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Sharing the creative energy

I am on a writing holiday. I’ve intentionally decided to slack off for the rest of the school term, as I have taken on a fair bit of extra responsibility in my life and the idea of writing on top of everything else (you know, the this needs to be done because life stuff) was overwhelming me and making it feel like a chore. So I decided to pause. Just for a bit. And then I took the opportunity afforded to me through the situation I am in and decided to make art. Visual art.

In my childhood and throughout my teenage years, right up until my early twenties, I was a prolific artist. I continued with visual art well after I gave up on writing childish novels, and beyond my angst-ridden teenage poetry. I’ve never seriously considered myself an artist though, it was just something I knew I could do, but didn’t make the time to do it. It’s harder to set up and clean up after. But one of my children is very inspired by art, and this was something we could do together.

So that’s what I’m doing. These are some of the pieces I’ve worked on over the last week. My skills are a little rusty but I’m giving myself permission to just play around and practice. Some of the works are better than others, but that’s okay!

Currawong

Currawong

Charcoal is possibly my favourite medium. I love how this turned out.

 

kaiju

Kaiju and seagulls

Op shop painting with added kaiju! I found the landscape at an op shop, and sketched out a kaiju using a bunch of different animals as inspiration. Then I painted it onto the landscape.

 

Monster1

Alien 1

These are small pieces, both inspired by stories of mine. I’m unused to drawing or painting completely from my mind (usually I use something as a reference) so these are little experiments for me.

monster2

Aliens or gods?

I’ve been enjoying myself immensely, so expect to see more from me.

Inaccurate Realities is a Canadian YA speculative fiction ezine, and my story “Labyrinth Hope” is in their Monsters issue, available on Halloween (31st October if you are from a place that doesn’t celebrate Halloween).

The good folks over at The Bevy Bibliothèque are hosting a giveaway. Enter at their site to win.

Issue 12 of Vine Leaves Literary Journal is out now, and includes my vignette “I Have Never Seen the Sky So Blue”.

From the Editorial:

“The onset of Autumn often brings with it a sense of melancholy, a darkness that hovers like mist over an abandoned graveyard. Beneath the fiery colours of fall, there is an underlying sense of sadness and gloom, an endless bounty of emotion that sometimes comes with change.”

It’s Spring in the Southern Hemisphere, but that sense of melancholy seems to have settled over a lot of my friends and colleagues. It’s apparent in my vignette, which is pretty intense. Trigger warning and all that.

Click on the cover image to read the issue.

years-best-fantasy-and-horror-v4-web

I am utterly thrilled to announce that a story of mine will appear in Ticonderoga’s “The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror 2013″.

Table of Contents:

Lee Battersby, “Disciple of the Torrent”, Tales of Australia: Great Southern Land

Deborah Biancotti, “All the Lost Ones”, Exotic Gothic 5 Vol I

Trudi Canavan, “Camp Follower”, Fearsome Journeys

Robert Cook, “Glasskin”, Review of Australian Fiction Vol 5 #6

Rowena Cory Daniells, “The Ways of the Wyrding Women”, One Small Step

Terry Dowling, “The Sleepover”, Exotic Gothic 5 Vol II

Thoraiya Dyer, “After Hours”, Asymmetry

Marion Halligan, “A Castle in Toorak”, Griffith Review #42

Dmetri Kakmi, “The Boy by the Gate”, The New Gothic

David Kernot, “Harry’s Dead Poodle”, Cover of Darkness Magazine

Margo Lanagan, “Black Swan Event”, Griffith Review #42

S. G. Larner, “Poppies”, Aurealis #65

Martin Livings, “La Mort d’un Roturer”, This is How You Die

Kirstyn McDermott, “Caution: Contains Small Parts”, Caution: Contains Small Parts

Claire McKenna, “The Ninety Two”, Next

C.S. McMullen, “The Nest”, Nightmare Magazine

Juliet Marillier, “By Bone-Light “, Prickle Moon

David Thomas Moore, “Old Souls”, The Book of the Dead

Faith Mudge, “The Oblivion Box”, Dreaming of Djinn

Ryan O’Neill, “Sticks and Stones”, The Great Unknown

Angela Rega, “Almost Beautiful”, Next

Tansy Rayner Roberts, “The Raven and Her Victory”, Where Thy Dark Eye Glances: Queering Edgar Allan Poe

Nicky Rowlands, “On the Wall”, Next

Carol Ryles, “The Silence of Clockwork”, Conflux 9 Convention Programme

Angela Slatter, “Flight”, Once Upon a Time: New Fairy Tales

Anna Tambour, “Bowfin Island”, Caledonian Dreamin’

Kaaron Warren, “Born and Bread”, Once Upon a Time: New Fairy Tales

Janeen Webb, “Hell is Where the Heart is”, Next

 

Pre-orders available at indiebooksonline. The anthology will be available in hardcover, ebook and trade editions.

It’s Mental Health Week here in Australia so everyone is talking about mental illness. Mostly we’re talking about depression, because so bloody many of us have it. I’d really like to see more from people suffering bipolar, or schizophrenia, but it’s much easier to find people who have depression. I’m cranky, because dwelling on depression is not what I’m supposed to be doing right now, but I can’t avoid it. Seriously, by now, we should have a fantastic understanding of depression particularly, and our society should really be doing better at helping people suffering it.

There’s a perception that depression is stigmatised. I don’t think it is, especially for us creative types. A bit of suffering goes with the territory. Among my close group of writing friends, a whole bunch of us struggle with chronic depression. Saying “I have depression” is fine. What’s NOT fine, is what depression does to you, and specifically, how it affects other people.

In my case, I thought I was recovered from the worst of my depression, and I took on a fairly important role in a community organisation. All was going well until several life stressors combined to push me back in the pit, and I totally dropped the ball. I was suicidal. I can say that now, because there is distance. But at the time I struggled to talk to anyone, because I thought no one would believe me, or think I was looking for attention. I made a plan and everything. I had no money to get help. I had no GP I trusted to talk to, as my GP had left and it’s not something you can talk about with just any GP. I survived it, though it left some deep scars. And through all this, I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to be doing. I remain forever grateful that the people I worked with were supportive and never made me feel bad about letting them down. I ended up resigning as I knew I couldn’t fulfil my responsibilities and I needed to get myself well again.

Many months later, I find myself depressed again. Thankfully this time I have been able to reach out to people, I have a GP I can talk to, and I know I can ask for financial help if need be. That the process for getting help is as difficult as it is, angers me. That people eye-roll because I have perfectly valid reasons for wanting to avoid medication, angers me. I’m glad to see people are finally talking about why they may not want to go on meds (or why they come off them) because for so long the narrative for wellness has been *go on meds see a psych all better except for some down days*. Refusing medication isn’t wanting to stay depressed. It’s a risk / benefit analysis and it’s deeply personal.

For me, the scars are complicated. That’s why I need to speak to a professional. I don’t know how to think my way out of this. I’m wary of ever taking on certain kinds of responsibility ever again. I don’t want to drop the ball again, to let people down, because the dysfunctions that come FROM depression are stigmatised, not the depression itself (in my experience—I’m aware for men it can be harder to acknowledge).

It’s not enough to have a vague awareness of “depression”. We need to be aware of the people, and the effects. Have a friend who’s dropped out of society? Maybe send them a text to ask if they’re ok… or better, do they want to catch up? Someone seems to be doing a shit job in a volunteer role? Offer to help, ask them how they’re doing. Be aware that depression forces us to prioritise as we have limited resources, so volunteer roles tend to fall to the bottom of the heap. It’s ok to not offer to be a shoulder to cry on. One thing that makes me hesitate before reaching out is a desire to not burden people who are suffering themselves, for fear it may push them over the edge. I think we need to have a discussion about how to safeguard ourselves while still supporting others, or helping people find the help they need.

Don’t make assumptions of people’s motivations. No, it’s not always possible to see who has depression. Some of us don’t like talking about it, especially when we’re in the thick of it. But if these awareness weeks do ANYTHING, they need to make us aware that people may be suffering in silence. It’s not enough to give lip service to “awareness” without understanding what you can do to BE more aware, and what you can DO with that awareness.

Lifeline (Australia): 13 11 14

Upcoming publications

I have a couple of things coming out this month, so stay tuned. The first is a vignette in Vine Leaves Literary Journal… it’s called “I Have Never Seen the Sky So Blue” and it’s pretty intense. That will be out October 17. The second is a short story called “Labyrinth Hope”, out on October 31 at Inaccurate Realities.

I also got into Tiny Owl Workshop’s Lane of Unusual Traders, my flash story titled “Caesura” will inhabit one of the lots in the world Tiny Owl is building! That will be out next year, and features some fantastic authors (many of them are my friends too!)

 

If you’re in Brisbane and around this Saturday the 11th of October, I’m doing a reading at Whispers, the QLD Writers Centre monthly reading salon. It’s from 3:30-5pm at the State Library cafe. Samantha Wheeler and Kaitlyn Plyley are also reading.

A link to the Facebook event is here.

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