Archive | January, 2012

Zen and the art of roadwork

30 Jan

I have been in Japan for the past two weeks. As always, in a strange country, little things jump out at you. Hey, they do things different here!

One of the lovely things about Japan is the pleasure that people take in the minutiae of life. Consider the ‘stop/go’ man. In Australia, this is a very dull occupation. You stand by the side of the road. You turn the sign saying ‘stop’, to one saying ‘go’. Occasionally, if a car is driving too fast, you might wave your hand in a ‘slow down’ action.

In Japan, the ‘stop/go’ man is a highly trained performer. In the daytime, he wields the red or white flags. These are waved in a complicated cheerleader- like way. This is followed by a bow as your car goes past, making you feel like an honoured member of a procession.

At night-time the flags are replaced by light sticks, brandished in a way that would put a Byron Bay fire twirler to shame. I admit it can be a little confusing to be confronted by a whirling red light stick. Do they mean, stop? Go? What the hell, just enjoy it and proceed with caution.

The props for the roadwork are almost as good as the performance itself.  There are no boring road barriers here. Instead, barriers are held up by cute green frogs or smiling monkeys, and flashing lights are replaced by flowers with lights undulating out from the centre. It’s calming and beautiful. And perhaps that is what is intended – for each little moment of life to be made as perfect as possible.

Next week – zen and the art of kitchen appliances.

Take me to your internet connection and other writing bloopers

11 Jan

While Liar Bird is the first novel of mine to be published, it is not the first I have written. Before I turned my hand to romantic comedy, I tried out a few different types of writing – young adult fantasy, crime, the bonkbuster… In retrospect, it’s obvious why some of these gems from my writing annals never made it to the shelves:

Young adult fantasy:

“Why don’t we see if we can find out about these places? Where’s your internet connection?”

      “There isn’t one. Myrna and Arthur don’t believe in it.”

            Kate’s mouth opened in astonishment. “How do you survive?”

Does anyone ever say ‘Where’s your internet connection?’ Well, it was 2002, maybe they did at the time.

Fantasy:

Origod looked down the hill. A cloud of dust was rising from the valley. Every time the Mustrogorns stampeded across the Gnarlverge its soft banks collapsed, damming the river. It would not take long for the waters to reach the village.

            ‘Quick.’ Origod grasped Bethwyn’s hand. Even now, at this urgent moment, her touch sent a quiver through his body. This spring, surely, he would defeat Mentron and prove to Budvegan that he was a worthy suitor for her hand.

            Bethwyn looked him in the eye then slowly lifted his hand and pressed it against her breast.

            Origod’s legs turned to water as he felt the soft swell of her skin.

            Her blue eyes blinked. ‘How long must we wait, Origod? I think only of your touch.’

            She moved closer and Origod felt her slender body pressed against his. He wrapped his arms around her and-

Hm, that’s actually kind of sexy. I think I might have had a future as a fantasy writer if I could only have kept track of all the names.  So, what have I learnt from all this? If you keep those fingers to the keyboard, you can only improve! (Keep watching and my attempts at the bonkbuster and crime novel may make an appearance at a later date…)

Liar Bird will be launched at the Northern Rivers Writers Centre in Byron Bay on January 14th. Contact siboney@nrwc.org.au for details.

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