Archive for June, 2011

Trust your broccoli.

Where does your inspiration come from?

Some people believe in Muses; beautiful-floaty-sparkly-external beings that have the power to gift you with inspiration and brilliance, or withdraw it if you piss them off and don’t give them enough attention.

Others believe that it comes from a place deep within yourself, your subconscious mind, which is like a treasure chest waiting to be explored.

Anne Lamott has written a brilliant book titled “Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life”, and in it she explains that her inspiration comes from listening to her intuition – or listening to the broccoli.

“There’s an old Mel Brooks routine….where the psychiatrist tells his patient, ‘Listen to your broccoli, and your broccoli will tell you how to eat it.’ …when you don’t know what to do, when you don’t know whether your character would do this or that, you get quiet and try to hear that still small voice inside. It will tell you what to do. The problem is that so many of us lost access to our broccoli when we were children. When we listened to our intuition when we were small and then told the grown-ups what we believed to be true, we were often either corrected, ridiculed, or punished. God forbid you should have your own opinions or perceptions – better to have head lice.”

Anne’s advice can be applied to every part of life, whether you are a writer or not. People need inspiration, whether you are packing your child’s lunchbox, having a brain-storming session, preparing a marketing proposal or planning a holiday.

When last have you gotten quiet and tried to hear that small voice inside?  When was the last time that you listened to your intuition and not to the clamoring, blathering and utterly ignorant blabbering in your own head?

I know that I haven’t been listening to that small voice for a while now and that it is time to get back to my broccoli.

My favourite quote from Anne’s book is this:

“Don’t look at your feet to see if you are doing it right. Just dance.”


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Soooo … I haven’t been blogging for a while now because my brain has ‘left the building’ and gone to that place where brains go when difficult decisions have to be made.

It just came back and the result is: I’ve decided to shelve my first novel and start from scratch. Yep, 68 000 words are going in the drawer and may never see the light of day.

It feels as if I’m sawing off my arm.

The fact is that the story is just not strong enough. I don’t think my writing sucks (at least not all of it), but there comes a point where something can’t be fixed and any attempt at fixing it will leave it looking like a woman who has had too much plastic surgery. Fake.

I will always love my first novel; it is like that first kiss that you will never forget, no matter how sloppily bad and all over the place it was. But, just like kissing, practice makes perfect and, 3000 words into my second novel, I am already much more excited about the whole process.

I couldn’t, however, bring myself to say goodbye to all the characters. After all, I’ve spent the last two years with them and have gotten to know them really well. Which is why some of them are being reincarnated into the new story, albeit in new roles.

Wish me luck, for I am getting back on the horse and trying again. Hey ho Silver awaaaayyyy!

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The value of friendship.

Expat life has many advantages and just as many disadvantages.  For me, the biggest drawback by far is having to say goodbye to friends when they move off to beckoning shores. Some of these friends I will see again, some I probably won’t. Not because of a lack of will, but because of logistics, and that makes me very sad.

 Yes, I know that Facebook, blogs, email etc makes it easy to stay in contact. I also know that new people will arrive in my life, some will stick and others won’t, but it is not the same and right now I just feel like sulking because another friend left yesterday. OK?

I have been blessed to make the kind of friend who offered to clean a Chinese toilet for me (I’ve got a thing about germs) so I can go do my business;  gave advice when I didn’t know how to handle the kids; another held me back when I wanted to throttle my husband and all of them gave hugs and provided shoulders when life squeezed too hard.

We have celebrated birthdays and anniversaries, new babies and new grandchildren, mourned divorces and break-ups, laughed and cried, shouted and ranted and vowed revenge on anyone that hurt one of us; sometimes quietly, sometimes loudly. We have caused raised eyebrows at our favourite hangout and upset the neighbours more than once, and I wouldn’t change one moment of it.

These fabulous women range in age from 20-something to 60-something and are now spread out from Australia to America and everywhere in between. Each one of them has contributed to my life in ways that they will probably never realise.

So … I would like to raise my glass to Friendship and wish that every woman has at least one friend who will hold her hair back when she loses that last mojito.


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