Delighted to be asked to share some of my writing experience on this blog. To be honest, I’m a little jealous of The (Oblivious) New Mama when I see those gorgeous Instagram pictures of her lovely son, but then I remember the twenty-four-seven job that […]
I recently read Mark Manson’s book The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck. It should be noted that this is the first non-fiction book that I have ever completed. When I eventually get around to typing up all of my book reviews, this one will be a good’un; until then though, I want to focus on one of the principles that really resonated with me.
The do something principle.
Before I dive headfirst into this post, there are a selection of quotes from the book about this principle:
“Don’t just sit there. Do something. The answers will follow.”
“Action isn’t just the effect of motivation; it’s also the cause of it. Most of us commit to action only if we feel a certain level of motivation. And we feel motivation only when we feel enough emotional inspiration.”
“Inspiration > Motivation > Action > Inspiration > Motivation > etc.”
“Your actions create further emotional reactions and inspirations and move on to motivate your future actions.”
“If you lack the motivation to make an important change in your life, do something, and then harness the reaction to that action as a way to motivate yourself.”
“You can become your own source of inspiration. You can become your own source of motivation. Action is alway within reach. And with simply doing something as your only metric for success – well, then even failure pushes you forward.”
As a writer, I have always used the excuse, “I didn’t/can’t/won’t write today because I’m not inspired/motivated/in the right frame of mind.” I cannot tell you how many days (years) have passed me by, my page remaining blank, my heart riddled with shame and guilt. Over the past couple of weeks I have written several blog posts, none of which have made it onto the website. Some of them I completed writing, only to have them lay dormant in my notebook; others I didn’t even bother finishing because I thought they were utter rubbish.
Right now however, I am breaking that pattern. Instead of handwriting my post first (I always handwrite everything first) and then judging my work and then curling up and crying in the corner, I am choosing to simply DO SOMETHING. For me, that something is to simply type. I am going to finish this blog post and press publish even if I could have written something far superior, something far more meaningful, something far deeper.
As much as I don’t like the term (nor the connotations that come with it) the fact of the matter is, is that I am a stay-at-home-mum. I have the absolute privilege to be able to devote all of my time to Pete’s and my beautiful son; while, on the flip side, all of my time goes to Pete’s and my beautiful son. When I was at work, I was able to see the results of my hard work in a very literal way. Now, I have to remind myself that I am doing one of the most important things a human is able to do – raise a child. Even when my day seems mundane and all I have done is clean the house and entertain Hunter, I need to remember that there are the results of that, even if I don’t realise it. Hunter has learned how to grab, how to roll, how to put himself to sleep, how to bounce in his bouncer. His two front teeth have already erupted, he can almost sit up unassisted, he can stand extremely well (while I hold his hands) and he is eating solids like an absolute champion. For the most part, I taught him that. And that is pretty special. That is me doing something.
What else have I been doing, I hear you ask?
Well today, for instance I baked a batch of pistachio, oat and white chocolate biscuits from the Wholesome Pattiserie. A couple of days ago I baked a big batch of cookies for a beautiful friend of mine, packaged them and sent them to her office. I also practised baking and decorating Madeline cookies for a friends’ daughter’s first birthday that is coming up. Not only that but I also have another first birthday that I am catering, as well as a baby shower. So, I mean, that’s super exciting!
I have also been doing all of the laundry to have ever existed ever. No one tells you that when you have a kid you will go from doing 1-2 loads a week to like, 57 loads of washing a day. So, yeah, that takes up about 45 days of my week, every week.
My ‘To Be Read’ pile is looking healthier than it ever has – which is exceptionally exciting. At the moment I am reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s City of Girls. If there was any book that was going to be able to follow up with how I felt when I read The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck, it is this one. It has been a very, very long time since I read her debut book Eat, Pray, Love, but the voice behind City of Girls is one of a different writer (I mean that metaphorically, of course). I liked Eat, Pray, Love don’t get me wrong, but it didn’t have the lingering affect on me that in had on so many others. But it was her non-fiction book Big Magic (okay, I just realised that THAT was the first non-fiction book that I completed. My bad.) that really got me paying attention to Elizabeth Gilbert as so much more than an author. She is just fucking spectacular and remarkable and wonderful and all different kinds of intelligent. City of Girls is in a league of its own. I am about halfway through it and I am happy to report that it is one of those books that stays with you even when you aren’t reading it.
See, right now, in my head I am saying, “that whole paragraph was useless, no one cares what book you are reading or what you think about Elizabeth Gilbert.” But, I AM PERSEVERING ANYWAY.
My son is a chatterbox who has learned how to repeat his actions when they make us laugh – he’s a regular comedian. It took him two days how to self-settle without his dummy in his own bed (yes, I am bragging about that because he is obviously a genius). I got up early to watch the Matildas play their matches in the FIFA World Cup which is the first time I have watched women’s sport – something that I am very upset about. I hadn’t realised how much I missed it nor how much of my identity it formed; sitting on the lounge in the wee hours of the morning with my gigantic mug of coffee and my snoring baby boy lying next to me – well, I felt more like myself than I have in a long time. It was nice to rediscover that part of me. I was looking at old photos when I came across one of me in New York. I was slim, I remember feeling really confident in my body and I was on the other side of the world with my best friend. It has taken me a while to be comfortable with the fact that my body will never be the same as it was before I gave birth. It wasn’t until today, however, that I really started to appreciate my new body. I’m still getting used to it, don’t get me wrong; but there is something that I love about the skin on my belly that is still stretchy. I jiggle in places that I have never jiggled before. I choose to look at those parts of me as a reminder that my body is capable of. Whenever I see a woman’s body that is curvaceous and wobbly and uber feminine, I swoon. I think female’s bodies are absolute works of art. Why then, I wondered to myself, is it so hard for me to turn that very same gaze and feelings towards myself?
Anyway – this post has taken me about five hours to write. Not even kidding. I have had my laptop open since midday and have been typing in between feeding Hunter, bathing Hunter, folding washing, dealing with the fucking cat, receiving a delivery, feeding Hunter again, getting him to sleep, preparing dinner, making biscuits, putting more washing on.
So here we have it, me simply doing something.
The collected works of Liane Moriarty, Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train, Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl;it seems as though the past few years the genre of domestic thrillers was born thanks to some truly epic female authors. I don’t quite know what it is about these types of books, […]
I was insanely excited to read this book; as soon as I learned of its existence, I was intrigued. Non-fiction, autobiographies and memoirs are not something that I read often, nor are they what I enjoy reading (which sometimes I think is a bit strange seeing as I only write non-fiction, autobiographical, memoir-y kind of posts), but there was definitely something about My Thoughts Exactly that made me purchase it, even when doubt started to creep in.
Before I started reading it, I will admit that I was scared that I was going to be as underwhelmed and uninterested as I have been with previous forays into the non-fiction literary world. I was tentative.
As soon as I began reading it, I knew that I was going to be pleasantly surprised (that’s an understatement really). I absolutely loved the voice of Lily Allen. I loved the simplicity of her words and that never, not once, did she give any more information than absolutely necessary. Her stories were her stories and nothing more – she didn’t ever need to beef them out with random details or filler fluff. And that is what I have never liked about biographical works; I don’t like being treated as a simple reader that can’t follow emotional syntax and experiences. More often than not, when I have tried to read biographies they are either too detail-orientated or too self-centred. Now I realise that as a autobiography it will be about someone and yes, will be centred around them, but there is a certain amount of story-telling needed rather than just “I did this, I felt that,” etc. etc. Ya feel me?
Anyway, I digress.
My Thoughts Exactly provides an honest, raw and uninhibited foray into the world of Lily Allen. Even though her experiences, lifestyle and childhood are so far removed from anything that I have ever known it didn’t stop me being able to connect with them at all. In fact, I was able to really empathise with her because instead of talking about the experience itself (private jets, drugs, a pretty full on stalker, famous parents, a deeply upsetting stillbirth etc.), Allen looked inward and spoke mainly of how she interacted with the world around her. The entire book felt like a really big, powerful and very emotional letting go for Lily Allen – and it made me really envious that she was able to write and publish so freely everything that has made her the woman she is today – scars, mistakes, flaws and all.
I also loved that she remained incredible humble whilst also acknowledging her success. She spoke frankly about her achievements, many of which I was unaware of, but didn’t rattle on about them. She spoke of them matter-of-factly which I respect immensely. It allowed me to continue to connect with her words throughout the book, no matter the grand nature of her dalliances. Another thing that really surprised me was the understanding I felt around her drug use. I am not comfortable with drug use, at all. I don’t like hearing about it, knowing about it or thinking about it. For me, there is just something about drugs that triggers fear in me, and that has always been the case. For a majority of her adult life, Allen struggled with substance abuse – both alcohol and drugs. But once again, the stories were told with such delicacy and instead of focusing on the event itself, Allen instead used this book to explain the ‘why’. I love her introspection and her knowledge of self and the fact that every one of her decisions, behaviour and actions has reason behind it – not an excuse, but a reason.
I have, for a very long time, longed to write something autobiographical detailing my own experiences, mistakes and flaws (again, I realise how weird it is that I want to write non-fiction but don’t like reading it) and My Thoughts Exactly has only fed that want and desire. What I really gained from Allen’s book is that there is such confidence and strength in vulnerability. Imagine how light and free you would feel if all of your deepest, darkest secrets, thoughts and feelings were out there in the world. To me, that would be everything. To embrace that fear, to lay everything out there and to completely surrender to whatever comes next would just be so utterly liberating. Lily Allen admits to sleeping with female escorts, to cheating on her husband, to being the person someone cheated with, to the mistakes she has made as a mother – she has written about things that are so deeply intimate and personal and most of the time that are kept to oneself. What she has done though, is started a conversation. Through her vulnerability and her willingness to be judged and ridiculed and mocked, she has also allowed for her mistakes to be held by the masses – I am certain that she is not the only one who has made one or all of these mistakes.
Overall, My Thoughts Exactly utterly entranced me. I felt like I was listening to a friend tell me a story for the entire time I was reading it. Dealing with some pretty heavy issues including a traumatic miscarriage and stillbirth, Lily Allen has been able to bring these experiences to a whole new audience in a way that is accessible, sensitive and intelligent. I loved this book and would highly recommend. Highly.
Swedish authors are incredible. If you haven’t read a book by a Swedish author, do yourself a favour – buy one and read it immediately. I was first introduced to Swedish authors when I read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. It took […]
I am a huge Jane Harper fan. Huge. Sitting alongside Kate Morton, Holly Ringland and Liane Moriarty, Jane Harper is not only one of my favourite authors, but she is one of my favourite Australian female authors. These women are who I look up to, their work is what keeps me going when my motivation waivers or my confidence drops. These are the women whose careers I respect and aim for and admire.
Jane Harper burst onto the literary scene with the 2016 best-selling The Dry, and then followed it up with the 2018 hit Force of Nature. These two titles completely changed how I see the Australian landscape, both the physical and the mental. The way that Jane Harper was able to capture the entire Australian psyche between the covers of her book is something well beyond my own comprehension. She managed to completely dissect and celebrate this country whilst reminding us of its power, its expanse and its unforgivable nature.
Unlike its two predecessors, The Lost Man does not involve Aaron Falk – the detective we were first introduced to in The Dry. Though I do love the Aaron Falk character (and ay have a slight crush on him that I don’t understand), The Lost Man completely held its own without him. Following the Bright family, we are taken the furthest into the Australian outback that Harper has taken us before where we are thrown right into the action with the death of one brother and the confusion and grief that brings his remaining two brothers.
What follows is a wonderfully descriptive mystery of figuring out how Cameron Bright met his demise way out near Stockman’s Grave. We are taken to the far corners of the Australian outback and introduced to the inner workings of a small, country town. Not only that, but the brilliant and suspenseful edge of the family drama that weaves its way through the book is in a class of its own. The Bright family’s dynamics are expertly examined, with the added intrigue and stress around what it is like for the farmers and property owners who are way ‘out bush’. The Lost Man grants us access to an Australian life that many of us will seldom know and with that in mind, Harper is educating us about our own people. And I love it. Harper’s writing brings more atmosphere than should be possible with the written word, proving for the third time around that she is absolutely a force to be reckoned with.
There is always a risk when reading a thriller, a family-drama or a mystery novel. I find that even if I am thoroughly enjoying the book, there is a niggling voice in my head wondering whether or not the major twist, the reveal, the conclusion will be worth it. I want shocking. I want unpredictable. I want to be saying, “Oh my god, yes.” When it comes to Jane Harper, however, there is absolutely no risk. The mystery stays with you right until the very last page, even when everything has been solved and sorted and pieced together. I finished this book with the same enthusiasm and excitement with which I started it, and that is rare.
Even though the descriptive language is constant, and for any other writer would be overkill, each and every sentence is necessary and relevant. Nothing is left behind. There has been a huge surge in the domestic/family drama and sexy thriller genre ever since Girl on the Train, but Jane Harper’s works stand completely on its own not only in the Australian market, but internationally as well. It is so rare that this country, its population, its vast land and its uniqueness are captured in a way that pays homage to its reality.
Enter, Jane Harper.
Where do I even begin?! Seriously. This year may have been hard, and challenging, and completely gut-wrenching at times, but it has also been rewarding and the most life-changing, transformative period of my life. And, I do feel that Summer 2018-19 is going to be […]