let me explain…

image courtesy of Barbara Malagoli Martino

image courtesy of Barbara Malagoli Martino

This post has been a long time coming.

A very, very long time coming.

It’s been almost exactly 11 months since my last post. And then it had been 7 months between posts before that. So, please, let me explain.

I’ve been unwell. Quite unwell actually. I’ve spent the last two and a half years in and out of hospitals, struggling to manage my mental health. For those two and a half years, life stopped. Continue reading

just where has smartykat been?

Lately I’ve had a few of my darling smartykat followers contact me and say, “Where are you?”, “Where have the posts gone?”, “I want mooooooore!”, so I thought I better pull my finger out of my butt…on hole and give you all a bit of an update. Never fear, smartykat is ALWAYS here, just not necessarily always in her blogging form. Here’s what’s been taking up S.K.’s time:

THE novel

Yes, I’m still plugging away at my debut novel and yes, I’m still absolutely loving the process. Continue reading

salutations from MWF ’12

Salutations, dear followers, from MWF ’12… and what a festive festival it’s been so far!

As much as I’d love to share EVERYTHING with you all, I just don’t have the time or blogging capacity or memory to do so. SO, instead, what I thought I’d do is give you the best of the best and share some festival highlights straight from the mouths of the literary greats.

If you’re not booked in for a session, jump online and snap up whatever you can put your pretty little paws on. Writer – or otherwise – you’ll be enlightened, inspired and enthused. I promise!

Wherever possible, I’ve tried to include a link to the author’s webpage – or the closest thing to it. Enjoy!

xx SmartyKat


they have to be undercurrents in society… if they’re overcurrents and they’re obvious, well that’s just journalism.

Deborah Robertson Continue reading

a wintery writer’s retreat

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be able to duck off for a few days on a bit of a writer’s retreat. I’d never done this before and – to be honest – was very apprehensive. What if I got there and couldn’t write? What if the place I was staying in was uninspiring? What if it was just an outright bad idea? What if, what if, what if! Thank the writing gods, within the first few minutes of arriving at my wee cottage, all my niggling (and let’s be honest – ridiculous) hypotheticals were well and truly put to rest and I was able to write solidly every day.

The cottage I stayed in is one of three accommodation options at The Baldessin Press in St Andrews. It took me only 40 mins to get there from my inner city residence (!) and it was just divine. Surrounded by trees and veggie gardens and orchards and roos (yep, roos!) you feel like you’re an entire world away from the city. Continue reading

writing what’s close

A few nights ago I received my copy of The Victorian Writer in the mail and for the first time since high school, a piece of writing made me weep (I can’t actually recall the title of the book that moved me so much back then, I just remember its effects – strange how memory works – but that’s another post). What I was reading was so raw and brutally real that all I could do was cry. Even when all I wanted to do was look away or put the piece down or just forget. That struggling was there. That grappling too. That inner wrestle that the writer was having with herself was all right there on the page in her words and beneath them. For me to read. A fellow writer but, even more simply than that, a fellow comrade in suffering.

The piece I’m referring to is  Andee Jones’ The Tribute; a memoir piece inspired by a 20 minute creative writing exercise to write about ‘How to talk to…’. And it wasn’t so much the content itself of the piece that set me off as it was the relatability of it. Here was a fellow writer, usually extraordinarily articulate – both with the written and spoken word – who had also studied psychology (Jones is a retired psychologist), and yet she was grappling – and obviously so –  with how best to express arguably her most significant life event. “I sat here for 20 minutes,” says Jones of the exercise, “and couldn’t [write] anything.” The experience that she was trying to exorcise from herself and onto the page was just too damn large and difficult and confronting to translate into any kind of even semi communicable form. It was like the task of writing about the experience was more difficult than the experience itself – perhaps the word I’m looking for here is more real. Continue reading

respect: not a large / meaningful / great enough word

The term ‘hero’ today means something vastly different from what it meant back in the era of the Ancient Greeks (think Hercules) or – if you don’t fancy stretching your mind back that far – even not so long ago, in the era of my parents or grandparents. My grandmother’s hero was her mother; my grandfather’s his father; my aunty’s her father. In fact, even my hero growing up (and I think it’s safe to say my sister’s also) was my aunty. All a far cry from today’s Shane Warnes, Lady Gagas and Justin Biebers don’t you think?

image by Ben Northern

The values that ‘hero’ encompassed prior to the Facebook-Twitter-Myspace revolution were far more primitive and real than those that it encompasses today. Mobile phones were scarce or even non existent, and the internet was still a far off thought way, way, way in the back of someone’s mind (I know, can you imagine?). And so, all my grandmother’s and mother’s generations had to model themselves on and look up to, were the other people who they knew and saw frequently; the people who they were surrounded with. Their heroes were people of a similar calibre (and life form!) to them. Continue reading

on writing

I get the impression that even though my family and friends know that I’m a writer, they don’t really have any idea what I do. The same goes for my readers.  I’d imagine some of you think I’m cooped up all day “in a room of my own” with a pot of tea, a pen and a pad of paper; others that I just frequent cafes, sipping coffee and pondering my existence and perhaps a small minority of you just think that I’m a wanker who sits around all day wanking my proverbial writing muscle (whatever that is).

The reality of it is, my life is nowhere near as romantic, tranquil or indulgent as you may think. Continue reading

have a cuppa with Capote

I only recently discovered The Paris Review Interviews while working at a bookstore. Like anyone who has worked at a bookstore knows, most of your time ‘working’ is spent plodding along aimlessly whilst at the same time trying to maintain a relatively vertical position (as opposed to a horizontal one on the plush bookstore couch) so as to give the illusion of busyness to potential – seldom actual – customers. I thank the literary gods for this ‘work’ now as it was my key into the most intimate of relationships with some of my most adored and admired authors. Today, I thought I’d share snippets of those relationships with you…

Continue reading