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Travel Plans of Liz & Mikey

Travel Plans of Liz & Mikey

Hello all here are our travel plans for the next few months, not many weeks until we are flying to Portland.

Wednesday 8 April: Liz and Mikey drive to Melbourne
Sunday 12 April: Liz and Mikey drive home to Canberra
Monday 13 April: Liz has one day at the National Folk Festival
Tuesday 14 April: Mystery trip. Mikey is taking Liz somewhere, hopefully not to be left in the woods because she keeps chewing the furniture.
Monday 25 May: Liz flies down to Melbourne. She will be a panelist at the Emerging Writers Festival on the weekend of the 29th. Mikey will drive down sometime later.
Monday 8 June: Liz and Mikey fly to Los Angeles
We will stay in LA for 1 week-10 days, then fly to Portland
June 28 – August 8, 2009 – Clarion Writers Workshop.
It is likely that I will only have time to go to Comicon for 1 day.

We will also be going to Sydney sometime before we leave.
We will be hosting a farewell sometime at our place in Canberra
We will be doing a farewell type thing in Melbourne as well (we plan to take over some type of space for a day, other suggestions, plans schemes welcome).

Clarion call – the workshop that will eat Liz in June and July

Clarion call – the workshop that will eat Liz in June and July

At last I am able to speak those jewelled words, “I have been accepted and am going to Clarion.” We were asked to stay mum and keep our itching fingers away from the keyboard until everything was finalised.

What does this mean? Clarion is an amazing 6 week writers’ workshop. There’s Clarion South, Clarion West and the original Clarion (originally in the East and now in the significantly less East location of San Diego, University of California). I’ll be going to Clarion at UCSD, where I shall be taught by amazing authors, critiqued by amazing Co-Clarionators (my official word for classmates) as well as hone my own art of critiquing. I’m also excited about staying in a dorm at a college, not something I had during my own university experience (which involved a lot more time at home feeding chickens).

I have heard so many good things about Clarion and chatted to good people who rave about the Clarion experience. It is a workshop you can only do once, so this year it is my once in a lifetime opportunity.

You can see more information at the Clarion Website, but swiftly said, my tutors will be Holly Black, Larissa Lai, Robert Crais, Kim Stanley Robinson, Elizabeth Hand, and Paul Park.

My co-clarionators will be:

Heather Albano
Mishell Baker
Stacie Brown
Katie Crumpton
Nicolas Dayton
Edward Gauvin
Grady Hendrix
Tanner Jupin
Nina Kuruvilla
Matthew London
Patrick Nolan
Leonard Pung
Shauna Roberts
Kenneth Schneyer
Eric Schultz
Nicholas Stenner
Nicole Taylor

Some of us have already found each other on facebook and twitter and we have a members only blog where we’re getting to know each other as well. They seem like a really interesting and diverse crowd with a lot of love for the craft.

Drawing Monsters Competition

Drawing Monsters Competition

The lovely Anne-Marie, Director of the ACT Writers Centre passed on to me this competition info from Murdoch books:

Murdoch Books is on the hunt for an unpublished, funky new illustrator for an upcoming children’s title! $10,000 cash prize, plus naming rights on the cover… see PDF

The only downside is you have to design 3 monsters, and if you win you have to design even more. Who would want to do that?

… I expect at least half the people I know to apply.

MMM Entry Form

Fires, grief, stories and sense making

Fires, grief, stories and sense making

I have been reading Gary Hughes’ account of his first week after the fires in the Weekend Australian Magazine (March 7-8). A moving and intelligent account of the dislocation of a disaster like that. I cannot find a version of that article online, but here is his account of fleeing the fires. It is no wonder the guy has won Walkley awards. His account reminds me of the paralysed dislocation I felt after the Canberra fires. Minute in comparison, but with palpable comparisons. My family and friends were spared during those fires, although my father and sister on the other side of the town put out embers near the family home with the rest of the neighbourhood.

The many layers of grief, of letting go, of coping, surviving and thriving are fascinating, layered and complex. And these events are never in isolation. My mother died two days before September 11, burning trade centres another nail in a coffin on the day we were planning her funeral, compounding the fractures and disassociation. It took me a year and a half to find space to begin to grieve for her, sometimes grief takes time. I was unpacking grief when the 2003 fires came to Canberra and added a new sense of heartbreak and disconnection, opening up to then become self protectively numb again. It was nice to hear of seasoned survivors speaking of the anger after disconnect, it’s not personal, it’s almost physiological.

Six months, a year, after the fires I was in a workplace with a man who had lost his home while out fighting fires to save other people’s homes. He was still affected by the fires (of course) and there was a heightened consciousness and degree of conversation about the fires that stirred conflicting feelings. It assisted in spurring on an irrational anger every time a person mentioned their elderly parents. I was in a workplace where most of my colleagues were decades older and a number were struggling with roles of carers and the finite span of their parents. Every time they complained or expressed a fear of their parent’s mortality I wanted to yell across the room “Fuck you, my mother’s dead.” I can only imagine how hard this would be if you lost a parent younger and had to endure peers bitching about parents when you’ve lost one and would love to be in the position to bitch. My unexpected rawness providing new levels of understanding for friends who had lost parents in highschool. The anger was powerful and passed easily if I considered it to be a physiological response, passing through like running water and nothing personal. All of this flows through my mind as I see a new crimson sky in Victoria.

I was speaking to a friend about the numbness and trauma she and friends had been experiencing in Victoria, to be so close and while not personally touched by the fires, psychologically touched and rattled. I remember how rattled I felt by the Tsunami not that long ago, similarities and dissimilarities and sense making processes and how I control information flow.

Sometimes I don’t want to know anything, I will protect myself and close my eyes. Sometimes there is such a hunger to know and consume information and details, be hypnotised by the details and draw on them to make sense of it, make sense of the world, normalise events and contextualise the experience… lay down a map, like sketching a figure, look at the proportions, sketch out the physical space, sketch out the interior space, situate it in an environment, both current and historical. Processes like these spontaneous essay. Connecting this incident to the other stories I know can be life affirming, but also rattling as old wounds become re-energised, if they have not had the time grieve and flow like water through the consciousness so that they are not personal anymore.

I think of people who have been through so much more, people my father helps in war torn Africa who have seen more siblings die than live, witnessed, survived or perpetrated atrocities. I think of people in Afghanistan who have never known peace. I think of the layers of tragedy and grief, of complex survival systems, coping mechanisms, ways of thriving and how they intersect, bump into each other. It’s messy, difficult, magnificent and poignant, how humans love, lose, care and rebuild. That we live and love, make beauty and stories, imagine and will still dance (be it in words, bodies, sounds or sights) is magnificent. Our resilience and fragility is inspiring.

I am filled with admiration. I love how the world develops layers as I grow older, each year, each experience (my own or explored through one of the arts) is a piece of filo pasty, a layering that makes the world more interesting, more complex and extraordinary. As I get older, people become more extraordinary. I am able to see and imagine more layers to their filo pastry. The magnificence and brutality of the world. I cry more at the movies, in sorrow and joy. At times I feel more jaded, less attuned than I did a handful of years ago… but that is a self protective facade, brought about because I feel more, feel a greater complexity and my imagination can draw more lines in the air. Although I am not thrown into the air by my passions the way I used to, my passions have more nuance and depth, they are not diminished (though they are more manageable).

To draw on the wonderful Michael Marshal Smith’s Only Forward. When the wave has crashed, when the storm passes, as it will. What joy when we are able to bring ourselves fully into the present, bring our integrated selves with us and detangle our fragile selves from the barbed wire of the past… how extraordinary to have all those experiences like a magnifying lens to bring to our present selves and wonder at the world around us.

There is so much to learn, so much to remember, so much to make sense of when an extreme event happens (be it love or disaster).  Gary Hughes’ essay was a lovely point of reflection, moving and powerful. His words moved me and took me here. Our words, stories and sense makings are important.

Post Workshops

Post Workshops

Well I’ve finished all my booked in workshops. Wow, what a ride, what a rush. I’ve been delighted by the artwork that has been produced by my students, and how they have learned a lot more about telling stories with their art.

It’s been rewarding to challenge confident students to new levels and have shy students develop confidence and skills.

I’ve learned a lot as well and my teacherly folder of handouts has more than tripled in size over the past few weeks (first teaching every day at the Young Music Society and then at the Australian National Museum).

If you would like me to bring a workshop on comics, storytelling, writing, the art of collaboration or being a funky creative humanbeing/funky creative workplace please drop me a line. I love tailoring workshops to specific groups and happy to travel (please note, I am currently based in Canberra, Australia).

Between the Lines

Between the Lines

Today and tomorrow I will be running workshops on political cartooning for the Australian National Museum. It’s been fun preparing and discovering that ancient research I did as a teen (back when I was reading everything in the library alphabetically and diving on anything on the new release table) is valuable. I loved to read about artists and especially cartoonists processes and now I get to share it with 30 people between 8 and 14.

The struggle of course is I always want to cram in as much information and cool stuff as possible, for each 2.5 hour workshop I have about 6 hours of content. It will be fun to run a workshop and then get to run it again, normally I custom make each workshop and don’t get to repeat myself. It will run once today for about 14 people and then the same workshop will be run for another 16 people.

It should be a lot of fun and many thanks to Chris Wahl (fab artist who draws many things, including the sexier covers of Australian Mad Magazine) who has kindly let me use some of his excellent examples of charicature in my workshop.

Comicbook Opera

Comicbook Opera

It was amazing to see our musical performed. It’s been wonderful to get small people say “great lyrics” with big grins on their faces as they get to sing about horrible monsters, cruel villains and robbing a train. It was great to hear teachers, parents and other grownups talk about the moments they loved. Some of the dance moves were utterly fantastic and much of the makeup was sweetly gruesome. There are parts of the musical I really want to rework, improvements to be made, lessons learned, but I am glad that the things that were really important to me worked well.

  • The kids had fun performing on stage – the lyrics were rewarding and the chorus liked singing them and the lyrics also invited cool dance moves.
  • The story was simple on some levels, but also had rewarding meta levels through complexity of lyrics and was open to deeper engagement and a safe place for children to explore emotions, concepts of good, bad, loss and overcoming setbacks (that was probably the coolest bit of feedback I got from a teacher discussing the musical afterwards).
  • The moments that were really important to me are moments that people have said told me how much they loved afterwards.

It has been wonderful to get so much positive support from friends and family. There’s a lot of work still ahead of us, to redevelop Comicbook Opera and find new opportunities for it, but it feels so great to have my work performed and dreams of how to take it forward.

Comicbook Opera

Comicbook Opera

Comicbook Opera will be performed for the first time tomorrow! Thursday 15 7pm at Canberra Girls Grammar School. 200+ students performing, it’s just massive. WIN TV will be showing snippets of today’s rehersal during the news tonight (6.30pm and midnight). You might even get an interview with a happy, if sweaty and slightly glazed, Liz.

I am so delighted by the energy and vision everyone has put into the show, it’s a great honour to work with such lovely people to make Comicbook Opera live and see my words on a page become a singing dancing entity.

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