The Flaneuse (Female Walker Writer)

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Up until recent years, I used to walk around the city, alone – all the time.

I used to work in the CBD (Central Business District) and other than walking to and from my office building, I would spend lunchtimes and after business hours walking around the streets of Melbourne.

I was engaged in the city whilst observing it – two polarities joined.

Sometimes I felt like the untethered explorer, whilst other times I felt a foreboding danger and retreated to the safety of a heavy populated cafe or shopping district.

During these times I would sometimes jump on and off trams and trains to see what I could find.  Sometimes, I would discover some well known artist’s graffiti on a brick wall or an independent retailer selling exotic homemade wares and even a budding musician busking in a underground train-station.

Now, I make an effort to go into the city and visit certain landmarks with purpose.   I am more aware of my surroundings as I take precaution whilst observing as much as I can take in, for inspiration.  I never knew how important it was for me to walk, observe and use that to fuel my imagination until I stopped and then went back to it.  I didn’t realise that like some of my favourite authors, I am a Flaneuse and my hometown is my muse.

(c) T. Altman 2016

What Inspires Me: Anne Sexton

A writers life can be a solitary undertaking but it doesn’t mean you are alone…

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A Witch’s Life

When I was a child
there was an old woman in our neighborhood whom we called The Witch.
All day she peered from her second story
window
from behind the wrinkled curtains
and sometimes she would open the window
and yell: Get out of my life!
She had hair like kelp
and a voice like a boulder.

I think of her sometimes now
and wonder if I am becoming her.
My shoes turn up like a jester’s.
Clumps of my hair, as I write this,
curl up individually like toes.
I am shoveling the children out,
scoop after scoop.
Only my books anoint me,
and a few friends,
those who reach into my veins.
Maybe I am becoming a hermit,
opening the door for only
a few special animals?
Maybe my skull is too crowded
and it has no opening through which
to feed it soup?
Maybe I have plugged up my sockets
to keep the gods in?
Maybe, although my heart
is a kitten of butter,
I am blowing it up like a zeppelin.
Yes. It is the witch’s life,
climbing the primordial climb,
a dream within a dream,
then sitting here
holding a basket of fire.

 

 

What Inspires Me: Second Hand Book Stores

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It was Virginia Woolf who in her essay “Street Haunting” said:

“Second-hand books are wild books, homeless books” 

Well they can come home with me and be tamed because I absolutely love second hand books – they have so much character!

When I have the chance I like to peruse though second hand bookstores.  Due to my addiction to books,  I rarely ever leave a second hand book shop empty handed.

I especially love coming across books with dedications at the beginning of the book as well as personal annotations on the side of pages which highlight some important point to the reader.  I find these even more precious the older they are and it makes me wonder why and how these books with so much personal attachment to them, made it to me.

If you can, visit your local second hand book store and rescue a wild book!

(C) T. Altman 2016

 

 

 

 

Go Read Something…

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Other than my mother who greatly influenced my love of reading, growing up – I was surrounded by people who didn’t read for pleasure or personal growth.   I, however spent a significant amount of time reading for the love and knowledge.

I know people who say they haven’t read a book since they were forced to in school and that boggles my mind because I couldn’t imagine that myself.  A couple of these same people have then gone out and read the Twilight or 50 Shades trilogies due to the hype in the media and think its the best literary creations they have ever come across (simply because they haven’t exposed themselves to reading anything else).  I completely disagree but the way I look at it is that at least they are reading SOMETHING!

I personally believe you need to exercise your brain and reading does that.

Regardless of the book being good or not according to best seller lists, reviews, recommendations or the like – just do it – read a book and expand your mind as its never too late to do that!

 

 

What Inspires Me: Elizabeth Harrower


I went and saw Elizabeth Harrower speak this past weekend at the Melbourne Writers Festival, about her coming back to the land of literature.

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Elizabeth is someone I can relate to as she’s aged she speaks the unabated truth, yet retains her passion with writing.  I also love the fact she unapologetically states she didn’t cultivate people or write for others.  To me that is why I love being a writer – for my own need to create and not for others.

Here are a few of her quotes from her talk which resonated with me:

“I had this great need to communicate with people.”
– on why she became a writer.

“If you are going to write it has to matter to you”
– on what you should focus on as a writer

Elizabeth Harrower – September 4th 2016, Melbourne Australia