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

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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

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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 Romantic: Italian Nights and Days by Kate Holden, author of In My Skin

This is the spellbinding follow-up to Kate Holden’s memoir In My Skin, but it has a different story to tell. The Romantic describes Kate’s journey from Melbourne to Rome and Naples, from romance and sex to love, from loss to understanding—and back again.

This is a book about everything from sex with strangers to the heartbreaking realities of being in love. It’s about the pride of fierce independence and the crushing weight of loneliness. It’s about losing yourself in love and then finding yourself through your lover.

But most of all, The Romantic is the story of one woman’s pilgrimage to discover who she really is. And to learn to like what she finds.

From Kate’s website:

The Romantic: Italian Nights and Days is my second book and will be published in October this year. I’m thrilled and nervous about it coming out. It appears as a follow-up to In My Skin in the sense that it is another memoir, and delves further into the time I spent in Italy which was described briefly at the end of In My Skin. It turned out that there was another whole book to be written about that experience, and, though it’s quite different in many ways to the first, I am proud of this second book and hope it will be enjoyed by readers of my first, and new people as well.

It is the story of a young woman, recovering from some difficult and challenging times in Melbourne, who goes to Rome in search of four things: Rome, the Romantic poets, romance and herself. She finds all of these, but in ways she doesn’t expect, and a series of relationships that both give her a great deal, and take a lot. It’s a book which tries to get into the heart of a paradox: how do you become true to yourself when you are lost? How do you find yourself when you are trying to hide?

I hope it is a book that will move and intrigue readers, that female readers will be able to find themselves in, and men will take something from.

From an article by Jane Sullivan in The Sydney Morning Herald:

Acclaimed author and former heroin-addicted prostitute Kate Holden has written a different kind of sex memoir.

KATE Holden shifts uneasily on her bar stool. “It’s not a sex book,” she says of her new memoir, The Romantic.

“It just has lots of sexy bits.” No surprises there from the author of the acclaimed bestseller In My Skin, her true story of how a nice bookish University of Melbourne graduate descended into heroin addiction and prostitution in St Kilda.

In her new book she’s clean, off the game, heading to Rome on a pilgrimage in the company of her beloved Romantic poets and the works of Goethe and Casanova, keen to cross from selling sex to making love.

If you’re after raunch, you’ll find it. Look! Kate Does Threesomes! With two men, and again with a man and a woman! Kate dents a car bonnet with her bottom Doing It in the street! Kate Does Things with two dildos — one black, one pink!

She’s not abashed to write about sex: having already exposed her sexual life, she doesn’t have a problem with people discussing it. “But I don’t want to become ‘the sex girl’. I’m not better or worse at it than anyone else, but I’m fascinated by the way sex works as a phenomenon, I’m using it to interrogate relationships. More…

Story of O : If We Pull Back The Curtains, What Do We See? : Let Me Count the Ways – Part Five

(RATED PG – Parental Guidance Recommended.)

Valentine’s Day in the Suburbs – Private Love

Walking suburban streets alone at night can be unnerving. Not just because they can be dark, not just because they are often deserted, but because we come indecently close to the private world of our neighbours.

It can be quite disturbing.

In the absence of visible and audible signs of life the perverse pulse of private humanity makes itself known.

We might break into a trot and hurry on home, but what if we didn’t? What if, on Valentine’s Day, we walked up the front path and peered in the windows like a Peeping Tom – what would we find?

The banal…? A family lounging in front of the TV? A dinner party? A lover’s tiff in progress? Someone at the computer working late?

Or would we find the extraordinary, the abnormal, the devious?

Who are these people surrounding our days and nights? Who are the people who kindly slow and stop to let us across the pedestrian crossing? Who are the people whose faces we recognise but pass in the supermarket without a smile? Who, even, are those we know well enough to wave to in the daylight hours?

What do we really know about them?

Can they be trusted?

If the current spate of titillating tell-all memoirs and saucy exposés can be believed the answer is definitely, and excitingly, no.

Since the birth of time (I’m told time was born somewhere in the sixties), suburbanites have consoled themselves, while doing the dishes, or washing the dog, or downloading rudie nudie pictures, with the thought that someone, somewhere must be doing something interesting. But what they didn’t know was that that ‘someone’ was their neighbours,  Suzanne and Gregory, and that ‘somewhere’ was right next door!

The message of the modern memoir and exposé is –

There is love in the suburbs and its getting weirder!

This Valentine’s Day it might be time for you and your partner to break the chains of suburban respectability, to strip off the dowdy costumes of Mr and Mrs Normal, bathe in scented water and then climb into bed together and read about lives more interesting and daring than your own.

Private Love : The Short List

And one for… ummm… (Why do we slow down to look at a car crash?)

The Classics:

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