It seems the season for end-of –year posts, and though I feel like a copycat doing one when every other blogger seems to be doing the same, I’m going to do one anyway, since by looking back I can see (and share) what I’ve achieved. As an aside, I recently read a self-help article somewhere which said that goal setting can sometimes be counterproductive because we always feel like we’re not there yet, whereas looking back and seeing how far you’ve come can actually make you feel a sense of achievement which helps you to keep going.
So, while my latest to-do list sits on my desk reminding me of things I haven’t done these past couple of busy weeks, here’s some of the things I have achieved this year:
- Five new books – 1915, Fly-In Fly-Out Dad and three reading book titles with Oxford University Press.
- The draft of the creative component of my PhD: a verse novel and two poetry collections, as well as drafts of two (and a bit) articles which will also form part of my final project.
- Festival and school visits in Singapore, Townsville, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Bunbury, Busselton (and maybe some I’ve missed).
- My second ever overseas trip – to the AFCC in Singapore.
- A chapter for a book on AFL, from the perspective of a Dockers supporter, coming in 2016, and an invitation to write a chapter for a book to be produced by the AFCC.
- Several new picture book drafts and ideas.
- Maintained Aussiereviews and this blog and contributed to the Poetry Tag blog which I share with the wonderful Rebecca Newman.
- Numerous new poems, including acceptances for the School magazine, an anthology called Minutes to Bedtime, and another called Dirt by Sea, both forthcoming.
- A new junior fiction series, coming in 2016 (watch this space).
There’s probably more – and I haven’t touched on the personal stuff, some of which is most important – but if I don’t post this soon 2015 will be over. So here’s to the highs (and less highs) of the year that’s been, and to the dawning of a new year with lots more fun to come.
This week I had an amazing whale watching experience in Geographe Bay near where I live.
Out at sea, I got to watch massive humpback whales splash and jump and slam their tails, and swim under the boat and just be generally awesome.
Getting good photos on a bobbing boat with whales moving about is not easy, so although they breached (jumped right out of the water) the best photo I got of that was a big splash:
But I did manage some great tail shots, including this one:
Which got me thinking of an old rhyme which went something like this:
If you ever ever see a whale
You must never never touch its tail
For if you ever ever touch its tail
You will never never see another whale.
(There is a longer version of this rhyme, with way more ‘evers’ in it. You’ll find it, beautifully illustrated here.)
and of a Shel Silverstein poem about Melinda Mae, which begins:
Have you heard of tiny Melinda Mae
Who ate a monstrous whale?
She thought she could,
She said she would
So she started right in at the tail.
(You can read the rest of that sorry tale here).
There was no eating – of whales, or by whales – on my trip, much to everybody’s relief.
Since I got home I’ve been trying to write a poem which captures the thrill of seeing such massive animals leaping out of the water (we saw a double breach, which was pretty special – two massive humpbacks leaping at the same time, like massive synchronised swimmers) and the way that something so huge can be also so beautiful. The poem is still brewing, but that’s okay – sometimes an experience can take months, or even years, to work itself into a poem.
In the meantime, I have photos, and memories. Wonderful memories.
Last week was Children’s Bookweek here in Australia, and I was lucky enough to spend the week visiting libraries around Perth and talking about books and writing.
A big shout out to the staff at The Grove, Manning, South Perth, Cambridge, Mt Claremont and Canning Bridge Libraries, and to the staff and students from Cottesloe Primary School, Mosman Park Primary School, Manning Primary School, St Columba’s Primary School, Como Primary School, South Perth Primary School, Floreat Park Primary, Holy Spirit Primary, Moerlina School, Mt Pleasant Primary and the parents and littlies who came along to Storytime at Mt Claremont.
It’s hard to pick out highlights from such a wonderful and joy-filled week, but here are a few:
1. This gorgeous display of pictures illustrating the theme for the week, Books Light Up My World. 2. The questions. Some are funny, some are insightful, some are hard, but the questions are one of the best parts of each session.
3. Sharing my books. Writers spend so much time working in isolation, that a week like Bookweek is a wonderful opportunity to share with audiences. Not only do I get to inspire young readers, but they inspire me equally, if not more.
4. Games! Dressing up, singing, dancing, laughing. Can’t believe this is part of my job.
5. The fact I get to it all again next year. I’ve already started taking bookings for Bookweek 2016. I’m looking forward to coming to a library or school near you.
Since Bookweek I have been to Townsville to speak to the students of Kirwan State School. That’s the subject for another post.
It’s almost the end of the school holidays here in my part of the world. For two weeks kids, including my own, have had a beak from school – but come Monday, they’ll be heading back.
So, I thought for Poetry Friday I’d share a school poem, which I wrote a few years ago as part of a set of teaching notes. First, here’s the poem:
Writing a Poem
(Copyright Sally Murphy)
This poem was written to demonstrate a simple way to write a poem – in this case, the poem started with a list of observations. The notes, including the poem, are freely available online here.