Looping the Loop

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Looping the Loop

helenbooks

Strange how life can loop back on itself. A few months ago, when the editor of Yours magazine, Lisa Sinclair, phoned to ask if I’d write a column for her my reaction was instantaneous. No thanks.

Having been a columnist in New Zealand for more decades than I cared to remember, I assumed the world had seen enough of my stories about everyday life. Bedsides, churning out columns is harder than it might seem. For years I slept badly on Sunday nights knowing I’d have to produce a bunch of readable words the next day.

I’m forever grateful to my New Zealand readers. They shared their own stories and cheered me on when I felt like giving up. Some became personal friends. You know who you are.

helenandboys

A late 1970’s shot of bath time with my boys (Sam and Rob).

These people also taught me my craft. Sometimes, I’d write a gem of writerly art destined to set the world ablaze only to be surprised at the lack of response. Other times, I’d toss off a little piece about a neighbour accusing our dog of pooping on her lawn and the letters would pour in. (Yes, dear reader, they had actual letters in paper envelopes with stamps back then).

There were some great highlights, winning Columnist of the Year several times. But column writing is nerve wracking. I lived in constant fear of letting myself, or worse, my readers down.

It turned out Lisa doesn’t take no for an answer. A few months later, when she found out I was visiting Sydney for a couple of days she suggested we meet for coffee. I liked her immediately. She’s warm, professional and kind hearted. And she likes cats.

Before I knew it, I was back at the keyboard typing out my first tentative sentence for Yours. And guess what? It’s great to be thinking and writing like a columnist again. I’ve started pushing my boundaries, going to see Penguin Parades and David Bowie exhibitions with the excuse there might be a story in it.

In between times, I’ve been working on edits for the US edition of Tumbledown Manor in time for its release in May next year. Some of the dry Australasian humour had to be adjusted for American tastes, though I dug my heels in when the editor wanted to change the word order in “What can I do you for?”

tumbledown

Another exciting project I’m working on is transforming my early books into digital format. It’s been heart wrenching at times revisiting the distraught suburban mum I was in “Don’t Let Me Put You Off”. A lot has changed since 1981, but it’s surprising how much has stayed the same. Parenting is still the hardest job on Earth.

Helen.

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