The Hare and the Tortoise

We all know the old Aesop fable about the tortoise and the hare. I can’t help but draw a parallel with the big race looming in Australian politics.

On the one hand we have a cocky, sure-fire, plucky Mr Abbott. Fast on his feet and quick with the jabs. Behind him, taking careful steps is our off-again, on-again Prime Minister, Mr Rudd. Few would argue that it is a level playing field. The Ruddster was plopped bang into the race with a heavy handicap weighing him down – the Labor Party. And as he drags that baggage behind him toward the finishing line, Mr Abbott grins like the rabbit that got the carrot, I’ve got this one in the bag plastered across his smug mug.

But is there still time for the hare to slip up? Take his eyes off the racing track, take a nap? When it comes to sharing some concrete policy, he’s definitely stalled. Meanwhile the tortoise trudges on, taking his message to the Australian people, trying to polish the party-poo into something more palatable. He’s emphasising the new and improved, less corrupt, more disciplined Labor Party. If nothing else, Mr Rudd has a tough shell and it’s weathered some savage attacks. Can he surprise us? Can he pull a rabbit out of his hat?

The polls remind me of a tipsy slapper who changes like the wind, first all over one and then the other. She’s not all that reliable and fickle as hell. I don’t have much faith in her. Frankly I’d sooner listen to a soothsaying octopus.

But, to be honest, the Australian people by and large are fickle as well. One more major crazy sexist gaffe or a sneaky, leaked scandal and the hare might just get overtaken. The media on one side of the fence (in Murdoch’s paddock) are clearly rooting for the hare. They are ruthless in their campaign against all things tortoise. Others tentatively suggest that the race isn’t over until the seventh of September, trying to convince themselves as much as anyone else.

Most talk on the street is that Australia will let the smug hare scamper over the finishing line. It’s not like they’re terribly happy about it though. It’s just that they’ve had a gutful of turtle soup. What’s the difference between a tortoise and a turtle? Buggered if I know. Between a hare or a rabbit? One is tender and the other a bit tough and gamey? They all look the same to me.

Old Paul Keating pulled his tortoise shell over the line while John Hewson lost the seemingly unlosable race in 1993. It’s the popular storyline that is played over and over again in Hollywood films. The underdog, the Karate Kid, Rocky Balboa, the tortoise, persevering against all the odds to become the victor over the bully. It’s a theme that runs through our collective consciousness which is why we hack to death the tall poppies and root for the underdog.

Slow and steady wins the race, they say. But I do think, short of the vainglorious hare having a kip under a tree, the tortoise is going to have to move those legs a bit faster, take a short cut or just ….I don’t know….cheat. Because if the hare wins the race, I feel Australia will end up with rabbit stew on its face. Not pretty. 

Word Surfing..

I haven't written anything for a while. I tell my kids that when 'Mum's a tappin', don't come yappin'....But there has been little tapping of late.

For me, writing is like surfing. It picks me up on a wave and whooshes me toward the shore. Powerful stuff that I have little control over. But sometimes that creative sea is flat. Still. The last month or so, that has been the ocean I've been bobbing on.

But today I woke up and felt so grateful to the universe for giving me the space to wait and float until the next wave comes in. Three years ago, I was in a terrible slump and felt completely uninspired. I'd just completed a law degree and found it to be so depressing. The law. Justice. Contract Law. Land Law. Family Law which was probably the most dismal. I realised that I'd spent years of my life writing awful assignments, attending local courts, reading the most tiresome texts and it had all been for nothing because the idea of working for a law firm triggered suicidal depression. Not good. All I had ever really wanted was to write. Ever since I was a little girl and saw My Brilliant Career, I wanted to be that character , Sybylla Melvyn. She was my first heroine. I loved her spirit. Her inability to be tamed. Her dread of falling in love. She was my literary Queen Elizabeth the First. Willful. Wild. And wordy.

So early in 2010, I decided to put the law degree in the bottom drawer and put on my writer's cap. I would be a writer. It wasn't a vague possibility, it was a determined surety. I screwed my courage to that sticking place and I refused to fail.

For many years I had toyed with the idea of being a full-time writer. I'd dabbled. It was a lifetime hobby. Scribbling stories, scripts, plays, poems and sweeping romances. Crime thrillers. Historical novels. I had many in my linen cupboard. They weren't that good, really. But each one came closer to me finding my own voice.

In 2010, I found my voice. I wrote my story. The story of my wanton youth as a rock n roll groupie, fooling around with the likes of INXS and Duran Duran. I wrote of  my lofty ambition to win an Academy Award (could still happen!). It was my first tentative step and I sent it off to the Queensland Premier's Literary Awards, in the Emerging Writer category. I so desperately wanted to emerge. From domestic drudgery to the new world of the literati. (I had no idea, at that stage, how very unglittery the literary world is!) I got shortlisted. It was one of those snapshot days of my life, a moment suspended in time forever, the day I got that phone call. I didn't win but it didn't matter. It really was that honour just to be nominated!

That got my toe in the door and I soon had a literary agent. I walked around for days agent this, my agent that, it just sounded so goddamn professional and impressive. The darling girl managed to sell my book within two months which literally made me cry, big fat tears of joy. The process of editing and choosing a cover and getting endorsements and writing the acknowledgement page all felt surreal until I received my box of fresh, clean, delicious paper-smelling books in the post. More tears. It was a bucket-list moment.

It spurred me on to write and write and write. More and more. I started having my work appear in places like The Hoopla and Mamamia and ivillage, online publications that I loved reading. I was having other pieces picked up here and there and felt a childish thrill each time something got picked up. It was like fishing and it felt great. I wrote a piece for The Emerging Writer 2013 book which must be the best annual guide for writers.

And then my agent sold another of my manuscripts, only a few weeks ago, although as the ink is not yet dry on that deal, I will speak of it no more. And next week I have my first short story being published in my favourite anthology.

I've moved house and I now have a room with a view. Of the water. The perfect setting for a writer.

The muse is whispering to me and telling me that she can sense a wave on the horizon. A big one. And it's heading my way. I'm ready. Breathless. What will the next story be I wonder??

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