The Five Stages of Unemployment

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One of the most common feelings of unemployment is the sense that no one else can understand what it is you’re going through. And they can’t. Not exactly. No one has precisely the same family or financial circumstances as you do. No one has precisely the same employment experience. No one has precisely the same goals and dreams.

What everyone experiencing unemployment does have in common is going through five distinct emotional stages as we process an ending and look for another beginning.

However, the manner in which you enter unemployment significantly impacts in what order you will experience these emotions. Continue reading

The Five Stages of Writing

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When we first start writing, thinking we might like to have a crack at the caper, we have all the tools we need. A basic knowledge of the language in which we want to write. A computer and a new Word document. Or a piece of paper and a pen. After all, writing is pretty simple, right?

In writing’s defence, it is pretty easy. As long as all you want to do is tinker. As long as you don’t care about ever being read or published. However, if you do, you might be interested to know it’s actually a very long process that can be broken into five stages.

And the hardest stage of writing is always whatever stage you’re at. Continue reading

Book Review: Secret Smile by Nicci French

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This book was so engrossing that I started reading it late one evening and then couldn’t stop. I finished it in one sitting as I kept thinking, “Just one more chapter,” and then not being able to stand not knowing what was going to happen next. By the time I was finished, six hours and 310 pages had gone by and so had most of the night, as well as any opportunity for sleep. Continue reading

Short Story: Midday in the Bourke Street Mall

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She has such a strong sense of this moment but almost no sense of herself in it, except as an observer. Maybe because she doesn’t come to the city much anymore. She isn’t a part of it. She used to work in the city years ago but not since then. But this is where the recruiters are. This is where the jobs are now.

She has already met with one recruiter. She mistook his polite enquiry about what she was doing for lunch as a come on. Or maybe she didn’t mistake it at all. She will meet with another recruiter this afternoon and will listen for over an hour while he outlines everything that is wrong with her. She will sit there and take it.

But for now she sits at midday in the Bourke Street mall. There’s a book in her bag but so much is going on around her that she has no interest in getting it out. The bench below her is hard and cold, metallic beneath the back of her thighs, even through the material of her skirt. Continue reading

Short Story: The Ballet

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I look good. I like to make an effort when I go to the ballet. Some people turn up in jeans, track suits, even school uniforms. I always wear a dress. At the moment, it’s concealed underneath a knee-length black overcoat. I’m also wearing knee-high black boots in deference to the cold. It’s a nightmare driving to and parking in the city so I usually take the train but it’s winter and the platform is chilly.

I duck into the partially enclosed seating area but it isn’t any warmer. The breeze whistles through unintentionally but perfectly created wind tunnels and ruffles my hair. I hate the wind more than any other kind of weather. For rain, I have an umbrella. For sun, I have hats. For heat, I have loose, barely-there clothing. For cold, I have jackets – like the one I have on now – and scarves and gloves. There is nothing for the wind but staying inside. But I have to go out to get to the ballet. So instead I have a hairbrush in my bag to repair later the damage it is doing now.

He sits down next to me before I even realise he is there. “Hello.” Continue reading

Book Review: The Man Who Forgot His Wife by John O’Farrell

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It took me until I was nearly finished reading this book to realise which category of novel it fell into and that is “romance for men” – dick lit instead of chick lit, if you will. The story is a romance between Vaughan and Maddy but instead of the high emotions and drama that appear in romance for women, this book has comedy, farcical confusion and a sidekick/wingman/best friend/loud mouth. I expect it would still be read mostly by women but almost certainly it would also have more male readers than a romance written for women (which generally have none).

Vaughan is on a train when he is “reborn” – it’s nothing to do with religion, it’s just that he can’t remember anything. Not a single thing about himself, who he is, where he’s going or where he’s been so he feels like a fully grown baby. He finds a hospital and spends a week wearing a wristband listing him as “Unknown White Male” until his best friend, Gary, figures out where he is and comes to take him home.

Except home isn’t where home used to be. Vaughan is in the middle of a messy divorce from Maddy, his wife of fifteen years. He’s homeless as a result and has been couch surfing at Gary’s. Which is why Maddy didn’t miss him, didn’t even realise he’d been struck down with a medical condition, wouldn’t have cared had she known. But from the moment Vaughan sees Maddy from a distance, he knows he loves her despite being unable to remember her. And he wants to win her back. Continue reading

The Fictional Diary: Another Way to Structure Your Novel

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I wrote recently about some of the basic choices writers must make when they first begin to write their novel – tense, point of view and perspective – and another of those basic choices is the format of the book. One of the great options is writing your novel as a diary.

Diaries are great for readers because as well as telling a story, they also give a voyeuristic view into the worlds and lives of the people writing them. Diaries are great for writers because they allow for a type of novel that is more focused on the voice of the character rather than how beautiful the words of the author are (even though they are essentially the same thing).

For anyone struggling to get into writing a novel in a more straightforward narrative, a great way to exercise the writing muscles is to forget about writing the novel and to write a diary from the perspective of the main character or characters. Continue reading