Tuesday, 23 October 2012


What a difference 47 years can make. That many years ago I travelled across the Hay Plain for the first time.  I did it again this week, but not in January and not in an Austin A30.  Pause for raised hands and sound bite of Handel’s Hallelujah chorus. This time we travelled in air-conditioned bliss and considerably faster than our old Austin had been capable of.  There was no sign of the hell I remembered. 

My 47 year old memory is of a dead straight road flanked by an occasional skeletal tree poking its deathly limbs into a sky as pale as an over-washed shirt. Nothing moved in the endless paddocks; not an animal or bird, neither farm vehicle nor human being.  On arriving in a township – whether that was Hay, itself, I can’t recall – dehydrated, exhausted and earnestly desiring deliverance from the hellish heat, we spotted an oasis of green behind a weatherboard building.  We hauled ourselves out of the car and collapsed onto the cool grass, flat out like lizards at a dripping tap.

My latest experience of Hay Plains was Paradise by comparison.  Sure, I did spot a farm with ‘Hell’s Gate’ blazoned across the entrance, but it was only a blip in a landscape swathed in a purple haze of Salvation Jane, which sported regular watering holes for drifting cattle and sheep, and which provided the backdrop for many emu, kangaroo and wombat, although I admit, quite a few were road-kill.  And then there was the township of Hay; neat, bustling, proud, with many shops and businesses operating from two storied heritage buildings, each one with its plaque detailing a colourful history of ownership, function and triumph over adversity.

This is not my home territory, but nevertheless I was filled with a sense of pride of place. My land, my people. I was overwhelmed, too, by a fresh appreciation that this land is yet another expression of God’s glorious provision for humanity. 

Wednesday, 3 October 2012


I’ve done it, by George I’ve done it! I submitted my book to a publisher.  It was like leaving one’s first-born at the school gate at start of term. Have I done enough to prepare him for this day? Will people like him? If they don’t, will he survive the experience? Actually, it was much harder than that. Waving off a child to school has undertones of ‘Yippee, freedom!’ (Yeah, yeah, I know I’m an un-natural mother. Love me, love my lack of maternal feeling!) But the freedom bug is never really allowed free rein because it’s all over in a few short hours and after a week you are inured to the delirium of free-flight, anyway.  There’s still the housework to be done, even if it is done quicker without junior underfoot.

Submit a manuscript, however, and you are sentenced to months on a high wire in the circus of the writer’s life.  Have I done enough? Will they like it? If they don’t, will I survive? Is it worth starting another book yet if, after many months, the publisher replies with ‘like this but requires some re-writing’? Should I let the new book idea incubate a little longer and concentrate on short stories until I know one way or the other? It’s exhausting keeping one’s balance on the wire.

I have decided to pretend the book has been accepted, requiring nothing more of me until I face the barrage of cameras and world fame at the celebrity book launch: a harmless fantasy if it allows me to get back to my computer and tackle the next project.  

But I might just indulge in a small siesta first.