Friday, November 28, 2014

We Interrupt This Program

Gripped as you no doubt are by the post nuptial assessment series, I must interrupt it to bring you a W.A.S on my W.I.P. Or in words less acronymonic (new word I just invented), I want to update you on the progress of what will hopefully be my fifth novel, Lovesick. I have now completed 15 chapters and am working on chapter 16. 

I have also made a lot of progress with organisation. Lovesick is being put together in the same haphazard way that Loathe Your Neighbor was which means I need to spend a lot of time concentrating on the timeline. However, I just write chapters as they come to mind. If I have to figure out later how the chapters fit together so be it. I don't have preconceived ideas how about to put my novels together, I just write.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Post Nuptial Assessment Part 4

Curzon Hall on Agincourt Road in Marsfield, Sydney was built in 1898 by businessman Harry Smith and named after his wife Isabella Curzon-Smith. Designed by David Thomas Morrow, it is a large castle-like manor in neo-Romanesque style (for the architecturally inclined) which is now a function centre, and was last Saturday the magnificent setting for my cousin's wedding reception. This beautiful old building actually hosted three other weddings that night, and it is clear from the moment you drive into the wonderfully manicured garden surrounds why it is so popular as a wedding venue.

Curzon0134.jpgThe Smith family lived at Curzon Hall until 1921. Following its short life as a family home, it was a Catholic seminary for 60 years, and then commenced its current incarnation as a wedding/function centre. It reeks of class, history and money. One look at the superbly crafted high ceilings tells you everything.

Weddings are big business requiring huge investments of time and money, but the emotional investment far exceeds the hours and the dollars. Marriage is a lifelong commitment which forms the cornerstone of society and therefore requires more than the husband and wife alone can provide. It is unsurprising that with around half of all marriages ending in divorce, society is commensurately impoverished. Sad but true.

Nevertheless, the ideal of marriage remains something to which most people aspire. We lament those unions which fail, but we never let go of the dream of lifelong love and happiness. That's why I love weddings because they best represent the pillars of humanity: faith, hope and love.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Post Nuptial Assessment Part 3

A harpist (if that's what you call a person who plays a harp) played John Legend's All of Me during the signing of the registers at my cousin's wedding. 

A small team of photographers skittered around inside the chapel, and at the end of the service, as the bridge and groom were leaving, their leader stood up on the mezzanine and had the whole congregation pose for an aerial view group shot. 

The priest loudly whispered instructions to the wedding party, and also the wedding vows for the bride and groom to repeat. There was no sermon but Father 'I didn't catch his name' talked to the congregation like a kindly grandfather would talk to his grandchildren, and he made me smile.

As Maria said, 'these are a few of my favourite things.' 

It was a very relaxed ceremony, although the groom's face at the beginning where a storm of emotion twisted his face, and the bride's inability to remember lines just given to her by the priest might have suggested otherwise

Not for a moment during the service did I want to be anywhere else. I consider, in hindsight, the bride and groom and how they might have been thinking about 'getting through the day' rather than savouring every second of it. I hope the latter was true for them. It makes me wonder how often we miss the full enjoyment of now because of wishing we were somewhere else. Either anticipation or dread, or simply a desire not to be present, steals chunks of our lives which we cannot have again. What a waste. What a shame.

Photo source:  

Monday, November 17, 2014

Post Nuptial assessment part 2

The thrum of excitement swells and abates rhythmically as family and friends await the bride. The groom stands with his best man and groomsmen, at the front of the church, facing the door at the back, through which will soon parade the woman with whom he has chosen to spend the rest of life.

He smiles and jokes with the men who stand with him. The bride is always late, and although somewhat of a tradition, it is the source of some anxiety for the groom. Keen anticipation monsters his emotions as he stands and waits. The bride is busy: she's moving, coming towards him. She's anxious too because she knows he's waiting. She doesn't want to keep him waiting. He would wait forever but she would never ask him to do that. More than passion, a deferential and reverential love has brought them to this place. They are crazy about each other and everyone in the church hopes that they always will be, even though they know they won't.

To last, love must be strong, self sacrificing and reciprocal. It must have the strength to persist when the madness and obsessiveness of being 'in love' fades or dies. No one who comes to the altar and makes their vows realizes how much marriage will require of them. They know nothing of the agony and ecstasy which lies ahead. They are not ready. No one is truly ready for that.

May God bless all those who make the commitment. May He give them the strength they need to find lasting happiness and peace in marriage. The risk may be great but the rewards are greater.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Post Nuptial Assessment

I love weddings. I love them because they make me feel warm and fuzzy, representing as they do the highest ideals of faith, hope and love. I also love them because they are all different. Each ceremony and reception reflects the individual taste, style and personalities of both the bride and the groom.

My cousin got married yesterday, so this evening - not this morning because it was a long day and a late night - I am beginning a mini series of philosophical musings inspired by the joining of Scott and Anastasia in holy matrimony.

The ceremony took place at Holy Name of Mary church at Hunters Hill in Sydney. The beautiful old Roman Catholic edifice was adorned with blue plastic and scaffolding for the occasion which although disappointing, ignited my cogitation with regard to appearances. Once inside the church, and surround by spiritual and elegant artistry, and the heavenly sounds of a harp, I forgot all about the blue plastic and scaffolding. Once I saw and appreciated the beauty inside the chapel, I forgot all about its dishevelled exterior.

Furthermore, I considered the assembly of family and friends, all dressed in their finest clothes, sitting uncomfortably on hard wooden pews: conversation bubbling with anticipation, and perhaps reflecting on the occasion through the lenses of their own relational circumstances. Among them the single, the engaged, the married, the divorced, the separated, the widowed. As many stories beneath the veneer of smiling faces and sophisticated apparel, as there were people. Happy stories. Sad stories. Tragic stories. Tales which undoubtedly coloured their emotional involvement and enjoyment of the occasion. Cynics and dreamers, believers and unbelievers, all gathered in God's house. Fascinating.

Here's you first chance to share your wedding stories: good or bad, sick or healthy, rich or poor. I'd love to hear from you.

Photo source:

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I'm back in business

A thousand words yesterday afternoon, and another five hundred this morning. The words flow, and I am back in business. Feels good to be moving again. Feels good to be imagining characters and situations, inventing drama, creating conflict. I am a writer.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Due to a number of factors, only some of which were beyond my control, I have not done any creative writing for many weeks. I miss it, and I'm ready to resume. I've decided to forge ahead with my ten chapter old WIP. For you precious few readers of Square Pegs, here is a scoop: the title of my next book, the aforementioned WIP is Lovesick.

Stay tuned for progress updates. Also, I'm looking for some beta readers, so if you have the time and the inclination, please let me know.

Saturday, November 8, 2014


After failing to make the short list for the inaugural Lane Cove Literary Award with my short story Still It Bleeds, I recently received a rejection from a magazine which I had forgotten I submitted to. I keep track of all my submissions electronically because there's no way I could remember, so this morning I need to update my submissions history with another rejection.

Still it Bleeds is one of my favourite stories but it has been passed over 8 times now. I've had lesser stories, in my opinion, accepted more readily. I wrote it in 2012 which I think was my best year, so far, for short story writing. 12 stories of, again this is only my own estimation, high quality, mostly literary fiction. 3 of them were published while the others are racing to be next to find a sympathetic editor and the readers beyond.

What I think about myself and my work is both important and not important. It is significant because in order to continue the hard and lonely road of the writer, I must believe in myself and my ability. I must be satisfied that I am giving it my best. I must have the confidence to go on with only a quantum of encouragement, or none at all. I must remind myself that my work is good.

On the other hand, what I think of myself is inconsequential in terms of attracting readers. No matter how good I think my work is, I have to find someone who agrees. Initially I need an editor to dig what I do, and then I need readers. People have told me that they love my work. I will never forget the woman at the Meet the Author night at Dapto Library who told the audience that she thought Ashmore Grief was a great book and everyone in Australia should read it. Her words were encouraging but they did nothing for sales.

It's easy for me to write. I have to restrain myself which is what I am doing here. This was only going to be a mini Writing Activity Statement abut the latest short story rejection.

Share an encouraging word you received from someone about your writing, or about anything.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Just tell me what's going on

I now have an iPhone. It's my first. It's a 4s which I purchased from a student of mine who has upgraded. I'm not one to follow the trends. I don't need the latest. I probably wouldn't line up all night for a new release from Apple even if it was being given away. I've owned my HTC Desire Z for four or five years, and it has done the job, but of late it has started to show its age. The battery runs out very quickly and I can't do simple things like send and receive photos. I can't download the latest Facebook app either. So when it was offered to me for a very reasonable price I decided to bite the bullet and change phones.

Nothing but trouble since. I won't bore you with the catalogue of error messages and random disconnections, and network blockages. Suffice to say I am not a happy camper. I'm now on my third SIM card and I haven't had internet access for a week. Apple says it's the SIM. Amaysim and Optus say it's the phone. No one can help me and I am ready to abandon Apple forever. Forever.

I just switched the SIM, and I have telephony. No 3G internet yet but it takes longer: up to four hours. I'll let you know what happens but I am ready to swear off Apple for life.

Share your mobile phone irritations.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Small Things

Sometimes you have to try really hard to see the good in a particular person or situation. Sometimes you really need to strain your ocular devices to perceive what might otherwise, with less intent, be lost in the jungle of the paraphernalia which inhabits our lives. Sometimes you have to take a minor victory, and celebrate it as though it were a triumph of universal and eternal significance.

Yesterday I only heard one report (on the radio in the evening) about the biggest news story of the day. I barely gave it a thought though I knew it was happening, and I knew that many people would have organised, or would be organising their life around this event. I did not have a single conversation about it. It never came up. This annual event barely registered on my radar. And I rejoice!

Why should I, I remind myself with a defiant tone, participate in something which holds no interest at all for me, merely because it is popular? I am an eschewer of bandwagons, (and I might have just made up a word.)

The event I'm talking about was...sorry can't do it. First Tuesday of November every year in Melbourne. That's it. That's all I'm going to say.

Which bandwagon/bandwagons do you, or have you avoided jumping on?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Out of Control

It's interesting to consider how much control we really have of our lives. Most people like to think they are the masters of their own destinies, yet we do not know for sure if we will even wake up each morning. It's a safe assumption, particularly if we are in good health and slumbering in a secure place, but you never know.

You never know if the next time you drive to work may be your last. You might be a careful driver but if a less circumspect operator, or worse still a reckless or drunk one, crosses your path, what can you do? I don't mean to be fatalistic and gloomy but the fact remains that our lives are fragile. We are fragile. Already broken, truth be told, and unable to heal completely, we are subject to the vagaries and mysteries of life: at the mercy of other people's choices.

We choose many things in life while many others are chosen for us. Some of our choices are good, and some are not. Some seem right when we make them only to be later proved unwise. The future is the undiscovered country. We make our plans, and as the saying goes...God laughs. Whether you believe in a sovereign God as I do, or in fate or whatever you call it, only a fool thinks he is the master of his own destiny. Control is an illusion. Embrace the uncertainty and put your trust in someone who knows everything and is actually in total control.

Are you the master of your destiny?

Saturday, November 1, 2014

What I Don't Know

The things that I don't know would easily fill a library of books, several libraries perhaps. I could probably fill another book with things that I think I know but I'm not sure about. One thing I do know for sure is that I don't know much. It's all relative of course. I know a lot more than a baby but that is only by default. Most knowledge is automatically acquired as a result of life. The longer you live, the more you know. Therefore saying that I know more than a baby is meaningless.

If I compared myself with my contemporaries, I can at best say that I know more about some things than other people do. I'm a teacher and a writer so naturally I know more about teaching and writing than someone who doesn't teach, or has never taught, or someone who doesn't write, or even read very much. I have a friend who seems knowledgeable about most subjects. If you start talking about something, he knows stuff and is happy to talk at length about what he knows. He's not bluffing either. He actually has an amazing ability to retain and recall facts. I admire him for it.  I would happily concede that he knows more than me. 

I don't have a problem with people knowing more than I do. I recognize my limits. I often confess to my students that I do not know everything. I cannot answer all of their questions.

I read an article this morning which got me thinking about people who pretend they know stuff. People who bluff their way through conversations on topics about which they are ignorant. People who can't admit that they don't know. And then there are people who have opinions on everything but nothing, no knowledge upon which to base their opinions.

Why does conversation have to be some competitive? Why do some people seem not to understand the concept of turn taking? Where is humility and openness? Why do people to protect themselves from a loss of face by lying? Why are some people so certain about things which they cannot possibly be certain about? How can the racist hate all Chinese people when he's never meet one? How can the atheist say there is no God? What is wrong with saying, "I don't know." 

My answer to that question is, "I don't know." What's yours?
We Are Confident Idiots