Wednesday 27 January 2021

Ah. There you are. Got you.

Tug, bundle, scoop up and in. 

"Hmm. Efficiently done. Nicely done," I mused. 

I reached for the washing liquid, gave the product drawer a jaunty hip bump, leant down to close the machine door and pressed 'start.' Hublot, porthole ... washing machine door. And with a nod and another self-reflective "hmm,'' I listened to the first whooshes, signalling the arrival of the water in the cavity. 

So much more romantic to do the washing in French, I thought, and watched as my bed linen swirled out to sea.

I turned to go upstairs, scrabbling around on the bench for my phone.

Odd. Not there. 

Not on my bedside table. Not .... oh, no. Had I inadvertently sent it on a little watery escape?

I ran back to the laundry and willed the machine to return immediately to port. Obligingly, it began its slow twenty-five point, child-lock-release turn, before spewing out its heavy, drenched contents into the basket at my feet. No red phone case jumped into view. Had it already joined forces with the odd socks to play hide-and-seek in the corners of the fitted sheet? Nope. Mmm. Be more methodical, Catherine. Take everything out ... piece ... by .... dripping piece. Rien. Not there. Good, good.

I called for my husband to ring me. 

"Not being lazy. Looking for my phone," I hastened to yell back.

"Won't it still be on silent from the night?"

Of course. Mmm. 'Silent Night. Holy Night,' I hummed as I rifled through the random stacks of motivation clutter on my desk.

Not there. 

Not under the bed.

'All is calm. All is bright.' I waved my conductor's baton at the image in the bedroom mirror.

Calm. Bright ... bright red ... Ah. Got you. There you are. On the floor. Peeking out from under the quilt, courtesy of my magician-like removal of the sheets from the bed, no doubt.

Tout est bien qui finit bien. All's well that ends well. 

And that indeed is my most fervent wish for you all. To be well. In France, the declaration of good wishes in the New Year is real. It is sincere. Necessary. And it must be done before the end of January. Timewise, I am just sneaking in, albeit a bit hesitantly after the year that we have just had, to send my good, best wishes to you. 

Purchase page for 'But you are in France, Madame' and 'Weaving a French Life' here

Monday 14 December 2020

Weaving a French Life: An Australian story

 Weaving a French Life: An Australian story is out.

I broke all the rules. There was no cover reveal, I set up no pre-orders, didn't alert my mailing list (you'd have to have one to do that), I had no launch party ... just heaved one big sigh that it is done.

In the end, discretion suited me best. Contradictory? Probably, given that I blog, advertise, post to FaceBook and Instagram. But, as I am reminded constantly, there is more than one way up a mountain and right here, right now, a no-fuss quiet release was what I needed. You'll decide whether 'Weaving a French Life' is for you, and if it is not, then, hey, no hard feelings - there are plenty of other books out there to choose from.

Happy end of year to you all and thanks so much for sharing my journey to date.

A bientôt.


Purchase page for both books here

Wednesday 2 December 2020

A sequel to 'But you are in France, Madame.'

2020 has been a bumpy year, but one of those jolts flung me with great insistence back to my desk. Weaving a French Life: An Australian story, a sequel to But you are in France, Madame, is the result. I'm not quite there, but hope to give you a purchase link by the end of next week.

On the 14th August, I was at 24000 words. I wrote every day and for more hours than I was physically comfortable doing so. At the end of each day, I noted down my new word count. Seeing the increased number was a huge motivator and helped to keep me positive and on track, but on this day, I hand wrote myself a little note (dot points really). I had already made significant progress, but was not sure of the exact path that I should be taking to those satisfying words, 'The End.' I needed to give myself a pep talk ... and put a little emotional distance between me and the project.

My dot points looked (a little) like this:

  • How could I have not known until now that writing was important to me?
  • Getting to the end will take time but I've done it before and that gives me confidence that I will get there.
  • It is my story - so sod off anyone who will read it and criticise. (Fighting words that are much harder to live by ...)
  • I don't know how it is all going to turn out but have to trust the process.
  • It is exciting - even soothing - to write.
  • It is also nerve-wracking. Will the words dry up tomorrow? Can I continue to be creative?
  • I feel an urgency to get the story done, the words down...

There were other bits 'n pieces on my note to self, but I read this now and empathise with the person (me) who was writing. There was self-doubt, it was hard work, and I did feel exposed as I prepared to put myself and my story out there again. If it is not for the financial rewards, and if it is not for the acclaim, what is it for? 

Me, I guess. 

But, I'd love it if you journeyed with me, too.

It will be available in ebook and print forms. Let me know ( if you'd like me to put aside a print copy for you. Book AU$25 plus postage.

'But you are in France, Madame,' available here

PS Thank-you to everyone who wrote to me after my last post. I would have responded individually but, for some strange reason, I cannot leave messages on my own blog. Also, I have no idea why a post from April 2019 popped up in my (and I presume your) feed. A glitch probably of my unintentional making- sorry!

Tuesday 6 October 2020

Listening to my critics

Five years ago, I wrote 'But you are in France, Madame.' I had no particular aspiration to tell my story, no desire to hold a published book in my hands, no illusion that I was doing the world a service by writing - and certainly no belief that it would be a money-making venture. So, why did I do it? I guess it was for me. The thing is that I did not realise that at the time. Neither did I truly understand that my story would be read around the world and that that would open me up to scrutiny ... to criticism. Naive? Probably. 

I have been called a bogan (and similar), my parenting has been questioned and my writing has been pulled apart ... by people who do not know me but feel completely at ease with passing judgement. Some days, the personal attacks are so hurtful that I feel that the only option is to give up ... to stop writing. It usually takes a couple of days before I can once again put into perspective that these anonymous (and most are that) attacks could possibly be saying more about those who write them than me. I slowly pull myself together and start again - before the cycle repeats.

But, I have listened to those who have bothered to write with actionable critiques. You were right: I was inexperienced; I did not know anything about writing or the publishing process. For you, I have updated my files for 'But you are in France, Madame': available in print or ebook by clicking on the links.

And in so doing, I take heart from Germaine Greer*; a stellar, accomplished literary figure. In an interview with Julia Zamiro, she tells us that she did not consider her first book, 'The Female Eunach,' to be her best book but goes on to say that it was the best book that she could write at the time. 

Here's to listening and learning ... and being gentle, or even re-considering, when you feel the urge to be nasty.

*Germaine Greer (/ɡrɪər/; born 29 January 1939) is an Australian writer and public intellectual, regarded as one of the major voices of the radical feminist movement in the later half of the 20th century. (thank-you Wikipedia)

Monday 10 August 2020

Let it grow, let it grow...

I moved my desk downstairs a week or so ago. Historically, when we bought this house and all three children were still living at home, there was not enough room to have a study of my own. My desk was placed in the kitchen and didn't ever get moved out. I haven't minded, particularly during lockdown, as it has meant that I have been blessed with lovely meandering conversations as different members of the family have wandered up for food at various times of the day. Long coffee breaks have been spontaneous and I've also had quick access to the microwave to re-heat my heat packs, and to the kettle (which in our case is a saucepan on the stove). Sure, occasionally it has been hard to concentrate and I decided after years of not even contemplating a move for my desk and me, that it was time. 
That evening I read two reviews for But you are in France, Madame. They had come in a week or so apart but I hadn't noticed them. One was a 2-star review, the other 5 stars. Which do you think wouldn't leave me and gave me a fitful night's sleep?

Apparently, it is human nature to dwell on the negative so that we learn not to make the same mistake twice. Huh. Well that hasn't worked. I had moved my desk in order to concentrate better on writing 

Now, one of the other bonuses of the last few months is that I have taken the time to nurture my plants. Look how they are rewarding me.