Sunday, May 20, 2012

Coming soon

Remember when I briefly mentioned in this post that I had entered a flash fiction comp earlier this year?

Well, here's the full story: In January this year, I was sitting around the house one day during the school holidays checking out Twitter. Which, to be honest, is not something I find much time to do these days. But that day, I needed a distraction. (Doesn't any mother need some distraction at times when their kids are home 24/7 and getting up to mischief?)

I saw a link for a flash fiction competition that caught my eye. I followed it and found author Caroline Smailes

Caroline decided to launch a writing challenge to celebrate the launch of Xbox Live TV, and its integration with YouTube. The challenge for Caroline was to put together a collection of flash fiction (100 word) stories inspired by songs on YouTube, to be included in an eBook and then published on Amazon. ALL proceeds from the book were then to be donated to the charity One in Four (a registered charity in the UK which provides support and resources to people who have experienced sexual abuse and sexual violence).

Caroline originally aimed for a collection of 33 stories. Instead, after receiving over 350 entries, she ended up with 100 stories for the project (hence the eBook's name). The winners were announced in this post on her blog.

The eBook, 100 RPM - One Hundred Short Stories Inspired By Music includes my own entry: Gone, (inspired by Kelly Clarkson's song, Already Gone). 

By the time I found Caroline's post, the cut-off for all entries was at the end of that day. I figured: I'll just give it a whirl and see what happens. And to be honest, I didn't think writing a 100 word story would be too difficult. Ha! Boy, was I wrong! 100 words is a couple of paragraphs or so, and to get a whole story in to so few words is really challenging. 

In any case, I came up with Gone, and figured I'd just enter it and see what happens. (As my Dad always says to me, 'Jodie, you've gotta be in it to win it.') I was so amazed and over the moon when Caroline's email arrived a day or so later announcing my entry had been chosen to be included. I've experienced some big highs with my writing in recent times, but admittedly, this was the biggest by far!  

I'm so excited about the book. The introduction has been written by none other than singer/songwriter, Nik Kershaw. Remember the song, Wouldn't it be Good that featured in the 80s flick Pretty in Pink (one of my favourite films EVER)?! (It's the only movie I can directly quote from, and my Year 12 ball gown was, you guessed it, pink satin and lace!)

Anyway, I've been fortunate to see a copy pre-publication, and it's a great read. I feel so privileged to be included amongst so many great writers. Caroline and all those involved have done a great job getting the eBook together.

Publication day is 31 May. Stay tuned, people!


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Memories of Mum


My mother doesn't drive. Never has. My Dad started teaching her at one stage, but Mum never followed the lessons through and never got her driver's licence.

As a result, she and I walked everywhere. Unless, of course, we had to travel a distance not suited to walking. Like the time at age seventeen when I had to see a specialist situated a number of suburbs away from our home. I grew up in Perth, and the public transport system wasn't particularly flexible back then. It took us two buses and two hours to get to that appointment; a fifteen to twenty minute (at most) car journey.

About a ten minute walk from home was a small shopping centre. Apart from the weekly food shopping that was carried out at the local Coles in the next suburb - that Dad drove us to every Thursday evening after work (followed by fish and chips for dinner) - on the occasion Mum needed a little extra during the week, we used to walk to the local shopping centre together.

Mum always took her wheelie shopping bag with her. It was brown vinyl. Or was it blue? I can't really recall, but I can still picture Mum dragging it behind her, our matching long, white boots clicking on the pavement as we walked in unison to the shops. She would fill the shopping bag with all the basics, and home again we would travel.

The older I got, the more daggier I thought the vinyl wheelie shopping bag was. Eventually, it died, and I never thought anymore of it.

That is, not until many years later - now a mother myself - when I spied a collection of them in a hardware store one Sunday afternoon. They appeared updated and more practical. As soon as I saw them, I thought of Mum and couldn't help but smile. Eventually, I purchased one myself from a garden centre which also stocks a variety of knick-knacks for the home. Mine is pretty funky. It's green with multi-coloured stripes on the lid and various pockets that store my purse, my iPhone and whatever else I need to take with me to the shops.

Sometimes, the boys pull it along for me. Youngest Son has made numerous trips to the local fruit market with me and the wheelie shopping bag in tow.

I was pulling it along a few weeks ago after a spot of fruit and vegie shopping up the road, walking slowly past my sons' school up the pathway to home. The street is so pretty this time of year, with flowers growing on the trees along our nature strip, their branches bending over the pathway. As I walked, I thought back to the days shopping with my Mum all those years ago, her own shopping bag in tow, and suddenly my eyes welled with tears. Now, living on the other side of the country, I see my parents rarely these days. I miss them.

However, my wheelie shopping bag is a small reminder of all the simple things I enjoyed doing with my Mum as a kid, like walking to our local shops with her. Having my own wheelie shopping bag brings me just that little bit closer to her.

I am my mother's daughter.

Happy Mother's Day, Mum.


Friday, May 4, 2012

Getting picky


I think everyone gets to a stage in their life when they realise they can't do everything, please everyone or have it all. It's just not possible. And there are too many 'things' that get in the way of us really, truly enjoying and embracing our lives.

We all have certain commitments that we have to keep, but there's a lot of stuff we do even though we don't want to, or, more importantly, don't have to. We just do it because we feel obliged to. Or we justify doing it by making excuses like, 'It'll only take a couple of hours of my time anyway.'

Think about it: in the last three months, what have you done that later you wished you hadn't? Attended a function you didn't really want to go to in the first place? Caught up with a 'friend' who either annoys you, puts you down, or both? Wrote a blog post because you thought you 'should' because you hadn't for a while? Reluctantly signed up to join a school committee because someone pushed you in to it, even though you have nor the time or inclination to do it?

I've become picky this year. That means I'm not doing stuff that perhaps I did before because I thought I 'should'. When I was back in Perth in December last year for a wedding, I was showing my eighty-four year old mother photos of my trip to New York with Mr A last year. As we came to the photo of the snow-covered courtyard outside MoMA, my mother sighed and said, "I never did get to see snow."

I thought about not going on that trip to New York. When Mr A suggested it, I thought, 'Am I being selfish leaving my kids for a week just so I can holiday?' I really struggled with that concept and my ultimate decision to go.

But you know what? It was a WEEK. Seven days. Okay, it was really ten days by the time we flew there and back, but still...ten days out of ten years of parenting. And really, what was the downside? Mr A and I got to connect like we hadn't connected in years. I got to see a city I've yearned to see for a very long time. My kids got to spend some quality time with the grandmother that lives interstate and they see only occasionally. My mother-in-law got to spend time with the grandchildren she loves and wants to spend as much time with as she can.

It was win/win. All around. It hurt no one.

I don't want to get to my mother's age and feel the way she does. I want to look back on my life and remember all the wonderful things I did, and just as much, I don't want to waste my life filling it with unnecessary commitments. Life is far too short.

So, sometimes I'll say no. Sometimes I won't go to that lunch I don't really want to attend. Sometimes I won't take my kids to soccer training if we feel like spending an afternoon playing Monopoly. Sometimes I'll get a babysitter, and Mr A and I will head out on a date.

You know why you should do this too? Because before you know it, you're in your eighties (God willing) looking back on your life wishing you'd seen snow.