The Champagne Corks Popped

Libby Sommer with The Usual Story book

THE USUAL STORY has been released into the world. The champagne corks popped in celebration. Will THE USUAL STORY fly off the shelves in book stores all over Australia and around the world? Will it rocket up the charts on Amazon? Fingers crossed.

champagne cork popping

Here’s the book blurb:

“Tango is a dance of passion. It draws partners into an intimate relationship. Sofia loves to tango but, as she dances, she is confronted by society’s infatuation with the young and the beautiful.

In the painful aftermath of a brief affair, Sofia seeks to find out what she actually knows about herself and the past. She looks for answers in dark corners and begins to see the elusiveness of understanding and memory – the psychological space where recollection and loss collide.

If you liked THE CRYSTAL BALLROOM, you’ll love THE USUAL STORY, a delicately fragmented story of memory, intrigue and passion.”

 

a grey-suited man and a woman in a red fringed dress, red shoes and fishnet stockings, are in a tango stance, her leg wrapped around him.

Available from Ginninderra Press; also print and ebook editions from Amazon, Book Depository and other online booksellers.

Hope you enjoy it.

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Writing Tip: Turn Towards the Inner Critic

uncapped fountain pen on pageWhen you practice writing, it is essential to separate the creator and the editor, or inner critic, so that the creator has plenty of room to breathe, experiment, and tell it like it really is.  If the inner critic is being too much of a problem and you can’t distinguish it from your authentic writing voice, sit down whenever you find it necessary to have some distance from it and put down on paper what the critic is saying, put a spotlight on the words—“You have nothing original to say, what made you think you could write anything anyone would want to read, your writing is crap, you’re a loser, I’m humiliated, you write a load of rubbish, your work is pathetic, and your grammar stinks …”  On and on it goes!

Say to yourself, It’s OK to feel this.  It’s OK to be open to this.

You can learn to cultivate compassion for yourself  during this internal process by practicing Mindfulness Meditation.  Sit up straight, close your eyes, bring your awareness to your inner experience.  Now,  redirect your attention to the physical sensations of the breath in the abdomen … expanding as the breath comes in … and falling back as the breath goes out.  Use each breath to anchor yourself in the present.   Continue, concentrating on the breath for several minutes.  Now, expand your field of awareness to include the words of the inner critic.  Turn your attention to where in your body you feel the unpleasant thoughts, so you can attend, moment by moment, to the physical reactions to your thoughts.

 “Stay with the bodily sensations, accepting them, letting them be, exploring them without judgment as best you can.”—Mindfulness, Mark Williams and Danny Penman.

Every time you realise that you’re judging yourself, that realisation in itself is an indicator that you’re becoming more aware.

The thing is, the more clearly you know yourself, the more you can accept the critic in you and use it.  If the voice says, “You have nothing interesting to say,” hear the words as white noise, like the churning of a washing machine.  It will change to another cycle and eventually end, just like your thoughts that come and go like the shape shifting of clouds in the sky.  But, in the meantime, you return to your notebook and practice your writing.  You put the fear and the resistance down on the page.

I hope these ideas are useful. Do you have any tips you would add? Let me know in the comments and please share this post with a friend if you enjoyed it.

Launch of WILD anthology

Libby Sommer reading from Wild poetry anthology

Last weekend I read my poem BRONTE BEACH at the launch of WILD anthology (Ginninderra Press), at East Avenue Bookshop, Clarence Park, Adelaide, South Australia.

More than 50 of us squeezed into the bookshop to read our poems and to listen to 30 different voices from New South Wales, Victoria, The Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, and South Australia.

In the anthology a total of 159 poets from around Australia explore the many facets of ‘wild’ – human, animal, environmental and metaphorical.

Such an honor to be included. This is my contribution to the book:

 

BRONTE BEACH

The surf’s been hammered by rain,

and along the pavement open-faced cafes wedge side by side:

compact, glass-fronted, in flattened

Art Deco buildings, with competing blackboard menus.

Rain drips from the edge of the canvas awning,

and a smell of fried fish in rancid oil

through the mouth of the sliding door

as an oversized bus pulls in and blocks the view.

Marooned on the swell are wet-suited board riders,

unwavering as the cliff face above the rocks that define the beach.

Beyond the rock pool the waves

remain stubbornly low spreading a shallow calm.

The rain settles, rusting roof racks in the salt air,

and those expired meters will upset the fattened

people-who-lunch in the darkening afternoon.

All day the treacherous ocean scours

the man-made sea pool, where

all-weather swimmers scan the water

for migrating dolphins or whales.

A white-hulled speedboat appears

in the grey-blue, travelling north,

and the black-clad board riders wait,

grounded, legless pigeons who can,

in a heartbeat, fan their iridescent wings.

Squabbling seagulls swoop and dive

and chase each other between the palms,

each white slow and steady flap of wings

picked up by the whiteness of the backwash

of the speed boat out there on the pastel-pink ocean,

disappearing behind the haze.

© Libby Sommer 2018

East Avenue Bookstore, Clarence Park

red book cover of Wild anthology

Am very grateful that my poem is in this wonderful anthology of diverse voices.

Thank you Annette Kay Jolly for the photos of me reading.

 

Cover Reveal

a grey-suited man and a woman in a red fringed dress, red shoes and fishnet stockings, are in a tango stance, her leg wrapped around him.

Woohoo. Here’s the cover of ‘The Usual Story’ – a delicately fragmented story of memory, intrigue and passion. The book will be released on 25 July. Much excitement.

The cover image shows the fabulous legs of tango dancers and teachers Mimi and Teddy from ‘A Little Buenos Aires‘.  Mimi and Teddy, who run regular tango workshops and milongas, very kindly let me use their photo.

“Tango is a dance of passion. It draws partners into an intimate relationship. Sofia loves to tango but, as she dances, she is confronted by society’s infatuation with the young and the beautiful.”

Pre-release copies available from publisher Ginninderra Press or you can order a copy from your favourite bricks and mortar bookseller, online retailers or on Kindle, etc.

I’m so excited about ‘The Usual Story‘, a prequel to ‘The Crystal Ballroom.  And thrilled my books are out in the world where people can read them.

If you’d like to write a review of the book on Amazon or Goodreads it would be fantastic.

Counting down to launch.

ThreeBookCovers3

 

 

The Writing Process

alone animal bird clouds

At a literary event recently I heard someone say:  ‘The thing to do is put the idea in your subconscious.  Your brain will do the work.’

That’s the thing. It takes time for our experience to make its way through our consciousness.  For example, it is hard to write about a journey while you are still in the midst of the adventure.  We have no distance from what is happening to us.  The only things we seem to be able to say are ‘having a great time’, ‘the weather is good’, ‘wish you were here’.  It is also hard to write about a place we just moved to, we haven’t absorbed it yet.  We don’t really know where we are, even if we can walk to the train station without losing our way.  We haven’t experienced three scorching summers in this country or seen the dolphins migrating south along the  coast in the winter.

“Maybe away from Paris I could write about Paris as in Paris I could write about Michigan.  I did not know it was too early for that because I did not know Paris well enough.” – Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast  (New York:  Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1964).

So we take in experience, but we need to let things make their way through our consciousness for a while and be absorbed by our whole selves.  We are bower birds, collecting experience, and from the tThrown away apple skins, outer lettuce layers, tea leaves, and chicken bones of our minds come our ideas for stories and poems and songs.  But this does not come any time soon.  It takes a very long time (three to ten years in the case of literary fiction).  We need to keep picking through these scraps until some of the thoughts together form a pattern or can be organised around a central theme, something  we can shape into a narrative.  We mine our hidden thoughts for ideas.  But the ideas need time to percolate:  to slowly filter through.

Rumi, the thirteenth-century Sufi poet, summed up what could be the creative process when he wrote ‘The Guest House’:

This being human is a guest house.

Each morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still, treat each guest honourably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing and invite

them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.

Jalaluddin Rumi, in The Essential Rumi,

Translated by Coleman Barks, 1999

Our work is to keep rummaging through the rubbish bins of our minds, exercising the writing muscle, in readiness to answer that knock at the door when it comes.

I hope these thoughts on the writing process are helpful.   Do you have any tips you would add? Let me know in the comments and please share this post with a friend if you enjoyed it.