I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve thought of the line from the Robert Burns poem ‘To a Mouse’ in the past 12 months: “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley” (often paraphrased as ‘The best laid plans of mice and men / Often go awry’ – though I like the Scots!). Especially in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, the truth of Burns’s poem still resonates, more than 215 years after it was written.
Best laid schemes most recently gang a-ley as a result of a snap lockdown, called by the Victorian government in response to a disturbing outbreak of the highly contagious British strain of COVID-19 through the hotel quarrantine program. With less than 12 hours notice, the whole of Victoria went into hard lockdown for five days from 13-17 February 2021. Thankfully, it was only short-lived — a ‘circuit breaker’ to ensure the virus hadn’t spread too far — though I felt for the businesses that missed out on combined Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day celebrations on the weekend. My circumstances were not so dire as to be majorly inconvenienced by the snap lockdown, although what was to be my first live literary event in a year — On Reading at with Kate Mildenhall and JP Pomare at Ballarat Library — was subsequently postponed to later this month.
Meanwhile, we had made plans to hold a memorial service in Corowa, just across the border with NSW, to inter my mother’s ashes. Thankfully, lockdown was lifted just in time to go ahead with a ceremony that had already been long delayed by the pandemic. But the reason I mention this is, because in preparing the order of service, I came across a quote Mum had copied into a notebook from Eleanor Roosevelt, who wrote: ‘You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and the best you have to give.’ This, Mum said, was her motto. I found it at just the right time.
On this basis, I look forward to the next wave of literary events, prepared to accept whatever comes with courage and the best I have to give, should my best laid schemes gang a-ley again.
(Touch wood) This Saturday, I will be running my ‘Write Here, Write Now’ workshop/inspirational session for the Town Hall Writers Group in Kyabram, together with acclaimed author Favel Parrett. The workshop is free, but bookings are essential. Book here.
Favel and I will also be on hand to help the Kyabram Town Hall Writers Group launch their anthology of local women’s writing, Celebrating Women, in the afternoon.
To celebrate International Women’s Day, Favel and I will be appearing as a guest of the Campaspe Regional Library Service at an event on Sunday 7 March 2021, 2.15PM at Echuca Library, 310 Hare St, Echuca. Again, the event is free but bookings are essential to meet COVID safety guidelines. Book here.
On International Women’s Day itself, Mon 8 March 2021, which is a public holiday in Victoria (though sadly not for IWD), I’ll be appearing at an event at The Taproom in Castlemaine at event called, ‘Books at the Brewery’. Here’s the blurb:
Join us as we welcome some of Australia’s most iconic and highly regarded writers to The Taproom. Contributors to the collection Animals Make Us Human include Leah Kaminsky (editor), Toni Jordan, Cate Kennedy and Angela Savage and all three authors will be chatting about their stories from the collection. Melbourne writer, Anna George will be chatting about her new novel, Tipping, and we will drop in a reading or two from other authors throughout the mini-festival!
Monday 8 March 2021 at 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM, The Taproom, 9 Walker Street (The Mill), Castlemaine, Victoria 3450. Again, bookings are essential – book here.
Note that I will be appearing not as a contributing author to Animals Make us Human, but to showcase the #LiteraryCritters made to promote the book. There will be a slideshow, cuddle toys and maybe even be a furry door prize…