i've done that hopeless new blogger thing. started a blog and posted all the pictures and made it look as fine as i'm technically able and then told everyone i'd post every week. and then. nothing.
i have a couple of excuses. the second is the sheer superwoman business of juggling work with family, community and creative life.
the first is far more interesting: fear.
here’s the breakdown and where i open up.
for as long as i can remember i’ve wanted to tell stories.
i’ve written tales since i could form letters on paper, but i typed my first piece of long-form fiction when i was fifteen. it was a 50,000 novella and heavily influenced by a classic, as many teenage or first novel-attempts are. in my case it was the Australian coming-of-age story, Puberty Blues.
i had a fairly sheltered upbringing and i didn’t directly relate to the experiences shared by the two female teenage protagonists of that book. but something grabbed me: probably the strong sense of female power, friendship and rebellion and also the sensory way in which the writers, Gabrielle Carey and Kathy Lette, described their world.
the book was published more than a decade before i read it but still it moved and shocked me and made me want to explore similar themes of ‘girl-power’ within a different story. this is interesting for me to reflect on now, given the themes in my first published novel Ghost Girls.
anyway, i think i called my teenage manuscript something bad, like Pigs Don’t Fly. my most influential secondary school teacher, Margot T, got wind of it and asked to read it.
she gently let me down, in the doorway of my homeroom one recess, by telling me that the work read too similar in theme and voice to the Australian classic. however, she also expressed enthusiasm in my ability to put words, ideas and plot together and she encouraged me to keep writing and to find my own voice.
i took Margot’s words as life advice, cherished them and went out into the world looking for a ‘voice’. i knew, also, that i had learned so much from completing the long, lonely haul of a manuscript, even if I wasn’t yet quite ‘there'.
even now, over twenty years later, i appreciate the discipline i discovered for myself in writing that first work. i remember spending my school holidays tapping away at the stories going on in my characters’ minds. i remember working the industrial dishwasher at the now-defunct 'Coles Cafeteria' in Frankston and watching the conveyor-belt scum flow past with the dirty dishes, finding the whole disgusting thing bearable because i had this inner story going on.
i loved knowing i could translate ideas and images to words on many pages and i didn’t mind that i’d failed at my first attempt. i was relieved, perhaps, that my first novella could remain mine.
in over two decades since then, i’ve studied, travelled, worked as a tv drama screenwriter and script editor, textbook author, journal editor and journalist (and also as a teacher, a beautiful occupation that has allowed me to work in the gaps where writing work has been sparse or inflexible). all of these jobs have involved words and have taught me about language and story and truth and the power that comes with combining all three.
in the last twenty years i’ve started another four novels. i finished one of those, Ghost Girls.
it will be published on March 1, 2016.
it’s happened. a published novel. more than twenty years after my first attempt.
the writing life is slow and challenging, but beautiful.
so now, i'm 39 with a life of texture and change, joys, travels, loves, losses, inquiries and realisations behind me.
having my debut novel picked up is a beautiful, exhilarating and humbling event and process and i'm nothing short of eternally grateful to Echo Publishing and Angela Meyer for believing in my story and in me as an author.
the honest thing for aspiring novelists to be thoughtful of is this: the reality of being published, even after two decades of desiring it, is a confronting experience.
finally, after years of yearning to tell people my stories, i’m confronted with the fact that i reached my goal: people will read Ghost Girls. there will be those who like my work and those who don’t. there will be reviews and discussion and social media exchange.
and this is all very confronting to a person who is fairly internal and private.
so this stress/fear is one of the reasons i’ve not posted. in addition to the hectic nature of my life, i’m still coming to terms with the need to put myself out there and to be okay with all of you reading the story i created, loved and worked for hours over.
but, i’ll say this: although it’s confronting, i love and believe in my novel and i embrace the need to be strong, forthright and promotional about it. and, now that i have time, i look forward to sharing the Ghost Girls story, and my writing story, with you on this blog.
this is because i believe i have experience to share but, mostly, because i believe that you and your friends and family will find Ghost Girls a cracking page tuner. i feel proud to have created that.
thanks for reading, Cath.