Sunday, 29 April 2012

Who am I?

I received my first “editorial letter” recently. One of my stories is being published in a semi-pro magazine in a few months, and the editor sent me an email with a file attached suggesting a few changes.

I was quite nervous about opening it. What if she wanted to change great chunks of it? Or delete parts I felt were integral to the story? She said they were only minor changes, but maybe her idea of minor would be different to mine.

As it turned out I needn’t have worried. One phrase deleted, a couple of words switched for synonyms and a handful of commas added. Nothing to alarm even the most sensitive of writers, and I’d already decided before I opened the file that I’d agree to any changes she wanted. Editors have a lot of experience at prettying things up for publication, after all. If they think something needs changing then it probably does.

So – big sigh of relief, trauma over … until she sent another email requesting a paragraph-long biography to go with the story.

“Marina is the best-selling author of Blah …” I wish.

“Marina has travelled the world and held 57 fascinating jobs that make her uniquely qualified to write this awesome story …” Not quite.

How do you describe yourself without boring people on the one hand or sounding like you’re blowing your own trumpet on the other? It has to be true (damn), interesting, relevant to the magazine’s audience and preferably humourous.

I could tell them I’m a skilled quilter, but readers of a spec fiction mag aren’t going to care about that. I have three children (likewise, yawn). I could say I have a masters degree in English, which might be relevant but makes me sound like a tosser.

Hey look! I have eyes that look blue in some lights and green in others. Also, I’m a pretty ordinary photographer.

I’ve been to more weddings than anyone who isn’t a marriage celebrant (I used to play the organ at weddings). And I cried at every single one of them. I always cry at weddings. And funerals. Even if I don’t know the person.

I own a dog with a death wish. I have a huge collection of dragon statues. I’m a really crap housekeeper but I cook a mean spaghetti bolognese. I had to beg my sister for months to give me her Super Secret Spaghetti Recipe.

That one little paragraph caused me a lot of trouble. This is what I came up with in the end:
“Marina lives in Sydney where she divides her time between kid-wrangling, writing and many other interests. She has a bad habit of starting new novels without finishing the old ones, which she'll have to kick if she is ever to get any of them published. She blogs at”
How do you sum up a life in one little paragraph? What would you write if you had to describe yourself?

Wednesday, 18 April 2012


If things have been quiet on the blog lately it’s because typing has been a little challenging.

I broke my finger. Playing a ten-minute practice game of netball with a bunch of eleven-year-olds, would you believe. Oh, the shame. Poor little pinkie, it didn’t even get sacrificed in a noble cause, taking one for the team. My real team was left without their shooter for the final game of the summer night comp. Bummer.

It wasn’t a massive break, just a little chip off the knuckle bone – but it’s surprising how awkward it made things. Typing, of course, was out. Alas, so was crochet. But even little things like opening jars, doing up your bra, carrying things, just general everyday stuff become much trickier without a full complement of fingers. You don’t think you use your little finger for much until it’s all strapped up and aching. Then suddenly you find a new appreciation for this often-overlooked digit.

However, it’s well enough now to type, so Hi! Did you miss me?

Baby Duck has been concerned about the long break between posts, at least. He wants me to tell you that he planted his sunflower seed today. No longer is this symbolic piece of plant life growing on wet cotton wool on the kitchen windowsill. Today it discovered the world of real dirt, which it will probably appreciate more than Baby Duck did. He left the actual planting to me and “helped” by saying “yuk” a lot as my hands got messier. I guess farming is out as a career choice.

I’m very pleased to have a nearly normal range of movement back. I missed crochet desperately. It’s become a real stressbuster for me. And heaven knows, with our neverending renovation in its eighth agonising month now, I need all the stressbusting I can get.

I busted out a big hook and a chunky ball of wool from the stash the other night and celebrated my return to crochet by making a quick cowl.

Please to avert your eyes from the hideous lines on my neck and be admiring instead of glorious crochet. Look, look! Completed project! In only one night!! My God, I may run out of exclamation marks!!!!

It was very simple. I chained 130, joined the chain, then crocheted rows of (US) double crochet till I ran out of wool. I had planned it to go round my neck twice but it ended up too big and loose. So big it actually goes around three times, so it’ll just be extra snuggly.

Next day, still making up for lost time, I tried a pattern I’d found on the internet here and made a baby hat with ears. Oh my God. I nearly died of the cuteness. I wanted to run straight out and accost people in the street till I found a newborn head to try it on. Fortunately Drama Duck suggested a saner alternative, so here we have my ancient baby doll modelling the bear ears hat.

Isn’t it adorable??

Plus [cue exclamation marks] it’s Another Finished Project!!

Hey, I could get to like this finishing stuff thing.