During last weekend, I attended my first book launch. The truth is I have never been invited before and perhaps I wouldn’t have accepted without a personal interest. My interpretation of book launches is champagne fuelled ego-catering strategies to entice you to buy the book in question. I liked the idea of the author reading a few passages but refuted the thought of commercial marketing pressure to purchase.
Of course it was all of these things, let’s face it. What is changed is me. Me. I have changed. I have reclaimed my love of books, book shops and appreciation of all that belongs in the writer’s box of trade.
I sat in the Gleebook shop first floor area reserved for the audience, sipping my glass of Sauvignon Blanc and waiting for my memoir friends. I observed my mentor, Patti Miller, Australia’s leading memoir writer flitting around chatting with those who placed themselves in the path of her small frame appropriately clad in all black from top to toes, her hair flicking itself across her eyes as her animated movements took that rogue long wave. Such a unique blend of free-thinking word spinners – some clearly more affluent than others, but all united in their search for that story yet to be unfolded from the corners of their mind and imagination.
Crouched over their word processor, hair still unkempt from a night of sleep and bed wrestling, trackie –dacks or its equivalent attire hurriedly pulled over the morning body, every writer, experienced or amateur, devours hungrily that first dose of morning writing euphoria. The trickle of thought seeping from the brain is like freshly made tea emerging from the teapot spout opening, gently peeking out to ensure the cup is sitting upright ready to capture its wonderful liquid. Into the cup or be it the fingers the morning trickle goes before magically appearing in our mouths or on that computer screen as a life-starter and intimate stimulant. No doubt at some point, those words will be thrown out only to be replaced by even better ones, such is the pain of the writing process, but for now they are the addictive stimulant we crave to propel us through life.
I believe you are born a writer – not to the same skill mind you, but like any artistic talent, it has to be in you. From the time I was introduced to the local library and discovered the world of books, I have wanted to be a writer. Unfortunately my childhood did not include imagination stimulation or encouragement to explore as young children receive today. I had a blank school exercise book and a pencil. I wrote the words, tore them up, wrote some more words but nothing could compare to Enid Blyton’s ‘Far Away Tree’ or the ‘Adventures of the Secret Seven’ and ‘The Famous Five’.
I resigned myself to reading the classics; the current books of the day and of course the books that would determine my life nursing profession ‘Cherie Ames’ and ‘Sue Barton’. Somewhere amidst the journey of life, I stopped reading preferring the easier mental escapism of television.
Patti Miller has retrieved my soul and placed it firmly within the genre of life writing. As I sit here with my life writing friends and those I know not but still share a love of writing about people and their journeys, I feel I have come full circle. I am returned to reflecting on words, their power and opportunities but with the joy of a lifetime of experiences and skills.
Life Writing is powerful. Uncovering the magic of life experiences that mostly are lost in the turbulent and at times, scamper and skedaddle ‘not to be missed’ lifestyle we all live, is akin to a state of ataraxia that I lost sight of many decades ago. A sense of tranquillity, free from emotional disturbance and anxiety fills my soul as my pleasure comes these days from my mind relieving itself of a life time of experiences and adventures.
The memoir stories are piling up behind my fingers, eager to be aired and exposed for what they are – memories of a life lived with enthusiasm, passion, eagerness, thoughtlessness at times and bad judgement. A life well lived perhaps not to the max, but to the best of good intentions and love.
Patti Miller’s memoir, Ransacking Paris is a great example of reflection of a dream fulfilled and ‘knowing the self through gazing into the ‘looking glass’ of the great world’.
Perhaps I will go to another book launch before too long and gently prod the boundaries of my mind just a little further. Who knows what will emerge?