Christine, Wondering

Random Musings of a Human Becoming

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

5 Words Meme

In which I avoid essay-writing by writing an essay.

Over on LJ, my friend Hilary offered me 5 words that she sees as representing me. I am responding to them here :)

She offered me: England, music, writing, church, archaeology.

"Why do you say 'one' like that?"

This question plagued me as a child. I couldn't mimic the way my Australian-accented peers pronounced 'one'; in fact I still can't say it "right". Although my mother had been in Australia for 15 years by the time I was born, her English accent lingered into a slight English inflection, and I picked it up.

I was about 18 when I discovered that I could get Right of Abode in England due to my mother's origin. This fired my imagination, and in my first year of university I did a lot of in-depth research about the possibility of doing my archaeology PhD (then an assumed part of my life plan) at an English university. I was stymied in my plan when I realised that I would have to reside there for three years first if I didn't want to pay fees. That didn't fit the timetable, so I abandoned the idea. I miss those days, when I was so innocent and naive and believed in timetables! At 18 the future was so nebulous and so LARGE. It was inconceivable that I would ever feel like I was running out of time. But then, when I was 18 I also thought I'd be done with having kids by the time I was 29 :S

England lives in my mind as a kind of Mecca - the centre of all things, the place to go, to experience, from whence all things come. I'm proudly Australian, born and bred, but England is the Homeland and the Motherland in a way in which Australia can never quite be. To be a non-indigenous Australian is to share in a cultural uneasiness about our rights to this land and the life we live here (and rightly so). But in England I can be English without apology.

I've longed for an overseas holiday for years (with the UK as the destination), but I have been perpetually broke, and nothing has ever come of the longing. I have often considered living there, but until recently I was too emotionally broken to even consider being that far from my family. I still have my moments of uneasiness when I'm not at all certain I'm making the right decision, but it's too late now so I'll have to stick to my guns and go through with it! And the larger part of me is sure that this IS the right decision, and can't wait to get on with it.

England, T minus 60 days and counting!

My mother has a lovely singing voice, and I can remember her entertaining and soothing songs from my earliest childhood. Along with the usual children's songs and rhymes, I vividly recall "Annie's Song" and "Drink to Me Only" amongst her repertoire, as well as the Rolf Harris classic, "The Court of King Caractacus". She also played a lot of recorded music, and my love of classical music is due to her influence.

We had a small portable piano keyboard in the house, and I spent countless hours playing with it. My primary school was music-oriented, and I learned music theory and recorder from an early age. I still play the recorder today, and although I do now have a nice wooden one, my old plastic one from school is still kicking around here somewhere!

At a younger age I often told my parents that I wanted to play the French Horn, a request that received "hahahahNO" answers ;) By the age of 9 or 10 I'd switched my request to flute, and that one was granted, I think partially out of relief that I'd abandoned the brass section!

I'm not very good at the flute, but I've been playing for a good 19 years now. Throughout school I played in concert bands, sang in choirs and musicals, and took music theory and composition classes. As an adult I've also played in concert bands and ensembles, sung in choirs, taught class music in schools, and I still tinker with composition and arranging in my spare time (ha!). 

Music has always been a part of my life, and I can't imagine being without it. I hope that when I have kids I'm able to surround them with the wonders of music.

I've been known to tell people that writing isn't something I do, it's something I am. This is slightly poncy, I'll admit, but it's true. I can't give up writing any more than I can give up breathing. I've tried a few times, and it always gets to the point where I just HAVE to start again or I'll burst!

I have dozens of old note books filled with story ideas, some going back as far as the 1980s. In my earlier years I tended to act out my stories rather than writing them down. I lived in a world of imaginative play, and had many long-running stories that received a new instalment every time I was in the mood for that particular game. Two of these in particular are still major items in my 'plots waiting for inspiration' bank. Some of these 'game' stories were blatantly derivative, but others were surprisingly original and interesting.

In my teens and early 20s I wrote reams and reams of stories. My two favourite works from my teenage years reached 11,000 and 13,000 words before I grew out of them. The first of these owed equal parts of its inspiration to Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" and M.M. Kaye's "The Ordinary Princess", with a dollop of C.S. Lewis thrown in for good measure. It didn't rip off any of the characters or ideas exactly, and a lot of it was wholly mine, but the similarities were unmissable. The second was completely original and I have no idea from whence the ideas sprang, but it suffered purely from the fact that the writer was 16 years old and was trying to write convincingly about a young, orphaned queen in a medieval setting. Oh, the stereotypes. Ouch! I can't even re-read a paragraph of it these days without cringing.

The major story of my 20s peaked at 20,000 words before I got stuck on a major plot flaw and had to abandon the whole thing. After the latter I lost my nerve for a while, but I have always come back to writing in the end.

Looking back on some of my earlier work (all diligently saved and transported to each new computer system since I first had my own machine in 1995!), I can see the potential there. The prose is purple, the dialogue is execrable and the characters stereotypical; but the plots are fairly sound.

At the moment I'm working on a shiny new version of the previous 20,000-word effort. The plot has been thoroughly scrubbed, honed and polished, and is shiny and new without losing the original idea. I have been poking it thoroughly and haven't found any holes yet, so it's looking good this time.

Most people go to church because they have faith. My faith, on the other hand, has grown out of my involvement with the church.

I wanted faith as a child - wanted it badly. I read a lot of books where the characters were all Christian, living in exclusively Christian societies with faith as a given (the Anne of Green Gables series and the Laura books, for example). I knew there was something wonderful about faith, and I knew that I lacked it in my own Christmas-Christian wishy-washy culture.

When I was 20 I decided to start going to church, because, well, I was living on my own and no one would be there to laugh at me for it! I almost accidentally found myself in a Nine Lessons and Carols Christmas service at St George's Cathedral. That started a love affair with cathedrals and choral music that persisted even when my faith wavered.

I went through a huge period of disillusionment and rejection of religion in my mid-20s, a time of disastrous personal missteps and clinical depression. As I dug my way out of that hole my love of the church began to re-establish itself. I started going to church again, and began to develop stronger feelings about faith and belief.

In the past few months, the strength of my faith has doubled and doubled again. I've finally surrendered myself to it, and it feels as wonderful as I always imagined it would. I'm still thoroughly Anglican, but I do finally understand how those of an evangelical persuasion are driven to shout about their faith. The strength and purpose of faith is incredible. I have been blessed with the Holy Spirit, and now I actually know what that means :)

Even more fascinating, to me, is the fact that my increasing faith is compelling me to draw closer to the church, too. As previously mentioned I've taken on the units for a major in theology, and I think it's extremely likely that I will follow this BA up with a Master of Ministry and ask to be considered for ordination. I am already a teacher, and being a teacher of love, charity, hope, tolerance and joy . . . yes, I could see myself doing that.

My interest in the past was already well-developed by the time I hit primary school. I very rarely read anything set in the modern world. I read children's Victoriana or fantasy for preference, and was fascinated with ancient cultures after watching the 1980s anime The Mysterious Cities of Gold. In my confused, imaginative childhood I spent countless hours pretending that I was someone else, long ago and far away.

It wasn't until I was fifteen that I suddenly realised that I could make this interest a life pursuit. Some passing reference to archaeology set me on a new track and gave me a real ambition for the first time. I became single-minded in my career prospects, and at 22 I was a qualified archaeologist and museum curator.

Unfortunately, the dream wasn't the reality. The archaeology field, as I experienced it, was cliquey, profit-driven and client-oriented. Perhaps in the museums and universities it's better, but I found consultative archaeology to be soul-destroying and miserable (a state of affairs not helped by dreadful clinical depression and an unfamiliar environment when I was working in Sydney).

I still love the past, and still love archaeology. When I get to the UK I hope to join in some digs as an amateur, but I doubt I'll ever work as an archaeologist again. I think perhaps I've outgrown that idea of myself, and I can't imagine stepping back in time to fill those shoes again.

I do have many fond memories though. I excavated a spider once ;D


Thanks :) What an interesting read to start my day!

Post a Comment