I was thrilled to be invited to talk on a panel of local authors — billed as ‘local treasures’ no less — at the National Conference of the Children’s Book Council of Australia. Motherhood and Mayhem was our topic — with three kids aged three to almost 11 could there be any literary panel more perfectly aligned with my life?
What any of us said on the day is a bit of a blur. There were lots of laughs, I remember that. And it was a joy to share the stage with Tania McCartney (Chair), Stephanie Owen Reeder and Tracey Hawkins. I somehow managed to cleverly position myself in front of the wine (what we all need at the end of the day) and perhaps not so cleverly in front of Tracey’s body parts (she’s an ex-cop and has been known to take inspiration from her former life).
I’ve never seen a panel on this topic before but last year when the four of us started discussing what we might do it seemed like an obvious choice. There are so many women out there trying to balance the need to write with the needs of family. And both are needs. If only the washing did itself, or writing paid enough to hire an in-house chef. One can dream.
The question we all constantly get asked is, ‘How do you do it?’ I’m still not sure that I have an answer. What I do know is that I never stop. And I’ve got very good at wearing blinkers to shield me from the housework when I have a precious hour or two in which to write.
The response to the panel was wonderful (and to the lady who said that I don’t look old enough to have an 11 year old — bless you a thousand times!). We knew when we were planning our topic that everyone could relate in some way or another to the challenges of multitasking. Lots of the teacher librarians came up to say that the whole juggling act was familiar territory managing classes of children. And then there were the mother/writers who sat in the audience nodding in recognition.
I stumbled across this summary of the conference and love that we get a mention under the heading ‘Cool Canberra author chicks’! Angela Moyle goes on to say, ‘What a revelation!…These awesome ladies…have inspired me to make the time to write, and stop making excuses!’ Well now, that just makes me happy.