resilience fatigue & happy stories, mostly

In case you haven’t heard….Sydney is OUT OF LOCKDOWN! AND…the ban on overseas travel for Australian citizens and permanent residents HAS BEEN LIFTED! It is truly exciting. I have spent the last few weeks indulging in luxuries such as WORKING IN CAFES and DROPPING MY KID OFF AT SCHOOL and going places BEYOND A FIVE KM RADIUS OF OUR APARTMENT! And we are going to Singapore to see my family and my 95-year-old grandmother who has dementia while she still remembers who I am.

And I am no longer waking up at 5ish anymore to write. Because now I can write during the day because I am not dragging my poor six year old through school on zoom and then taking him for outings to get some sort of exercise. This whole experience has cemented it for me: I am really not a morning person. (I am not a night person either, inconveniently enough.)

Two bits of recent news: an essay I wrote expressing fatigue with narrow definitions of “resilience” was published a week ago by Writing NSW. It was a commissioned piece for an entire essay series on writing and resilience. I was contacted in March to write something for a very nice sum of money and I actually turned it down at first because what I really wanted to say was “F*** resilience.” But then the commissioning editor wrote back saying that I could submit as late as the end of October if I wanted. And I thought, Surely I can write something by October, and said yes, and then spent the next six months regretting I had said yes because I really did feel that all I wanted to write was “F*** resilience,” but was pretty sure that they were not going to pay me the 900 bucks if that was all I wrote.

In the last few weeks, inspiration did strike. And I managed to write something honest and that I wouldn’t hate myself for writing or hate reading. It ended up being about how, when you’re a writer, and many of your friends and acquaintances are writers, “resilience” ends up being reduced to “are you writing?” and “how much are you writing?” and “when is your next book coming out?” So please read it if you like. Here is a short excerpt:

Back to the thing I want to say: apart from the fact that you might not want to hear it, I feel that it borders on taboo — in the writing world at least. It’s up there with I don’t like books and when I feel there’s too much repetition in my writing, I just replace words with unfamiliar synonyms I find in the thesaurus.

But I’ll say it anyway. Here it is:

It’s okay not to write.

And I don’t mean, it’s okay, but obviously, it would be better if you did write. Nor do I mean, the trick is to pretend that it’s okay not to write and this will be sure to get you writing. I mean it’s perfectly fine if you’re not writing at the moment and if you don’t write anything ever again.

In other enormous news (hmm…that phrase sounds parodically erotic), the UK edition of my translation of Norman Erikson Pasaribu’s short story collection Happy Stories, Mostly is coming out in early December! Above is the cover, which has just been revealed on social media. (It’s like a gender reveal party! Surprise! It’s nonbinary!) The artwork is by Soraya Gillani Viljoen, who does all of Tilted Axis Press’s covers. You can pre-order the collection on the Tilted Axis website. As I write this, it is on sale for 7.99 GBP instead of 9.99 GBP!

We have an Australian edition coming out in March with Giramondo. More news on that front to come 😉