First, the good news. I recently went to the ACLAR conference, where we talked kid lit for 3 whole days. How amazing is that? Hours and hours talking about books, legitimately. With lunch, even! ACLAR attracts literary theorists and scholars, educationalists, people completing higher degrees and a few outsiders (like me) – writers doing one of those other things as well as their vocation. I heard Clare Bradford, Kerry Mallan, Lili Wilkinson, Shaun Tan…so many people with interesting things to say. Because I come from a different academic background (science, really), I see it all with fresh eyes. I was very pleased with myself for having read so many of the books talked about and owning (yet to be read) many others. My paper went okay, too, which was a big relief. Canberra was freezing but such an easy place to get around (if you have a car) and see and do other things. The kids and I went to Manning Clarke House to visit an exhibition of prints by Shaun Tan and loved the prints and the little, brightly-lit house equally. I didn’t buy a print…damn it.
And then the sad patch. We all have them, those times in our lives when sadness is a heavy fog. My sister-in law, Wendy, died two weeks ago and we buried her last Monday. And my mum is going into permanent care, and even though I feel relief lifting from me – like a physical lightness – it’s been a hard decision because of the need to do ‘what’s right’. Knowing, of course, that ‘what’s right’ isn’t very clear sometimes. Often, actually. And maybe this is completely the wrong decision but I won’t know straight away. Ah, it’s so difficult sometimes.
Amongst all this, the dog went missing. Ran off into the bush when we were doing our usual walk and didn’t come home for two nights. The agony of thinking where she was on the cold wet nights we’ve been having! Mick looked for her for hours, tramping through the bush, driving the car around the highways, posting notes into people’s letterboxes, ringing radio stations. Then she turns up, bangs on the back door to be let in, and collapses on the floor with exhaustion. Her toenails were worn to the bloody pulp – she must have been running nearly all that time. She’s okay now, proving very hard to move from in front of the fire. We got her as a bush stray from the RSPCA and it looked like she was returning to one.
And my writing? Well, I had some time in Canberra and I am well on my way with the re-re-write of my post-apocalyptic novel (not a dystopian novel – I know the difference now) so that’s great. In the next few weeks, when things settle, I’ll get into it again and have a decent draft (number 45!) to work on.