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The look

08/05/2017

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One thing I find really frustrating is how I can intellectually recognise that I’m being manipulated, that what I’m worrying about doesn’t matter and is in opposition with my belief system, and yet some annoying part of my brain can’t let it go. I can also intellectually recognise that looks are important, that fashion is an art form, that we express ourselves culturally and artistically through our clothes. Our clothes, our make up, is our armour, protecting us from the world. Still, I find it crazy in this age of selfies and self-documentation that I still am surprised when I see another person’s version of myself. These days I get to control how I look – or do I? I realise that I’ve been fooling myself, that I’ve only been looking at a sliver of myself, the front-on.

NEWS! NEWS! NEWS!

If you’re in Levin, I will be talking in your town tomorrow, at 2 pm, at the Festival of Stories.

If you’re in Dunedin, I will be taking part in two panels at the Dunedin Writers Festival – one on Saturday 13 May, Picturing Words and Wording Pictures, and one on Sunday 14 May, It’s Personal.

If you’re in Auckland next week, I will be taking part in the Auckland Writers Festival – more on that later.

Thirteen Reasons Why

01/05/2017

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First up, here is a suicide prevention line in NZ: 0800 543 354. And if you want to find out more about the show, start here.

It’s super hard, parenting in this age of media over saturation. New stuff floods in and becomes a sensation before we’ve had a chance to parse it, and everyone gets on board with their various interpretations of it. It’s bad / it’s great / it’s good entertainment / it’s dangerous and gratuitous / it should’ve come with a rating / it’s totally overwhelming.  I’m sure it’s true what the commentators said – the book was better. It was more nuanced, more subtle, less of a revenge story and more of a heartbreaking portrait of how bullying contributes towards suicide. I find the whole cloak of silence around suicide confusing though. There seems to be a belief that if we deny that it happens, then it won’t happen. Which is patently untrue, given New Zealand’s suicide rates. Whenever there’s an article about someone who has died and they don’t tell you why, I become obsessed with finding out. As a child I knew of suicides – there were kids at school whose parents had gassed themselves in their cars. There were stories I overheard my mother talking to her friends about.

I’m still unsure as to whether it was a good thing or a bad thing to watch with my son, but I feel like it’s important to acknowledge that suicide exists, and that there are things you can do – help you can get – in order to prevent it. Although if you read All My Puny Sorrows by the brilliant Miriam Toews, you may come to different conclusions.

Anyway, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts and also to hear any good TV recommendations you have!

Mice, part 2

26/04/2017

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The tragic tale of the mice! You can read part one, before it all went wrong, here. And, to make it worse, Thunder escaped for a week and we only just found her this morning under the bed. She seems ok, if a little in shock. The kids are hoping that she’s got pregnant on holiday, so we don’t have to wait for a new mouse litter from the pet shop.

NEWS: I’m going to be appearing in a few different places next week!

On Tuesday 2 May, I’m going to be on a panel at Victoria University about gender discourse and sexual violence.

On Thursday 4 May I’m going to be appearing at a Victoria University Alumni event with a bunch of other writers – Damien Wilkins, Ashleigh Young, Hera Lindsay Bird and Bill Manhire. If you’re an alumni, you can register here to come along.

And on Saturday 6 May, I’m giving a character development workshop at Wellington City Library, and will be on a panel with the legendary Dylan Horrocks.

The following week I will be appearing at a small literary festival in Levin and one in Dunedin. The week after that I’ll be at the Auckland Writers Festival. It’s all on! I’ll need a lie down by the end of May.

 

The drift

18/04/2017

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…and Violet and her friend are playing with the mice on her bed (so hygienic!)

I really haven’t recovered from Mansfield and Me. I am trying to write a kids’ comic book, but I am lacking the ambition that has propelled me through all my other books – that this will be the one, that this will be the break out book. At the age of almost 44 I have to come to terms with the fact that there will be no break-out book, and that I just have to keep making things regardless of their reception. Ambition is deeply flawed anyway – it’s the hungry, insatiable monster who always ups the level so you can never be pleased with your successes – all you can see is the next marker of success just out of reach. Maybe the thing that’s getting in the way of me burning ahead with my next book is a. the nagging sense that I need some downtime and b. the knowledge that creating a book-length comic takes an enormous amount of work. Which is why I like doing comics here, which can be ragged and unfinished and drifty. Still, I’m coming up seven years on the blog… maybe it’s time to retire…

Cats and mice

12/04/2017

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I had great plans to write a think piece – something political, something on a global scale. So much has happened this week. There’ve been chemical attacks in Syria, and bombs. Somehow, though, all the big ideas refused to coalesce, and it was easier to write about the new mice. I was reading an article online, about how novels in the past decade have been preoccupied by the self, and we need to write more novels like Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which examines power and its abuses. I felt guilty – my novels and comics have been small in scale – and defensive – isn’t power and its abuses reflected in all interactions? Don’t the patterns in the world repeat themselves at a grand and microscopic scale? Isn’t it crazy how the veins in your body look like the veins on leaves? Everything is connected. Anyway, the internet likes cats. Cats are powerful. Mice are kind of at a disadvantage, even in their little cages. I feel bad about caging animals but somehow I made a contract with Violet that I had to honour. Now I have to figure out how to stop the cat from busting its way through her doors.

Moments with my son

05/04/2017

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Maybe I need to be a bit more upbeat… introduce some funny punchlines!

Hey, I got a lovely review for Mansfield and Me in Landfall Review! 

Judging me, judging you

04/04/2017

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I suppose it’s a bit much to ask, to get through a dental hygienist appointment without full-on commentary and a little bit of judgement. The thing is, you can’t really say much back since they’ve got their tools in your mouth – you’ve either got to listen to them or try and watch the TV up above. Also, I may seem like I’m taking taking the moral high ground, but I’m secretly judging back. The thing is, even as I judge people, I also like them. Perhaps I like them because I can see that they, like me, are flawed and complex and can’t see themselves in their entirety.