate to the second one. Who hasn’t felt like they’re working too hard and expending too much energy at the expense of mental health, family time or just plain balance?

For me, writing fits just plum into this first category. I haven’t had the courage to do it because I’ve felt like a fraud, like everyone’s better at it anyway so why bother? Or like people will read my work and laugh – not because it’s funny but because it’s woeful. This fear has long been a regret of mine.

However, I’ve still got some amount of time left on this blue marble and I refuse to end up in palliative care talking about how I regret not having had the courage to write.

As Edith Piaf says:

Car ma vies, Car mes joies


Ça commence avec moi!

Edith Piaf

My life, my joy


It begins with me.

**Footnote – I changed the last word from toi (you) to moi (me) to drive home the point that having the courage to write is down to our own selves, not anybody else.

Have a little think about that list of regrets from Bronnie Ware’s book. What stands out to you? Is not writing or not creating on you list of regrets? Write down your thoughts.

Let’s have a cup of tea, sweep our regrets away and start anew. À demain xx

Credit – Artwork by Inaxor on Deviant Art

Writing Rituals

Once upon a time I thought that all the planets had to be aligned, every room in my house had to be immaculate, a Blue Morpho butterfly had to flap it’s wings three times on a toadstool in the Amazon, and 17 male virgins had to be sacrificed in order for the conditions to be ‘just right’ for me to write.

I’ve heard lots of people talk about how their writing will really come along once their study is properly renovated, or the studio out the back built, or the local cafe gets wifi. What I’ve discovered though is all of these restrictions we impose upon ourselves are just distractions stopping us from actually getting the writing done.

Writing can be exhilarating when you’re in the zone and words just seem to be falling perfectly into place, or at least the ideas are falling out of your head and on to the page. But a great deal of the time writing is hard and yuck and exhausting and scary. So it really isn’t any wonder that we create these barriers to stop us from just putting our bum on the seat and working.

One of the many pieces of advice I’ve held on to from Catherine Deveny’s Gunnas Writing Retreat is this:

Write in the cracks

Catherine Deveny

Write in those tiny moments when you actually have a chance. You don’t need a 4 hour block in a writing studio in order to be productive. You can get some important work done in 5 minutes sitting in the car in the driveway. And I’ve done that. A friend of mine said only yesterday that some of her best writing ideas come to her in the car. So what happens to those brilliant ideas if she doesn’t put pen to paper the instant she’s able to? Well, by the time a 4 hour uninterrupted block rolls around for her it’ll probably be about 2055 when she’s retiring (providing, of course, we’re still here).

I’ve been reading an excellent book lately called ‘Indistractable’ by Nir Eyal and it’s been invaluable in helping me prioritise the things I truly care about. I’ve never been much into time-blocking ’cause I’m a laid-back, fly by the seat of my pants kinda girl. But actually that laid-back attitude really hasn’t served my writing life at all. All it’s done is present me with myriad reasons to procrastinate; TV, socialising, cleaning. All things that could’ve waited.

Now though, I look at external and internal factors that distract me and I time-block my day to either include them at an appropriate time, or exclude them altogether. And so far, it’s working. For the first time ever I am writing every single day.

I walk up the stairs to my study. I walk past the dishwasher that needs emptying, I step over (God willing) the LEGO trail leading to the door, I light a candle on my desk and press play on my ‘songs to write to’ playlist and I just write. My desk is covered in books and journals and inspiring quotes and that’s just how I like it. I believe it was Einstein who said:

If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?

Albert Einstein

Indeed. So have a look at the restrictions you place around your own writing time. Perhaps take an audit of your week and see where you’re spending most of your time when it may be possible to write. Are things that could wait distracting you from the task at hand? If you get a chance flick through ‘Indistractable’. It will not only help you prioritise more time for writing but will also support you to be more efficient at work and more present in your daily life.

Have a wonderful day one and all. Enjoy a lovely cup of tea and some time to write xx

The man who hated my teeth

Yesterday I posted my thoughts about noticing the world and how the simple act of being alert to anything that moves you, in any way, is worth recording in your writer’s notebook. You never know what the germ of an idea may become.

At a dinner party recently, where everyone coincidentally had lovely teeth, I was moved to recall a time, many years ago, where a friend of a friend, at best an acquaintance to me, told me I should keep my mouth shut so people didn’t have to look at my teeth. Now, obviously, this guy was an absolute troll, in the original sense of the word. A nasty, little creature with no care for how his words might affect me. He may’ve even taken delight in criticising me. Who knows?

But now, about 15 years later, that moment has returned to the forefront of my mind and I’ve felt compelled to write about it. The poem did not go in the direction I imagined it would, in fact, nasty-teeth man is just a footnote in the poem that turned out to be about someone else altogether. That’s how writing goes! This may not be the last time I feel compelled to write about teeth-man, and this is only the first draft of this poem. So there is plenty of work to do and countless other writing journeys I could take with this one idea.

But for now, here’s the first draft of ‘The Man Who Hated My Teeth’.

Drifting along the Adriatic

Young, excited, attracted

Like a movie we lay on the deck

And gazed at the stars

We talked about everything

You said you wanted a big family

That didn’t scare me

I imagined it. Us.

Entwined and in love

On we sailed

Some days you spent with me

Some nights I spent with you

We parted in Split.


I returned home

Waiting daily for the beep of my phone

That came from time to time

You returned home

Our reunion, for me, was everything

Your face, your smile

Your eyes that seemed to drink me up

I was so ready for us

You put your arms around me

Pulled me to you

I lifted my face

And you kissed my cheek

Croatia had been great

Europe enthralling

But now you were home

It was time

To give

Your relationship

Another chance

Deep breath. I smiled

And swallowed

And wished you every good thing

So friends we were

And so it was

In time you left your girlfriend

She wasn’t right after all

But I was still there

Still feeling

Tuesdays became ours

Date nights

Movie nights

Lines blurred again

But never enough for you

Or me

I knew some of your friends

You knew some of mine

At a dive bar in St. Kilda

A friend of yours, unknown to me

Leaned in and said

You should keep your mouth closed

Your teeth are awful

I looked at you

Into those eyes

Could you see my humiliation?

I didn’t smile again that night

Even now I catch myself

Blissfully enjoying a moment

With my hand covering my mouth




I have kids

You do too

Our friendship exists online now

My teeth as they always were

I wish you every good thing

Well now that’s left me feeling a bit sentimental. I think I need a cup of tea. Until tomorrow friends xx

Noticing the world

Two statements I’ve heard a lot in my time as a teacher is ‘I don’t know what to write about’ and ‘that student is a reluctant writer’. Both of these comments stem from the same issue – noticing the world, and deciding what interests us enough to explore it more deeply.

If someone sat in front of you and said ‘write a story about anything you want’, you may get straight down to it, or, like a lot of people you might sit there wondering where on earth to start. Equally if someone sat in front of you and said ‘write about your weekend’ you may have a great story to tell, or you may sit there thinking, ‘I don’t want to write about my weekend’.

‘Reluctant writers’ aren’t really reluctant. They’re just not yet practiced in knowing what interests them, or they’re not interested in being told what to write about. I understand that.

Here’s where the writer’s notebook comes in. Having a space where you keep all those beautiful little details you see when you’re out and about, or snippets of conversations you overhear, or information about an incredible gallery you visited, can truly help you to write about what you’re interested in. And if students have their own writer’s notebook to keep track of all their ideas – big and small, then they should always be able to find something to write about as well. Writing at school becomes less prescriptive and more autonomous and engaging. But what is it that we should be noticing?

Take this example; the other night I was out for dinner with four people. All clever and entertaining in their own way. At one particular moment during the evening I looked around the table and noticed that every single person there, bar me, had perfect teeth. Straight and white, like a Colgate commercial. As the thought passed through my brain it awoke a memory from many years ago. A friend of a friend told me that I shouldn’t open my mouth because my teeth would offend people. At the dinner table I instantly put my hand to my mouth to cover my giant laugh and heinous teeth.

Noticing this seemingly small detail at dinner set off a chain reaction in my mind that required me to write it down. Perhaps I’ll never use this tidbit in any writing I do in the future. But perhaps I will. Maybe I’ll create a character who is embarrassed of their teeth. Or maybe a pasty, little, nasty character who spends their time slinging insults at others. Or maybe it was just a reminder for me to go get that voodoo doll of my friend’s friend and twist one of those pins in a little harder?

Who knows? But what I do know is recording any and all of these tiny moments could generate any number of writing opportunities for you and students. The answer to the question then: what should we be noticing? is EVERYTHING.

Whatever catches your attention, takes your fancy, floats your boat. Anything that sets off a spark in you, no matter how small. Anything that makes you FEEL something. Write it down.

I’m going to put the kettle on and then I think I’ll write a poem titled The Man Who Hated My Teeth. Ha! Stay tuned xx