Archive for the ‘Geeking out’ Category

I am currently studying millinery at CIT in Canberra, particularly Traditional Hat Blocking 1. It’s fab and I love it. I will do a post later on my first piece, a Fascinator. I am rather partial to  hats.

On the Canberra long weekend, we had our first writers’ retreat at Dweebenhiem. Formerly, we called them Donnacons, but as this one is at Dweebenhiem and host by Matthew as well as me, the nickname is (wait for it) Dweebenhiemcon. A bit of a mouthful. Technically, this retreat was organised by Nicole Murphy and Cat Sparks and they did most of the organsing. I mixed things up a bit by inviting a number of local writers to pop in for a morning, afternoon or as long they wanted.

I was a bit behind in my work so the first day was finishing off a revision, which I’ve sent of on submission now. And the next two days were spent drafting the first 6750 words of a new project. I’m meant to be working on that right now, but I’m overdue for a blog post and I have Chaos Bound by Rebekah Turner to finish reading upstairs, so I’m doing this instead.

The weekend was an intense affair. It was like having a party from Friday to Monday. Friday Cat and Nicole arrived as our houseguests and they were dropped here by Kaaron and Tehani, so we had dinner and a few drinks. It was so much fun. Then the next morning the writers arrived and then we had dinner and more drinks on Saturday night, same again Sunday and Monday, which might have been quiet, we celebrated Nicole’s birthday. Phew! Hectic. Nicole had organised different people to do lunch and dinner. Saturday the lovely Kimberley brought lunch, Sunday Shauna made delicious pumpkin soup and Kylie and Russell made roast lamb for dinner. Leife brought tiramisu! Which we ate before the roast because we’d be too full otherwise.

The fridge started to fill up but Matthew said it wasn’t a real retreat unless there was too much food. To celebrate on Monday we had pizza and cake and champagne. I’m hoping at least some of the retreatees got some wordage done. Poor Matthew was out for day one, laid up with a headache. I caught him a few times playing a game. But he assures me he did do some writing.

Cat Sparks put up photos on Facebook and Flickr. See the stream here.

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On the weekend, I was up at Supanova and managed to sit in on a question and answer session with Carrie Fisher, the lovely lady who played Princess Leia in Star Wars. While it was hard to hear everything she said due to the acoustics, it was great to hear her funny answers to what must seem like really mundane questions. For example, a little boy said. “Why aren’t you wearing your Princess Leia outfit?” to which she replied. “I’m sorry. I left it at  home, but I do wear it everyday around the house.”

Carrie Fisher also said that when she read the script for Star Wars she thought it was fantastic and that Han Solo had the best part. I agree with her there.

On the drive back to Canberra it got me thinking about Princess Leia and Carrie Fisher and the impact on my life.

I was 17 years old when I saw Star Wars. Yes, it was 1977 and I had just travelled to New Zealand to be with Dave, whom I later married. I remember the day well, as there’d been a movie strike and we heard last minute that it was over and that Star Wars was showing. Of course, the movie blew my mind. I was so excited and it was so wow. Big screen. Really big ships etc.

But last night I was thinking that Star Wars was the first time I’d seen a movie with a strong female character. I was brought up on Star Trek, Lost in Space and Dr Who. Even UFO had strong male leads and very little in the way of strong female leads. She grabbed guns, resisted torture, and had the good sense to fall in love with Han Solo.

Princess Leia’s character opened my mind up to the concept of a woman who could lead, of a woman who was smart and also funny. I was young yes, and I did want to be Princess Leia (I’ll own up to that). I wanted to be smart like her. I’d read a few of the tie in books and the novelisations of the movie and Leia was well-educated and clever. I remember in the 1980s I was at a screening of all three movies in NZ. A girl in the seat in front of me was commenting to the boys she was with. “As if boys would listen to what a girl would say, as if they’d take orders from her.” That comment stuck with me. It wasn’t alien to me that concept but it still was alien to her. She was a teenager. There you go.

Now turning my mind to Carrie Fisher, I see a woman who has had it good and has had it bad. But despite her challenges with drugs, with bipolar, with life in general, she hasn’t given up. She’s not curled up somewhere waiting to die. She fights back. She writes books, makes movies and writes and doctors scripts. She is clever and talented. When I was younger. When life was really tough. When I was poor, a single mother trying to make a better life for me and my kids, I used to say when life kicks you, get right back up and kick it back. I had to do that. I had to make myself continue on, to achieve, to get where I am now. Listening to Carrie Fisher reminded me of that. She fights back. Princess Leia fights back. That’s a strong message to send anyone. I hope she’s passed that on to the millions who are fans of Princess Leia and to those whose lives she touched at Carrie Fisher.

For the record, Carrie. You looked awesome in the metal bikini. You looked awesome in all the movies.

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