To succeed, or not to succeed

There was an article in the weekend papers about a high-jumping dog that has been banned from a jumping competition for being too good. The dog has won the event three times (the last time was a co-win) and has been ruled ineligible. The organisers say it’s about keeping the event fresh. The owner feels that the rules applied to her dog are unfair and compare to banning the likes of Tiger Woods from golf, or a tri-winning Collingwood from the AFL.

So, do you keep the playing field level by removing those who excel? Then everyone gets more of a chance. Or do you let the leaders lead until they can’t? I don’t know.

But wouldn’t it make a good dinner party discussion? I’m going to try it out, so be warned if you receive an invitation to my house for dinner…

Open House

We went into Melbourne city yesterday for Melbourne Open House. Fed Square, St Paul’s Cathedral, CH2, Regent Theatre and more, opened up rooms/buildings generally not accessible to the hoi polloi.

They, whoever ‘they’ are, underestimated the interest and queues for some buildings were hours long. We only stood in one queue, to see CH2 – a ‘green’ office block partially designed and occupied by Melbourne City Council. Tower showers, passive cooling, rolling concrete ceilings, vertical shade panels that move with the sun. Just a few of the innovations in this building which boasts decreased sick days and other people benefits. They also are a net provider of water into the ‘system’ – taking black water and producing drinking quality water which is used in cooling systems, toilets and sent to other buildings for toilets and the like. Quite staggering really what’s possible. And the roof top garden was a tranquil place with great views.

The Regent Theatre basement ballroom was a sight to behold. Part village square, part theatre, part ballroom. Art deco and more. I’ve included a few photos from this amazing room, because to describe it would be to miss something…

a column of masks and shields

roof detail

…tucked into a corner this…umm…

wall lighting

Apparently, before renovations, this room was for a time an accidental swimming pool, part filled with water from the leaking water feature in the neighbouring City Square.


Random pics from Queensland…

A wombat cave, minus wombat

View of Burleigh Heads

Strangler figs…I find the idea of these plants amazing…and these were big ones. Poor strangled other tree

View inland from Mt Tamborine – this is where the hang-gliders launch themselves

Basalt columns emerging almost horizontally from the hill. See the bloke climbing them?

Crocodile skin (crocodile attached) -It’s not hard to accept they are prehistoric

Emu feet

My next picture book, due out July 2009 is called ‘Sheep, Goat and the Creaking Gate’. These goats were out front of a cheese factory we visited.

Home again

We’ve just returned from Queensland from a week’s holiday on the Gold Coast. I decided not to take my lap top and to have a break. I did have a review book to read. ‘Finding Darcy’ by Victorian author Sue Lawson was a great read. I read it straight through (one of the luxuries of holidays) sitting on the balcony of our apartment.

I also needed to work on my words for my friend Lorraine’s new book ‘Ratwhiskers and Me’ which she’d asked me to launch. I had a drafted speech but of course it needed work. Hmm. What to do? I bought a A4 notebook and wrote it all out again long hand then tweaked and practised it. Finding things to say about this wonderful verse novel was not hard, but it’s a while since I’d worked longhand. Good thing to do. The launch was on Sunday in Bendigo and went well. I was hoping to have some pics to post but my camera was full. Perhaps I’ll get to see some of Lorraine’s pics and can post some.

Now, it’s back to work. I’m working on some very short readers based on traditional tales. Great to read the stories from countries like Indonesia and Vietnam, interesting challenge reducing them to language appropriate for 5-7 yo readers.

Rollercoaster ride needs seatbelt

Writing is such a rollercoaster. Last week saw a big rejection on a project that looked very promising. I plunged. Gnashed. Wailed. All that sort of thing. Then by Wednesday I was more philosophical. There were many reasons that the mss could have been rejected and the quality of the stories was only one of them. Climbing again. Thursday, an email arrived from another publisher talking about a potential illustrator for a picture book project. The portfolio illustrations are wonderful. Soaring to the top. Not signed yet. Just a maybe. But a fine maybe.

On Saturday we had our winter SCBWI afternoon, featuring two member speakers and a representative from the Society of Editors. Our two member speakers talked about their experiences in the industry. Each had a quite different way to keep them on track. One of the members kept a folder of all achievements, no matter their size. When she feels low, she looks through it and reminds herself of the journey. The other keeps a file of rejections, also recording the journey as the outright rejections become revision requests and eventually acceptances.

I and two others had arrived earlier for a pre-meeting. Amongst the many topics discussed we talked about rejection and whether it gets easier to take. My experience is that no, rejection doesn’t get any easier. What changes though is the time it takes to bounce back. I bounce back to feeling okay much more quickly than I did when I started writing. I can move on, whether that’s to send that ms out again quickly or to acknowledge that more work is required. Either way, I’m back on track sooner.

And that’s the seatbelt.