Tag Archives: memoir

Nikki McWatters: #Robinpedia

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Nikki McWatters is an Australian author of both fiction and nonfiction who writes about the ebb and flow of life. From the lowest point through to rising above. Her writing is both intelligent and flexible.

One Way or Another: The Story of a Girl Who Loved Rocks Stars, originally titled The Desert of Paradise, was McWatters debut book. It was shortlisted for The Queensland Premiere’s Literary Award for Emerging Writers. It follows the exploits of 15 year old Nikki into the world of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll, and begs the question, is the groupie life all it’s made out to be? With references to INXS and Duran Duran it is a powerful story of a strong willed, intelligent girl finding herself out of depth and trying to fight her way back to shore.

McWatters followed up her debut with a work of historical fiction, Hexenhaus. It was named one of Sydney Morning Herald’s six best Young Adult novels of 2016. It intertwines the stories of three women, from three different time frames and countries, all accused of witchcraft. The companion to Hexenhaus, Liberty, was released in 2018. It picks up those same threads of displacement, shame, and knowing your own worth. Saga is McWatters next work of historical fiction and is released mid 2019. It is a Nordic epic which is just so hot right now.

In 2018 McWatters released Madness, Mayhem and Motherhood into the world. It is the true story of Nikki McWatters going from a mum of young kids in an unhappy relationship, to a panicked single mum needing support to renegotiate her life, to pulling together and living at peace with herself, chaos and all the challenges that life always throws at you. It is brutally candid with passages so searingly honest that they burn. It touches on areas that few parenting books ever do, what happens when you’re so panicked and down that you actually become the arsehole. It doesn’t hold any punches in regards to how at times we as parents can be selfish, unreasonable, and cause damage all the while thinking we’re trying. Very few books are willing to go there and I thoroughly applaud Nikki for doing so and HIGHLY recommend this book, and of course her others.

And let us not forget Odd Girl Out, which is a story about Kehani a girl who craves meaning and belonging. Released in 2015. And also Sex Crimes, released in 2013. AND SO MANY MORE! Find the full list here.

When she’s not writing I hear she’s wandering about in the mysts, trying to reverse the twilight of the gods, and bring Zeus back to Olympus.

Find Nikki McWatters website here.

Find Nikki McWatters fab books here or anywhere.

Find Nikki McWatters on Twitter here.

Find Nikki McWatters on Facebook here.

Find my book on booktopia or everywhere

Read more about Robinpediahere.

Read about my experience of being a dyslexic writer here.

Read about my opinion on author brandinghere.

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Confessions of a Mad Mooer: The Movie… Sort of

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I’ve done something new today, uploaded a video to YouTube. I’ve never done it before. It was exciting and nerve-wracking all at the same time. Especially because my first post was the trailer or my book, “Confessions of a Mad Mooer: Postnatal Depression Sucks” which is out in December. 

I’ve never made a book trailer before either. That was pretty nerve wracking in itself. In the end I kept it simple; just my words, and pictures of me with my little ones when we were going through my PND. I’ve attached the link. I hope you like it and I hope you’ll love my book. And don’t forget to check back regular for excerpts, give aways, exact release dates and links on where to get a copy.


Thanks for supporting me. You all mean more to me than I can say.

If you or someone you know has postnatal depression you cand find good resources on the following sites:

PANDA http://www.panda.org.au/

PIRI http://www.piri.org.au/

Black Dog Institute http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/

Lifeline https://www.lifeline.org.au/

The Book Club ABC S10 E5: #bookclubABC

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JByrne appears on our screens like a little ray of sunshine. We clap, we cheer, we ovate. And yet again, by we I mean my wine and I. Yes, moscato again. Book Club is enough excitement for the evening without changing up my wine.

JByrne annouces the first book to be discussed, The Midnight Watch by David Dyer. It’s about the Titanic but offering a different perspective, that of a family in third class on the Titanic and those on the SS Californian which was the ship closest to the Titanic when it went under but did not assist in any way…

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JByrne then introduces her first guest Rosie Waterland who rather timidly introduces her choice for the classic/favourite text, A Million Little Pieces by James Frey. My jaw drops and nearly hits the ground on hearing that “memoir” being announced. I thought it was controversial when in  episode 3 of this season BLaw chose a graphic novel, this leaves that choice for dead. I manage to pick up my jaw and mutter, “should be called A Million Little Lies.” But I’m sure I’ll get a chance to whinge about that when they discuss it so I’ll move on with my life… for now.

The second guest is Omar Musa. I am in heaven. He nearly killed regular panelist, Jason Steger, last time he was on by calling a book that Jason adored cliché. I love Jason, I could eat him up on a bit of toast with a drizzle of honey, and I don’t want him to really die, but I do so love to see him shocked.

Regulars Marieke Hardy and Jason Stegersaurussex are there also. Which is always nice.

A dramatic recreation of The Midnight Watch is played… I don’t like it. I noticed they played one last week, I didn’t like that recreation either. I haven’t noticed them previously so maybe they’re usually more enjoyable or I should cut back on the wine… but then I’d have nobody to watch Book Club with. No, the wine must stay. Hopefully they jazz up next week’s a little by making the panelists act it out.

Marieke starts in on the book, she quite liked it. She got tricked into learning something new, not that the Titanic sunk, although Jason insists revealing this information is a spoiler, but other things. She liked it so much that she went on to research further into the Titanic once she finishedthe novel. That’s a pretty strong recommendation.

Next comes Rosie. She just about burst with excitement.

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She’s apparently a Titanirac. I have never heard this term before so there is a very real chance that it is spelled incorrectly for reasons that have nothing to do with my dyslexia. Looks like Marieke isn’t the only one who has been tricked into learning today, I too have learned a new word. A Titanirac refers to a person that is obsessed with the Titanic… Twitter tells me it’s Titanorak and I’m an idiot..  Rosie mentions how the SS Californian being the closest ship is well known amongst Titanoraks but others don’t know it… I smugly look at my wine and tell it how I knew and I’m not a Titaniac. My wine smiles knowingly back at me and tells me that I’m both smart and sexy.

The discussion amongst the book clubbers has moved on whilst I chatted with my Moscato and Rosie is revealing that she wasn’t born when the Titanic was lifted in 1985 because she was born in 1986… I’m so fucking old. I take her book The Anti Cool Girl and hurl it at the bin sobbing. I rush over and pick it up and apologise too it profusely.

JByrne mentions that looking at the SS Californian is rather interesting because it has been previously exposed but never explained. It’s certainly a burning question that we want answered, “Why did the ship closest to the Titanic ignore it’s distress signals?” There is a possibility that countless lives could have been saved if the vessel had responded.  And this book promises to explain that mystery. Marieke says The Midnight Watch breaks that promise and doesn’t explain it, and that really pissed her off.

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Omar says it doesn’t explain it but he’s okay with that because the Captain of the SS Californian never explained it and you can’t put words in other people’s mouths. Jason says that it is ruddy well fiction and so you can put words in people’s mouths otherwise what’s the point. BUT, Jason says for him, he felt the question was answered, JByrne agrees. Rosie stares ponderously into the existential chasm that is the quandary of the Titanirac and says mournfully that the question was not answered but she didn’t expect there to be an answer because there never will be one.

The panel move on to say that the book was quite repetitive and could do with a good cut. Seriously authors, get with the program, how many timed do the panelists have to say they like short books? They then say that the female characters were written poorly… interesting. They spoke quite highly of the novel but felt the female characters were crapola and the text repetitive but last week spoke of the beautiful writing in Emily Maguire’s An Isolated Incident but gave it a bit of a lashing because they felt the male characters were portrayed too cruelly. The feminist in me arches an eyebrow, and not in a good way. The real me simply raises both eyebrows because I can neither wink nor raise one eyebrow at a time.

Onto By the Bed. Can’t wait to hear what Jason has by his bed. Something musky and sexy no doubt, he loves the sexy books. I’m waiting for the day he hold up the Karma Sutra but says he only read it for the beauty tips.

Rosie is reading Shrill by Lindy West.

Jason is reading Moonstone by Sjon.

Omar is reading The Blue Fox by the same author. Get out of town, Jason and Omar are now book club besties.

JByrne is reading The Sun, the Moon, and the Rolling Stones by Rich Cohen.

Marieke is reading Dying: A Memoir by Cory Taylor.

And it turns out that I was wrong. Omar is not reading The Blue Fox he’s reading something else. Maybe the wine does need to go. Omar is actually reading From Victims to Suspects: Muslim Women Since 911 by Shakira Hussein. Sorry for the confusion.

And now it’s onto the classic/favourite. Rosie boldly declares that she doesn’t even know if A Million Little Pieces is her fav but she just wanted to throw a book grenade in there.

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It has the desired impact. JByrne annouces that she has “deep and poisonous feelings” towards James Frey over this “memoir.” Mainly because it’s not a bloody memoir at all. It was marketed and sold as a memoir and then outed 3 years later as lies, damn lies. The reason it was released as a memoir? Oh, the author couldn’t get it published as a novel so just decided to say it was a memoir and then a publisher did pick it up. Not exactly a noble reason but a self serving one. I am with JByrne on this, it makes my blood boil!

Jason and Omar say they’re okay with the lying and that memoirs aren’t really true… WTF. Omar didn’t want words put into the Captain’s mouth in historical FICTION but it’s now okay for non fiction. Dear God, Jason has even started pulling quotes out of his pocket to defend his stance that memoirs aren’t real. Yet he said the reason words could be put in the Captain’s mouth was because it was fiction, he’s already acknowledged there’s a difference between fiction and non fiction in this episode. Don’t you pair remember who you were 10 minutes ago???

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Good work, Rosie, you’ve certainly got them all scrambling. Marieke comes out and tells it like it is, she would have picked it as a fake even if she hadn’t known. The writing is utterly adolescent. Some beautiful sentences of course but it’s overrun by the author trying to make himself out as not only the smartest guy ever but the biggest and toughest ever too. It screams of the unreliable narrator. The kind of fictitious work you do from an adolescent’s perspective where they see themselves as so right and so brave that it beggars belief. It doesn’t work for a genuine adult perspective that has supposedly gained wisdom and matured. It’s not exactly the perspective of adulthood but that of full hardy youth. Thank you Marieke for being the ever so crass voice of reason.

Omar and Jason again defend it by saying it doesn’t have to be true it just has to ring true. Rosie, who has actually written a memoir, points out that you write your truth from your perspective, you do not simply make things up. Jason wants to pull more quotes out of his pocket. Keep your hands where we can see them, Jason.

Omar talks about how James Frey went on Oprah and admitted he had lied and says he should be given props for that… Let’s just ignore that Frey only admits to one lie at a time as they’re exposed and denies them all in the lead up? The dude doesn’t just come out and confess. This man told people they didn’t need a 12 step program they just needed self belief, and based his credibility to give tips on how to over come addiction on his “memoir.” Which shows he had never overcome the sneaky, lying,  cheating and deceiving aspect of his addictive personality and therefore was hardly in a place to instruct others. Omar mentions how inspirational James Frey still is and how he still gets letters from addicts saying how he inspires them… says who!!! Oh, that would be James Frey saying it, the dude proven to be unreliable.

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JByrne likens James Frey to Belle Gibson. People say that’s unfair because she pretended she had cancer and never did whereas Frey did have a drug problem. And there is no question that he did, his life story is essentially –  boy takes money from his parents to take drugs, boy takes money from his parents to go to rehab, boy takes money from his parents to write a novel that he then pretends is a memoir. Yet I still think JByrne’s comparison is fair. You and me Byrne, all the way. Frey says he spent years in gaol when he spent hours, he said his special friend died when a girl he never spoke to died. Belle Gibson said she had cancer when in reality she felt a bit sick and saw a naturopath. Seems pretty apt to me.

All the strong opinions come to an abrupt end when JByrne annouces that it is time for a quiz. She pulls out what appears to be a rubber chicken and a rubber pig for the buzzers. Jason’s eyes light up. Marieke inwardly sobs and mutters that this is the worst thing that has ever happened to her.

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It’s to be Jason and Rosie Vs Marieke and Musa. Never has there been such an epic battle since Batman V Superman or Ironman V Captain America… oh, my bad, Jason and Rosie gave Marieke and Musa an absolute trouncing. Jason is given the rubber chicken as his prize, he is delighted. Marieke is still hoping the Hell Mouth will open and swallow her.

JByrne promises us sex, religion and politics next week. The title of the show is Books that Divide a Dinner Party. They must be discussing A Million Little Lies and Wuthering Heights again. They certainly argued over those.

I have to say that this truly was a most excellent episode. I’m not sure which episode has been my favourite this season but it is definitely between this one and the first one. Both were just so firey. Good work on your choice, Rosie. Book Club, you’ll have to get her on again. It’ll be tough to top this next week.

Catch up on last week’s recap here.

View previous episodes through ABC iView.

Structural Workshop with the Divine Dr @KathrynHeyman – #SydneyWritersFestival

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If loving Kathryn Heyman is wrong, then I don’t want to be right. There, I said it. Everyone else in the Structural Intensive workshop hosted by the Sydney Writers’ Festival was thinking it, I just said it. You would be hard pressed to find a more dynamic presenter, and the best bit was, that Dr Heyman had substance to back it up. I’ll be perfectly honest, I am not going to detail everything that she covered, partly because I wouldn’t do it justice, and partly because if you want to truly learn from Kathryn Heyman then you need to go and do a workshop/course/mentorship with her yourself. What you get out of a course is a deeply personal thing because we are all on different paths in this writing journey. BUT this would be the world’s shortest blog if I gave nothing away for free so here goes…

One of the first sound bites that really moved me was when Kathryn Heyman said, “Your fear drives why you write.” Now I’ve heard, “if it scares you do it,” “go where the fear is,” and all those other common things before but on that cold, wet, Friday, where I had arrived drenched, late, with a slightly broken umbrella and the memory of my kids crying ringing through my brain, this phrasing, and this women really hit home. For me, I’d got my money’s worth all in that one hit. Because, I’ll let you in on a little secret, come closer, even closer, shhhh, closer, I’m going to whisper this so listen carefully, every single novel I have written deals with exactly the same issue, no matter what the genre or target audience. My chick lit novel coming out in July has a main character who has an intelligent, and quirky main character who happens to have incredibly low self-esteem so can make some pretty dumb choices. My children’s novel coming out next year has a very confident main character but the backstory that never gets explicitly covered is that the mother is deeply scarred and traumatized individual trying to be that super mum who gets everything right. Memoir From the Madhouse (I’ve never shared an excerpt from that so will pop it at the end of this) looks at why we are who we are, how our past demons drive us. I could go on but in a nutshell, I write women’s fiction, no matter the genre, no matter the age range, and the story is always – What happened to the little girl that nobody loved. Fuck, I hope she turned out okay. Until Kathryn Heyman said, “Your fear drives what you write,” I did not realise that I had written the exact same story over and over again as I grappled with my fear. It’s kind of liberating to know that I am on a cathartic journey. It’s even more liberating to know that I love that story and I will tell it over and over again, in as many ways as I like until I am ready to put that issue to bed. Because that story needs to be told. That story needs to be told not just for me but for all those little girls. I’ll keep speaking out. I’ll keep publishing for you. I hope you will join me.

Now I think you can understand what I meant by saying that this writing gig is a deeply personal journey and you have to go sit at Dr Heyman’s feet yourself to get what you need. However, I won’t be a total spoil sport, there were plenty of general things that were good for everyone. Mainly, it really helps to have a concrete, physical manifestation of conceptual matter. So if there is an obstacle, how about getting another character to embody that. If you have some sort of transformation make sure there is some sort of event or location that can act as a metaphor rather than having it all inside the character’s head. If the character has an internal desire, give it a physical manifestation, as in what action or situation would demonstrate that the desire had been met or totally failed. I’m leaving it there because as I keep saying, you have to go learn from Kathryn Heyman yourself in order to get the real benefit.

 

As promised, and true to my blog’s about section, unedited, unkempt, and untamed, here is an excerpt from Memoir from the Madhouse.

 

I am running, running faster than I’ve ever run before. The cold from the dew damp ground runs up my bare legs and covers my naked body with goose pimples. But still I run on. The warmth is fleeting, the wind is chasing me, and they are hunting me. I run naked in the cold dark night and all the while I think – I’m not crazy, I’m not crazy.

Out of my periphery I see a nurse approaching me. I let out a delirious laugh and keep on running.

‘Run, run, run as fast as you can…’

The wind whips away my words and I still run on. The ground starts to gently slope downwards and in the darkness I lose my bearings. I trip. I roll. Arms and legs flail at impossible angles. The world slows down as sky and earth blur into one. I smile and think about what has brought me here, starkers, in the dead of night, chasing demons, in the psychiatric hospital’s grounds.

 

6 Hours Earlier

I sit in Consultation Room 2 staring at my psychiatrist. I have no idea what he is saying. His voice is so soft that I can only make out every second sentence if I’m lucky. Regardless I nod like I understand. I don’t want him to think I’m rude or worse, stupid. My constantly interrupting to say, ‘Eh?’ or, ‘What?’ only results in him repeating his mumbles anyway. So instead I just nod along like I agree.

‘Are you anxious about going home tomorrow?’ Finally a sentence I can hear.

‘No,’ I lie.

Of course I’m anxious. I’ve got newborn twins and a two year old. They’re hard work. I have to somehow keep on functioning, no, mumctioning, despite the fact that the twins won’t sleep, which means I can’t sleep either. All work and no sleep makes Robin a dull girl. Perhaps they could be trained to settle one another. One cries and the other rubs their back, then they roll over and swap jobs. That’d be pretty sweet but although I’m in the nuthouse even I know that won’t happen.

‘Really?’ my psychiatrist raises an eyebrow. ‘Last time you were supposed to go home you had such an anxiety attack that we had to transfer you to a medical hospital.’

I shrug. More words are spoken that I nod thoughtfully along too. God only knows what I’ve agreed to in these sessions.

‘Do you like cap guns and pillows?’ Nods in agreement.

‘Do you still wet the bed?’ Nods thoughtfully.

‘Do you have a Christ complex?’ Nods politely.

‘Do you like the smell of your own farts?’ Nods vigorously.

He probably thinks I’m the biggest psycho to ever have graced this Crackpot’s with Babies Unit. No doubt I’ve inadvertently agreed to having a fetish for gingerbread men, partaking in cock fighting as a chicken, and having to burp three times every time I hear the word purple lest the world ends. Not surprising that Doctor Huang is so shocked by my casual attitude.

Truth be told I’m just quietly packing shit. My husband and I have arranged for a babysitter to come for a few hours a day during baby rush hour. 4 – 7 sucks with the under threes. They’re cranky, they need baths, they need dinner and they need to go to bed. Times that by three and I seriously struggle. The babysitter coming at these times doesn’t help me rest. Just helps me make sure none of my kids are neglected. I want to rest. We can’t afford rest. Fucking money.

‘A lot can change in a week.’

Writer/ Publisher Interviews: or Literary Speed Dating as the cool kids call it

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As a high school English teacher I’m familiar with Parent/Teacher Interviews. I get to see the parents of the children I teach and find out why they’re so hilarious or why they’re so not hilarious. Often they’ll have the nervous teenager in tow giving you that look like, “Please don’t tell them I said my parents don’t care if I don’t do my homework because they do and they will kill me,” so I obligingly start with homework. It’s generally all very civilised and we have a few laughs and agree that their child is special and what we can do as a team to maximise their potential, ie homework. Well except for that time when the parent turned up drunk and fell off their chair and kept forgetting why they were there and persisted on asking me about their nephew who I didn’t teach instead of their son who I very much taught,  that was slightly less civilised and laughy. Although now years and schools later I am seeing the laughingness of the whole thing. However, this only prepared me in part for the Literary Speed Dating event hosted by the Australian Society of Authors and the New South Wales Writers’ Centre.  Mostly because the publishers were the teacher, I was the parent and my manuscript was the kid… and I was utterly petrified that I was going to hear that he hadn’t done his homework.

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Fortunately, as I am the queen of catstrophising, things did not go as badly as I’d imagined.* Now I was a little delirious from lack of sleep,**  so my word can’t be taken as gospel,*** but it all seemed really good to me. The organisation was excellent. I know from Parent/Teacher Interviews that things can quickly devolve into a chaotic quagmire with nobody hearing bells or moving on but with the very loud air horn going off every three minutes that just wasn’t an issue. Light bladder leakage may have been an issue as some of us never quite got used to the volume, but it certainly made things run smoothly. I salute you air horn. Lining up was a great chance to catch up with old friends from writing courses like Lisa and Helen who I met through Kate Forsyth courses, and new friends I’d met through twitter such as Meyrnah. And I cannot forget my fellow acolyte of Walter Mason,   Ms Ashley. Thanks to Ashley I am now obsessed with Armenia. My husband is very pleased because he loves discussing history and politics. The atmosphere was absolutely electric. Being around so many dedicated writers was really inspiring. Most people were happy to discuss their manuscripts and I can honestly say that there are a lot of very interesting concepts out there waiting to be published. And to top it all off the Publishing reps asked for my manuscripts so that was brilliant. I shall now have an accelerated heart rate for the next three months whilst I wait to hear back about my memoir, or my children’s novel. Worth it!

If you have a completed manuscript that you feel is ready for a professional eye I strongly recommend you book in early for next year. It sells out around 6 months in advance so make sure that you’re organised.

For great tips on how to handle the event read here:
http://illuminationsbylisafleetwood.wordpress.com/2014/11/17/literary-speed-dating/
https://highfantasyaddict.wordpress.com/2014/11/20/literary-speed-dating-sydney-nsw-writers-centre-2014-asa/ ****

The only thing I could possibly add is, don’t be afraid to discuss your manuscript with others. Discussing it will warm you up for pitching to the publishing representatives. Life is too short to be paranoid that everyone is going to steal your ideas. And heck, even if they are, back yourself, you’ve written it better and at the very least you’ve got a massive head start as yours is already finished. If someone is now out there madly attempting to write a memoir inspired by my time in a psychiatric hospital best of luck to them. Heck, if they want to write a tale of friendship for children, go ahead, there’s already plenty on the market and there will be plenty more because life is about relationships. Back yourself,  be confident, believe in yourself. If you can’t believe in your own writing how can you expect other people too? So book in early, be confident and pitch your heart out.

*I’d imagined being met with a long awkward pause followed by, “Don’t ever waste my time ever again.”

** Mummy still loves you, but kids… I’ve got an audio book narrated by Samuel L Jackson that you need to hear.

*** Or any biblical chapters for that matter.

**** Those entries managed to capture photos of a smoking hot red head… a red head… a bottle red head. It’s me ok!

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Memoir of a Teacher: Chapter 9, The Graveyard Chapter

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To read the gripping first chapter of my “memoir” please go here:https://riedstrap.wordpress.com/2014/10/31/memoir-of-a-teacher-a-red-hot-tip-for-nanowrimo/

The knife had a handle of heavily worn, cheap, black plastic, and a blade, that although promised to never dull was in fact smooshing tomatoes rather than cutting them. If someone tried to slice you with it, you might not even know you had been cut… because you probably wouldn’t have been. So much for TV advertising guarantees.

The knife had made a mess of almost everything it was brought to that house to do, and both the blade and the handle were wet with squished vegetable matter.

The street door was still open, just a little, where the knife and the woman who held it had traipsed in, and wofts of nighttime pollution slithered and twined through the house, through the open door, leaving an unctuous layer over every surface.

The woman Robin paused on the verandah. With her left hand she pulled out a baby wipe from her nappy bag, and with it she wiped off the knife and her plastic gloved, right hand, which had been holding it; then she tossed the baby wipe into a scented nappy bin. The venture was almost over. She had left the lasagne in the oven, the cupcakes cooling on the bench, a fruity punch in the fridge. That only left the salad. A delicious ricotta,  peppered leaves, olives, srmi dried tomatoes and artichoke ensemble. Just one more decision to be made, to add crispy bacon or not.

She flexed her fingers. They were blistered from attempting to use the knife for fine cutting. The woman Robin was, above all things, a gracious hostess, or so she told herself, and she would not allow herself to hit the wine until the salad was finished.

Her hair was red and her eyes were blue and she wore clear plastic gloves of the cheapest price.

“Muuuuuuuum.” One of her three kids, or possibly, two, or all three, was crying. The  toddler’s room was right near the kitchen. The woman Robin walked to her daughter’s room, her feet loud and heavy. She pushed open the door, and she walked in. Her slippers were a dusty grey and looked like little dust pufts on the carpet, you could see the filth of infrequently vacuumed carpet reflected in them.

She could make out the shape of a child in the bed, head and limbs and torso.

The bed was big and inviting for a woman who had barely slept since her first child was born. Robin leaned over, raised her right hand, the one holding her glass of wine that she had promised herself once the salad was done . . .

…and then she lowered her hand. No this would have to wait. The salad wasn’t done yet. The shape in the crib was a teddy bear. There was no child.

A giggle could be heard coming from the cupboard. One day her daughter would learn how to play hide and seek properly.

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Based on the amazing Neil Gaiman’s “The Graveyard Book.” He is a genius,  and I recommend anything of his. Read an excerpt of the real thing here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/15/books/chapters/chapter-graveyard-book.html?_r=0

Memoir of a Teacher: Chapter 8, Robin Interrupted

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This chapter from my Memoir of Appropriation I do with special love as Girl Interrupted was a running joke between a dear friend I met whilst in the psychiatric hospital, I refer to her as Cat in my real memoir. Cat, I’ve got a chicken carcass with your name on it… with a side of potatoes,  broccoli and carrots.

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People ask, How did you get in there? What they really want to know is if they are likely to end up in there as well. I can’t answer the real question. All I can tell them is… “Oh you know me, I do so like my dramatics.”

And it is easy to retreat into the blanket fort in your head. There are so many methods of avoidance: the smile and nod, the talking really fast so others cannot get in, the hide in your room, the good old sit and rock; the strategies of the insane, the criminal, the crippled, the dying, perhaps of the dead as well. These are methods of coping with the real world whilst we can’t see it clearly.

My ex workmate Hotlips came in swiftly and totally, during my two years teaching with her. She was at a staff dinner, downing gin like it was going out of style, when a tidal wave of blackness broke over her head. The entire world was nothing but distorted noise – for a few minutes. She knew she had gone completely mad. She looked around the restaurant to see if it had happened to everyone, but all the other people were engrossed in their own drug of choice. For me it was also gin, for another heart attack causing food by the truck load and for another shameless self promotion. She rushed out, because the darkness within her was too much when combined with grog.

And then what happened? I asked her.

A lot of shaking and vomiting, she said.

But most people breakdown gradually, with a series of events that gradually erode away their soul and drive them into self loathing. In this state all normal interactions become a battle ground of paranoia and double talk. Nothing is real yet nothing is imagined. It’s all relative.

These are facts you find out later, though.

Another odd feature of the mad mind is that although it is virtually unfathomable by the “well adjusted” mind you can easily see the normal world going on around you. Sometimes the life you came from looks huge and menacing, quivering like a vast pile of jelly; at other times it is miniaturized and alluring, aspin and shining in its orbit. Either way, it can’t be discounted.

Every window on Alcatraz has a view of San Francisco.

“You look tired,” said the doctor.

No shit, I’ve got newborn twins and a two year old, all who have been sick and I’m just out of hospital with fucking Pancreatitis.

“You can’t keep yourself from shaking,” he went on.

When I’d woken that morning – I’d thought I could do it, get through one more day, taking care of the kids on my own whilst being so desperately ill. But then the shaking started and the boys bronchiolitis got worse and the tears would not stop. I felt broken.

“You expect a lot from yourself,” the doctor said.

I nodded. But the main problem was that everyone else expected a lot from me. They expected me to take care of a two year old and 8 weeks premature twins without so much as four hours of babysitting or help of any kind so that I could actually sleep. He was going to keep talking about it until I agreed with him, so I nodded.

“Does your husband know how you feel?” he asked.

I nodded to this too. He didn’t,  still doesn’t.

‘Trouble with the husband?” It wasn’t a question, actually he was already nodding for me. “Expecting too much from yourself,” he repeated. He popped out from behind his desk and lunged toward me. He was a taut fat man, tight-bellied and dark.

“You need a rest,” he announced.

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Read the real excerpt here and then, for the love of sanity, buy the book and the movie! Yes both!! https://www.bookbrowse.com/excerpts/index.cfm/book_number/241/page_number/1/girl-interrupted#excerpt

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