Today is my father’s seventieth birthday. He’s fit and healthy but a little bit sad because all his friends keep dying. Last year, it was his cousin, Ray, from a massive heart attack. The year before, it was Steve, the best man from his marriage to my mother and his best friend, and Lindsay, a work colleague and subsequent lifelong friend. This year, he already knows there will be more. These are all people he spent lots of time with over the years.
On Saturday, my sisters, their husbands and children, and I are gathering at Dad’s house for a low-key celebration. I hope he has a wonderful day.
While I’m there, I am planning to propose a collaboration. I’m a little nervous. I don’t do a lot of collaborations. And I don’t know what the response will be.Continue reading
At the end of October 2018, I went to the monthly meeting of my local branch of the political party I’m a member of. I’m not hugely political, mostly because talking about politics is a good way to lose all your friends when you realise they think in a fundamentally different way to you. If you think joining a political party and making friends with the other members resolves this problem, then you’re wrong. I’ve yet to meet a single person who thinks exactly the way I do.Continue reading
In March 2015, Terry Pratchett, the British author of over seventy books and creator of the Discworld series, lost his battle with early onset Alzheimer’s. He was just sixty-six years old. In June and September 2015 respectively, The Long Utopia and The Shepherd’s Crown, his two final completed books, were published. In 2017, the manager of Pratchett’s estate used a steamroller to flatten a hard drive containing all his unpublished, incomplete works and tweeted a picture of the destroyed device. It was Pratchett’s wish fulfilled.
Pratchett’s estate and heirs were in an enviable position. With seventy-odd books already published, the royalties will be flowing in for many years to come so their decision to respect his dying wish was, it would seem, a relatively easy one.
However, it doesn’t always appear to be the case. Despite her immense success, after Virginia Andrews’s death in 1986, her estate hired a ghost writer to keep penning works in her name. Some of them were begun by Andrews but not completed before she succumbed to breast cancer at the age of sixty-three.Continue reading
I love to ask myself questions that I don’t know the answer to and spend time considering them at length, then spend time discussing them at length in a blog post. So, somewhat surprisingly, when I asked myself the question “Should you market your book, yourself or both?” I realised I already knew the answer. Of course, all writers seeking an audience for their work must market both their books and themselves. It’s everything that comes after that realisation that tends to be a lot more difficult.
I’ve previously admitted that I have a problem with marketing myself and I’m not much better at marketing my books, not because I don’t think they’re any good but because a lifetime of reinforcement that humility is more important than confidence when it comes to self-promotion is hard to overcome.
So here’s an exercise in “do as I say, not as I do”. You don’t have to do them all – in fact, you probably shouldn’t, at least not all at once in an effort to avoid overkill. But by selecting the right combination over the right length of time, your marketing efforts may just pay off. Today I’m looking at marketing your book and on Thursday I’ll look at marketing yourself and together those two approaches will hopefully translate into book sales now and in the future.Continue reading
In 2005, I was studying for a master’s degree in writing. I was also into my eleventh year of living with my grandparents, Alf and Betty. What had been an invitation to stay with them when I was 17 and moving to Melbourne from Bendigo to study a bachelor’s degree had extended into another two-year course, my first job, my second job, my third job and my fourth job. It was during my fourth job that I decided to study for my master’s degree part time.
One of the subjects was called Writing History. Because I had such immediate access to Alf and Betty, I decided to write my major project about them. We had some wonderful conversations about growing up, when they met and their life together. The first eulogy that follows was taken from that project. I was also asked to write a second more personal eulogy, which follows the first. I almost can’t believe I had to write two. And even more unbelieveable is the fact that I actually got up to read the second one myself because I don’t do public speaking, ever, and my debut performance was at my grandmother’s funeral.Continue reading
I am not good with death. Perhaps no one is good with death, although doctors and funeral directors must deal with it so often that they develop coping mechanisms. I haven’t developed any yet. Possibly (and luckily) because I haven’t been exposed to it too often. That was until the last few years.
In 2012, my cousin Scott died unexpectedly. In 2013, my second cousin Zac died unexpectedly as well. And this year, my 89-year-old grandmother Betty died. It wasn’t unexpected – at that age, it can’t be. But it doesn’t seem to matter if it’s unexpected or not. All types of death are equally difficult to comprehend, to accept.
For the funerals of both Zac and my grandmother, I was asked to write eulogies. Normally a writer is so pleased to be asked to write anything. But normally you don’t cry through every word as you type it on the page. Normally there’s a happy ending. Or one of your own choosing anyway. Nobody would choose this. Nobody who had a choice would choose death.
These are the times when I wish I wasn’t a writer. So nobody would ask me to write a eulogy. Because there are no words. Nothing that can make it right. Nothing that can do justice to who they were when they were still alive, nothing that can do justice to how perfect they were in their imperfect lives.Continue reading
In 2009, I attended a birthday party for my nephew, Jack, who was turning three. I took plenty of pictures and in the following weeks when I reviewed them, I didn’t just see memories, I saw a story. The following was the result.Continue reading