Rosemary Nissen-Wade: Aussie poet and teacher of metaphysics – a personal view
My bestie nicknamed me SnakyPoet on her blog, and I liked it. (It began as
'the poet of the serpentine Northern Rivers' and became more and more abbreviated.)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

SHE TOO didn't win but the judge liked us!

When SHE TOO was just an ebook, we (its four authors) entered it into the poetry category of a big competition for new self-published ebooks. Our feedback is just to hand.

We were told that books were evaluated on a scale of 1-5 with 1 meaning 'needs improvement' and 5 meaning 'outstanding'. We were also told that some categories, e.g. Plot and Story Appeal, wouldn't necessarily apply to poetry — but in our case they decided it did. Here are our excellent scores:

Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 4

Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 5

Production Quality and Cover Design: 4

Plot and Story Appeal: 4

Character Appeal and Development: 5

Voice and Writing Style: 4

The judge suggested we might have done better to arrange the book into categories or sections, but in general the review was very favourable. Omitting the more detailed passages, this is the judge's commentary:

This is a lovely idea for a collection, and what a good description of "(Almost) Harmony"!

This feels like a wonderful conversation among a group of women, and sectioning could give some sense of the variety of subjects.

The combination of four poets was an interesting reading experience too. I found myself reading each poem and only then glancing at its poet, to see if I could guess! And I could. That shows the power of the individual voices within the whole. I began to see not just the themes within the collection but within each poet's collection, what intrigued and plagued her. I also started to notice individual poetic devices.

There's an intriguing undercurrent of anger and frustration about the alluring but intrusive bonds of family. I think this balances well against the expectation that these poems will be "nice poems from nice ladies". The shock of the "real" is that much more striking considering the soft expectation set up by the cover and the introduction. Very good!

— Judge, 2nd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published eBook Awards.

We didn't win or even get placed. In a huge field of strong contenders, that would actually have surprised us, though we took the view that 'you've gotta be in it to win it'. We learned a lot from the exercise of entering, though. It immediately threw us into enquiries about achieving professionalism and excellence in an unfamiliar field — and with very little time to spare before the entry deadline.  (I have been a small publisher in the past, but that was long before the advent of ebooks, which have different requirements.) 

I'm proud of what we achieved. It's a good book!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

I Found My Christmas Earrings from Andrew!

Some readers may recall a tale of Andrew's frustration at not being able to surprise me with a gift of earrings for Christmas — because he wasn't well enough to shop by himself, and I was handling the money.

That was his last Christmas alive, though we didn't know it then. It was 2011. I didn't find out until some time after he died, when I came across the note in his journal, asking rhetorically how he was going to get the $30 he needed to buy me 'the earrings'.

He didn't describe the earrings. As my earlier entry also records, I tried to honour his wish by getting some I liked, but didn't really know what he had in mind.

This week, there they were in the pharmacy again, just as they were three years ago — beautiful Swarovski crystals in a variety of colours including a deep purple that's just perfect for me!  And then I remembered.

We had been to get his regular blood test to monitor his Warfarin dose. The pharmacy was just near the lab and we ducked in the side door as we went past, as I had some stuff to pick up. He was using his walker, as he always had to by then, sitting on it while I did the buying. There was a stand of Swarovski crystal earrings in all colours, including the deep purple that friends call my colour because I wear it such a lot.

I love Swarovski crystals, So did he; he bought me some lovely pieces of it in the past. I admired the earrings, and asked the price. I seem to remember that he said I should get them. It would have been like him. But money was tight (it's always tight) and I didn't.

It all came back to me when I saw the same crystals there this week. Perhaps they vary their special Christmas stock year by year; anyway they haven't had those earrings again until now. I asked the price. $29.99. Yes, definitely the ones he so wanted to get me.

This time I had absolutely no money left in bank or wallet, after paying bills, posting presents and making sure I had the food and petrol I need. But I get paid on New Year's Eve — and I have an account at that pharmacy. This time I got them!

They are in a little purple pouch, resting on what used to be his bedside table, for me to open tomorrow morning, Christmas Day.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Hard to stay in retreat mode with the Sydney siege happening.

Ignorant of anything that might be going on in the world, I turned on the TV late yesterday morning to watch an innocuous half-hour program that wouldn't have interfered, only to be confronted by breaking news — which had evidently first broken a couple of hours earlier.

You can't detach from something like that! Although, half way through the afternoon, when nothing was changing and the journos were reiterating the same information, I did turn off the TV. Turning off the mind from such a thing was, however, too difficult.

I'd already started the day by watching online a live telecast: the funeral of a young man, some of whose family are like my family. He was taken suddenly in a car accident. The picture disintegrated just as his wife broke down in tears while trying to read her tribute to him. Distressing in various ways! I gave up. When I tried to access the archived footage a little later, I couldn't. 'Too soon,' I thought, and turned on the telly while waiting — straight into the siege.

No, not a day for staying cocooned.

Nor can I stay that way today, having woken up to discover the sad ending to the siege, with loss of life and injuries.

I had already realised that it wasn't going to be practical to stay on retreat as xmas got closer. I'd have to cut it short. Following these recent events, I'm cutting it shorter still — reluctantly, but I came too far back into the world while all that was happening; I may as well stay.

I've already said what I could to the family of the young man. And the whole world is still saying all sorts of things about the siege. I can add nothing more.

About the retreat, I can say it was illuminating and that I enjoyed it. How to integrate the results into everyday life is now the question.

I imagine few of us could live in contemplative detachment for long periods; instead I intend to incorporate some practices into my life in shorter, more frequent increments. The possibility of going about my daily life with some different underlying attitudes is also something to explore.

Who's listening?

In passing, I'm astonished that — although I posted a facebook status update to say I would be absent from there during December, and also advised close real-life friends by email that if they needed to get in touch urgently they should text — many on fb, even in the second category, went on blithely messaging, tagging me, and posting to my wall.  Many seemed to assume I was still there, others to be taken aback on getting an inkling that maybe I wasn't. Very strange!

If one of my fb friends doesn't respond to communications for a while, I go looking to see if their timeline sheds some light on this. It seems a simple and obvious enough thing to do! Apparently not.

I suppose it sometimes appeared that I was there. Birthday notifications come into my email, which I did check occasionally. I could and did send greetings direct from there. My blog posts have links by which I can share them to facebook, Google+ and twitter without actually going to those places. I did that too, as I was still writing things during the retreat. 

This doesn't mean I got to see anything else on fb. I deliberately refrained from investigating any 'notification' pings on my iPad. Surely the point of a retreat is to retreat!

I'm seriously thinking that if I do this again, I might de-activate the account next time. (After all, it is so easy to re-activate.) 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Art Afternoon

Slowing down, doing other things than I'm used to, I discover the Saturday afternoon arts show on SBS. I used to watch similar programs on the ABC years ago (on Sundays) then they gradually tailed off. Perhaps they've been on SBS a long time; I just never looked. Too busy keeping busy. Wasn't looking for that today, either, just happened to notice. I'll be looking on future Saturdays!

I love the arts, though I don't consider myself a scholar. They feed me.

It's 20 years since I lived in a big city. We do have an excellent regional art gallery here, with wonderful, changing exhibitions as well as a substantial permanent collection. But it's rather small, let's face it, compared with the big city galleries. And if I want to see top-notch live performances, I have to travel, which I am more and more reluctant to do as I get older and poorer. So it is great to live in an age where I can see so much brilliant art in cinema or on TV.  (And let's not forget online.)

First there was a program on an artist called Edward Hopper, whom I knew nothing about. Now I do. it was fascinating. He was an innovator. He is dead now. (If you don't know about him and want to learn, you must Google. This post is not to describe or discuss his work.)

Then there was a thing called Music in the Air, a history of musical events on television: exactly what I was just talking about, making art widely available — and preserving it too, in the case of live performances.

I listened to that with only half an ear (or rather, watched it only partly) as I also used the time to do a water-colour sketch. I intended to make this sketching a hobby, when I first began doing it some months ago, but I haven't indulged in much of it lately. I've been experimenting with kiddies' crayons too, and with pastel pencils (although the pencils are not new to me). I've decided I like water-colour sketching much the best.

You mustn't think I mean water-colour painting; what I do is different from that. No washes, for instance. I use a small spiral notebook of special water-colour paper. It's nice and thick so the colour won't run through to the other side. (Well, not usually. I have had the odd mishap from over-enthusiasm.) I use a little tin of kiddies' paints like we had at school, with two tiny, skinny little brushes. I found another brush someone had dropped or thrown away on the ground. I thought it was a gift from God, so I took it home and cleaned it, and now I sometimes use it too. It's a bit thicker than the others. 

I have a screw-top jar made of thick, clear plastic which I use for water; carried, for extra safety, inside a plastic bag knotted at the top. And I have four little plastic pots, very small but deep, that I can use to pour the water into to wash off my brushes between colours. They are really for mixing paint, and the lid of the paint tin could also be used as a palette, but I don't do that yet. So far, if I want to mix the colours, I do it directly on the page. Sometimes I paint with plain water to thin the colours, or with a dry brush to make lines across them.

What I have discovered is that it's good not to know how to do it — which I don't. This means I'm free to play and experiment.

After the music program, there came one about a painter and sculptor called Marc Quinn, who is very much alive. Another fascinating show in quite a different way. This fellow is very innovative too. He plays and experiments. I'm sure he knows how to do things, in terms of being trained; in fact they said he had studied Fine Arts — but he finds new ways, new approaches, things not done before.

He was quoted as saying something I like: 'With our desires and choices we create the future. We don't even know we're doing it.' That was in the context of his interest in evolution. The way he explained it, as the long-term effects of human attention and consensus over time, made a lot more sense than the usual New Age version of 'You only have to think it and it's yours'. (You could Google him too.)

I don't relate either of these artists to me with my sketching games, and I don't want to sculpt or paint with oils anyway; but it was still a treat to look at their art, with a knowledgeable guide in each case, and to get to listen to the artists themselves talk about their work.

What a lovely, leisurely afternoon feeding my soul!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Announcement — SHE TOO Calendar. A great gift for yourself or another poetic soul.

A monthly calendar of your favourite pin-up poets and sample poems. Click on the pic to view and buy.


Buy the book (over there in the right-hand side bar, see) and get a free one-page calendar as a gift (just the rudie-nudie photos as above!).

For details, click here.

Storm Diary

Nature is wild outside. The thunder cracks so loudly, I hastily put up blue domes of protection over my home, my car, the guy next door's unit ... heck, the whole top end of this street, and a few friends' homes elsewhere in town for good measure.  

But I don't think of this until some time after already seeing huge hailstones falling, and fearing for my car, out there by the kerb. The only consolation is that those falling near the house, where it's more usually parked, are even bigger. 

The rain is now torrential. 

Crikey, that was a tremendous crash! I.m surprised my lights are still on. Computers, modem and phone are unplugged, TV is off, and I listen to sharp cracks of hail on roof and windows, sounding as if they'll break the glass, or as if they are coming through the ceiling right into the room.

The only tree close enough to the house to do damage is the frangipani, and that's very sturdy and right up against the front wall, only a few of the top twigs against a window. All the same, I might prune it down below the sill real soon.

I think of another friend's house that may well be at risk, and another's, and another's, and whack up a few more domes. Then I strengthen the ones already in place.

The lights flicker briefly. 

I'm glad this didn't happen yesterday while I was out and about.

Ah, there goes the power off. And back on again almost at once! Just when I was getting up to fetch the torch (which I keep handy) and think about lighting candles (quite handy too). 

Both thunder and rain quieten, and/or begin to  move away.


It abated, and I went outside to check my car. It already had a few hail dints on the roof, acquired before I bought it. I don't think there are more. The neighbour across the road was checking his car roof at the same time, and it was OK. 

We stopped for a bit of a chat; hadn't seen each other in weeks. Then the rain started again, so we hastened back inside our houses. The thunder swung around and came back here for another go, with yet more rain and hail. The sky went very dark.  But now it does seem to have finished at last.

Again, as so often lately, no need to water my garden for a while.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

The Way We Dress

Friend: I'm so thrilled that you said I have 'natural style'!

Me: Yes, I may not have it myself but I can recognise it in others.

Friend: (Rushes to reassure me) Oh, you always look ... interesting.

Me: I guess I have my own style — vaguely hippie-ish?

Friend: No, not that exactly. Bohemian.

Other friend: Yes, that's right.

Me: (Feels unutterably thrilled)

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

How I Got a New Vacuum Cleaner for Free — a Saga

AND a free carpet shampoo.  And even a spare vacuum cleaner to give to a friend who needs one.

Mind you, this is not a recipe others can easily follow. It was all quite unintentional.

I have a belief that the Universe is always listening, and will give us what we appear to want. (Maybe that is the recipe to follow.) Anyway, I was recently looking at my carpet and thinking that I MUST find the money to get it cleaned again. It was two years since the last time. I also noticed, as a separate matter, that the cheap little upright vacuum cleaner I bought only 15 months ago wasn't working quite so well any more.

So I was sitting out on my front veranda a few days ago, doing some writing, when a van stopped and a young woman emerged and walked up my driveway to ask if I'd like a free carpet shampoo.

It was a promotion for a particular brand of vacuum cleaner. No obligation to buy; the staff got paid for doing the demo.

'We want to create some word of mouth, a bit of a buzz about the product,' she said.

'I know it's a good product,' I told her. 'I used to have one a long time ago. And yes I would like my carpet shampooed. But I can tell you now, I won't be buying.'

Well, it wasn't her job to sell me the cleaner, only to sell me the free demo. She didn't have to twist my arm.

In the course of conversation — they chat you up — it emerged that I'm a poet. So was her mum in Ireland, she said, a  frequently published poet. I didn't know the name, but gave her my card and said her mum could look me up on facebook. She saw that I'm also a professional psychic medium and asked if I could tell her something about a situation that was troubling her. She didn't say what.

'Well,' I thought, 'I'm getting a free carpet clean. I can give her a freebie too.' So I sat down with her, held her hand and tuned in. I got some stuff which meant little to me, but which she seemed to think was helpful. It wasn't a proper reading, just a quickie.

We set a time a little later for the demo. In due course a young man arrived. We moved furniture out of the way, and I perched on a dining-room chair in the now crowded kitchen.

'Don't worry about the cat,' I said. 'He'll clear out as soon as the noise starts.' Not at all! Levi was extremely interested, and perched on another chair beside me to watch too.

Young Man said that Young Woman had mentioned I'm psychic.

'What do you pick up if you, er, look at my aura?'

I tuned in across the room, and started telling him about himself as a small boy in dramatic circumstances. Spot on! He confirmed everything.

'So, am I psychic?' I asked.

'Well, it could be a matter of asking the right questions. I'm a bit of a sceptic.'

'Hang on,' I said. 'I didn't ask any questions before I told you all that.'

I was also given a lot of advice for him, for now and years ahead, which I hope he will take. It seemed very important.

I explained to him that as I was clear I wasn't buying the vacuum cleaner, I'd asked myself why the Universe had brought these people into my space. Maybe they needed something I had to offer? They had both asked, and that's why I gave them each a quick freebie.

He was back in sales mode, telling me that other people often started out saying they weren't going to buy, and then ended up getting one after all.

'Age Pensioners?' I asked, sceptical in my turn.

'Yes,' he said. 'How much do you think it costs?'

"About $3,000?'

'Actually it's more.'

He explained that there were a number of attachments to do a variety of cleaning jobs, and the way pensioners afforded the machine was by not getting all the attachments. There were several I felt I could well do without, e.g. I'm really not going to be sanding any furniture at my time of life.

The amount of dust he removed with deep cleaning before shampooing was very convincing.  But, remembering the early model I'd had decades ago, I said I thought it would be too heavy for me to lug around.

'Try it,' he said. It was amazingly light.

'It seems quite complicated, though.'

'Not at all. Look, all you do is this, this and this.' He did make it look easy.

'Is there any reason that you wouldn't LOVE to have one if you could afford it?'

'Love's a bit of an exaggeration — but I'd like it if I could afford it, yes.'

'Let me phone my boss and see what sort of a price he can offer. If you were to buy it, would you want to pay by cheque or credit card?' I laughed.

'Payment plan, with very small amounts.' I still didn't think it was at all possible.

He got his boss on the phone, and took notes as they talked. Then he told me:

'Because you're not taking this, this, this and this attachment, we'll knock off this much.  Because it's a promotional offer, we'll deduct this much. Because you used to have one in the past, we'll take off this amount. And we'll also give you $200 for your old cleaner as a trade-in.'  [They knew that was more than I bought it for.]  'That brings it down to this amount, and you can pay it off at $32 a week for 36 months.'

'$32 a week,' I said. 'That's $64 a fortnight — I have to think fortnightly because that's how my pension is paid. You know, I think that's do-able.'

The boss came to do the paperwork and started by asking the exact amount of my income — which turned him a bit pale.

'Um, so you'd be paying $32 a week, plus 22% interest ...'

'He didn't mention interest,' I said.

'No, he's not authorised to. I do the paperwork. I think you would find these payments difficult, and frankly I don't think the finance company would cover you. How about I give you the previous model for $25 a week for 100 weeks and no interest? It's just the same, only a different colour.'

Of course I was rapt. And he just happened to have one in his van, so he brought it in, we filled out the forms and I signed everything.

Next morning I told this tale to some friends I was breakfasting with. One of them had a strong intuition I should try it out before the cooling off period was up (only 10 business days). So yesterday I prepared to do that. I looked at the instruction manual. I watched the DVD that came with it. And I nearly cried. I was thoroughly bamboozled. It's one thing to see someone show you, quite another to try on your own.

I have always been intimidated by machinery, and this was a case of: 'Open this, flip this to that side, line up these arrows if you're doing this, or the other way if you're doing that, press this button, make sure this colour is showing for this operation or that colour for that one, adjust this lever with your foot...'

Should I persevere and learn the bloody thing? But no, I wasn't even game to try. I rang up to cancel the contract.

'The manager will phone you back,' they said.

It was the same guy who'd done the paperwork before.

'What happened?'

'It's just not for me.' I told him. 'It's too complicated for me.'

'What? How can it be too complicated?'

But I'd read the documents closely by then.

'Look, according to the contract, I'm not obliged to give you any reason. But I am giving you one. It's just me — I'm an old lady and I can't get my head around it.' Nothing to do with my age really, and everything to do with my head — but the old lady card can be a good one to play.

'OK, I'll get there some time this afternoon.'

I'd already had dinner by the time he showed up that evening. He didn't argue any more, in fact was quite pleasant and polite; just packed up the machine and took it away. Only after he was gone I realised and phoned him back.

'Hey, I need my old vacuum. The one you took as a trade-in.'

'Oh, I'm so sorry. To be honest, I forgot all about it. What does it look like?'

I described it and told him the make. He said it would be late before he could get back to me, but he could leave it outside my door. I said that would be fine. Half an hour later he rang back.

'We already gave yours away to charity. How would you like a [well-known brand]?'

'I don't know anything about them,' I said. 'I'd have to see it. But I'll tell you what I need: light and upright.'

'This is a barrel type. But it's a very good brand. It's worth $700 - $1000.'

'Well, you'll have to bring it for me to look at.' (I can always sell it on eBay if I don't like it, I thought, and then buy the one I want.)

'What time do you go to bed?'

'I'm usually late.'

So at 10.30 he knocked on my door, bearing an upright Hoover.

'Oh, you found me an upright!'

'Wait! We have two for you to choose from,' and up my stairs came his off-sider lugging the Well-known Brand.

Both were light. The WKB was only one month old (!) and very easy to manoeuvre despite the barrel. That barrel had great capacity, I noticed, and it didn't need bags. And this machine would clean under furniture that an upright couldn't fit beneath. It also didn't need any instructions, it was so straightforward. I took it!

'I think I've come out of this rather well,' I said.

Then he asked if I'd like the other one too.

'I have to give it to charity, but we're on our way back to Sydney tonight.' (Thank goodness I'd rung up to cancel when I did.)

'I'm charity,' I said. 'I'm an Age Pensioner; of course I'm charity! I'll find a good home for it.'

He shook my hand goodbye. He looked exhausted after all his running around, and still a long trip ahead.

'I hope they pay you well,' I said.

He shrugged and grinned weakly, with a funny look in his eye. Only later I realised: of course, he'd be on commission.

Oh dear!

Oh well.

Today I phoned a friend who has been needing to replace her vacuum cleaner and told her the whole story.

'This Hoover might not be what you want permanently,' I said, 'but it's free, and it'll tide you over at least.' When I described it, she was delighted.

Thank you, Universe!  I think two quickie readings, and some Reiki zaps through the ether to help the boss on his drive to Sydney, were a small price to pay.

More seriously, I also think Young Man had great need, and that he has great potential. Perhaps what I said was crucial. Perhaps the Powers That Be considered it worth a clean carpet and an almost brand new, good quality vacuum cleaner that suits me nicely.

As I sometimes tell people, I work for the Universe and the pay is good.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Retreating ... to LJ

Migrated from LiveJournal / Dreamwidth
I am officially — and really — on a spiritual retreat during December.
I am not going down south to my family this year, because my household now consists only of my dear old cat Levi and me, and I think it's too soon after the loss of his sister Freya for me to leave him so long. I would have had a friend who knows and loves him come in twice daily to feed him, but still he would be mostly alone. He's a sensitive soul and hates change. It can make him ill. Although we have both adjusted to being only two, part of that adjustment is being very clingy and smoochy with each other, more so than ever — so leaving for days or weeks at this point would be very bad. And I too would fret!
'But it's a CAT!' said one friend — a very old and dear friend. He will never know how close he came to being consigned to outer darkness forever. Only the oldness and otherwise dearness saved him ... and the fact that he was thinking of my wellbeing. But staying with Levi is not a sacrifice as far as I'm concerned. (And the family will be up to see me early in the new year, anyhow.)

However, I wanted to do something different and a bit special over the holiday period. I particularly don't want people thinking of me as 'poor SnakyPoet, all on her own at Christmas — how miserable'. I'm a Pagan, and shall be celebrating Solstice with my spiritual sisters and brothers at the Castle on the Hill, with dance and song, ritual and feast. Since my kids grew up, xmas is no big deal for me. Getting together with family is nice, but doesn't have to be at that particular time. And we can exchange gifts long-distance. I'm not miserable!

For many widows, for whom it IS a big deal, I expect it would be a sad time if they were alone. But my beloved Spouse was not the father of my childen; we met when all our kids had become adults. Our xmas traditions grew up only recently: Xmas Day at a family gathering at our (local) Surrogate Daughter's; Boxing Day at another family gathering, the matriarch of whom also adopted us as family. The first no longer happens; the same year I was widowed, Surrogate Daughter's adult children left home to enter their own lives, and her brother married someone overseas and settled down there. SG now goes to one of her nearby friends on Xmas Day. But the Boxing Day gathering still happens, and I'll go to that. Always good company and a great nosh-up; also Matriarch likes to give friends and family members a gift of a psychic reading from me, which does me a favour too.

I thought it would be really nice to have a quiet, solitary Xmas Day this time. The first post-widowhood Xmas I also spent fairly quietly, but not alone, staying with friends on their country property nearby; the second (last year) I did go down south to family and reunioned with many friends there too. Each was perfect at the time. But this time I relish the thought of retreating from the world, spoiling myself, savouring being with me. I will get some nice things in to eat, but probably not traditional fare. I expect I'll get enough 'Merry Xmas' phone calls to prevent any unexpected loneliness creeping in — but indeed I don't expect it. It doesn't take xmas for me to miss my dear Spouse; nor does that date have any special associations to make it more so.  (If I would miss anyone it would be Husband Number 2, who was the father of my children ... but all those Christmases are long, long past, and the memories are happy.)

So — a retreat, I thought. Why restrict it to Xmas Day? I've been wanting to spend less time interacting online, more time catching up with reading, DVD viewing, housework and decuttering, exercising, writing letters, writing journal entries and memoirs, arranging poems by theme into chapbooks, water-colour sketching, meditating, consulting the oracles on my own behalf, playing with magick, having real conversations with the dear departed Spouse ....

Of course I can't go away for this retreat; it has to be right here with Levi. But I have announced it on facebook and hope people will assume I am going somewhere. I'll be staying away from facebook, twitter and email, and doing only the minimum I am required to in online poetry groups (luckily some of them are shutting down over the holiday period, and the others pretty much run themselves).

I shall attend the WordsFlow xmas party — the writers' group I used to facilitate. They invited me and I already accepted. It'll be good to see them all again. (Except for the one who moved overseas and, ironically enough, will be in Melbourne this xmas visiting his parents. Never mind; maybe we'll catch up in person next xmas.)  I'll meet a couple of close friends for coffee. An old friend says her visiting family will want to see me at some point, and I'd like to do that too. I have a medical appointment I'd better keep, and I will have to shop a bit. Oh, and I'll continue my Friday morning walk to the local deli for breakfast with friends who walk from town.

That sounds like quite a lot! But is not a patch on all the things I'm usually getting up to. Quite the social butterfly these days, because I can be. But I'm really an introvert, and by now I'm craving lots of me time.

And what's so spiritual about this retreat? Well, I happen to believe that whatever fulfils one's own soul and gives one joy is a spiritual event.

How does LJ fit into this? Why, it's one of the things that has become neglected. I miss it. Unlike my other media outlets, I plan that this one will get more use! Reading all my friends' posts again, with leisure to linger over them, will be a treat. (I might not be writing here so much during this period as reading and commenting.)

Comments from LJ
Yay! I've missed your presence, & your posts. Enjoy your season of peace.
It's nice to have been missed! :)

I note with interest that dkolodji is also saying she'll get more active on LJ. so these are two good things worth living through December for.
I am glad you are planning to live through December, for whatever reason!

A Club I'd Like To Join!

Satirist Jonathan Swift (born November 30, 1667), author of Gulliver's Travels, was a founding member of the Scriblerus Club, along with fellow wit Alexander Pope. This literary society's sole aim was to ridicule scholarly pretension. — Goodreads

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Gratitude Quilt

I am grateful for the internet, which so extends my circle of friends, the audience for my writing, my access to the news of the day, and my scope for indulging my hobbies such as photography. ~ Rosemary

That's what I wrote when Laura Hegfield asked me to jot down for her what I was grateful for in that very moment.

Every year she asks everyone she knows to do that, and from all the responses she makes a gratitude quilt of words and posts it at her blog to coincide with (the American holiday of) Thanksgiving.

I've just finished reading the 2014 gratitude quilt. Now I feel wrapped in peace and beauty.

Some people wrote just one word, or one sentence. Some wrote long lists. Some used plain, down-to-earth language. Some wrote in lush, poetic phrases. 

Above is my 'patch', reproduced just as it appears there. But the great joy of the quilt is not in reading any one entry in isolation, but taking the time to read through them all. You have to find enough time to do so at leisure. Each is individual and unique, but there are repeated themes, all adding up to a human appreciation of the great gift of life. 

I hope you give yourself this gift of reading the lot!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Am I Weird?

 Migrated from Live Journal / Dreamwidth

Don't all rush to answer that! I don't mean in general, but in one specific way.

Recently I've taken to writing erotic haiku. And sometimes tanka.  I remind you, I have been widowed and celibate for two years, am not hankering for a new lover, and have just turned 75.

What strikes me as even odder is that I wasn't doing it when I did have an active sex life.

Oh all right, I did write erotic poetry in decades past, and was quite famous (or infamous) for some of it. But that was long ago, and the impetus was more often frustration than satisfaction. Urgency, you know.

One of my friends on facebook must have joined me up to the erotic haiku group. I didn't know it existed until one day the posts started appearing in my news feed. I felt like a voyeur, and said so. 'Voyeurs r us,' a stranger replied cheerfully.

I thought I'd never be able to join in with such frankness.

And yet, the language was far less explicit than my decades-ago pieces of raging lust. Sensuality and romance were the goal, rather than porn. The metaphors were suggestive but delicate. I started to think I too could create something like that. Although I have no lover now, I do have both imagination and memory!

By now I have created 17, since I began in March. I really enjoy crafting them with the right blend of delicacy and sensuality. Other people in the group like what I write. The admins are collecting the ones they like best for possible inclusion in an anthology later. Several of mine have been saved, which is very gratifying.

Perhaps I am sublimating; perhaps I am consoling myself. I don't really care. All I know for sure is that I enjoy making these pretty things. And it seems I have a gift for it. *Beatific smile.*

I post them to the fb erotic haiku group as I write them, and collect each month's efforts into one post on my poetry blog. You can check 'em out here if you like (bearing in mind that November's are not there yet). The fb group is now closed at 2000 members, very few of whom actually post.

Are all the others readers? Probably not; probably they've just wandered away and forgotten. Even so, I'm glad there are enough readers who say they like what I write. And every so often someone I hadn't heard of before posts something, so perhaps they are all still there all the time. I'm so glad my friend (I think I know which one) joined me up before the membership was closed.

I expect it is a bit weird, but that ain't gonna stop me.

Oh, and btw, the link above will also lead you to my most notorious piece of erotica from the old days, lol.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Busy (Old) Dreams

Cross-posted from LiveJournal

Many of the entries in my old handwritten journal that I'm transcribing are recorded dreams. I'm astonished at how long, vivid and detailed these entries are. I certainly don't have that degree of dream recall nowadays.

They're not interesting enough to others to post publicly – full of mundane events, and people no-one would know (many of whom I don't remember either by now) – but they are interesting to me, to observe where I was then.

It was January 1987. My youngest had left for the USA to be an exchange student. His brother was on vacation after his first year of University. Their father was often away interstate for a business venture. Our old dog was getting sick.

What was I doing? Was that the year Mal Morgan took a break from presenting the poetry nights at La Mama Theatre and handed it over to me for a while? Maybe. I forget. No, I think I must have left the Poets Union by then, so the La Mama stint was probably earlier. I know I was publishing books, both as part of the Pariah Press Cooperative and under my own imprint, Abalone Press. I wasn't working as a librarian any more but I was running writers' groups and doing some editing.

I am wondering what in my life could account for the very busy dreams I was having, in which there were always lots of people, lots of activity, and things going wrong or threatening to. (Silly things, like losing travel tickets or not having the correct clothes for some occasion.) I guess it's true to say I had been very busy for many years.

Apart from the fact that they were so busy, I can't interpret the dreams. Perhaps they will become clearer when I come to more of the non-dream entries.

Friday, November 14, 2014

New ebooks, new Amazon page!

How exciting: I have a new Amazon page! Click here to see.

This has been created in conjunction with the release of two new chapbooks which I've been working on for some time. There they are at the right, in my sidebar, look!

LIFE AFTER DEATH consists of poems I wrote in the first intense weeks after Andrew's death, chronicling the adjustment to such a radical change in my life.

THE IMAGINED OTHER is a series of somonka, love poems in the form of pairs of tanka, each pair forming a conversation between two lovers, like a call and response. They were written for a form challenge at Robert Lee Brewer's 'Poetic Asides' section of Writers' Digest. I wrote some by myself, taking both voices; the rest were collaborations with other poets.

These are very short books — but, I hope, not slight!

They are ebooks. I don't intend to produce them as paperbacks.

My Amazon page, set up by my publisher, surprised me in a couple of ways. For one thing, I found out I am included in a Bibliography of Australian Literature — but I am unlikely to find out what they say about me, as the volume costs around $80!  Next time I am in a major city with a major reference library, perhaps I'll check.

The other surprise was to find that my 2005 publication, SECRET LEOPARD, is selling second-hand for over $400! In fact that's the lowest price. Other used copies are selling for over $700! I assure you that neither I nor Amazon set those prices! And if anyone is foolish enough to buy at that price, I won't see any of the money. I did sell it through Amazon myself when it first came out, but it wasn't exactly a best-seller, and Amazon eventually dropped it. Now some sellers are evidently treating it as a collector's item. It's true there are not too many left, but until they run out you can get them from me at $10 each, plus postage. Clearly a bargain!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Disenchanted with the Journals Already

Cross-posted from LiveJournal (including comments).

So my great project was to transcribe both Spouse's and my old hand-written journals, years and years of them. Already, in the case of my own, I am discovering (as Natalie Goldberg said of hers) volumes and volumes of boring crap! After all, journalling isn't about doing good writing, or even recording interesting material. I think a whole heap of stuff will finally get chucked!

I will go through it all, and transcribe anything that does seem interesting or useful, anything that could become memoir or poetry or both. It's just that I see that'll amount to far fewer pages than I had imagined.

It may turn out to be the same with his, but so far his notebooks do contain a fair bit of interesting autobiographical stuff ... amongst outlines for stories that never happened, lists, spiritual reflections — and yes, some boring crap.

Well, the project looks like being quicker and easier than anticipated, anyway!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Raiding the Journals

Cross-posted from LiveJournal

No, not these journals, but old, handwritten ones.

I am going through my own from 1987 (when I began keeping them) and my late Spouse's from whenever (his are in boxes out of order and I'm taking them as I get them) and transcribing them to computer.

I'm posting most of mine to a strictly private blog. But, to my delight, I am finding a number of poems — poems which I didn't at the time know I was writing. These I am making public, at my poetry blog. A lovely, lyrical entry describing my garden (in the Melbourne suburb of Beaumaris) quallfied as a prose poem without any change. Others turn into verses with minimal alteration. I was looking for memoir material, which I dare say is there; the poems are an unexpected bonus.

Some of Spouse's are going into a strictly private blog too. An account of a sexual adventure wth the lady he loved before me — wonderfully written, but his grand-daughters are a little young yet to be regaled with such exploits. A piece on all the things he ended up hating about his first wife. Two sides to that story, I'm sure, but she is no longer around to give hers, and I don't think their children, at any age, need to read that out of context. Perhaps they'll never read it at all, but I do have hopes of creating the autobiography he always meant to write and actually started.

The stuff that's fit to make public I am posting to a memoir blog he began while he was alive. I'm not attempting to put them in chronological order at this point, but my hope is that they will serve as an episodic memoir until (if ever) I can put them into a more coherent sequence.

Tomorrow I turn 75. I recently took part in a successful poetic collaboration with three other poets to produce a wonderful book. Two more collaborations with different poets (except for my LJ friend SatyaPriya who is in them all) will appear next year. And I am getting two little ebook chapbooks out in time for xmas. These faits are pretty much accomplit, and I found myself restless and bored a couple of days ago. You'd think I'd be pleased to rest on my laurels, but that's not how it works for me. I told myself — truthfully — that I have a very pleasant life, but the recognition of this fact did not change the mood. Then I decided it was time to start transcribing both sets of journals, and I cheered up at once. It's good to have a new project!

(Yes I'm back to calling him Spouse. Even though many of you know exactly who the hell I am, and in some cases that's mutual, I still cherish the feeling of LJ being a private 

sanctuary; and one reason I have been here so seldom for quite a while is that I stopped treating it that way. So I'm reverting to the veiling of identity.)

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

New ebooks, new Amazon page!

How exciting: I have a new Amazon page! Click here to see.

This has been created in conjunction with the release of two new chapbooks which I've been working on for some time. There they are at the right, in my sidebar, look!

LIFE AFTER DEATH consists of poems I wrote in the first intense weeks after Andrew's death, chronicling the adjustment to such a radical change in my life.

THE IMAGINED OTHER is a series of somonka, love poems in the form of pairs of tanka, each pair forming a conversation between two lovers, like a call and response. They were written for a form challenge at Robert Lee Brewer's 'Poetic Asides' section of Writers' Digest. I wrote some by myself, taking both voices; the rest were collaborations with other poets.

These are very short books — but, I hope, not slight!

They are ebooks. I don't intend to produce them as paperbacks.

My Amazon page, set up by my publisher, surprised me in a couple of ways. For one thing, I found out I am included in a Bibliography of Australian Literature — but I am unlikely to find out what they say about me, as the volume costs around $80!  Next time I am in a major city with a major reference library, perhaps I'll check.

The other surprise was to find that my 2005 publication, SECRET LEOPARD, is selling second-hand for over $400! In fact that's the lowest price. Other used copies are selling for over $700! I assure you that neither I nor Amazon set those prices! And if anyone is foolish enough to buy at that price, I won't see any of the money. I did sell it through Amazon myself when it first came out, but it wasn't exactly a best-seller, and Amazon eventually dropped it. Now some sellers are evidently treating it as a collector's item. It's true there are not too many left, but until they run out you can get them from me at $10 each, plus postage. Clearly a bargain!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

DHARMA THE CAT — Philosophy With Fur

By David Lourie and Ted Blackall

I've just reviewed this on Goodreads, and this is what I said:

I fell in love with Dharma the Cat at first sight, when I saw the paperback edition. I think any cat-lover must! You can tell that David Lourie, the author, is very well-acquainted with cats himself. He probably also has a good knowledge of Buddhism. Most of us these days have some idea of its precepts, but that’s not essential to enjoy this book. They’re made clear in context, and without spoiling the joke.

It’s a dry humour with a touch of philosophy and lots of ‘Aha!’ moments, as Dharma’s human, a novice monk, tries to instruct Dharma in enlightenment but manages to miss the point most of the time — in the most endearing way. Ted Blackall’s simple, expressive drawings help make the characters endearing and the jokes even funnier.

I’ve started giving family and friends copies because I love it so much that I want everyone else to enjoy it too. So far they all do, very much.

While the black-and-white paperback, available from Amazon, is a joy, you might prefer the ebook — a full colour expanded edition with even more cartoons. It’s available either in Kindle, or from its own award-winning website.

I gave it five stars.

View all my Goodreads reviews

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Levi and Me — Making Our Adjustments

The first week without Freya, Levi moped and I cried a lot.

I kept his routines as close as possible to normal, and gave him lots of attention and affection. This helped me too.

After two weeks he was already noticing the upside of being the only cat. 

Some things changed. She was always the spokesperson — like lionesses in the wild, who do the hunting while their males loll about. 

Levi soon learned he needs to speak up for himself now. He has become much more vocal. In general he is becoming more assertive and self-reliant — just as I did after Andrew died.

He has taken over what used to be Freya's favourite spot in the garden, curled up under some bushes.

And he is now the bedtime cat, who comes and says goodnight to me with cuddles when I retire — even if he doesn’t stay there all night. (But he’s always back by morning.)

By the third week it seemed as if the gap of her absence had closed over seamlessly. I made up reasons for this — it was because she didn’t suffer, it was because the timing was right….  Then I took Levi to the vet for a check-up. 

When I brought him home afterwards, he looked for her. Of course — in the past she would have been here to greet him and be told telepathically (and by smell) all about it. He looked all over before he gave up. It made me start crying again.

The good news is that he himself is doing well. Anaemia and kidney disease stable, no deterioration; lungs good; no indication of any stomach cancer, which they once thought might be causing the anaemia. No reason he shouldn’t be around for a long time yet.

Now that we are only two, he is even more demonstrative. He licks and head-butts me like mad. According to something recently aired on facebook, it means he’s claiming me. ‘Yes,’ I tell him, very Game of Thrones: ‘I am yours and you are mine. My lion.’

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Overflowing Books

In February I showed you a picture of all the books waiting for me to read them, piled up in and on an old TV stand in lieu of a bookshelf. I did eventually get a couple of assemble-them-yourself bookshelves from The Reject Shop. Of course the number of books waiting to be read has grown to fill the space available. Initially the whole top shelf was book-free; now I'm wondering how long it will be before it too will hold nothing but books.

(These are just the excess books, you understand. This little bookshelf is in my bedroom. Some others are in the living room. The great big shelves, as well as a whole lot of medium ones, are out in the garage — which has never been used to house a car.)

Meanwhile the old TV stand has been pressed into service to hold all my journals — plus a couple of items from the soft toy collection. I tell myself that one day I'll get around to transcribing all those journal entries on to the computer, but I secretly doubt I'll live that long. I haven't even started yet.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Farewell to Freya

Her name was Freya, and she left on Friday, Freya's day, to go on to a new life on another plane.

She was diagnosed in May with mammary cancer. In recent weeks her lump softened and shrank, so that the vet thought perhaps it was benign after all. But a few days ago it was suddenly back, and it was large and hard.

She had shown little sign of being ill apart from the tumour, and she was still agile, affectionate, communicative — the most communicative of cats, this one — and had a good appetite. You'd never, at any time, have taken her for the 16 years old which she was. But this week it began to be apparent that she was not entirely comfortable any more, not entirely happy. She slept most of the time, didn't go outside much, and when she did she came back in soon. Her breathing was sometimes audible.

Her ritual was always to wait until I went to bed at night, then arrive on the bed — knowing the exact moment even if she had been outside — and snuggle up for a cuddle, purring. Eventually she would move away and I'd turn over, and we'd go to sleep. The last few days she still did that, but was quicker to move away, and the purr was not so loud. Again, it seemed as if it was hard for her to be comfortable, even under my Reiki hands.

She could have lasted longer, but I didn't want to wait until she was even more uncomfortable. There were just a few days of decline — but I've seen decline before; I know how fast it can be. I knew on Thursday that her time had come, and phoned the vet, but couldn't get in until Friday. By the time of her appointment, I had confirmed my inner knowing via Reiki and Tarot. And when the vet examined her, she confirmed it too. The cancer had spread to Freya's lungs. 

I stayed with her. It was a remarkably quick and peaceful death. I was strong while I had to be, but afterwards collapsed in tears. The vet's nurse gave me a can of Malibu and Cola. I'd never had it before. I bought more on the way home, and tim tams and cashew nuts. Comfort foods. 

My household has shrunk to a very small family now. Just me and my black panther, Freya's brother Levi. As siblings, they loved each other but also had spats. They played together and rested together, and there was sometimes jealousy. Now it's just him and me. He has all my attention at last; but he is already missing his sister. 

'The first two years are the worst,' I was told about widowhood. They were not fun, that's for sure! Freya was my in-house support during that time. There were many supportive friends, but sooner or later I had to come inside and shut the door. Then she was there to help. She grieved for Andrew too, but she also made sure to give me what comfort she could. She was very good at it! (Poor old Levi, always a sensitive soul, was extremely attached to Andrew, and went through terrible grief for many months. I had to look after him, not the other way around.) Now the two year milestone has been reached. The 3rd of September was the second anniversary of Andrew's death. Freya went two days later, on the 5th, her work done.

Freya was my familiar. If I was doing energy work, she would quietly come and add her energy. Sometimes she knew about it ahead of time, and would be waiting ready.  Levi is more my guardian. Although sensitive and clingy, he can be fierce in the face of any threat.

He is clingy now, following me about like the dog I believe him to have been in his last life. And he is subdued; he looks lost. It's a bleak little household we have now, the two of us. Andrew took a lot of warmth and colour when he left. Freya, with her purposeful personality, has taken more.

Levi is a cat who hates change. I'll have to keep everything as close as possible to what he's used to while he adjusts. I'm going to start putting Rescue Remedy in his food for a while; should have thought of it more promptly. Spats they may have had, but she has been his companion all his life. Their telepathic bond was strong. Each would come and tell me if the other needed something.

Perhaps he knew this time was coming soon. He used to sleep elsewhere at night, and come onto the bed first thing in the morning for his cuddle. Just lately he's been spending his nights on the bed with Freya and me. It has become his place too. I'm glad he will keep me company now.

My little girl looked so beautiful when she went to sleep for the last time. As the vet took her away afterwards, the last thing I saw was the white ring around the tip of her tail. She was a faery cat, all tortoiseshell but for that white ring which marked her, I thought, as faery. All her life, right up to and including the last week, she would sometimes race around the house, executing occasional leaps, as if playing chasey with something invisible. I thought she was having fun with her faery friends.

The vet gave me a package with things that might help — a sweet poem, a bit of her fur, a paw print in gold paint, and two small candles. I chose the purple candle to light for her, to accompany the (Pagan) Prayer for the Dead which I say when someone I care about crosses over.  She too is a soul, a beloved soul. I did what I could to help her journey.

I know she is better off where she is than if she had stayed here any longer. I know that Friday was the day she had to go; that it would have been wrong to keep her even a day or two more. 

I told Andrew, on the way to the vet, 'You better be there to meet her!' and I'm sure he would be. 

But I'm doing a lot of crying now.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Party time! Virtual book launch

'People who haven't seen me for a while sometimes ask, 'Are you still writing poetry?' To which the answer is always yes. It's how I've spent my life since the age of seven, through all other events and circumstances.

Occasionally I produce books of it and/or get published in literary journals or anthologies. I mostly play online these days, so the journals and anthologies are as often as not digital only, and now I'm branching out into ebooks of my work. 

First cab off the rank is actually a collaboration with three other women: Helen Patrice of Melbourne, who has been a  close friend for many years, and Delaina Miller of Kansas City, Missouri and Leigh Spencer of Tucson, Arizona, whom we've got to know online. We love each other's writing, so after we all participated in a month-long poem-a-day challenge earlier this year, Delaina suggested we combine the results.

It's been a heck of a project, time-consuming, exciting and challenging, and we've learnt heaps. As you may know, I was once an independent publisher of poetry; some of my books even got international awards. Creating an ebook is whole a different experience, with different requirements. But we did it!

The book is now available on Kindle, iBooks and Google Play. It is also available as a pdf file. It is 155 pages long and only costs $7.77 (USD).

We asked four poets of stature online (one a Kindle poetry best-seller) to write some blurbs for us. We received an embarrassment of riches — not just a few polite sentences but paragraphs of generous praise — and had to do some reluctant cutting. 

Obviously I am saying all this to convince you that you might like it even though it's poetry!  

We're having a virtual launch on facebook this coming weekend, where we'll answer questions, tell outrageous true stories, do a reading via YouTube (not yet available to the general public), run competitions and give away goodies as prizes.

But what if you can't come? Well you can still get the book, in whatever format suits you best, via the link here; look top right. Yes, it's the book called She Too, with purple cover and Venn diagram. (That's the back cover illustrated left.) There are various options to click on to buy it in your preferred format. 

Or you could go direct to Kindle, iBooks or Google Play and do a search — in which case you'll need to use the whole title: She Too: Four voices in (almost) harmony. I think doing it via the link here is easier.

Of course, if you happen to be on facebook but not connected to any of us there, you are still very welcome to join in the fun at the launch party. You can register for the event ahead of time, here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Book Trailer

While you eagerly await the virtual launch of SHE TOO, why not entertain yourselves with our book trailer?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

My Secret Perfectionism

Cross-posted from LiveJournal

Perfectionism's the enemy; I know that. It's what has us beat ourselves up, ignore our achievements, belittle our triumphs, give in to self-doubt. It tells us we're never good enough, no matter how hard we strive. It's mean, horrid and sly. It's what stops us enjoying our lives.

In every area but one I have got rid of perfectionism. Near enough IS good enough. I have taken on board the slogans of my domestic mentor FlyLady: "Progress, not perfection", "Housework imperfectly done still blesses your family". I apply the same attitude to my appearance, my business activities, my projects ... to everything except my writing.

Well, that's OK. It's right and good to be a perfectionist as a poet, to get every poem as good as I can. That's what art's about, isn't it? You know you can't ever get it perfect but you come as close as you damn well can. Yes, I think that's legitimate in a poem — to agonise over the placement of a comma, to pore over the Thesaurus hunting the exact right word.

The trouble is, it extends to publications one produces.
As any of you who are also my friends on facebook must have noticed, any minute now (well, first weekend in September) I and three poet friends are launching a collaborative collection called SHE TOO.

We have done all the work ourselves, and it's a heck of a business collaborating internationally. One night recently I was up until 2.40am to help iron out, across cyberspace, an unexpected last-minute problem. Yesterday morning I left the computer to go get breakfast, only to find when I returned that my colleague in America had been waiting for my further input before she could finally go home from work.

We've done it and we're proud of it. It's available in pdf, Kindle and epub. We have prizes and party favours for people who attend our virtual launch. We've been given wonderful blurb comments from poets of some standing in the online poetic community. We've thrashed out thorny issues without ego getting in the way, and are better friends than ever. And, being great admirers of each other's work, we think the content is wonderful.
We've had to learn and implement those requirements for ebooks which differ from printed books. (Some material we're used to seeing as introductory goes at the end instead of the beginning. There is no back cover; text that would belong there goes in the preliminary pages.) There's been some trial and error about all this, but we finally figured it out.

The book is already available on Amazon and iBooks and is about to be on Google Play.

What an achievement, eh?

And now, all of a sudden, I'm in a blue funk. I think I should have rewritten one of my poems before it went to press — only I didn't spot where I could make a particular improvement until just now. I think we should have kept our longest blurb comment in full instead of judiciously cutting, and used it as a Foreword. Only there's already such a lot of introductory stuff, which is why we decided not to do it that way. I noticed a word left out, too late to put it back in. Of course, it's only the word "a", and it's not in a poem but only in a bit of suff at the end of the book, telling people how to rate it on Amazon.

I rationalise, yet these tiny things loom suddenly as huge imperfections. I am spilling this here so as not to rush to the private facebook group where we four authors/publishers communicate about the book and say it there. My poor collaborators! Imagine how they would feel. I'm the oldest, supposedly the wise crone, and I've acted as the editor for this volume. They think I know my stuff. How demoralising if I were now to go into doubt and angst, now when they are allowing themselves to relax just a little at last. No, we have to keep our spirits high for this launch party. I can't do that.

It's the urge to tinker and tweak and gild the lily, and fix what ain't broke. I know it is. But it's too late; the book is out in the world.

Well actually, there still would be time to call it in, alter it, put it out again ... but it's not me doing that part of the operations. I'm not the geek. The geek has done it twice for me already. She hasn't complained but reassured; all the same, I think I have to let go now and just writhe and gnash quietly over here, out of sight.

I so want it to be perfect! And you know, it never can be. The creation of a book is often likened to birthing a baby. Well, babies aren't perfect. They're unique, with variations that are not flaws but marks of individuality.

Fear of other people's judgment: that's what it is. The awful waiting for people to pronounce upon this creation which contains our life blood and parts of our souls. But there — the others are good. My deficiencies will get lost amongst all that good stuff; will never even be noticed. I tell myself.

I'd like to fix that poem....