Home' Nova West : December 2010 Contents 14
ve been accused of playing God
before now. I object. Even if I have
attempted to control every aspect
of my own life, my kids' lives,
and those of everyone around me (and I
dispute this. I gave up on my daughter's
fashion choices some years ago), I am not
God. Goddess....well, that's a different
And speaking of stories, that's where
I can play Goddess. So I like to think.
As I write this, it's November. While
men across Australia are growing scrappy
moustaches for Movember, I am signed
up for NaNoWriMo -- National Novel
Writing Month. 50,000 words in 30 days.
Approximately 1650 words per day.
I opened my big, fat, stupid, bigmouth,
spontaneous, non-thinking, bigmouth
mouth and said I was up for it. All
because my best friend and her daughter
were doing it, as was an author whose
work I admire.
Before my brain engaged, I was onto
the website and committing myself. I
should be committed.
Then I had to come up with plot,
theme, characters, voice, and everything
else that goes into a novel. Um....hmmm...
my, the ceiling needs cleaning, and,
goodness, the garden needs weeding,
and wow, look at the state of the oven! I
stared at the computer, the computer
stared at me. Birds chirped. Desert winds
blew, and sagebrush tumbled through
My chance to play Goddess, to create
a whole universe, and... nothing. This is
not the first time
I came across the idea of creating
one's own universe many years ago. That
the universe in general is always listening
and through our thoughts and actions,
we create our realities. At no time did I
associate this with creative writing. While
I was busy writing stories in which I made
characters do all sorts of extraordinary
things, and instantly made up faster-than-
light travel, time machines, and strange
technologies to suit, I refused to look at
how my speech and ideas were shaping
I remember having a lightning thought
when I became engaged, that it was noble
to give up my writing career for marriage
and children. I have no idea to this day
where the idea came from, but, within a
year of marriage, I had a small baby and
no time to write. I then had another
baby and both children turned out to be
hearing impaired, and suddenly, writing
was the last thing I had time for. My
life became swamped with nappies,
hearing aids, hearing tests, ear moulds,
and early intervention centres.
Every now and then, I thought of my
writing, and pined. I certainly had a lot to
say about disability, ability, human rights,
and a few other soapboxes. I had a lot to
say about mothering, and sole parenting,
and the human heart. No time to write
any of it.
Oh, how I wanted to play Goddess. I
was livid with the universe. I wanted my
children not to be hearing impaired, to
be normal, to be a nuclear family with a
loving, giving, supportive husband. I
used to drive to the beach and scream,
word-lessly but certainly not soundlessly.
Seagulls fled from my noise.
I felt condemned, a prisoner. I acted
like a prisoner, dragging through my days,
thinking of freedom.
What I didn't acknowledge was that
I could have walked at any time. Never
mind what society would have thought
of me, and what I would have thought of
myself. I did have the choice. I would not
have been the first mother, or the last, to
give up and leave.
I stayed, and I'm glad I did.
Eventually, I realised how much that
decision, even if guilt kept me there,
shaped my life.
And here, I am again, having made a
decision that shapes my universe. With
NaNoWriMo in my life, I have to carve out
enough time to write each day. Instead of
leisurely hours in the garden, and curled
up with a book, suddenly, that time is
curtailed. I have to use bum glue -- stick to
the chair and actually write.
And there have to be ideas. So
far, writing this article on Day 3 of
NaNoWriMo, I have created an alternate-
universe Melbourne, where strange
shapeless "night things" haunt the streets
and bother my main character who goes
by the odd nickname of Puffball. Where
did she come from? The mysterious
nether regions of my hindbrain. What are
the "night things"? I have no clue yet.
I am Goddess. It will be MY universe,
and I can supposedly control it all, even
if characters have a habit of doing as they
please and taking on lives of their own.
Gods and Goddesses must feel the same.
They birth the world, and then watch
with astonishment as we humans take
on our own lives, complete with free
will, and do things They never expected.
Did the Christian God decide to participate
in NaUniBuMo -- National Universe
Building Month? A spur of the
moment decision that had far reaching
consequences? It would certainly explain
Chaos Theory, plaited rings of Saturn,
female anatomy, and bumble bees
(physics says that they can't fly).
Because I think it's possible, my life
changes -- I can write a novel in a month,
so I am, and my laptop is my new best
friend. I feel more alive, more creative,
and deeply aware of the world to feed my
Because I thought it possible, I
succeeded as a single mother, as a belly
dancer, and a yogini.
Each decision alters my universe, just
a little. I am Goddess, I create my world. ●
© NOVA DECEMBER 2010
Helen Patrice has her universe at her fingertips.
'I had a lot to say about mothering, and sole parenting,
and the human heart. No time to write any of it.'
'My chance to play Goddess, to create a whole universe,
and... nothing. This is not the first time.'
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