Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Part Two: Question time

More questions!?

In last month’s blog I let you all know that the draft copy of my book is being read by six very important people whose opinions I value to help shape the final edit. Therefore, this month’s blog is going to have a slightly different feel to previous blogs, which I am very excited about. And I hope you are too. My good friend and sister from another mister – Lisa – suggested that each of my six readers should ask the author (me!?) a question about the story. So below is the second part of the resulting Q&A with my sample readers, and I hope it gives you all a little insight into the actual project itself!

Are situations that arise in the book dealt with differently than how you would have dealt with them in real life?

This is a tricky one to answer without giving too much away. Essentially, yes. Although I would say that Sarah is a little like me in terms of her initial journey – the uncertainty of her feelings, suppressing what she felt and not being able to say things out loud. Her development is that she became more forward and more certain about herself. I would say as her character develops she is much braver and bolder than I would be. I guess she is a vision of how much you can achieve if you follow your own values and stay true to yourself.

Do you think that Sarah being in Australia is the reason she was able to realise things, as she was removed from friends and family? (Sarah is originally from the UK)

This is a good question and perhaps helps explain why I did draw upon personal circumstance for some elements of the story. I was lucky to grow up in a time where the world was slowly changing their opinions on homosexuality, but speaking from experience, being a teenager in the early 90s openly saying you were gay was still hard. I was closeted until I was 22 years old but I knew I liked girls well before that. However, I didn’t openly admit it to myself until I came back from my own travelling experience.

It might explain why I decided to opt to have the book based around travelling, not just for the obvious metaphor of discovery but because you are out of your comfort zone and finally on a path of realising who you are and what you like. You have a lot of time on your own and meeting lots of new people who show you lots of things about yourself. So I am biased in this opinion, also as the writer of Sarah’s fate, but yes, I do think that the distance and being out of her comfort zone helped highlight to Sarah who she was and who she was truly attracted to rather than the influence and perceived acceptance of those she loves.

What was the motivation behind the change in the ending of the story?

My original idea for this book came to me just before I was at university, which was a long time ago now! My initial version was how I wanted the story to end when I was 23 years old. I am now 36 so a lot has changed! When I ended the book the first time round I was over the moon but I had this sub-plot idea which didn’t really fit the story or its ending. However, once I let the goal of finishing the story settle and I read back through what I had written, I realised it could be so much better. My cousin Gareth helped strip it all back by giving me some constructive comments and also some other literature to read to help develop my idea.

In a reference to previous blogs, I met someone earlier this year who used to ask: ‘What do you want?’ ‘What do you dream of?’ ‘What are your goals?’ and ‘What have you learnt?’ It slowly made me realise a few things about myself and I realised my character had not learnt anything and was essentially written through the eyes of a young naïve 23 year old, as I was then. The whole situation taught me a lot about self-worth and respect, mainly through losing one and not demanding the other. So I knew the ending had to change to ensure the protagonist had developed and to also accommodate an original idea which I actually think acts as an excellent metaphor. I guess to find out what I mean, well, you’ll have to read the book.

Written by Corina Hawkins, soon to be author of ‘Tattoos of memories’ and creatively bossed by Lindsey Barnett.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Part One: Question time

Dah dah! Question time

In last month’s blog I let you all know that the draft copy of my book is being read by six very important people whose opinions I value to help shape the final edit. Therefore, this month’s blog is going to have a slightly different feel to previous blogs, which I am very excited about. And I hope you are too. My good friend and sister from another mister – Lisa – suggested that each of my six readers should ask the author (me!?) a question about the story. So below is part one of the resulting Q&A with my sample readers, and I hope it gives you all a little insight into the actual project itself!

In the book you make lots of references to various songs. Are the songs you refer to ones that have had a significant impact on your life personally, or are they chosen purely for the purpose of the story?

I love this question. For selfish reasons really. I love music which is why I have used it thematically throughout my book. Some of the choices were just big hits in the era in which the book is set but some were actually very influential songs in my life. The first song I reference in the book is by Alexander O’Neil called Criticise and is a very real reference as my Dad used to play it in the car. All the time. On the way to school, on the way to family parties, on the way to sports games and on the way to camping trips. All the time. He used to turn it up loud and it is one of my favourite memories from growing up. My dad was a DJ and his passion for music infected me. Music framed my life growing up and this has continued into adulthood. So when I refer to the fact that I pull on situations and scenarios in my life and fictionalise them, this would be one example.

The most meaningful reference is to a song called Iris by Goo Goo Dolls. It was a massively important song in my life: It was my coming out song and if you listen to the lyrics closely you can see why it might be so important to me: It is about the conflict of emotions of loving someone you really shouldn’t, which is how I felt all the time. Coming out was a big turning point in my life and the song helped me acknowledge what I was feeling. It also reminds me that you can’t help who you have chemistry with or who you are attracted to. The one song I really wanted to use is called Take Me To The Clouds Above by LMC vs U2, but due to the era of the book I was unable to use it. Another hugely important song in my life as it was playing the first time a woman told me that they loved me. It was also when I realised I was falling in love with them (grab some crackers, quince paste and some port just to help that cheese go down a little easier).

How much of yourself do you see in Sarah? (Sarah is the protagonist in the story)

I guess I tried to make Sarah a stronger version of myself. So there are similarities. Definitely one of the most obvious is that she is from Bristol and she ends up living in Australia. Sound familiar?! She follows a similar path to me: I have used my emotional journey of coming out as fundamental input into her character, so I guess I would say from that perspective I see myself in her through the way she coped with it all. I would say Sarah is an ‘aspirational’ version of me in what I would do differently in terms of coping with coming out. However, to keep the character real, she obviously had to be a true reflection of someone younger, so she has to make some mistakes along the way.

I think a lot of people who know me will blur the line but I’ve drawn upon my personal experience to shape the character. Maybe it’s lazy writing but I think from the feedback I have had from my blogs is that my experience of coming out is similar to a large percentage of my gay/bisexual friends. One of the purposes of the book is to show people they are not alone and also maybe give them the super power to process and accept themselves and then help them to live their life guilt free.

What sparked the idea for the book and where did it come from?

I will try to keep this answer succinct because it is actually quite complicated. I was 21/22 when I first thought about writing this book. Essentially I believed I was straight but I had met someone that I had this amazing connection with who was female. I assumed it was just this one-off occurrence and I wanted to write about how this person made me feel: I thought it would make a good story of how amazing attraction can be. However as time progressed I realised this wasn’t a one off situation but that I might actually be attracted to the female of the species. I was deeply embarrassed and ashamed when I figured this out. Then I got to thinking how unfair it was that I should be ashamed of who I was attracted to.

Time has taught me not to make excuses for or to divert blame for my feelings… ‘It must be a phase’… ‘It’s just because it’s someone older that I admire’… Own it and don't be ashamed.

The story became something I had to tell so other people knew they were not alone. Of course the story is not just about coming out, it is about friendship and a journey we all go on through life. So the seed was an amazing connection I had to another human being that developed into my coming out story. However, it is important to say that this isn’t my actual coming out story, it is a story designed for other people coming out to relate to.

To be continued…

Written by Corina Hawkins, soon to be author of ‘Tattoos of memories’ and creatively bossed by Lindsey Barnett.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Friendship rules OK?

It's days like these with people like these

Hola señoras y señores. ¿Cómo estamos todos?

So it turns out there are only a few Spanish sentences I can actually pull out of the hat before I am exposed for my basic understanding, but I had to follow through with my promise of writing my next blog in Spanish (ok technically I am not writing this in Spanish, but in my head as I type my internal monologue has a Spanish accent… Does that count?) Let’s face it, foreign languages have never been my strong point, I am still perplexed as to how I managed to get a ‘C’ in GCSE German.

You might want to grab a cup of tea, coffee or potentially a glass of wine and get comfortable as I have a feeling this blog might be a little bit longer than the rest: October has been a busy month. It’s been full of working hard on the book and also many nights’ meanderings through my new home city. I have been pretty sleep deprived since I relocated and I have been a thousand times more reflective than usual, which means about two thousand times more reflective than your average person.

I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship this month because I am convinced that this is one area of my life I am blessed in and my blog last month touched on RU OK? day. My goodness, over the last year if it wasn’t for my housewife Alice, I think I would have given up on life altogether. I tried to put a good front on and pretend that I had everything completely under control, but I think most people could see through that, due to my inability to really hide what is going on under the surface, Alice was the most patient, kind and understanding angel. There is no other word to describe Alice’s arrival in my life so, as well as calling her my housewife, I secretly call her an angel because that is exactly what she was and still is. She wasn’t the only angel there for me at this time, as I was lucky enough to be supported from near and far.

Alice and I on our road trip across Australia
In the UK, my group of friends from school have forever been a rock and a constant in my life. As a teenager I had no idea how much support and laughter they would go on to provide over the years. They are a consistent source of light and account for a large percentage of all the repeats that play out in my memory, like a good old rerun of Friends. I remember one night standing with my mum at a house party that my friends were in attendance at: They were all at dancing around and causing mischief. My mum put her arm around my shoulder and said, ‘You are so lucky, I love those girls and what they have brought into your life.’ Well said mum.
Then, when I moved to Perth from the UK, I was blessed with a second family. They took me under their roof and made sure that I was invited to family parties and truly made to feel welcome. I never once felt like a burden or an inconvenience, I have always just felt like I was always meant to be there and the transition to Australia was made so much easier by the love and support they gave me.

Why am I telling you all of this? Not just to do a massive ‘I am so grateful blah blah blah’ speech and to rub my happiness in everyone’s faces. It’s because I went through a period of feeling worthless, unattractive, and a whole dollop self-loathing. It wasn’t a short period of time either, it was a long period of time – the pain I felt in the pit of my stomach, the sharp pain in my heart and the sinking feeling every time my alarm went off that I had to face another day. Every day I thought, just get up and go through the motions. I didn’t even have the energy to tell myself that things will get better and to keep going. I hid myself away and felt like I was in a pit of darkness.
Over 20 years of friendship right there. Beautiful souls.
They were not good times and this is why Alice was an angel at that time. She pretty much forced her support on me… Calling, texting and showing up at my house on Saturdays with food. She dragged me out by my hair and nothing was ever too much trouble. We should all aim to do that for someone in need at some point in our lives, because you have no idea the impact you can have on another’s life. Alice pushed me out of my comfort zone, ordering me out of the house and giving me the courage to get back out into the real world again.

It was a long process and I thought I would never ever get out of that slump but I did. And I just want to say it was so, so, soooo worth it. The last six months have been amazing and I feel truly blessed just to wake up in the morning. Now instead of focusing on what went wrong and all the bad things that happened to me, I wake up with the focus of everything that is amazing and how much I have learnt.

I have been taken under the wing of more friends since I have arrived in Melbourne. It’s like they were created specifically to take me on to the next period of my life… I know they weren’t (don’t worry I am not that egotistical) but I am very lucky. I think my appreciation of them reached its pinnacle on Friday night when I was sitting on Matt’s balcony, sipping cold beer with the backdrop of Melbourne city. The sun was setting, we were laughing and chewing the fat. Life was good.

My Aussie family and guardians
We got through enough beer* to sink the Titanic and it was just one of those moments in life when you feel elated with the love of friendship. On my way out, I thought it was a fair trade for the amount of Matt’s beer I had consumed to offer to take out our empties. I literally staggered out of his flat with a box full of empty bottles, and stacked on top of that was the packaging of the food we had eaten. I could just about see over the top of the box. Just.

We had finished our evening with ghost stories, as you do when it’s dark and you’re drunk. I got in the lift and hit the button for the ground floor. I was grinning as I relived moments of the evening and replayed some of our conversations. The lift doors opened and as I stepped out I was surrounded by 20 emergency personnel. (There were probably three, but I was drunk and seeing triple… And yes, the math didn’t add up there). It was pretty surreal and I was torn between dropping the box and putting my hands in the air while yelling ‘it wasn’t me’ and waiting to be handcuffed.
‘Do you live here?’ a hot woman in uniform asked me, and I couldn’t help but laugh as I weighed up the possibility that my friends had organised a strip show for me, (because we have already established I have awesome friends).

‘No I am juscht taking my friendchs rubbisch out,’ I replied hiccupping. I was glared at by the 20 emergency personnel while I clattered around the hallway trying various doors as I realised I did not know where the bin area was.

Team work makes the dream work
I eventually found the right place, threw the rubbish in the skip and walked back to the corridor to see what was going on. Although I’d only been gone 10 seconds, there was nobody there. I stopped in my tracks and really looked around. Was I hallucinating? Was this a joke? I walked out into the street and it was filled with emergency vehicles: I felt relieved that I wasn’t imagining things but I couldn’t stop giggling all the way home.

I got up the following day slightly worse for wear and Lindsey (‘ere, Linds) gave me a call. We talked through the book and she passed on some ideas. We had a thorough update on the project, so that afternoon I began my side of the editing process. The goal is still to be approaching publishers by the end of the year and I still believe this is very much achievable. The current version of the book is being reviewed by six very important people who will influence that final version. Six people whose opinions I value, so they also have a very important job in the project… One of the six has finished the new version and I can tell you the feedback on the new ending is exceptionally positive compared to the previous version, so I am feeling a little more confident.

The very long point I am trying to make is that we all go through very hard times and I know it is different for everyone. I know my break up was not unique and I know my situation might not be a big problem for some, but it was for me. During those dark times please try to remember that people love you, people will do anything for you and the darkness lifts eventually. The best piece of advice I can give is that you have to reach out and you have to let people in, even if you feel like no one can help you or that no one will want to listen. Reach out because you have to remember how important you are in this world, how much laughter is waiting for you and how much you are loved. It really is worth fighting for and working yourself out of the darkness. And I’ll be taking my own advice next time.

*Corina Hawkins does not condone the drinking of alcohol in large quantities during hard times. Only ever in the good times while being totally responsible.

Written by Corina Hawkins, soon to be author of ‘Tattoos of memories’ and creatively bossed by Lindsey Barnett.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015


The return... Literally... Getting up from this position was tough.

Good morning, good afternoon and good evening readers!

This is my attempt at appealing to my international audience (by being totally selfish and communicating in English ha. Ooh future blog idea… write the whole thing in Spanish! Or Chinese!), by greeting you all, across the borders, no matter what time of day this is being read. You’ll be relieved to hear September has been another great month. I realise I am probably getting annoying with all my ‘I love Melbourne’, ‘Melbourne is great’, ‘I love life’.  #sorrynotsorry.

I’m sure you’ve picked up on the vibe of life transition from my earlier blogs (if you have been on the journey with me so far and I’ve not lost you along the way). When you go through a major life change, the kind that happens when your long relationship breaks up, then you kind of fall apart, then start pulling yourself back together, then have a few more knocks, you feel you’re going completely crazy. In fact, saying crazy is unfair but you feel completely unstable as there has been a period of massive change… Moving out of your house, selling your stuff, not having that person in your life anymore, moving across the country, all the while questioning everything you’re doing and everything you thought to be true. When you start feeling back to yourself and strong again, it is an amazing feeling.

September held ‘RU OK?’ day, which is a really important initiative as so many of us are afraid of talking about mental health. Whether people have ongoing mental health challenges or are going through an isolated issue, the most important thing you can do as a friend, colleague or acquaintance is ask ‘are you ok?’ And just be there. So many people try to fix the problem, get frustrated or just leave someone alone that is having a hard time. All these friends need is support to know you are there, that is it. It’s as simple as asking ‘are you ok?’ but being genuine and hanging around to listen.

I will forever and ever be grateful for everyone that was there for me through my breakup. The daily texts, calls and invites to make sure I wasn’t alone and I was ok. Friendships are so important and the false promises through this time are the most hurtful acts, so don’t just say it, do it.

Sometimes you feel like you are at rock bottom and it feels like you are never going to get back up… Then one day you feel exhilarated, elated and alive again. You literally cannot wipe the smile off your face, and the knocks you were getting while you were feeling low suddenly don’t feel as bad and you can put perspective on it again. It is so important to focus on getting back to that feeling and ‘faking it until you make it’*1, which was a good piece of advice I was given.

I’ve had so many late night talks and late night laughs in the last month with some amazing friends both new and old. I am probably the most sleep deprived I have been for years but I am living life and I feel loved, supported and lucky. I don’t care how much of a cheese fest that is, lap it up and add some quince paste if you will, maybe even a nice glass of merlot. The truth is, every one of us is supported, loved and if you don’t feel that way then you are surrounding yourself with the wrong people. Just make sure as much as you make sure you have good people there for you, make sure you also are there for other people. This makes the world go round. Call it a self-made karma friendship if you will.

Another thing that has really helped me is exercise. Since a young age I have heavily been involved in team sports… I love them… They do not love me though and after my third hockey season in a row of ending up on crutches, I called it a day. I miss it every year but as I have referenced before, I discovered crossfit. I have recently had 6 weeks off from crossfit (or 5 weeks… or 7 weeks… depends on who I’m talking to!). This month, just shortly before writing this blog, I returned.

Now for other exercise junkies and overly competitive people, this next part will ring true. I had a momentary memory lapse when I returned to the box (no, I’m not being all lesbian, this is an actual crossfit term for where the cult hangs out). I thought over the last 6 weeks I have still been exercising… Alas, I had not. I left the box that fine morning and noticed that I could not walk. For those that exercise regularly, the sensation of pain I was feeling was something I would expect 48 hours after a tough session… This was 48 seconds later. 3 hours later I was concerned when I audibly yelped getting up from my desk… 12 hours later I wept into my pillow when I rolled in my sleep and thought I had dislocated my hip… 24 hours later I nearly wet myself at my desk when I refused to go to the toilet as steel rods had replaced my quads… 48 hours later I had assumed I had slept for much longer than I thought and had awoken in 2059 and was waiting for the nurse to bring my zimmer frame and early morning meds… it was 5 days later when I was finally able to walk again. 5 days!!

However, the endorphin rush was well worth it and despite the pain I returned today. This time I still can feel my legs and I managed to walk rather than commando crawl to my room. I have been reminded of why you should not take 6 weeks off exercise and most importantly, not sensibly ease yourself back in. I stand by my words though, that exercise gives you an amazing buzz (once the pain subsides) and is the best natural mood lift.

Now I know this is a skipping through the meadow with some uplifting 80s music playing as you swish your hair around kind of blog… And we all know life isn’t like that 100% of the time… There are assholes, there are users and there are manipulators… but don’t let those people damage you and don’t let them bring you down, remove them from your life and then move on because there are equally amazing people out there for you to meet. For every bad egg you remove from your life, you make room for a good one*2.

Credit where credit is due:

*1 Lisa McMillan on many email pick me ups.
*2 Lauren Kamasz on a tram or over a glass of wine I can’t remember which, maybe I should stop socialising with you.

Written by Corina Hawkins, soon to be author of ‘Tattoos of memories’ and creatively bossed by Lindsey Barnett.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

The city of soul

Melbourne city from Eureka 89

Let’s dive right in like a teenaged boy on a first date. 

We left off wondering whether Alice and I would survive our perilous journey across this gigantic country of ours, or become just another notch on the Nullabor’s bedpostI’m pleased to say that, rather amazingly, two blondes made it safely from Perth to Melbourne, with their lives and friendship still intact. I’m not going to play on stereotypical notions of blonde females (or even the Irish!) being a bit dumb.  Quite the contrary – we f**ing nailed it. I am sure you had already concluded that we’d survived by the very fact that I am posting this… Either that or this blog is finally proof that there is indeed life after death.

I have spent the last month settling into Melbourne life. I truly believe that by moving 3,000 kilometres away that I am suddenly far cooler than I was before. If I had travelled 2,999 kilometres then I would still be just as geeky and boring as before, but that extra kilometre really did it for me.

I have mostly been very touched - in a non-sexual way - by the amazing way people rally around and help you settle in when you’re new to a place. I have had to ask for very little as my social calendar has been filled with offers to help me adjust to life here. 

already have a mini network that I’ve been tapping in toThe nicest part is the lovely link to my original hometown of Bristol, so I’ve been catching up with a few old school friends and work friends. Then I have the Victorian contingent of the team I used to work in from WA. I would name them but they are such private people and they hate to be in the limelight – so let’s call them Lauren, Matt and Bridget for code*. They are a bunch of social reprobates and have already initiated me into the Melbourne nightlife and have passed on to me some local secrets.

We read such a lot of negativity about people and how bad human nature is becoming these days, yet I believe that really only represents the 5% of the population that are douche bags. The rest of us are normal people looking out for each otherand I am very grateful to those that are looking out for me.

I have managed to find many a secret bar and this makes me feel even cooler than I did 3,000 kilometres ago. If you have never been to Melbourne you really should. Perth is pretty, Sydney is iconic but Melbourne has soul. For the fifth year running Melbourne has been named the number one place to live in the world. Not that I am bragging (I totally am).

The best and most important thing that has happened so far is that I installed this app called WAPA. For those of you new to lesbian culture, WAPA is an app similar to Tinder only not as gross and for lesbians. In Perth when I switched this app on (technical term) I had eight tiny pictures appear on my screen. In Melbourne I switched this bad boy on – sorry, bad girl – and ended up with wrist strain (don’t go there!) from the pages and pages of results I had to scroll through. Now I don’t know if this means that Melbourne is a portal to lesbos exactly, but it’s certainly not a bad sign.

To further cement my love of Melbourne, I attended a lesbian night. For research. I know, these are things one has to do for the creative process. You’re welcome. I initially thought I had made a mistake and had walked into a modelling convention – I actually had to check that the sign above the door was rightLo and behold, I was indeed in the correct place. And therefore this paragraph cements the idea that yes, this blog is coming from beyond the grave because I have died and gone to heaven. HULLOOOOOO MELBOURNE!

*This is actually their real names, they love being centre of attention. 

Written by Corina Hawkins, soon to be author of ‘Tattoos of memories’ and creatively bossed by Lindsey Barnett, who is a legend.

Monday, 27 July 2015

A new, actual, real life journey. Like in a car.

Proof that Alice and I survived our road trip from Perth to Melbourne - 3,641 kms in 3 days

Hey readers! (That makes me feel like I have just demoted you all – let’s start again).

Hey friends! How are we all? Have we been well? It’s great starting a blog with a few rhetorical questions isn’t it? I feel it’s polite before I bang on about what has been happening with the novel and my life in general, just to check in on how you all are. All 3 of you. I jest, there’s at least 300 of you but let’s not brag about my dizzying heights of blogging success.

When we last spoke I teased you with many things, the first being that I have rewritten the ending of my book. Oh my gosh, this has me on the edge of my seat… Was this a good decision? Who knows but let’s roll with it. And it’s too late now, I’m not rewriting it again!

I also teased you all that a big thing that was about to be happening, so let me tell you more about that. Are you ready? By the time this is published… are you sitting down?  I will be in… wait for it… my new hometown of … where could it be?... Melbourne!!  I am moving to Melbourne for work! By the time you read this I will have also just driven 36 hours across Australia to get there, making this journey with my housewife Alice (don’t worry, she is totally comfortable with her sexuality and Dean, her boyfriend, is totally cool with me calling her this). Hopefully by the time this blog is published we are:

(1)    Not potential characters for the new Wolf Creek movie

Not the headline on Australian papers… “Yet another pair of stupid poms get stranded in the outback and costs us millions to rescue”

Still speaking to each other.

By then, I will be pretending to be a totally (sorry, totes) hip and happening member of Melbourne society. I will be frequenting the cool local ‘secret code-word’ bars and eating enough delish food to counter any crossfit (stop rolling your eyes I can see you) activity. That’s the dream. In reality, I will probably be sitting alone in my new room wishing I still had friends.  But for now, let’s pretend that my hundreds of new Melbourne friends will be loving me and that we will all be laughing and rolling our heads back at how great life is.

In a rather lovely, yet loose, link back to my superb friends and the actual novel itself... I had a chat with Lindsey the other day - you remember Linds, she is the very cool lady editing my blogs and book. We had an update on the edit and it went a little something like this:

Linds: “Ere Crinal! [That’s Bristolian for ‘hey Corina’. She’s not from Bristol, it’s just her impression of me]. You know that novel of yours that’s like five bajillion words long?”

Corina: “Ere Linds! [A Bristolian response to ‘hey Corina’ with ‘hey Lindsey’]. Is this a rhetorical question?”

Linds: “Affirmative.” (Lindsey speaks as though she is a walking thesaurus. For the purposes of all of us, I’ll translate from here. ) “Well, here’s the thing. I promise promise promise I have made a start on the edit, but then I purchased a puppy who is mental, and work has been incredibly busy so I have been working 23 hours a day, 7 days per week, trying to maintain a social life and a relationship, travel to the Philippines and Melbourne, have my brother to stay, train a beagle, keep in touch with family in England, use my yoga Scoopon, paint the bathroom, be the perfect housewife and exercise so as not to get fat. Is there any chance we can possibly maybe perhaps change the deadline to the end of September? Please? Not rhetorical.”

Corina: “Certainly Lindsey. I suppose the fact I am paying you with wine hasn’t helped either?”

Lindsey: *Unable to respond as snoring on floor drunk.*

Anyway, that is where we are with the book. We have a revised deadline of the end of September for the edit. Then I will be smashing through the comments – while still maintaining the level of pure creative genius that you’ve come to expect of me – to achieve my own deadline of getting said book to the publishers before 2015 is out. Woah! There so much to do and so little time. Meanwhile, I will be continuing with my monthly blog to keep you updated on the progress of this modern piece of classic literature.

Let me continue briefly with last month’s theme of self-gratification:  This month has been exceptionally crazy with work, relocating, exercising (see I don’t say crossfit all the time), the heartache of leaving my friends in Perth aaaaaand to top it all off I turned a whole other year older. While that’s all been going on, I’ve been writing this and organising getting the edit done (aka waking Lindsey up from her wine-fuelled stupor and bribing her with more). I don’t think that is too bad for a month’s work.  Of course I am also prone to exaggeration, so take that as you will.

Before I sign off I feel I should share something poignant with you all as I have been quite deep and meaningful recently… I guess my main lesson of 2015 has been the quote below. I know, I know you’ll all be thinking, ‘how has it taken you 36 years, 7 days, 7 hours and 11 minutes to figure this out?’  Well it has.  It’s simple but it’s the best piece of advice I can give to anyone:

“We are not what we think, or what we feel, or what we say, we are what we do”
– Dr. Gordon Livingston

Written by Corina Hawkins, soon to be author of ‘Tattoos of memories’ and creatively bossed by Lindsey Barnett, who is a (overworked) legend.

Monday, 29 June 2015

All these things that I have done

Hey readers! This month I will kick off with some self-gratification and not the kind I am most fond of hehe. This month is birthday month for me and when it comes to birthdays, I think we all do a little reflection on the preceding year.

My reflection this year has encouraged me to slap myself on the back as I am feeling pretty proud of completing my novel and, although it has taken ages, I am so happy with my dedication to finally getting it done! When I look at the document in my desktop folder I am a little overwhelmed that I managed to sit and write 96,000 words… Although, I do like to talk a lot so it’s probably not surprising I managed to write so much!

I feel like a lot has been achieved this month, not just with my mammoth creative project but personally: I think this month is probably the most content I have felt for a very long time. You know when you are truly feeling like yourself again?  I’ve got so much more energy and every day is full of something being accomplished. Despite my shoulder injury holding me back a bit I am back at crossfit which is a great feeling (now stop it, I can hear your internal groans and eye rolls). I also focused on staying true to the protagonist of my book (I feel like the she is my homie and I need to look after her) and as such there could be some very exciting times coming up for me in the not too distant future.

As I casually mentioned in my last blog, I have rewritten the ending of my book in the last month. I have also been brainstorming cover ideas and I have asked a good friend Nathan to start the creative process of mocking this up, so at least my novel will soon have a ‘face’ which I hope to share with you soon. All in all, it is starting to get really exciting.

The most pleasing thing about the last month on a macro scale has been the wonderful  and historical announcements as Ireland voted heavily in favour of same sex marriage being recognised. Then - something I thought I would not see for another decade - the United States have ruled that same sex marriage is recognised nationally! This is a massive step forward. I am hoping this will soon lead to a dictionary redefinition and that we no longer talk about straight marriage and gay marriage. We’ll just call it marriage.

Another thing I have managed to do this month is listen to music and just chill out. As you know, it’s my favourite thing to do: Put some tunes on, grab a glass of red and light some candles. The song at the top of this month’s blog is Cavalier by James Vincent McMorrow and relates strongly to the book.  It relates to regret… The lyrics are haunting and a little trippy but my interpretation is that James is singing about his first love, longing for the return of those initial feelings and how they are now lost. It’s a beautiful song and I listened to it a lot while writing the end of my story.

Oh, and I’ve watched ‘How I met your Mother’ pretty much back to back, which is an achievement I’m extremely proud of.

So it is my birthday month (don’t all start singing happy birthday at once or go running out to purchase me some gorgeous gifts), and as I turn another year older and technically another year wiser (maybe?!) I’m pretty happy with how far I’ve come in the last year.

I was talking to a group of friends recently and I think it’s true to say that every year that goes by I don’t necessarily feel any older. I still feel like I am a 12 year old girl just muddling through each day, although now I have money (supposedly) and responsibilities (ha!). I don’t feel like I am qualified to be making some of the decisions I have to make in everyday life. I think most of us probably muddle through as best we can, but sometimes out of nowhere, the thought strikes us: ‘Shit, when on earth did I become an adult and who on earth decided that I am capable to look after myself!?’ I remember in my late teens thinking at some point you must have some sort of epiphany, probably in your mid-twenties where you suddenly feel very mature and like you have everything figured out. I’ve not had an epiphany and by the time this is published I’ll practically be 36.

Do any of us really have anything figured out? I know I don’t. The only thing that really changes is that you do less dumb crap and you realise that life passes you by in the blink of an eye so you really do have to take chances, tell people what you think and really embrace the good people in your life and never let them go. I think living as an expat it makes you realise this even more: You keep in touch with your friends on the other side of the world and your new friends become your adopted family. That’s the best part my lifestyle right now: If I have a problem my expat family rally around and help me through. Even with this writing project, I put an update on Facebook that I needed help and I have been overwhelmed by people putting their hands up to assist from all round the world. 

So as I turn another year older, I will soon be very smug and be able to tell everyone that something else on my bucket list has been ticked off… Camp America – tick. Backpacking around Australia – tick. High fiving everyone I pass on Park Street in Bristol – tick. Running a marathon – tick. Planking in Perth city centre – tick. Writing a book – tick. Publishing a book – ooooo intense. I won’t tell you the rest of my bucket list, it is a closely guarded secret. But knowing me I’ll probably post it on Facebook for the world to see!

Written by Corina Hawkins, soon to be author of ‘Tattoos of memories’.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Two be or not two be


Hello it’s me Corina! The last month for me, has really been pretty cruisy, writing the blog and doing some research around some ideas in the book (the star of the show at the moment is Lindsey who is doing all the work with her editing skills). However lovely blog readers, I have decided to change the ending of my book… Duh duh duuuuh! (That was an attempt to do some dramatic music for you all).

On a personal note I was thinking it might be time to put myself out there and date again, but on the other hand… Am I crazy?! Am I really ready? Spending time with humans!? We’re a complicated bunch!

I came to the decision I wasn’t ready when I ventured out into dating world (that’s right it is in an alternate universe) earlier in May and nearly had a stroke before the date, I have since decided it was the worst idea ever. I don’t like the ‘forced’ style of dating, it almost puts pressure from the outset to ‘like’ someone and I would rather it ‘just happened’. So after nearly having a meltdown, I decided my brave talk of ‘I am ready to meet someone’… is a load of tripe and I am as indecisive as I ever was. Don’t judge me readers. I don’t want to be vulnerable, I don’t want to get hurt… At the moment I just want to be loved by my friends and that is enough. I sounded so brave last time didn’t I!? Well, I’m not, I’m actually a little scared (ahhh, maybe I should buy myself a tiny violin).

I come from a place of stubborn independence and wanting to be the ‘hero’ in life. Mum has often said that as soon as I was able to walk I would walk away from everyone, I didn’t want to hold anyone’s hand and if everyone was heading west, I would head east. Mum even tried the trick of ‘okay, bye’, walking off, only to have me respond ‘ok’ and keep walking in the opposite direction. Apparently my first words were, ‘shut up’… Obviously everyone else talking was interrupting my own thoughts or maybe I was talking so much that all I ever heard was my parents telling me to ‘shut up’.

Anyway, having recently been through a period where I suddenly ‘liked’ someone again and spending time considering what that meant (because it must mean something right!?), I started to ponder how I have dated in the past. And the answer to that is ‘Well, I never have’. I’ve never really been particularly ‘out there,’ I’ve just accidentally met those important people that came into my life. Then as I reflected further and reached back through the cobwebs in to the dim and distant past (just kidding, I’m not that old), I remembered the men I had gone out with and which suddenly reminded me of a conversation I had with one of my male friends years ago. Once he found out I identified as gay, he asked me if I had dated guys. I let him know I had and he asked me if one of my ex-boyfriends had ‘turned me gay?’

This question caught me off guard and is something that had never really occurred to me. The reason he asked was because an ex-girlfriend of his ‘came out’ after dating him. He was paranoid it was him that had caused this.

Firstly, it is not possible for someone to turn someone else gay. Not a bad experience with someone of the opposite sex. Not a door knocking lesbian recruiting people for the cult. Not watching a TV show with gay characters. NOTHING turns you gay.

Secondly, it’s a sign of society that people should ‘have’ to date people of the opposite sex to fit in. Also another sign that guys/girls are ridiculed when it is found out that one of their exes was (and always has been) gay/bi, and that jokes are made. I am all for banter and I enjoy being on the receiving end as well as giving (no pun intended!) but I urge you all to be aware of the impact this has on someone who is in the closet.

Thirdly, I am not poking my finger at ‘heterosexual’ society: Another annoyance of mine is that if someone who identified as ‘lesbian’ or ‘gay’ then goes on to date someone of the opposite sex, they are also ridiculed. I have again heard many jokes… ‘Oh look, here comes the hasbian’. Why can we not just accept that people are just attracted to who they are attracted to? It doesn’t change who they are fundamentally, they are the same person you cared for. It does not matter who people are attracted to, as long as two consenting adults are enjoying the feelings of attraction/love etc. We should just be happy for each other (cue people skipping through a meadow field with flowing white dresses).

Anyway, the point I wanted to make was that I was attracted to the guys I went out with and if anything they should take it as a compliment. Imagine if you grew up in a world where dating the same sex was the norm and everyone else was dating the same sex but you found the opposite sex attractive and made connections with them. However, you hear this feeling is wrong. So you go for the elite, a person you get on brilliantly with and that aesthetically you find attractive. You pick the crème de la crème in your eyes. However, there is always something holding you back from fully giving yourself to that person. That was how the penny dropped for me – I felt electricity around women who I found attractive. So technically, you should not ridicule these people – you should slap their back and they should gloat about it. It is very flattering, but equally not a fair process for either party and the more we talk about it, the more people can be honest about their feelings.

However, I believe fundamentally in attraction and so I never judge anyone on their choices of partner (unless that person is being abusive). Why we find people attractive is something I am naturally interested in. What is it that attracts us to certain people and makes us want to be around them a lot? Is it superficial? An energy? A chemical? I guess writing a novel makes you think about things more than you usually would… However, I have always thought quite deeply about things and used to wake my Mum up in the middle of the night with the most ridiculous questions before being told to ‘get back to sleep’. Unfortunately this has never left me.

So that’s been the last month, me overthinking and Lindsey still powering through the edit. However, my overthinking has made me tweak sections of the novel and I have sent that over to Lindsey to edit with the rest.
The best stories in life (for me) are around stories of how people meet and fall in love. It’s even better if the story has lots of ‘nooooo’, ‘never’ and ‘wow’ moments. Life is all about experience and I find the experience mainly comes from the people we meet. So be grateful to everyone that has been, will always be and will pass through your life.

Written by Corina Hawkins, soon to be author of ‘Tattoos of memories’ and creatively bossed by Lindsey Barnett, who is a legend.