2011 has been a tough year but not without highlights. Some of these include:
– Dawn over the wetlands at Kakadu
– Visiting Pascoe Vale Girls’ College for the Premiers’ Reading Challenge. Best crowd ever and I can proudly say all the library copies of my books had been stolen.
– Building friendships with other authors; I’m blessed to get to hang out with some truly fantastic people with wonderful, magical minds.
– Getting a short story published in The New Paper Trails
– Cadel Evans winning the Tour de France
– Lunchtime in the library at MacKillop College in Werribee, hanging out with the Book Clubbers and signing copies of Five Parts Dead for many more students than the teachers expected.
– A new bike
– Good friends and family
– Doing a masterclass in writing graphic novels and comics. (How cool is it that classes like this exist?)
– Clare Bowditch’s Eva Cassidy tribute show (made me cry)
Next year I’ll strive to avoid fulltime work and submerge myself in writing again.
Other favourites experienced during 2011:
TV: Deadwood; Friday Night Lights; season 5 of Skins; Bored to Death; 30 Rock reruns
Movies: Murundak: Songs of Freedom; Red Dog; Harry Potter finale; The Ides of March
Reading: Jeph Loeb’s Batman: Hush series; Glenda Millard’s beautiful The Naming of Tishkin Silk; Craig Thompson’s Habibi (Wow!); Derek Landy’s The Death Bringer; Scot Gardner’s The Dead I Know
Music: Wilco’s The Whole Love; Bon Iver’s trippy self titled album; vintage Springsteen; the Jezabels generally.
To everyone who has visited and engaged with this irregular blog, read my books, followed me on Twitter or supported me in other ways, you have my profuse thanks. May the new year bring you adventure, love and laughter.
My colleagues thought I was a bit (more) pathetic (than usual) last week when I downed tools and headed into the city to join the Cadel-ebration in Federation Square. It was a spontaneous decision to attend (many apologies to the interviewer who I inadvertently and absent-mindedly stood up by making that choice) but here’s the gist of my rationale:
1. My cycling mates and I got truckloads of pleasure watching Cadel win the Tour De France. What a race he rode!
2. What if the turn-out was poor? I’d hate it Oprah Winfrey could pull a bigger crowd in sports-mad Melbourne than a local hero.
3. I rarely take a lunch break. Time to smash that tradition.
So I turned up, joined the throng and found myself more than 300 metres from the stage. Even the Premier looked tiny at that range.
What made it all worthwhile was the look on Cadel’s face when he took the stage. I don’t know him personally – only from reading his blog, book and various media appearances. He strikes me as a humble, honest and thoughtful bloke who would prefer to avoid the spotlight – and has struggled in its glare in the past. On Friday, he couldn’t stop smiling.
When the ever impressive ABC radio journalist Gerard Whateley asked Cadel if he’d “had a moment of true satisfaction that you’ve achieved what you set out … to do?”, Cadel’s answer was: “Yeah, right now.” That made joining the yellow crush meaningful.
I’ve written before about how the Tour De France serves up a soap opera every stage. There are daily subplots, adding drama to the main story. I could write many a paragraph on the epic narrative of the 2011 race and the characters involved.
I won’t. Instead I’ll finish with a quote from Cadel that should have wider application, especially to authors. Gerard Whateley asked Cadel about a 1998 prediction he could be the first Australian to win the Tour de France – and how long it took to believe it. Cadel answered thus:
“Let’s say at first I hoped. And then I worked. And then I started to believe. And then I was convinced. And then finally I could prove myself.”
You can read the whole interview here.
Athletes everywhere have to contend with armchair experts spewing out critiques implying they could do the job better. Cadel Evans seems to attract more than his share of brickbats, partly because Australian sportsfans have come to expect not just medals but gold medals. Maybe it’s because he can also come across as cranky – not that such a trait is unprecedented in Australian sport. When we like these folk, cranky is spun as feisty. And when they’re winning, we forgive all manner of perceived sins.
Anyway, hopefully the critics are eating some humble pie now that Cadel is world champion in road racing. Here’s a link to a good piece from one journo who has graciously, re-appraised the dogged champ.
I think Cadel is a great story, a real case of succeeding against the odds through utter G&D (guts and determination). I cycle regularly and I certainly couldn’t do what he does, month-in, month-out and, I believe, free of performance-enhancing substances. He has my respect. And congratulations. As do the entire Australian team for the race. It’s a great result.