Pulped Fiction – 2021 NWF joanne burns Microlit Award

The call out

The call out was for submissions which play with genre. A mash-up, a reshape, a blend, a hybrid of form, genre and style. The award was co-hosted by Spineless Wonders and the Newcastle Writers Festival; selected pieces offered publication in the annual Spineless Wonders’ microlit anthology.

It’s been so exciting to be a finalist. My microlit is called ‘The Sisterhood Opens a Window of Opportunity‘ – an email to Snow White, heavy on the corporate jargon. Thank you Cassandra Atherton – editor of the anthology, Bronwyn Mehan – publisher at Spineless Wonders and Rosemarie Milsom – Festival director, for including my piece in this incredibly clever collection of microlit.

The anthology

The launch of Pulped Fiction took place last week. True to the spirit of the times, it was online. But it certainly wasn’t just another Zoom call. We had a pop culture quiz, a cocktail making lesson, readings from the anthology, fancy dress, and presentation of the awards to the two winners of the National and Hunter categories (congratulations, Jane O’Sullivan and Deborah Van Heekeren!)

The launch

I loved watching the incredibly creative readings of these microlit pieces. We had been asked to send in a pre-recorded video, so there was plenty of room for imagination. To fit the theme of my story, my reading was a recorded PowerPoint slideshow (including SmartArt and Transitions because…process flow!) I also can’t resist a fancy dress party, so here is another spin on Pulped Fiction: Snow White & The Seven Deadly Sins.

Eyeliner, not Sharpie.
Hopefully Snow’s on board with the paradigm shift.

Thanks for reading!

♥, Seetha

Drops of Jupiter at the State Theatre

This month marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Train’s Drops of Jupiter. Yes, TWENTY years since I first wondered how to “act like summer and walk like rain.” So, a repost of one of my early attempts at blogging from 2017.

3 little birds

Train

A (not-at-all star struck) fan’s review of Train’s Play That Song tour in Sydney this August.                                                                                                     

Train appeared on stage to the background noise of…….a train chugging and whistling. And for me, that set the tone for the night: this is a band that has fun. With lyrics, with their audience and with their performance.

The setting was the State Theatre. Stunning as it was, it seemed to warrant an air of restraint in the audience. With his tongue in his cheek, Pat Monahan thanked us for sitting down, as it ‘took the pressure off’. The beauty of this band…

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Writing to reach you

In 2019 I signed up for an online course offered by the Australian Writers’ Centre to learn about freelance writing for newspapers and magazines. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and I was keen to discover the secret ingredient to getting an article published in Australian media. How to turn this hobby into something other people (apart from all you lovely, supportive family and friends) would read.

I loved the course so much. My inner geek surfaced and I found myself diligently completing the assignments each week and eagerly awaiting feedback from my tutor.

When the course ended, I rolled up my proverbial sleeves and pitched my story ideas to editors of magazines and online news publications.

It wasn’t exactly crickets, but my pitches didn’t quite hit the mark.

Rejection isn’t fun. I questioned my ability and started telling myself that I wasn’t cut out for freelance writing. I put the dream aside and focused on my comfort zone – sending my fiction, non-fiction and poetry to various competitions. But there was a voice in my head that wouldn’t go away, reminding me that I had a goal I still wanted to reach, elusive as it may seem.

Then 2020 gave me another chance. I had time to read and analyse the publications I loved, and identify the ones that suited my writing style. I had time to really think about the stories I wanted to tell, and time to craft pitches that showed those stories in the best light. I also had time to review the AWC course material and reignite the freelance flame it had sparked back in 2019.

The result? Not an avalanche of commissions that meant I could give up my day job, but enough to keep the dream alive, and the fire burning.

Here are the articles that made it this year:

Eureka Street – On Techno Gran and the virtual Show & Tell: https://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article/national–virtual–grandparent-s-day#

SBS Food – On Batik Cake memories: https://www.sbs.com.au/food/article/2020/10/02/batik-cake-transports-me-my-malaysian-childhood

SBS Voices – On a different kind of village: https://www.sbs.com.au/topics/voices/culture/article/2020/10/15/it-took-village-raise-me-i-dont-have-one-my-kids

Eureka Street – On fairness and ‘skin-coloured’ crayons: https://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article/fair-enough

So the journey continues. I’ll keep trying, knowing now that the disappointment of rejection is small fry compared to the thrill of a single yes. I also realise there was no secret ingredient. All I needed to do was take the time, and take a chance.

Thank you for reading. ♥

©2020 Seetha Nambiar Dodd

Letting it simmer

nanette-mathews-always-racing-to-the-next-moment

My slow cooker has been busy lately. With more time at home and fewer reasons to rush, I find myself with the space and the scope to let things simmer. So we’ve had slow-cooked pulled pork, slow-cooked lamb casserole, slow-cooked dhal, and even slow-cooked mulled wine. The ingredients have time to mingle, to get to know one another, to infuse. This is not a wham-bam, pressure-cook-the-life-out-of-you, just-get-it-on-the-table kind of dish. This type of meal savours itself before it is consumed. 

As if ‘mindfulness’ wasn’t already the buzzword of our generation, 2020 has compelled us to live in the present moment. We have been forced to notice and to pay attention to what we do, who we see, what we touch, where we go, what we buy. 

In the words of one of my favourite contemporary poets, Billy Collins:
“The virus is slowing us down to the speed of poetry.” 

And as we slow down and let things simmer, we realise this moment is all we have. Or as Fatboy Slim put it, (repeatedly):
“Right here. Right now.”

So I breathe deeply. I sit in the moment. The world will always be turning. It is up to us to find the stillness we need. It was the modernist poet, T.S. Eliot, who said:
“At the still point of the turning world……there the dance is.”

2020 has been quite a dance. I haven’t always wanted to step onto the dancefloor and join in. Enthusiasm cannot easily be feigned. But our lives are right here, right now. This is our dancefloor. So maybe the moves don’t need to be perfect – they just need a touch of grace, and perhaps a slow-dance or two.  

©2020 Seetha Nambiar Dodd

Fix you

kintsugi

Kintsugi (“golden joinery”) or kinsukuroi (“golden repair”) is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with a lacquer mixed with powdered gold.

In a metaphorical sense, it signifies embracing imperfections, mistakes and tough times, and accepting these as part of life, in order to create something that is more beautiful, and stronger than it was before.

We all have scars. Kintsugi philosophy tells us we don’t need to hide them. In fact, flaws are highlighted, and become a feature of the design. There is art and beauty in the broken, if we take the time to consider it, rather than discarding something for being imperfect.

And because I’ve been thinking about Kintsugi a lot lately, I’ve started noticing connections with the concept everywhere. Here are some of them:

“The wound is the place where the light enters you.” – Rumi

“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.” – Khalil Gibran

“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen

“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” – Ernest Hemingway

Perhaps, like the Coldplay song, when we are not afraid to learn from our mistakes, our troubles and our flaws, lights will guide us home and ignite our bones. And then we can give ourselves permission to celebrate our scars and make ourselves complete again.

©2020 Seetha Nambiar Dodd

Ditty.

First published here: https://corellavirusstories.com/2020/07/14/ditty/

Tweet

(to the tune of Rockin’ Robin)

He stomps in his Tree House all day long
Praising all the birds who sing along to his song
But many other birds can’t stand his beat
They’re sick of Cockatoo going tweet tweet tweet

Stop your tweeting (tweet, tweet, tweet)
It’s irritating! (TWEET, TWEEDLE-LEE-DEE)
Hey, Cockatoo, are you ever gonna get it right?

Ev’ry little sparrow’s got a song to share
The forest can’t be GREAT if you don’t truly care
Disease is among us, nothing’s under control
Your lyrics are poisonous, they’re taking a toll

Stop your tweeting (tweet, tweet, tweet)
It’s irritating!! (TWEET, TWEEDLE-LEE-DEE)
Hey, Cockatoo, are you ever gonna get it right?

©2020 Seetha Nambiar Dodd

To see a world in a single word

The Japanese word komorebi does not have a direct English equivalent. It refers to the interplay between light and leaves when sunlight filters through trees. 

komorebi2

Magical komorebi in Otford, NSW

komorebiHow beautifully specific and eloquent.
The closest we have in English is perhaps ‘dappled sunlight’ but isn’t it wonderful to have one word that holds so much within itself? 

Komorebi is made up of three characters –
tree + escape/leaking through + light/sun.

So:
♥ light, leaking through the trees
♥ the sun, escaping from a tree
♥ sunshine playing with leaves

There is so much poetry in nature.

 

©2020 Seetha Nambiar Dodd
Ps. New header image for 3 little birds created by Nikhita Dodd. 

Race/Humanity — Corella

Quote

FreeVector-Black-And-White-Bird-Wings

“I can’t breathe,” said the mockingbird
but the bluejay didn’t care.
And the other birds wept bloody tears
for yet another cross to bear.
There are two deadly viruses
floating in our air –
One doesn’t discriminate,
the other’s always been there.

©2020 Seetha Nambiar Dodd

via Race/Humanity — Corella

Thanks to Richard Holt for inviting ‘flights of fancy’ to his Corella Virus Stories, and the opportunity to reflect on what was, what is, and what should be.

Microflix Festival!

microflix-Deadline_2020-Aug1-768x338

A couple of months ago, a little story I wrote on the theme of ‘Image’ was selected to be part of the Microflix Writers Award.

Filmakers are invited to choose a story from the selected texts for adaptation into a microfilm (maximum 3 minutes in length) to be entered into the 2020 Microflix Awards.

“The Microflix Awards offered each year aim to reward and value the roles of both the author and the filmmaker in the adaptation process.”

If you would like to read my microlit, Hope is an inanimate object, it is here.

Thanks to Australian short story publisher, Spineless Wonders, for including my story in this very exciting project.

Fingers firmly crossed that someone turns it into a film. Watch this space!

Literature in the time of Quarantine

kintsugi-bowls-9

Kintsugi, the ancient Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer mixed with powdered gold.

“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” – Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

The following sentences were not written for the Coronavirus pandemic (and therefore have been taken completely out of context), but seem to fit our current condition.

I’ve been struggling to write. But reading helps. So today, other people’s words.

On waiting

“Now all you can do is wait. It must be hard for you, but there is a right time for everything. Like the ebb and flow of tides. No one can do anything to change them. When it is time to wait, you must wait.” – Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

On loneliness

“There is a loneliness that only exists in one’s mind. The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart and all they can do is stare blankly.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

On confusion

“I am besieged by such strange thoughts, such dark sensations, such obscure questions, which still crowd my mind and somehow I have neither the strength nor the desire to resolve them. It is not for me to resolve all this!” – Fyodor Dostoevsky, White Nights.

On peace

“Isolation offered its own form of companionship: the reliable silence of her rooms.” – Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland

On hope

“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” – Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.” – Roald Dahl, The Minpins

“The taste of things recovered is the sweetest honey we will ever know.” – Paulo Coelho, The Zahir

©2020 Seetha Nambiar Dodd, well, curated by