About Kim Cleary

Kim Cleary is an urban fantasy writer living in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and a slightly psychotic Cocker Spaniel.

When Nice is Maybe Not so Nice

Nice has become such a strange word. Does ‘That’s nice’ mean whatever it is, is nice … or something else entirely? Grumpy cat doesn’t need much interpretation!

grumpycat

I point at yummo chocolate, shoes and stationery (yes I am a bit weird I know 🙂 but I do have an amazing collection of notebooks and pens) and say “ooohhhh that looks nice.” And I actually mean I would like the item(s). But otherwise I use it when I can’t think of anything better to say.

How do you use the word nice?

Now I am thinking about it, the strongest association I have with the word, is with my mother telling me to make sure I was always one of the nice girls. I just knew the bad girls were having a whole lot more fun so ‘nice’ doesn’t necessarily mean good in my book!

I will be watching myself! The next time I go to use the word ‘nice’ – I will make sure I really mean it. Whatever it is I mean 😛

How about you? What do you say instead of nice? Or is the word not fraught with too much sarcasm for you?

Earworm Attack

I really enjoyed watching Phantom of the Opera last week. It was an amateur production but the performers were amazing. Sadly though, I still had the music in my head several days later. It’s one thing having a simple catchy tune caught up in the cobwebs between my ears, but trying to sing along to “Music of the Night” is a much more serious (and dispiriting :P) matter.

WANA Commons by Kristen Lamb, on FlickrWANA Commons

The music wasn’t so much caressing me as hammering holes behind my eyes!

I tried ignoring it. Then several hard soduku puzzles. I decided overkill might help so I listened to different versions on u-tube (and squeaked sang along) a dozen times in a row. Nope. Nada. Nothing worked.

In despair, and without optimism, I found my hard rock playlist, pointed to November Rain and danced around the lounge room with my hairbrush microphone.

It worked!!!

What has worked for you when a dreaded earworm strikes?

Has The Writing Bug Bitten You?

I know some people are born to write, but I am not one of them!

bug

The writing bug fluttered into my life when illness laid me low. I was desperate to get back to work full-time and taught myself to write with my left hand – it was legible (sort of) but so slow. When my left hand suffered like my right, I started typing with speech software. I spent many an afternoon shouting into the microphone – everyone knows if you shout at it, it works better … right?

Obviously I needed more practice – lots more practice!

I couldn’t focus for long but I re-discovered a yen for poetry. As my health improved I attended a writing course, joined a writers society and spoke out a few (really dreadful lol) short stories. Then I ran out of ideas. A brilliant career nipped in its tender bud! Corporate writing no longer held any excitement, in fact by this stage I couldn’t remember how I’d ever enjoyed it. I sought inspiration but failed to find it.

Then a friend gave me an opening line I loved and I started writing a short story. At 5,000 words, my sister, a few friends and my new writing class mates kindly encouraged me. At 10,000 words, I should have stopped and neatened up the short story. Instead, I kept going, I reached 35,000 words and realised I didn’t want to stop.

Thank you Graeme for the opening line, and Jenny also for loving my characters as much as I do and staying with me through many versions and revisions 🙂

The opening line has changed, but those words that inspired me are still in my story.

That was 18 months ago, since then I’ve devoured craft classes and books and written many more words than I’ve kept; and written and removed scenes, settings and characters. I knew how to write marketing material, but it’s nothing like writing a novel; the journey of discovery is full of challenges and frustration, but mostly it’s full of joy.

Have you ever misplaced your inspiration? Where did you find it?

Paulie Pig

I love staying with my sister on her small farm in rural Victoria. We are city born but Jenny has set deep roots in the country. She lives in a magical place surrounded by tall trees at the end of a 4km dirt driveway. Alpacas, sheep, chickens, dogs, a pig and a cat share her home; wallabies and koalas visit every day. Bright red parrots eat the fruit from her trees before it ripens, but she doesn’t care, they carry little pieces of magic on their glorious wings.

Did I tell you about the pig? He is called Paulie, is big, black and a little scary.

image

Well I am a scared of him anyway! He behaves like a dog, and sulks like a toddler. Jenny assures me he can always be distracted with fruit … That may be the case but I prefer to throw it from a distance 🙂

The first time we visited, Jenny showed us around the farm – including the old farmhouse, barn and dairy – with the dogs and Paulie the pig in tow. While I was across the other side of the barn, Paulie nudged my oldest dog Ellie and sent her flying over in a commando roll. I vaulted over bales of hay to get to Ellie; she picked herself up, shook herself and carried on snuffling farm smells as if she tripped over a tree root. The pig grunted. My sister bent double laughing.

In her defence Jenny did make sure Ellie was okay first … But then she doubled up laughing. Apparently me flying across a barn yelling ‘bad pig’ is somewhat amusing.

Of course you can only take the fruit protection so far. If you walk around with it in your pockets he sniffs it out and starts snuffling …

Do you like short stays in the country?  Or do you have your roots firmly in rural soil?

5 Good Things About Chronic Fatigue

I haven’t always associated chronic fatigue with good things, but whoever said sensible people play the hand they are dealt … knew a thing or two about resilience. Actually I told a teeny lie about 5 good things, I am working on the rest 🙂 – but here is one to start the list!

Wrapped in my favorite throw rug and cuddling with my dog for a guilt free afternoon nap.

cuddle

Actually this is my dog Billie sticking a wet cold nose into my face to wake me up. Does she fear I might sleep through her dinner time? It’s never happened but who knows how a dog thinks!  She does give me a lovely cuddle too when I need one – like when I collapse for an afternoon nap…

The Yellow Challenge

Well the challenge was to write a poem about, or inspired by, the colour yellow. Harder than one might think! But I added an extra challenge for myself – mostly I write wordy, rambling poems, heavier on description than emotion. This time I aimed to write something short and pithy but meaningful.

A sunshine poem came to me on the morning train – making it light in word count but still saying something proved too hard so I just let that one flow.

But on reflection I starting thinking about yellow representing a lack of courage. We have all experienced fear, fear of failure, of rejection, of change. And to my surprise out came a poem unlike my usual ramblings.

Writing is a journey in self discovery, sharing that writing can be a laboured walk along a muddy track of good intentions and well aimed barbs. Here are my yellow poems 🙂

Morning Train

Morning sparkles on the river.
Harsh yellow sunlight
burns through train windows
on the morning run to the city.
Glinting off silver necklace
and pearl pendant.
Highlighting deep wrinkles
and downy facial hair.
Small woman opposite
reads king-size book.
Tall man alongside
scans financial section.
Two men behind speak rapidly
in a language harsh and high.
School bags congregate in doorways
their owners squeal in delight
behind oversize sunglasses
as each stop admits
another member of the coterie.
Four seats away, why
is that man frowning so deeply?
Eyes squeezed shut.
Window frame refracts the light
slicing his face into deep shadow
and washed out white.
All is well on the morning train!

Be Yellow

Keep quiet
stay small
blend in.
Swallow back
the rising bile
of fear.

Go along
Avert eyes
close mind.
Push down
the spreading ache
of angst.

Curl up
Switch off
numb senses.
Quell all
glimmers of light
and hope.

See yellow
Feel yellow
Be yellow.

Gargoyle Smile

English: Gargoyle at Château d'Amboise Deutsch...

Image via Wikipedia

Walk with me in the moonlight
crunching along gravel paths
skipping over clumps of moss
past fallen angels and crumbling Madonnas
unfurl your wings and stretch out your claws
leap from broken stones to crumbling mausoleums
breathe deeply the damp air of decay and neglect.

Lift up your wings and soar over forgotten tombs
around and up, looping and diving
then landing at my side
for me to clamber onto your back
and nestle in my special place
between your wings
before climbing again
into the crisp night air.

Fly with me above ancient forests and oceans
under the moon and infinite galaxies
past ruined castles on lonely hilltops
and rat-race cities eased into once pristine bays
eyes gleaming, smile untwisted, this is our time
our time until the rising sun calls us back
to our prisons of stone and wood.

Atomic Tangerine

Looking quietly in Valencia for a perfect calming sphere
peace is shattered with a smack in the head
from a misshapen myopic mandarin
shouting ‘look at me! I’m here!’Waking slowly and wobbling on unsteady legs
to the pungent odours of tikka masala
in a working mans bar deep underground
where a clear amber liquid is served from old-fashioned kegs.

Pulsing alarm beacons glint off ragged topaz crystals
crawling between safety suited legs
to a long rusted ladder soaring up
I ascend slowly cradling a pair of gold handled pistols.

Thousands of halloween pumpkins flicker
below a gorgeous low hanging harvest moon
the priestess wears an ant trapped in baltic amber
in a necklace forged eons ago, but under the same tableau.

Lit by a tawny peach and crystal blue morning sky
a handsome ginger tabby licks marmelade from his paws
on a bird bath of bronzed mexican mosaics
the sun climbs slowly and glints like a dragons eye.

Under fragrant sweet scented orange flowers
I follow each bite of sinfully smooth delicate chocolate
with a sip of opalescent cointreau over ice
and completely forget the rush hour.

Autumn in Melbourne

Walking the dogs with a glorious blue sky overhead, crisp leaves underfoot and cheerful lorikeets going about their noisy business – who would want to be anywhere but Melbourne in autumn.
Fires are already burning from suburban homes adding smoky intensity to the heady odours of green grass and autumn leaves. We are heading to the café by the lake, where I will sip a skinny, extra hot, hot chocolate in gloved hands, while Ella and Billie alternate between asking for a share of carrot cake, and snuffling in the leafy debris around the park. My nose is cold and almost certainly red, but I feel like a million dollars in my new coat and boots. All too soon, we are heading home, where we will play the towel game, before trudging inside with clean feet (me) and barely dry ones (dogs).
It’s time to get out another book and curl up in the reading chair in the last of the afternoon sun.

Dragon Wings

Aside

With dragon wings wrapped around me
shadows disappear
I sleep in a cloud of innocence
there is nothing here to fear

The sun rises and his scales sparkle
midnight blue and pearly grey
around me his wings are the softest silk
he defends me and keeps demons at bay

We fly higher and higher
the world below becomes small
playing peek a boo with wispy clouds
far far away from the urban sprawl

We skim over treetops and a glistening lake
my hands touch the icy water
on this perfect morning with my dragon
I am mother nature’s daughter

We land in a meadow of wildflowers
surrounded by majestic trees
as I make a pretty posy
his wings make a gentle breeze

Foes may come and go
he will burn them all to ashes
or flay them with his spiked curly tail
they will flee in fear from any clashes

Climbing again into a perfect blue sky
nestled and secure
I know my dragon will protect me
come what may his love is pure

KC April 2011