Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Worst Christmas ever

I love Christmas. I think I love it more as an adult than I did when I was a  child but I can't really remember what I thought when I was a child. I love Christmas because it is a celebration of everything good. It represents the things we all want from life. Hope, peace and happiness. It is meaningful because of Christ. For me, nothing is meaningful without Jesus.

Sadly, Christmas like all things in this corrupt and fallen world has become, for many people, a sad time. For example, people who have had bad things happen at Christmas: loss of loved ones, relationship breakdowns etc. Someone told me recently that she did not want to put up a Christmas tree because it brought bad luck, and I scoffed even as I struggled, and am struggling to find joy this Christmas. I'm trying but it's really hard.

In 1991 I was alone in Thailand where they do not celebrate Christmas. That was my worst Christmas. I fear this year will surpass it. My personal life is a mess, and I am unhappy most of the time. The extreme emotional highs and lows I have experienced this year have left me jaded and anxious about the future. I have made some bad decisions this year and I am living with the consequences of those choices. I have to accept this, and try to find myself again. I have to remember who I am in Christ.

I pray that things will get better and I believe they will, but it's hard. Very hard. Peace, happiness and hope. God help me to have a Merry Christmas. Maybe I should stop thinking about myself so much.

Friday, December 12, 2014


Lovesick is proving a difficult creature to handle. I finished chapter 15 this morning and chapter 16 is already complete, but it really isn't flowing. I'm attempting something different with this, my fifth novel, experimenting a little with structure, and while I have a strong overall sense of the narrative and a very strong main character (in my humble opinion), it has been tricky to assemble the pieces. I'm enjoying the challenge but it's taking longer than I anticipated. A Muddy Red River which will be available from Rogue Phoenix Press in 2015, was easy to write.

I'm excited to see how Lovesick will develop. I'm also excited to see how readers react. I don't know how much more I have to write. Despite having a chapter outline, my novel, like all novels, is a living thing so it grows and changes, and I go with it. In that way it resembles its author: a work in progress.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

You Only Live Twice

Here are some different perspectives on life and death for you to consider:

"So we only get one chance, can we take it?And we only got one life, can't exchange it." -Age of Innocence by Iron Maiden

"You only live twice: once when you are born and once when you  look death in the face." - Japanese proverb

"It is appointed unto to men to die once and then face the judgement." - Hebrews 9:27

Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die." - John 11:25,26

"Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word he will never see death." - Jesus Christ (John 8:51)

The fact that I have included three quotes supporting the Christian world view tells you where I stand, but I think most people, including many professing Christians, live according to the Iron Maiden lyrics. It is said that what you believe about death determines the nature of your life. Interesting theory but I'm not sure there is much evidence for it in reality.

People sing songs about living life to the full because it's all there is but they don't live that way. People who have near death experiences receive a second chance: the second life as presented in the Japanese proverb which Ian Fleming quoted in his James Bond novel. However, many of them also lack a true eternal perspective on life.

I believe that although my body will die, my soul is immortal. Jesus will give me a new imperishable body in which I will live forever in Heaven where there are no tears, and no pain or suffering. This is the hope which both sustains me and inspires me.

What are your thoughts on the after life, or perhaps you agree with the late business tycoon, Kerry Packer who, after he was brought back to life after a massive heart attack, famously said, "I have been to the other side mate, and there's nothing there."

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Post Nuptial Assessment 5

I wonder if there would be less racists if more marriages were interracial.You may have a view on that. You may be one of those strange people who live in the global village of the 21st century yet still believe in the superiority of one race over another, or one of the moderately more understandable people who fear what they do not know or understand, and therefore avoid, denigrate and discriminate against those who are different.

What is the connection to my cousin's wedding? He and his new wife recently returned from their honeymoon in New York. Now there's a city which knows something of cultural diversity and yet within multicultural societies, like New York and Sydney, the seeds of xenophobia thrive. What can prevent the weed of racism from strangling the flowers of interracial love and harmony?

My cousin married an Indonesian lady so the wedding not only joined two people together, but also brought two cultures together. People had travelled from far and wide to attend the wedding: from Indonesia, the United States, the Northern Territory and Victoria. They came together for one purpose and differences meant nothing. What differences may have divided were forgotten, and those which were manifested like the Indonesian dancers who performed for the wedding guests, only served to enrich the experience for everyone.

Sensible people acknowledge that life is enhanced significantly by diversity. An appreciation of, and respect for other cultures makes life more interesting, and facilitates harmony. Generally people marry people from their own race, their own ethnic background and although perfectly understandable, this promulgates separateness, and strengthens the tribe mentality. Tribes by nature war against each other. 

Most people want peace but either ignore, eschew and resist those things which lead to peace. Are more interracial marriages the key to the destruction of racism? It can't hurt, can it?

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Friday, November 28, 2014

We Interrupt This Program

Gripped as you no doubt are by the post nuptial assessment series, I must interrupt it to bring you a W.A.S on my W.I.P. Or in words less acronymonic (new word I just invented), I want to update you on the progress of what will hopefully be my fifth novel, Lovesick. I have now completed 15 chapters and am working on chapter 16. 

I have also made a lot of progress with organisation. Lovesick is being put together in the same haphazard way that Loathe Your Neighbor was which means I need to spend a lot of time concentrating on the timeline. However, I just write chapters as they come to mind. If I have to figure out later how the chapters fit together so be it. I don't have preconceived ideas how about to put my novels together, I just write.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Post Nuptial Assessment Part 4

Curzon Hall on Agincourt Road in Marsfield, Sydney was built in 1898 by businessman Harry Smith and named after his wife Isabella Curzon-Smith. Designed by David Thomas Morrow, it is a large castle-like manor in neo-Romanesque style (for the architecturally inclined) which is now a function centre, and was last Saturday the magnificent setting for my cousin's wedding reception. This beautiful old building actually hosted three other weddings that night, and it is clear from the moment you drive into the wonderfully manicured garden surrounds why it is so popular as a wedding venue.

Curzon0134.jpgThe Smith family lived at Curzon Hall until 1921. Following its short life as a family home, it was a Catholic seminary for 60 years, and then commenced its current incarnation as a wedding/function centre. It reeks of class, history and money. One look at the superbly crafted high ceilings tells you everything.

Weddings are big business requiring huge investments of time and money, but the emotional investment far exceeds the hours and the dollars. Marriage is a lifelong commitment which forms the cornerstone of society and therefore requires more than the husband and wife alone can provide. It is unsurprising that with around half of all marriages ending in divorce, society is commensurately impoverished. Sad but true.

Nevertheless, the ideal of marriage remains something to which most people aspire. We lament those unions which fail, but we never let go of the dream of lifelong love and happiness. That's why I love weddings because they best represent the pillars of humanity: faith, hope and love.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Post Nuptial Assessment Part 3

A harpist (if that's what you call a person who plays a harp) played John Legend's All of Me during the signing of the registers at my cousin's wedding. 

A small team of photographers skittered around inside the chapel, and at the end of the service, as the bridge and groom were leaving, their leader stood up on the mezzanine and had the whole congregation pose for an aerial view group shot. 

The priest loudly whispered instructions to the wedding party, and also the wedding vows for the bride and groom to repeat. There was no sermon but Father 'I didn't catch his name' talked to the congregation like a kindly grandfather would talk to his grandchildren, and he made me smile.

As Maria said, 'these are a few of my favourite things.' 

It was a very relaxed ceremony, although the groom's face at the beginning where a storm of emotion twisted his face, and the bride's inability to remember lines just given to her by the priest might have suggested otherwise

Not for a moment during the service did I want to be anywhere else. I consider, in hindsight, the bride and groom and how they might have been thinking about 'getting through the day' rather than savouring every second of it. I hope the latter was true for them. It makes me wonder how often we miss the full enjoyment of now because of wishing we were somewhere else. Either anticipation or dread, or simply a desire not to be present, steals chunks of our lives which we cannot have again. What a waste. What a shame.

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