The creative impulse

Writing Dolly’s bio-pic is on my to-do list…

If I look back on the books, podcasts and interviews I have listened to over the last month, there’s something of a theme. I started with the biographies of Deborah Harry and Julie Andrews, moved on to the magnificent Dolly Parton’s America podcast and finished with the wonderful Clare Bowditch’s interview https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/conversations/clare-bowditch-memoir/11679560 with the lovely Richard Fidler. Who doesn’t love Richard?

All these women have been emotionally brave and pursued their dreams despite intense opposition. They have honoured their creativity and been ultimately unafraid of their feelings. Dolly wrote Joelene and I will always love you – on the same day. Deciding she wanted to pursue a solo career, she marched into the office of Porter Wagoner and sat down and sang him I will always love you and then left. Similarly, Clare talked about the trio of feeling, writing and performing. Deborah Harry has had a damn interesting life and Julie Andrews has lived the singer’s dream.

My feelings and creativity have always scared me. The creativity has had bursts of being let out. I’ve sung in a band, and wrote songs in a duo, did the world’s worst audition for The X Factor but having children seemed to be a good reason to forget all about that. In her interview with Richard, Clare talked about how she shrunk in the wake of the death of her sister at a young age. The idea of shrinking really struck a chord with me. I can see a connection between Dad’s death and seperating myself from my feelings. When two men who were the polar opposite of my Dad entered our life in the suburbs, I tried to make myself invisible. Tried not to have any feelings which in a way was tragically ironic because my impulse was to be a triple threat – a singer, dancer and actress – to sing, dance and express all the feelings. But that was all wayyyyyyy too scary and unpredictable. Where would all that lead to? Instead I found myself, chained to a desk, in a Students’ Association at a University and the PUBLIC SERVICE, dreaming of what I would eat for lunch, and gobbling ginormous chocolate, chip muffins, growing bigger and bigger, burying myself and becoming further away from who I truly was.

But my creative impulse simmered. In between eating truck loads of chocolate, I kept writing, writing, writing. And finally, with much prodding and dragging from dear friends and feeling shit scared, I have finally been brave enough to throw my feelings (and other women’s) out into the big wide world in the form of my noveI. Most of me now wants to be like Dolly and Claire, so after saying to myself for over 40 years – I would really like to learn the guitar, I am doing just that! So watch out Sydney. Much to my children’s horror, you may see me warbling in some dingy bar sometime soon. And there are a gazillion other novels coming too – maybe even songs.

My feelings terrify me. I’m scared. But I’ve eaten less in the last month than I have for maybe thirty years. I have walked, sang and danced more than I ever had before. Yes, feelings and uncertainity are scary, I have to tell you, but it is so much better than feeling nothing at all.

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