Miscellaneous Mum - Trying to find the objective correlative, everyday
It was the NSW launch of Crying in the Car last night. I’ve put my speech below for those of you who are interested. I need to thank the incredible hospitality and warmth of Maclean’s Booksellers who were just marvellous. Also, my family and friends for coming, and for spending up huge at the cash register, thus proving our bibliophile tendencies once again.
I was at a blogging conference a few weeks ago and the speaker for the close of the first day was renowned Australian singer Clare Bowditch. Her focus during this session was to remind the attendees of what their greater purpose was in life, to check within their hearts and see if what they found was aligned with what they’re currently doing or achieving.
And she did this by asking a simple question: “What did you want to be when you were a child?”
This was the end of a busy, information packed day. So when she asked people to physically pick up their pens, get out some paper, you might be able to imagine a few people slumping down in their seats, a bit of exasperated leg crossing and eye rolling. She wasn’t interested in hypotheticals; this wasn’t enough to have done in your head.
Now, this sort of exercise isn’t for everyone – myself included. However, on this particular day, I sat there and let her question clang around my head, wondering not only what my answer would be, but why it was resonating.
What did I want to do or be when I was a child?
And before I even really realised what I was doing, my pen was up, my paper was out, and I wrote two words.
Write + Travel
Once these words were down I had a kind of epiphany. I remembered that when I was young I used to think I wanted to be an archaeologist or a flight attendant – but I really didn’t, and those aspirations soon evaporated. I realised they were emblematic of the greater desire to be somewhere ‘out there’ in the world, to travel and see it. I think it also explains why I was good at languages in school.
As for writing, it was wrapped up in a bigger parcel of a more general idea of being creative, of somehow being part of the other world of books and stories. It took a little while to come to this realisation, not before I deliberated taking other paths. I need to also thank my parents for their assistance in fostering my development. As I say in the acknowledgements section in Crying in the Car, as I was growing up they only ever said that they wanted me to be happy. And so I went off to university to do an Arts degree in the late 1990s – right around the economic rationalistic times of the Howard government when the wisdom of undertaking such a degree was being questioned – I felt settled and on course, at least in this part of my life, when others weren’t going so well.
So that is a snapshot of my formative years, before the internet, before social media, before blogging. And while it may not initially appear obvious, these two words continue to be major threads, thanks to and because of blogging. In the beginning, the blog was a means of keeping up my writing practice and of being an accessible and potent means of travelling – even if virtually – across the world into the homes and lives of people, and these people in return, as I read their stories, travelled to me and touched me and became a part of who I was. This has always remained as one of the more magical parts of blogging: these people are not strangers. They are friends, and I am delighted to see some of you here tonight.
I have also continued to write, both on the blog on off. Writers at festivals or events are often asked why they write and I admit I get terrified at the thought that someone will ask that of me one of these days, because I often have trouble distilling the reasons down into anything that resembles a succinct answer.
I write for the same reasons I blog: to celebrate, to reconcile, to discover, to remember, to make sense or grapple with the things that resist finer examination. It is my attempt to capture, even if only in a line of a poem or the thrust of a short story, all that can be said and is ordinarily unsayable. Whether it is first done on a few sheets of paper, scratched out in timidity, or on a laptop, or in a public forum, these are the treasures that writers and bloggers deign to impart to the world. Many of these of mine have been collected in Crying in the Car and it is now my pleasure to officially announce that it has been launched here in my home state of NSW, in this fantastic city that will be my host for the next few days.
Karen Andrews is the creator of Miscellaneous Mum. This is one of the most established and well-respected parenting blogs in the country and is a two-time finalist in the Best Australian Blogs competition. She is also an author, award-winning writer, poet, editor and publisher at Miscellaneous Press. Is an exercise junkie (when she finds the time).
Yay! I had a great time. Great bookshop and a family catch up- what more do you want?
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