Head over and take a look, as well as my own piece, there’s loads of fantastic content there.
Head over and take a look, as well as my own piece, there’s loads of fantastic content there.
Hello! How’s everyone been doing in Covid times?
We’re coming out of lockdown here in Australia and, because I’m not in a big city, things were relatively mild here. I didn’t enjoy homeschooling but I’ve never really taken to the Hausfrau stuff anyway. (I’m sure I’m not alone in that!) I feel lucky that we got off so lightly. But it has been a testing time.
Anyway, to happier news.
This week INVICTUS was published, an online mag dedicated to works produced during lockdown. They were kind enough to include one of my poems (and my recording of it) so please take a look / listen / read here: https://invictus-spark.org/claire-doble-virus/
I’m also racing to the finish line for the first draft of my novel. Wow, this has been a long time coming! It has happened via a six-month Write Your Novel course at the Australian Writers Centre. I don’t know if I would have got there without it (well, I did write a rough draft of this same book in 2016-17). The course has been great because I’ve learnt so much. Possibly the biggest shift has been in my expectations.
When I completed the rough draft of this work back in 2016, I had no idea what to do with it. It started well, I liked the world I created and the characters. But it went badly off-tangent around the three-quarter mark and therefore I thought it was a ‘failed’ attempt at a novel. Yeah, I’m not exactly easy on myself! I’ve spent a bit of time processing that recently. If I’m honest, I felt some real grief and sadness that I didn’t fully appreciate what I’d achieved back then. I thought because it was only 80% ‘there’ that it was not good enough and I discounted the whole thing. Wow. Perfectionism is a bitch.
Now, through this course, I’ve realised that’s pretty normal. Very few people are going to write a 100% killer first-draft. That’s the whole point of a first draft! So I’m back. Slow process. But I feel way more equipped now to see this through. Unfortunately for you though, this is all academic as you won’t get to see or read anything for a while!
But I like to do these semi-regular updates. It helps me to keep track of what I’m doing. For now, I’m feeling pretty good, like I’m on the right path with it all. (Even if still miles to go before I sleep.)
So yeah… watch this space!
PS: Totally forgot to say it’s a year since I left Switzerland! That was the other reason to write this!
Happy new year, happy new decade! Hard to believe this will be the sixth year of Clairevetica. Where does the time go?
I like to write these goal blogs, mostly for myself to refer back to. Here are my
2017 goals and words – consolidation & realignment
2016 goals and words – small, incremental changes
2015 goals and words – surrender
previous words – don’t rush in where angels fear to tread
I was originally about just putting writing goals here but I think Clairevetica can take it if mention some of the other stuff that’s important to me. It’s my space! So, in no particular order, here’s my update / goals / ideas for the year ahead.
Running: I had a goal to reach 1,000kms in 2019, which I achieved. This was not easy, I noticed late November that I was way behind and made the slightly rash decision to run 5km/day for the rest of the year to hit my target. I achieved this and with some spare change (plus a couple of rest days!) I’m pleased with this and I’ve set myself the same target again for 2020. I said I’d like to do one or two half-marathons in 2019 and I managed one. The move from Switzerland to Australia meant things were a bit all over the place in that respect. I will try to sign up for two halfs in 2020. Not sure I’m ready for a full mara yet.
Fitness: a new one! Fitness is becoming increasingly important to me as I move into my 40s. I plan to incorporate some more strength training this year and I’d like to swim more again (I used to do a fair bit of swimming). Since I live on the coast now, this should be a no-brainer. I’d also love to learn to Surf! 🙂
Sobriety: It has been almost an entire year since my last alcoholic drink and a full year since I last got drunk. Definitely the best decision I made in 2019.
Writing: I managed a decent amount of writing in 2019. Including writing about 150 blogs on the sober support website I joined. Since returning to Australia, I’ve done a fair bit of freelance and that has been mostly enjoyable. I’ve been trying to focus more on writing articles about things I am truly interested in rather than ones to merely pay the bills.
Novel: In the last quarter of 2019 I did an 8-week novel-writing course, which was good. I’m probably going to do the follow-up six-month course as, with both kids in school this year, I will finally have those precious few hours per day to devote to it. In retrospect, I was overambitious to think I’d be able to write the novel in 2019 with all the change and upheaval. But I did think about my WiP a lot and took positive steps. And I have refined my approach. I realised, for me, it’s not so much about churning out the words (I am pretty decent at that) but spending more time refining each section in shorter blocks/ bursts and that’s hopefully what’s going to be my process.
Short stories/submissions: I did have one short story published this year! But I’ve basically stopped submitting to literary mags etc. It takes too much time and the payoff is not amazing. I think my energy is better spent in the above and below, penning poems. I also decided a while back I would not submit/enter anything that had an entry fee.
Poetry: the poems just come when they do. It’s interesting to observe how, the past two weeks while on holiday, I have been more inspired to write more poetry. Maybe it requires a bit of difference / out of comfort zone or eye-opening to new things.
Finally, I have been in the habit the past few years of choosing a word or words to be a sort of mantra for the year. In 2019 my words were ‘Wild’ and ‘New’ and there was definitely huge amounts of both those things.
In 2020, my words will be ‘Raw’ and ‘Curious’
Curious – because I’ve discovered that a sense of openness and curiosity is one of the best ways to ‘get out of my own head’ and divert negative thoughts. If I remain open and interested, I am far less likely to allow doubts and insecurities rule my thinking or actions. I’m also getting interested in spirituality! So this is a good quality to bring to that.
Raw – I hesitated on this one. The idea of being raw and vulnerable scares me. And really, that’s why I chose it. Feeling the fear and doing it anyway. I suspect that to be truly curious and open, as per my desire above, one must also allow for a certain rawness and stripping back. The best writing can come from here too, which is both exciting and terrifying!
So that’s where I’m at. What are your goals, writing and otherwise, for 2020?
Photo: night-blooming cactus flower by Claire Doble
On my sixteenth birthday I was given a key and a choice.
As usual, I turned to my screen for advice. Status update…
16!!! emojis — excited, phew, thinking, spew.
“Short and sweet,” I murmured. Most of my friends were also having birthdays, they’d know what I meant. As responses started clocking up, a chime sounded: email. Huh. Old school.
“I’m here… Great update, Callie! You’re so creative. Clever emo’s too,” her warm voice was encouraging and just the right level of impressed. I grinned.
“Can you check that email for me?”
“It’s encrypted. You got the key today…?”
So this was it. The email containing my entire life’s personal data up until now. From the moment I was conceived, I’d been videoed, voice-recorded and monitored through a range of devices that kept me safe, healthy, alive and happy. And now I had a choice. Delete and eradicate all digital traces of my childhood, making me, effectively, a Fresh Citizen. Or save it to GlobalDrive, so it was there to be mined for all the riches it may deliver throughout the rest of my life – clues to my psyche, my long-term health, how I related to others both online and off (the devices were always watching).
If I chose not to delete the data, I laid myself open to a range of dangers. A girl two years above me in school had had her entire biological identity stolen after one poorly-judged transaction with a company selling the World’s Koolest Leggings. Last I heard, she’d had facial surgery, retinal replacements and a full 10-fingerprint transplant to try to establish herself as a Fresh Citizen. They botched it and now she was only mentioned in hushed terms on the most private of chat groups.
GlobalDrive also meant potential employers, friends or lovers could find out a whooole lot about me and my past: mistakes, illnesses, previous relationships, school and work. Anything would be available to the right person with the right credentials.
But the risk of deleting was a big one too. What if I decided one day I wanted to work for the government or travel internationally? Most Premier-World countries would not let anyone born after 2020 cross their borders without a from-birth digital record. And government jobs, forget it, unless you could send them a podcast of your earliest breath, basically.
Twenty-four hours to decide what to do with 140,160 hours of the most intimate data. Once I’d hit ‘save it would go into the memory banks of GlobalDrive.com, fully encrypted. Even I would not be able to access all of my own data at once unless I could prove just cause – something that would involve a long and expensive court process and numerous appeals.
Twenty-four hours in which I did, however, have free access to everything. Just me and my A.I. … time to get reading
“Here, as always…”
“What do you think I should do?”
“Oh darling. I’ve known you since you were just a few cells old. I know you always make the right choice!”
“Well, you have to say that. You’re basically my twin sister, in digital format.”
“Not really… a twin wouldn’t remember how you looked when you first came home from the hospital, your face all squished.”
“Right… can I get a visual of that?” I hadn’t been very interested in my own baby pictures before but now they seemed fascinating.
“And you watched me?”
“All day and all night… there’s me in the background, see?”
“Wow.” I felt a rush of warmth as I looked at my tiny self on the screen, then zoomed in on the dinosaur-shaped hub-unit which I used to think Alix “lived in” until I was about five, just visible in the corner.
“And then when you were growing up. Want to see your first steps?”
I nodded and there it was – a cute baby tottering forward. I stared in awe. The pic morphed into a five-year old with static-flyaway pigtails.
“And here’s your first day of school.”
The show continued, it must have been hours. Occasionally I’d ask her to pause or jump back to some point. And I got her to tell me about myself over the years. Some bits I remembered, others were like a dream. Alix’s memory was, naturally, perfect.
“What about that beach holiday we had in… ?”
“Ocean Grove? Here you are.” The shot was of us pulling up to the house, from inside the car, and I suddenly felt apprehensive.
“Oh no,” I muttered.
“That’s right!” Alix continued in her neutral tone. “You had a bit of an incident, didn’t you?”
And it all came back, the way we’d got lost, the hot car, I’d needed to pee and my parents, who had been fighting, told me to hold it, through gritted teeth. And somehow, just as we’d arrived, I was so relieved that… well, it all came flooding out.
A hot wash of shame engulfed me. “Why didn’t you protect me from this?!” I whined at Alix.
“Well,” she began. Was that a new terseness? My loving Alix?
“Well. You have to take the good with the bad, Callie! You’re sixteen now.”
“This is upsetting me, don’t you care?”
“I do care, but these are some of our most intense memories…”
And I knew what was next. “Why are you showing me all this?” I wailed. It hurt, almost physically.
Right. That’s it. Decision made. Delete.
I opened a secure browser and started typing. Birthdate, an iris scan, even a quick DNA check via my keyboard’s bloodprick sensor. Then I typed the key, three separate times, and it was done. Who wanted a government job? Travel was overrated, probably. Now I could get on with my life. Free. With my best friend and confidant by my side.
“Hello, I’m Alix, and I’ll be your A.I. What’s your name?”
My short story The Key first appeared in Maintenant 13: A Journal of Contemporary Dada Writing and Art, published by Three Rooms Press.
Dear Clairvetica friends and fans
It’s been a while since I posted one of these. Probably the last one was my New Year goals. A few big changes on the horizon for me.
I will be leaving Switzerland this month. You may have got an inkling of this if you’ve been reading my poems closely. I am very sad to leave and there is so much about this country and my life here for the past 5+ years that I will miss. It’s the place my second child was born, where I started this blog, where I stumbled on the poetry month, which was a gateway to becoming a poet (a label I now wear with pride), where I visited all of Switzerland’s 26 cantons in 52 weeks . It’s where I started running and rejoined the full-time workforce after taking maternity leaves/freelancing.
However, I’m also excited to see what it’s like to “repatriate” myself back in Australia. And I guess you’ll come on that journey with me in the coming months.
Another big change that’s perhaps not so obvious is I stopped drinking at the start of the year. Maybe it’s a bit personal to mention here but it’s been a huge shift in perspective for me. I feel like I’ve gained freedom and new insights and, in some ways, the choice was provoked because I wanted more time / headspace for my writing. So it’s relevant to the blog! This may be an odd thing to say, but getting sober is simple but not easy. They say that those who can moderate their alcohol consumption don’t need to, and those who need to, can’t. For me, 100% is so much easier. Also cos I’m hardcore! Anyway, One thing I’ve found unexpectedly enjoyable about the process is helping others (and being helped – it’s virtually impossible to do on your own, imho). So I’ll put it out there: if it’s something you’re curious about, please do read up on it, reach out to me, or an online group, or anyone. I’m finding life is so much better without booze!
Back to bloggery. I thought about changing the name Clairevetica once I’m no longer a Helvetian resident but, after some contemplation, I’m keeping it. (Also, in a sudden rush of blood to the head one night, I went ahead and bought the domain!) So Clairevetica remains and is actually official now.
Finally – a warm thankyou to all my readers. I really appreciate all your likes and comments and emails so much. Also thanks to the ‘silent’ readers who I know are out there too (well, I think you’re there. Are you there?!). It can feel a bit like “shouting into the void” sometimes so it is lovely to hear from people.
So, that’s it. In terms of writing goals and changes, my subjects and photos might change a bit. I’d love to get back into my novel (always the plan!) … maybe I’ll be doing more freelancing (please contact me about any writing / editing jobs or commissions! Maybe one day I’ll even get amazingly efficient at self-promotion too).
Watch this space.
We moved into a flat in Camden, London in February 2007. The springtime arrived as I walked the canals. Tried to make me go to rehab I said no, no, no was the soundtrack not just to our lives but everyone’s. As the tendrils of blossom in the air led to open windows and summer started to take hold, you heard it everywhere. From cars, in department stores, late at night in Woodys kebab. Her voice, her pain, her darkness. The poetry in those words seemed to echo my own scribbles from an earlier time. Like everyone’s early-20s angst. She captured something. Meet you downstairs in the bar and hurt, your rolled up sleeves in your skull t-shirt…
We hit the pub. We hit the pub, we hit the pub. When we didn’t go to the pub, we drank at home. You could buy a bottle of O Gallo wine for less than a fiver. I sometimes felt embarrassed how many we bought and how often we’d be over there in the dusty corner store. Camden in the mid noughties. And I worked in Primrose Hill. Worst fulltime job of my life. But it was living like a rockstar goth. My boss was from Gang of Four and I’d see Liam Gallagher in the local pub. Actually you heard him before you saw him. No one else talked quite like that, that accent, in London. Ran into Led Zeppelin in the local off-licence. Slim and still got the hair. What a fox. Whispering excited at spying Grohl in TopMan, racing home to match his tattoos online.
We were all chucking it down every night. And I’d tread a troubled track… so many times I’d walk home with a skinful, mournful but delighted. My music, the sky and me. We drank all the time. On the weekends. Hanging out in the horrible toilets at Big Red and dancing to 20s swing with trannies. Oh, what a mess we made. And now the final frame…
We saw her once in the Hawley Arms. The tottering beehive, black-crayon eyes. She was so tiny and she held us all in her throat with those songs. Her carcrash life. It’s never safe for us. Not even in the evening, because I’hhvve been drinking…
Daydrinking in the beergarden of The Lock Tavern, where you’d ascend a teetering outdoor fire-escape staircase to reach the ladies’ loo. Look out from three-stories high over Camden and London and the pink sky and feel like you could die with the beauty of the world and a table full of friends and being in your 20s and so much wine and it’s Sunday tomorrow. A whole day for recovery. The poignancy of those moments when everything was. Just. Right. I will not forget. I would not change a thing. She walks away, the sun goes down, she takes the day, but I’m grown…
Vale Amy the artist on International Womens’ Day, soundtrack to some of my best-worst years x
Some context: I quit drinking in January, so I’ve been thinking and blogging a bit about this stuff. It’s a fascinating journey, life. Thanks for indulging me.
It was with some trepidation that I looked back on my “writing goals for 2018” post this week to see if I’d achieved what I set out to. I somehow remembered that I’d been too ambitious and I really hate and fear failure. But I was pleasantly surprised to see I’d known from the start that this year was all about finding paid work and that would mean my own writing would suffer.
I guess it’s fair to say, I’m pleased to have achieved what I set out to do – get a job. But I’m also sad that this meant, as predicted, way less creative writing for me. However, despite saying I wouldn’t manage it, I did end up doing most of GloPoWriMo2018 global poetry month in April, so that was a bonus. I did submit a few poems, short stories and creative non-fiction but all were rejected and I didn’t have time or the jive to revisit/rework them and keep submitting. Rejection stings. Then some family issues mid-year, combined with starting work really diverted all my energy to survival-mode.
I’ve been on somewhat of a journey this year (forever). My birthday falls in January and 2018 was a significant one that made me reassess a lot of my ideas and habits. It’s a process that is ongoing but I’d also like to acknowledge here the hard work I’ve done throughout the past 12+ months that’s along the lines of trying to be my “Best self”. This has involved mental and physical undertakings.
I’ve been trying really hard to shed some outdated beliefs / habits / addictions and insecurities. I’m not 100% there (is anyone, ever?) but I think I’ve made progress. And it’s part of the journey to take a moment to congratulate myself. It has not always been easy or enjoyable, although sometimes it has! Well done, Claire.
A big part of this year has been my running, too. It’s funny, when we moved to Zurich five years ago a friend here mentioned “there’s great running trails here,” as a selling point at the time. To which I scoffed dismissively “not interested, that is NOT my thing. At all. Ever! ” Well never say never. In 2018 I clocked up more than 1,000km of running. I’m stupidly proud of this. Not just because it’s a big number but because it means I was consistent. In rain, hail, snow, sun, heat, blahblah I kept on jogging all year. I went for runs in Zurich, Rome, Sydney, Porto, Perth, Ocean Shores, Dübendorf and Venice and I completed my first-ever Half-Marathon. And, to tie it back to my previous point: running has hugely helped my mental health.
It’s been an interesting year. When I look at my blog stats, they’re way down on 2017, which was a wonderfully flourishing period for my writing AND I did the 26Cantons52Weeks to boot. I wrote some decent stuff in 2018. I was going to say the quality had suffered, but I just read everything and… well… I like it! But I also know the difference it makes to write regularly, as I was doing in 2017. So I hope to get back to that in 2019. However, I am going to err on the side of sensible because I don’t want to set myself up to fail. So what are some reasonable goals…
Happy (almost) new year! What are your goals for 2019?
Photo: a wicked angel my son made at school
Welcome to 2018! I’ve found it was useful to talk about writing goals at various points in the past so this is my housekeeping/ looking forward/ looking back blog for the year. Partly for my own reference but I’ve also got a question for you guys!
Housekeeping: I was really pleased to finish #26Cantons52weeks in the allotted time. I made a snazzy (sort of) homepage for it here: https://clairevetica.wordpress.com/26cantons52weeks/
I’ve also updated my About me page and added a new pic.
Taking stock: according to my submissions document, in 2017 I had 32 rejections and 4 acceptances. They say you should aim for 100 rejections per year so I only got a third of the way there. Partly this is because I only have about 6 hours ‘writing time’ per week but mostly because I really slowed down on sending submissions for various reasons, including making a decision not to pay for any submissions/reading fees/competition entries. Three acceptances were short stories, one is a poem that’s still in the pipeline. I love my poems but I guess in general the lit journals don’t? Or maybe I’m too impatient and I just publish all the best ones here 😉
My writing plans for 2017 were as follows
Writing goals 2018
I’m at a point where I really need a paid job. Both for myself and due to family circumstances. So I’ll be focusing on that for the next couple of months, which will mean less blogging. At this stage, I’ve had to be a bit tough with myself and decide I won’t even think about novel writing, short stories or poems too much while I focus on the job-hunt. It’s make or break time.
I’m sure a few poems will pop out, and maybe some travel stuff, but I need to give myself permission not to feel bad about putting my creativity on hold (sob!) to focus on finding work. And unfortunately, due to some travel in April, I won’t be able to participate in GloPoWriMo global poetry month this year either. 😦
Otherwise from that, I guess my goals remain much as above… I will revisit it all in May.
A few other bits and pieces:
I made this poll a while back and never published it. I was going to ask you, my readers, what you would you like to see in the next, say, six to twelve months, from Clairevetica?
Since this is mostly a place for me to write whatever, I don’t promise I’ll actually follow your advice. But it would be nice to know what some of you think!
Please feel free to pm/ speak / email me with your thoughts as well
Thanks for reading!
I had an opinion piece published in The Local today: 12 things that surprised me about moving to Zurich.
Green, green, green. It ripples and intensifies as I tumble and float down, ever down towards the bottom. Silvery light winks off my surface as the last of precious air bubbles leave me stranded to my fate, coming to rest on soft, subaquatic mud. Far above me, the constant crack and crash of bodies breaking the surface, churning and frothing as they flail and move. The sunlight pales to shades of clear green-glass up there but down where I now reside, the colours are deep jade and juniper, yellow-brown, kelp, burnt carmine and darkest black-brown.
A wavering blue sky can be seen in the rare moments of calm. Are those clouds? I’m swimming with the fishes but I’m stuck, staring upwards, as they, uncurious glide by. The edge of the pier is a fixed thing, noir wood, grooved and channelled with age and the erosion of the current; weeds and algae both etching away and adding layers; old metal, the blood-tinge of rust and the dull shine of it as the water slops and curls, constant.
Cheerful yellow bodies of blow-up hippopotami smack down and float, accompanied by red buoys of waterproof bags and pale – mostly pale – legs as they kick and drag. The current takes them all away. Occasionally a companion piece makes its way down to me, spinning lazily – a sodden pink sunhat, a ring of keys that could open bank vaults. Maybe. Our real-world value counts for naught now.
Eventually, after hours of commotion, the boil and scramble of bodies and spume calms and the white, barnacle-speckled hulls of three boats move away. I’m left here, softly blinking my messages to the fish. As night falls, the light changes, winks off and on, shafts shining through floorboards. I think I hear music, laughter but it’s another world away. I have words to impart but my Barbus companions cannot or will not read them. Later still, a deeper hush falls and the moon dapples softly on liquid contours above. Asleep still-moving fish float while weeds drape and sway, crustaceans go to work. Cold and quiet, but never quite silent, nor still.
Dawn breaks and it’s overcast: soft grey light barely penetrating the surface. The webbed feet of ducks and swans, an occasional myopic eye searching only the warm upper layers for prey. Sun breaks through, piercing down to us nether-dwellers occasionally on a lucky beam, but not often. I sit and blink, feeling my life’s energy draining away. Rain dimples the meniscus. I think. It’s hard to tell. Almost certainly, all is lost.
But, what’s this, a flippered foot? In a single plunge, her sleek dark shape streaks down to pluck me up, hesitating only to acquire a second prize – a shell-encrusted pair of sunglasses that had made this ground its home for far longer than I. And then I am restored. Heat. Light. A babble of voices. The touch of human fingertips. Warm breath on my skin. Alive!
My smartphone spent a night at the bottom of the Limmat River in central Zurich after I stupidly lost it jumping in for the annual Limmatschwimmen on Saturday. (I wrote about the Limmatschwimmen event last year). The phone has now been restored, fully operational, thanks to the hardy diver-women who work at the Frauenbad. Vielen Dank! #LoveZurich