Tuesday, August 25, 2009

God Defend our Freeland

I’ve been thinking about the planned cuts to night classes.

As a consumer of Community Education, I learned how to use a computer and relevant software when my need was great because it was imperative as a writer, artist and communicator to get with the digital age or financially die. Being a freelancer meant there were no handy work place all- expenses-paid- whilst- you- get- paid kind of courses. Night classes made this essential world available to me.

I learned to type with more than two fingers at a night class. This was pretty useful in writing up my thesis and three novels. My education as a girl was focussed on Latin and French rather that the keyboard (Girls' School streaming into everyday uselessness) and a Pittman course was priced out of my self employed $50 professional development budget.

At Te Reo classes, learned my mihimihi and how to pronounce to names of books I illustrate, greet teachers and children in schools properly on my author vists and to say Morena on the Good Morning Show without fear of mangling vowels with my Pakeha tongue.

I taught life drawing one night a week and watched students gain confidence and joy in their ability to observe and document the human form when some thought they might never find a new skill and talent in their lives.

So I have sent Stop Night Class Cuts postcards to my MP Annette King (Labour) and the Minister of Education. Annette sent me back a personal letter sympathising and suggestions on how to make my protest more visible by way of a petition- I’ve signed lots of them for others too. I haven’t heard back from Anne as yet- I expect her pigeon hole is swamped…

I wrote the following poem years ago when there was no threat to continuing education at a price the average punter could afford. When education was not the preserve of the rich or safely salaried. When getting out of the house and learning something new was encouraged. I could laugh and joke, tongue in cheek, because I never imagined for a moment that it might be taken away. Auē.

Night Class

I thought I'd do an evening class,

So went and checked them out,

At our local high school,

Which left me in no doubt;

That 'Accounting for Beginners',

Was too sensible for me,

As the purpose of my life,

Is to have one and one make three.

'Culinary Cordon Bleu',

Had appetite appeal,

But I don't get time to grocery shop,

When would I cook a meal?

'Belly Dancing' looked like fun,

With tinkly bra and veil,

The thought of baring stretch marks though,

Left me feeling pale.

'Italian Made Easy',

Made me smirk a lot,

I could tell a nice young waiter,

That I like my pasta hot…

But all of these required,

Me to rush about at six

And organise a sitter,

Whilst I fed my hungry chicks.

I think I'll just create a course

That's tailor made for me,

Called 'Relaxation Methods'

-where I blob out after tea!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

An Invitation to Glory!

We're having a launch for 'Glory' at the Storylines Family Day in Wellington this Sunday. Come and join us in bringing Florence Bright into the world of junior fiction readers. Award winning author, great friend and mentor Mary McCallum is doing the honours. The launch will be followed by a craft afternoon where you can make the award you always wanted. Every book sold on the day gets a cool badge and a Pinky Bar, because Florence is a generous gal and she likes to make sure all her passions are shared!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Why Aye?

So with a third novel done and dusted I am turning my thoughts towards the unfinished YA novel I have sitting on my hard drive. I blogged about this last year with ‘Write a Novel in a Week’- which is of course impossible, but I did write 30,000 words in a month…and then went to the osteopath. He must have done a good cranial manipulation because I forgot I was writing anything at all and in my usual highly distractible way, turned my attentions to painting velvet, conference organisation, Wearable Art and making book trailers. But with those things in hand and thinking about October (my life after the conference and WOW) I’ve had a gnawing thought at the back of my mind that maybe I should rewrite my 48,000 words in first person, ditch the paranormal element and avoid the blended family and gay parent references. So I dragged up the file from the depths of my ‘Writing and Publishing’ folder and had another look. I found strange words in front of me; whole chapters that I had forgotten writing. Was it a case of Being Steve? Stephen King wrote a lot of novels he couldn’t remember whilst completely stoned. But given that I cannot so much as drink a glass of wine without incurring a vicious migraine these days, I think not. And far from being completely cringed out by my efforts, I was quite intrigued. Its like by walking away from my characters for half a year, they have continued living their lives and I have just dropped by to visit. I think I’ll pop in again and have a cuppa with them- if I’m cool enough for three teens grappling with pressing issues …

From chapter 8

‘What was all that about shuffling your cards anyway?’ said Jono, picking at a bit of cone still stuck to the sofa arm. Becka hesitated.

‘Sometimes stuff happens when I play them. Shuffling seems to stop it.’

‘What, like the fortunes?’ said Jono remembering secret loves and square boxes, ‘I thought they were just fun stuff, you know, co-incidences. They’re not some kind of occult shit are they? I hate that stuff.’

‘No, no’ said Becka, ‘nothing like that. I’m sure they’re absolutely harmless.’

‘But I keep seeing things,’ Evie broke in, ‘like ghosts and creepo people. It didn’t happen until Becka got those cards. I thought I was going mental.’

Becka pulled the deck out of her pocket and fanned it out. Moonlight shone though the window of the shed, landing on the upturned faces of the cards. The joker was less bright despite the glow.

‘I think you should chuck them away,’ said Jono, ‘trash ‘em.’

‘No!’ Becka cried, ‘I think they are important,’ she stroked them, ‘and quite beautiful in a way too.’

‘Important enough to drive my sister crazy, important enough to nearly kill you?’

Jono stood up, his frame filled the window, a silhouette of disgust, ‘if you don’t ditch those cards Becka, I can’t be around you anymore.’

‘But we’re family!’ said a desperate Becka, still holding the cards, caressing them.

‘Not enough to include those too,’ said Jono. He opened the door and walked through it into the night.