GUEST BLOG: Five Things I Learnt From Editing Mothermorphosis (by Monica Dux)

The importance of valuing the hard work of writers.

The effort that goes into good short form writing is frequently undervalued. People often imagine that all it takes is for someone to come up with an idea, sit down and type out an essay, run a spell check, then deliver their work.

Of course writing a strong essay is so much more than this; for most of us it’s a long and arduous process, from conception to execution, involving an enormous amount of thought, re-writing, re-thinking, editing and polishing. The net result of all this labour is to submerge the effort that was required, making the finished piece read as if it really was easy and effortless.

All the writers who contributed to this collection were professional, and the quality of work reveals how much time and thought they put into their pieces. This is a collection that relied on the good will of its contributors, so I was profoundly grateful for their efforts.

That every mother really does have an important story to tell.

Susan Carland, one of the contributors in Mothermorphosis, wrote in her essay “My unique tale is just the same as yours”.

In the past I’ve thought a lot about this tension, but it became more pronounced for me when reading the contributions. Every mother has her own unique story to tell, but there are also so many things that bind us all, so much that is universal. It’s a fascinating contradiction.

As an editor, it’s amazing how good a prompt, polite decline can make you feel.

There were a few women I invited to contribute to this book who weren’t able to write something for the collection but who declined the offer quickly and graciously. Getting such rejections felt almost as valuable as having a writer come back saying they’d be happy to contribute.

I’m often invited to participate in projects that I don’t have the time or resources for. Editing Mothermorphosis was a timely reminder about the importance of being polite and positive about such offers, even if you are unable to be involved.

Editing is fun.

I thoroughly enjoyed putting the collection together. Instead of having to angst over my own work, I was able to luxuriate in the excellent work of other writers.

It was a real privilege facilitating this book, especially knowing that we are hoping to raise awareness for PANDA, the Post and Antenatal Depression Association. I feel that not only will the collection be enjoyed by many people, but it also has the potential to contribute to an organisation for which I have immense admiration.

That it’s hard to write an introduction for a collection that you’ve edited.

It took me a long time to get my introduction right. When you’re a contributor you can follow your own path, writing in relative isolation. By comparison, introducing a collection requires you to strike a peculiar sort of balance. To be interesting and engaging, without dominating. To showcase the individual essays in the collection, without simply name checking the various contributors. To write something that contextualises the work and draws out the underlying themes, without resorting to empty generalisations. In the end I hope I managed to pull it off, although I’ll leave it to the readers to decide!

Grab a copy of Mothermorphosis here

——————————–

mduxmug-edit-smaller1Monica Dux is a columnist with The Age, a social commentator and author of Things I Didn’t Expect (when I was expecting), and co-author of The Great Feminist Denial.

She can be heard regularly on ABC radio and 3RRR, and has published widely, especially on women’s issues.

You can find Monica on twitter at @monicadux

——————————–

mothermorphosisMothermorphosis

Australia’s Best Storytellers Write About Becoming a Mother

In Mothermorphosis , some of Australia’s most talented writers and storytellers share their own experiences of motherhood. In telling their stories they articulate the complex internal conflicts, the exhilaration and the absurdity of the transformation that takes place when we become mothers. We read about the yearning for a child, the private and public expressions of maternal love, the questioning, uncertainty and unexpected delight, as well as unfathomable loss.

Mothermorphosis reveals that there is no ‘right’ version of this epic experience and no single tale that could ever speak for all mothers. Yet it is in reading about other women’s experiences and dash;the hard bits, the joyous bits and even the ridiculous bitsandmdash;that we can become more compassionate, not just to other mothers but hopefully to ourselves.

Mothermorphosis includes writing from: Kate Holden, Kathy Lette, Lorelei Vashti, Rebecca Huntley, George McEnroe, Fatima Measham, Jo Case, Hilary Harper, Cordelia Fine, Jane Caro, Hannah Robert, Susan Carland, Kerri Sackville, Catherine Deveny, Lee Kofman and Dee Madigan.

Grab a copy of Mothermorphosis here

Monica Dux, author of Mothermorphosis, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

mothermorphosis

 

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Monica Dux

author of Mothermorphosis

Ten Terrifying Questions
____________

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in Sydney. Raised by wolves and schooled in the ways of the jungle.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

At twelve I wanted to be a nun, an actor, the President of the United States, and a Neurosurgeon. Luckily I was part of the Having it All generation, so I didn’t trouble myself with the logistics of fulfilling my dreams.

At 18, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to be.

At 30, I wanted to be able to pay my rent while doing something interesting and meaningful that didn’t involve having to say “have a nice day!”

mduxmug-edit-smaller1

Author: Monica Dux

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

That the three black rectangles I got tattooed onto my arm would always delight.

4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?

My husband is a screenwriter and his career had a huge impact on my decision to become a writer. Not so much because I admired his work (although I do), but because I was envious of the fact that he worked from home and so could pop out for a coffee whenever he felt like it.

Being able to make my own hours and not answer to The Man, seemed very attractive. This was before we had kids of course, so sadly it all turned out to be a delusion.

The second big event was having the aforementioned kids. They’ve dictated so much of my career, which isn’t a bad thing at all, and has probably saved me many nights of angsting over choices I don’t now have.

The third thing is all those who’ve continued to publish me. Without a space to publish, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do.

5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to produce a book? Aren’t they obsolete?

It used to really bug me when people went on about how much they loved the printed book. But I am now one of those people. These days being a writer involves engaging with many different media, and I’m comfortable with that. But the printed book is akin to the wheel – there’s absolutely no need to change it, and I don’t doubt that it will persist, long after various other forms of media have been transformed or become redundant.

mothermorphosis

6. Please tell us about your latest book…

Mothermorphosis is a collection of essays about the experience of becoming a mother from some of Australia’s best writers and commentators. It came about as a result of a conversation I had with the commissioning editor Dina Kluska, about how stories of motherhood are not always valued, even though motherhood is such a profound experience. I think it’s crucial that mothers share their stories, in all their variety, and that’s what this book is about.

It’s a gorgeous collection; each contributor has produced something quite special.

We decided to donate part of the royalties to PANDA (the Post and Antenatal Depression Association), an organisation which does amazing work helping new parents.

Grab a copy of Monica’s new book Mothermorphosis here

7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?

Achieving world peace would be nice. If that’s not going to happen, I’d like to think my work changes ordinary people’s lives for the better, perhaps even in small ways, giving them an insight into other lives and perhaps making them feel less alone. That’s what makes writing worthwhile.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

That’s a hard one. There are so many people I admire. But today I vote for my husband Kris Mrksa. He’s smart and funny and has taught me more about writing than anyone else I know. And he’s been overseas for work, so I’m missing him. He left out a complete clean change of clothes for the kids for every day he was away, which has meant they’ve been able to go to school with clean underwear, and I haven’t had to use the washing machine.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

I used to put a lot of pressure on myself about what I wanted to achieve. Now I focus more on just moving forward, on being able to continue creating. I set myself goals, but I’m always aware how quickly things can change, so I’m not too hard on myself if they don’t work out.

I do fear going backwards, but writing is a long game, and I’ve become more comfortable with that reality, and so more resigned to all that it entails. As long as people keep reading my work, I’m happy. I couldn’t keep writing if I thought I had no audience.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

You need to be tenacious. So stay tough. But don’t be precious. No one is interested in your navel.

Monica, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Mothermorphosis here


mothermorphosisMothermorphosis

Australia’s Best Storytellers Write About Becoming a Mother

In Mothermorphosis , some of Australia’s most talented writers and storytellers share their own experiences of motherhood. In telling their stories they articulate the complex internal conflicts, the exhilaration and the absurdity of the transformation that takes place when we become mothers. We read about the yearning for a child, the private and public expressions of maternal love, the questioning, uncertainty and unexpected delight, as well as unfathomable loss.

Mothermorphosis reveals that there is no ‘right’ version of this epic experience and no single tale that could ever speak for all mothers. Yet it is in reading about other women’s experiences and dash;the hard bits, the joyous bits and even the ridiculous bitsandmdash;that we can become more compassionate, not just to other mothers but hopefully to ourselves.

Mothermorphosis includes writing from: Kate Holden, Kathy Lette, Lorelei Vashti, Rebecca Huntley, George McEnroe, Fatima Measham, Jo Case, Hilary Harper, Cordelia Fine, Jane Caro, Hannah Robert, Susan Carland, Kerri Sackville, Catherine Deveny, Lee Kofman and Dee Madigan.

Grab a copy of Mothermorphosis here

 

The Election Collection: Books To Make Voting Easier #ausvotes

All Australians over the age of eighteen must vote in the Federal Election on 7th September, 2013. Surprisingly, there are many voters who have yet to decide who they will vote for. Some seem completely perplexed.

Never fear, The Election Collection is here. A fail-safe guide to the election using one of humankind’s greatest achievements – the book. Yes, the book.

Who knew the humble book could help you make a decision?

Chris BowenThe Labor Party

Pros:

RuddBotCons:

Further reading: Change We Can Believe In: Barak Obama’s Plan To Renew America’s Promise by Barack Obama, A Journey : Tony Blair, Back To Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy by Bill Clinton.


Tony AbbottThe Liberals

Pros:

Tony SpeaksCons:

Further reading: Decision Points by George W. Bush, When Things Went Right: The Dawn of the Reagan-Bush Administration by Chase Untermeyer,  Not for Turning : The Life of Margaret Thatcher by Robin Harris.


Gone but not forgotten

The Greens

Pros:

Cons:

Further reading: The Rabbits by John Marsden & Shaun Tan, Watership Down by Richard Adams


Julian AssangeWikiLeaks Party

Pros:

Cons:

Further reading: Dreaming Too Loud From Arthur Philip to Julian Assange by Geoffrey Robertson


an-incredible-race-of-peopleKatter’s Australian Party

Pros:

Cons:

Further reading: They’re a Weird Mob by Nino Culotta


Clive PalmerPalmer United Party

Pros:

Cons:

Further reading: Raise the Titanic by Clive Cussler


independentsIndependents

Pros:

Cons:

  • The Outsider  by Albert Camus
    Further reading: Independent People by Halldor Laxness

    The Donkey Vote

    The Pros and Cons in One Song

Author Mel Campbell Makes An Appearance On The Today Show

Melbourne-based writer Mel Campbell appeared on The Today Show this morning, having a chinwag with co-host Lisa Wilkinson about her great new book Out of Shape: Debunking Myths About Fashion and Fit.  

Challenging our perceptions of fashion and debunking myths about size and fit, Out of Shape reveals how, when it comes to clothes, the past and present are cut from the same cloth.

Mel Campbell examines the tensions that have always existed in clothing between our cultural ideals and our own bodies.

Continue reading

COMING SOON: Moranthology by Caitlin Moran, author of How To be a Woman


Moranthology

‘In How To be a Woman , I was limited to a single topic: women. Their hair, their shoes and their crushes on Aslan from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (which I KNOW to be universal).

‘However! In Moranthology – as the title suggests – I am set free to tackle THE REST OF THE WORLD: Ghostbusters, Twitter, caffeine, panic attacks, Michael Jackson’s memorial service, being a middle-class marijuana addict, Doctor Who, binge-drinking, Downton Abbey, pandas, my own tragically early death, and my repeated failure to get anyone to adopt the nickname I have chosen for myself: ‘Puffin’.

‘I go to a sex club with Lady Gaga, cry on Paul McCartney’s guitar, get drunk with Kylie, appear on Richard & Judy as a gnome, climb into the TARDIS, sniff Sherlock Holmes’s pillow at 221b Baker Street, write Amy Winehouse’s obituary, turn up late to Downing Street for Gordon Brown, and am rudely snubbed at a garden party by David Cameron – although that’s probably because I called him ‘a C-3PO made of ham’. Fair enough.

‘And, in my spare time – between hangovers – I rant about the welfare state, library closures and poverty; like a shit Dickens or Orwell, but with tits.’

Click here to order Moranthology from Booktopia,
Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop

Read Caitlin’s awesome answers to our Ten Terrifying Questions

Monica McInerney : Five Favourites Books for 2011

Monica McInerney

author of Lola’s Secret, A Taste for It, Upside Down Inside Out, Spin the Bottle, The Alphabet Sisters, Family Baggage, All Together Now, Those Faraday Girls and At Home with the Templetons

reveals…

The 5 best books I read this year are…



How to Be a Woman

by Caitlin Moran

I have to put this in… This is how Caitlan described her book, How To be a Woman, when answering our Ten Terrifying Questions:

As a feminist, I had become horrified by how few women now would use the word to describe themselves. IT IS THE ONLY WORD WE HAVE THAT MEANS WOMEN BEING EQUAL TO MEN. If you don’t believe you’re a feminist, you might as well be bending over and begging the patriarchy to take your vote and kick your arse.

So How To be a Woman is me thinking of the hardest thing I could do as a writer – try and make feminism sound like a total hoot; the most fun you can have as a lady that doesn’t involve crisps – and make women THRILLED to say “I am a feminist – indeed, a STRIDENT feminist.”

It also allows me to be the first writer – as far as I know – to admit that their first masturbatory experience was thinking of Chevy Chase in “The Three Amigos.”

BUY



The Best of Everything

by Rona Jaffe

‘This was New York . . . the marvelous secret things people did inside those tall buildings at the cocktail hour were the things he did every evening, and tonight it was all going to happen to her.’

New York, 1952. Four young women have come to the city: to find love, to build their careers and to savour the indefinable optimism of the times. Caroline is the college graduate, determined to escape the typing pool and become an editor. April is the beautiful country girl with a penchant for disastrous romances. Aspiring actress Gregg is tangled in a dangerous love affair with a playwright; and divorcée Barbara writes about lipsticks by day and cares alone for her daughter by night.

The Best of Everything, Rona Jaffe’s frank, scandalous and thrilling 1958 novel, follows them as they negotiate office romances, workplace politics, broken engagements, tiny apartments, lecherous bosses, heartbreak and lasting friendship.

‘Most career girls, past or present, will respond with the shock of authenticity’
The Saturday Review

‘It harks back to a saner time when choosing progress and modernity was as straightforward as ordering dinner – ‘Two Scotches with water on the side, and two steaks”
Julie Burchill

BUY



The Hunger Games trilogy

by Suzanne Collins

The stunning, gripping, and powerful trilogy is now complete!

The Hunger Games takes place in an unidentified future time period after the destruction of North America, in a nation known as Panem.

Panem consists of a rich Capitol and twelve surrounding, poorer districts. As punishment for a previous rebellion against the Capitol, every year one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each district are forced to participate in The Hunger Games.

This is a televised event where the participants, or tributes’, must fight to the death in a large outdoor arena until only one remains. The story follows fatherless 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, a girl from District 12 who volunteers for the Games in place of her younger sister, Prim.

BUY



How to Make Gravy

by Paul Kelly

This extraordinary book has its genesis in a series of concerts first staged in 2004. Over four nights Paul Kelly performed, in alphabetical order, one hundred of his songs from the previous three decades. In between songs he told stories about them, and from those little tales grew How to Make Gravy, a memoir like no other. Each of its hundred chapters, also in alphabetical order by song title, consists of lyrics followed by a story, the nature of the latter taking its cue from the former. Some pieces are confessional, some tell Kelly’s personal and family history, some take you on a road tour with the band, some form an idiosyncratic history of popular music, some are like small essays, some stand as a kind of how-to of the songwriter’s art – from the point of inspiration to writing, honing, collaborating, performing, recording and reworking.

Paul Kelly is a born storyteller. Give him two verses with a chorus or 550 pages, but he won’t waste a word. How to Make Gravy is a long volume that’s as tight as a three-piece band. There isn’t a topic this man can’t turn his pen to – contemporary music and the people who play it, football, cricket, literature, opera, social issues, love, loss, poetry, the land and the history of Australia … there are even quizzes.

The writing is insightful, funny, honest, compassionate, intelligent, playful, erudite, warm, thought-provoking. Paul Kelly is a star with zero pretensions, an everyman who is also a renaissance man. He thinks and loves and travels and reads widely, and his musical memoir is destined to become a classic – it doesn’t have a bum note on it.

BUY



The Taste of River Water

New and selected poems by Cate Kennedy

Disarming, warm and always accessible, Cate Kennedy’s poems make ordinary experiences glow.

Everything that suffuses her well-loved prose is here: compassion, insight, lyrical precision and the clear, minimalist eye that reveals how life can turn on a single moment. Musing on the undercurrents and interconnections between legacy, memory, motherhood and the natural world, the poems in this exhilarating collection begin on the surface and then take us, gracefully effortlessly, to a far more thought-provoking place.

Grounded in lived experience, with all its mysteries and consolations they resonate with a passionate, sensuous honesty.

BUY


A short time ago Monica answered out Ten Terrifying Questions – here’s a taste…

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Monica McInerney

author of Lola’s Secret, A Taste for It, Upside Down Inside Out, Spin the Bottle, The Alphabet Sisters, Family Baggage, All Together Now, Those Faraday Girls and At Home with the Templetons

Ten Terrifying Questions

——————————

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in the Clare Valley wine region of South Australia, where my Dad was the railway stationmaster and my Mum looked after the seven of us before fleeing the house for a quieter job in the local library. I went to primary school at St Joseph’s in Clare and then to Clare High. After I matriculated, aged 17, I left Clare for the bright lights of Adelaide (and my first job as wardrobe girl on the Here’s Humphrey children’s TV program.)

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

When I was 12 I wanted to run my own restaurant. I set one up on the side verandah at home but quickly went bankrupt when my family refused to pay for their meals. When I was 18 I wanted to be either married to Bono from U2 or be U2’s backing singer. When I was 30 I wanted to be a fulltime writer.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

That I could stay up all night, dancing and going to gigs and not suffer any ill-effects the next day.

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer? Click here for more…

Everything’s Coming Up Kardashian… (but I hear there’s a cream for it)

When the scholars of the far, far distant future, a million years from now, turn back to examine this era I do hope they know what they are doing. I would hate for them, in their haste to mistake one work of literature for another, as we surely do when examining the cave paintings of our distant cavemen ancestors… What follows is my attempt to help them…

Dollhouse: A Novel

(Note to future scholars: not to be confused with A Doll’s House: A Play by Ibsen)

by Kim Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian and Khloe Kardashian

Dollhouse is an addictively entertaining novel about an exciting, high-profile, complicated family with a huge heart and a lot of love. Written by superstars Kourtney, Kim, and Khloé Kardashian, Dollhouse is a delicious glimpse that goes behind the glitter of fame into the hearts of three sisters fiercely devoted to one another and the family they love. Kourtney, Kim, and Khloé combined their truly scandalous imaginations with the secrets they know about life in the fast lane to give you a book like nothing you’ve ever read before!

Nothing is more important to the Rameros than family. Just ask Kamille, Kassidy, and Kyle—three beautiful, loving, and deeply loyal sisters who are the heart and soul of their family. Their mother has remarried and their new stepfather, a world-famous all-star baseball player, has come complete with two stepsiblings. Life in L.A. is pretty typical for this newly blended clan.

Until the day everything changes.

Overnight, one of the Ramero sisters has become famous—magazine-cover, fashion-icon, headline-making famous! Trailed by paparazzi, invited to every red carpet event, she has set a new standard for Hollywood royalty.

During eight whole years. . . we have never exchanged one serious word about serious things... from one Doll’s House to another…

You’d think that all the glitz and the glamour would make life a breeze. But as the sisters painfully discover, being a celebrity in L.A.’s gilded dollhouse isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Suddenly their problems are much bigger than sharing clothes and discussing crushes. Who knew that having a famous sister would bring up so many issues: jealousy, backstabbing friends, fix-ups, plastic surgery, and paparazzi run-ins, to name just a few. As the sisters deal with their new lives, complete with a televised wedding, crazy Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 15,360 other followers

%d bloggers like this: