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The 2017 List of Unlisted Writers

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Somewhat surprisingly, I did not make this list of Task Things in 2017 (written by my youngest child).

When I wrote my last post, I honestly thought my list would have end up having just one name on it and one name alone: my own.

But then the list started to grow. Some people put their own names forward. Other people put forward the names of deserving friends.

Without further ado, here is a list of writers who were unlisted in 2017 but who continued to find joy in the act of writing and do it anyway:

Karletta Abianac
Jacie Anderson
Lou Bromley
Deborah Crabtree
Elizabeth Jane Corbett
Tracey Gregory
Troy Hunter
Karen McKnight
Karen Lee
Marissa Margaret
Caitlin McGrath
Francesca Meehan
Imbi Neeme
Sarah O’Bern
Amra Pajalic
Rachel Sanderson

Clive Wansbrough
Claire Weigall

Even if this is the only list I make in 2018, I’ll be glad. This list is good company.

If you or anyone you know deserves to be on this list, please let me know before December 31st 2017 via email imbi.neeme@gmail.com or in the comments below. 

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A List Of My Own

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This unfinished blanket was also not listed in 2017.

It’s that time of year when people like to make lists. Lists of things to do, things to buy and things make. Lists of best books, movies and albums. Lists of must-see TV and must-have gadgets and must-avoid foods. Lists of lists.

Throughout the year, there have been other kinds of lists. Lists for unpublished manuscripts and emerging writers. Longlists and shortlists, commended lists and winners lists. I tried to get on some of those lists, maybe six or seven of them, but didn’t make a single one. I know, from previous experience, that being on a list feels really, really good. Unless it’s a hit list, of course. That probably feels rubbish.

But listen: I feel incredibly proud of the writing I’ve done in 2017. In between the cracks of my busy life, I’ve managed to revise one manuscript from second draft to fifth draft, as well as write a first draft of a whole other novel. I’ve continued to back my own writing by submitting it for awards and prizes and sending it to publishers. And even while I was weathering the not-very-highs and really-quite-lows of being an unpublished novelist, I managed to still feel joy every time I sat down to write.

And that, I believe, is truly list-worthy.

This year, on Friday 22 December, I am going to announce my own list. It will be a list of writers who didn’t get listed in 2017 but who kept writing anyway. My name will be on it. If you want your name – or someone else’s name – to be on it, too, please email me – imbi.neeme@gmail.com 

 

 

 

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The secret blanket

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I’ve been secretly working on a blanket for my daughter since March. When I say ‘secretly’, I’ve actually been working on it right next to her on the couch each evening but because I’m her mother, she hasn’t shown any interest whatsoever in what I’m doing.

Having dedicated three-quarters of my life to the creation (and ongoing maintenance) of the queen-sized Forever Blanket, I thought a single blanket would be easy-peasy, something I could knock together in a couple of afternoons.

I thought wrong.

After five months, I’m only halfway through the blanket with seven weeks remaining until my daughter’s thirteenth birthday.  I’ve decided that only possible way to finish it in time is by giving up work and sleep. Also showering, as it’s surprisingly difficult to crochet whilst under running water.

But listen, the looming deadline is not the biggest problem here. The biggest problem is that the girl I started making the blanket for last March, the girl I chose the colours and pattern for, is now a different girl altogether. Now, she’s a girl with a boyfriend and an attitude, a girl who would rather write in her journal in her room than sit next to me on the couch. A girl who is becoming a woman. This new girl is more likely to cloak herself in mystery and clothing from Dangerfield than a blue and yellow afghan flower blanket made by her mother.

Of course, I love this new girl. I love her sass and her strength and her fierce independence. I even love her Instagram stories, even though I can’t pretend I understand them.

But seriously, could she stop growing up until I’ve finished this goddam blanket?

 

 

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My manuscript is a little boat

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My manuscript is a little boat.

I built it myself by hand, using all my skills and some stuff I looked up on the internet.

My manuscript is a little boat.

I keep gently pushing it out to sea but it keeps coming back to me.

Sometimes, it’s because I need to fix things on it. The sail is torn, the rudder isn’t ruddering, or the crew’s names are all too similar and nobody can tell them apart.

Sometimes, it just comes back to me because it wasn’t heading in the right direction or I didn’t push it hard enough.

Sometimes, I’m annoyed to see it return.
“Oh, for fuck’s sake. You! Again!”

Sometimes, I’m sad to see it and I crawl up inside its little cabin and have a really good cry.

Sometimes, I’m philosophical.
“Oh well. I guess that sea was choppier than it looked, eh?”

And sometimes I’m quite happy to see it.
“Oh! I remember you! ” I say,  and then I take some time to admire the bits of it that I built well, ignoring the shoddy bits that I fudged and the crew with the indistinguishable names.

My manuscript is a little boat that I’ll keep pushing back out to sea until one day, its sails will catch the right wind to take it where it needs to go.

Either that, or I’ll just accept that I need to scrap the whole thing and repurpose the good bits for another little boat I’m building.

After all, I’m a builder of little boats and not a sailor.

 

 

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Crochet-as-metaphor-for-novel-writing

I’m going to come out and say what you’ve all been thinking: there are not enough blog posts out there labouring this whole ‘crochet-as-metaphor-for-novel-writing‘ thing. Certainly not on this ‘crochet-as-metaphor-for-novel-writing‘ blog, which has lain fallow for almost a year. Oh the shame of it all.

So here is an update on where I am with my novel writing, as represented by some of my crochet projects. You know, because crochet-as-metaphor, etc, etc.

MANUSCRIPT #1: THE HIDDEN DRAWER
Two strangers exchange messages about their unhappy married lives in the suburbs via a hidden drawer in a cafe table, unaware that there is someone else reading them.

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This manuscript is like the Forever Blanket. It took me forever and to you, the casual observer, it looks finished. But then, you get up close and you see shit like this:

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And then someone, maybe me, tells you how I have to keep emergency yarn in my bedside table drawer so that I can fix it in the all the places it keeps unravelling and how I sometimes have to do this as I’m trying to go to bed, and you realise how stupidly flawed the whole thing is.

Maybe ‘The Hidden Drawer’, like the Forever Blanket, will never be finished-finished but maybe that’s okay because I learnt so much in the making of it.

Maybe.

But I’ll keep trying to fix it, because I’m stubborn like that. Also, I love it.

MANUSCRIPT #2: OUT OF WATER
A woman finds a wedding ring at the beach and shares it on Facebook in the hope of finding its owner. But as she uncovers a secret relationship, the tragic death of a child and the bizarre end of a man in a home-made fish suit, she realises the ring isn’t the quite the gift she thought it would be.

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This manuscript, which I had just started at the time of my last blog post, is now in its third draft and was recently sent out into the world in four different directions. Like this baby blanket, it still needs tidying up. Also, I’m not entirely convinced that it’s big enough.

But for the moment, I’m not going to do anything else on it. Certainly, with the blanket, I won’t finish it off until the baby it’s been made for has been safely delivered into this world. And with the manuscript, I’ll just wait and see where and when it lands before I open that particular Scrivener file again.

MANUSCRIPT #3: EACH OTHER (working title)
A car overturns on a remote West Australian road. Nobody is badly hurt, but the impact is felt by the two sisters involved for decades afterwards.

FullSizeRenderThis manuscript is like this new blanket project: a small, random selection of messy-looking squares that I’ve half-heartedly started stitching together, in the full knowledge that I’ve only completed 10% of the squares I’ll ultimately need to do before I can even begin to call it a blanket.

MANUSCRIPT #4: [Title completely unknown]
Something about postcards. 

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This manuscript is very much like this future crochet project, where very little is known about it except that I think I might like to use this orange yarn from Morris & Sons.

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Where are we now, where are we now?

Remember how I got excited because my novel got commended for the VPUMA‘s last year? Well, it turns out that thing wasn’t a novel at all, it was only the first draft of a novel. A mere shadow of the vague thought of a novel, if you will.

However, you may be interested to know that a few months – and drafts – later, I was selected for the Hachette/Queensland Writers Centre Manuscript Development Program and now, in May 2106, I’m now looking down the barrel of Draft Seven and might just be ready to call it an Actual Novel.

In the meantime, I have made this:

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And this:

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And this:

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I have also embarked on the first draft of a mere shadow of a vague thought of another novel. Now, before anyone suggests that this means I should embark on another Forever Blanket as well, I’m going to fix you all with a steely gaze that unequivocally says “Back off, motherfuckers. This girl’s gotta write.”

Bonus points for anyone who picked up the Bowie reference in this post’s title. For the record, his passing still hurts. 

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Are we there yet?

Ever finished a 256-square blanket and laid it gently across your bed only to discover it should, in fact, be a 289-square blanket?

Ever written a novel with the aim of submitting it for an unpublished manuscript award and then getting to the other side of the award and realising you still have to get the damn thing published?

It’s enough to make a girl put down her crochet hook and her manuscript and take up something altogether different, like planking. And yes, I know that’s an outdated cultural reference but I’ve been busy writing a novel, you know.

Still, it’s not all bad.

My manuscript made the the judges’ commended list for the 2015 Victorian Premier’s Unpublished Manuscript Award. And my Forever Blanket is looking like this:

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So the answer to the question “Are we there yet?” is “No, but we’re getting closer. So here, have some more car snacks and shut the hell up.”