SUE JACKSON Therapist/Writer/Photographer/Activist

Last year, as the unofficial blogger/photographer to the anti-East-West Link campaign, our battles were my blog's entire focus. But by Christmas, with the electoral win for people power and the dumping of the dud Tunnel, I was suddenly at a loss. What to write about now? Not sure yet. But there will be ongoing musings and images from this Australian life. So please leave a message. (No need to sign into an account. Simply comment as ‘anonymous’; then leave your name within the comment itself.)

Friday, April 28, 2006

Anxiety at 'Sunrise'

Yesterday, at short notice, I was invited on to the 'In focus' segment of 'Sunrise' to talk about the book. For those of you who, like me, have never heard of it - where have we all been? - 'Sunrise' is Channel 7's high-rating, national, morning chat show.
I don't know exactly where I got the idea, but I KNOW someone official told me not to wear makeup or do my hair, and they'd take care of everything. So that's how I arrived, in a taxi, right on schedule, straight from the shower, with glasses on, face fresh and moisturised, my bed head intact.
I sat happily reading a magazine in the foyer for quite a while, thinking to myself that the beauticians must be incredibly efficient, able to transform their charges in mere minutes into the uniformly glamorous images we see on the screen.
At last the cameraman came to find me - 15 minutes or so before we were due on air. Such was his professionalism that he made no comment about my hair or unadorned face, but instead said he'd show me the studio to familiarise me with the set-up. Of course I enquired about when we'd be going to Make-up, and that's when he informed me that no arrangements had been made and in fact none of the beauticians were at work yet.
When I recovered from the shock, I started rummaging round in my handbag. Eventually I found an ancient, dried-up tube of foundation at the bottom, loitering with one of my daughter's hot pink lipsticks. Unfortunately there was nothing as useful as mascara, and so I appeared on the show entirely innocent of eye make-up.
Friends who watched the programme commented that I did fine as soon as I warmed up. But at the start I looked very stressed. Wonder why?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Flying by the seat of my pants

The last week the whole crowded nest phenomenon has been in the media spotlight. Sometimes I've been involved and sometimes I haven't.
But certainly the high point of my week, which could so easily have been the low point, was the radio interview with Wayne on River 949 FM on Thursday.
I was already on air when the interviewer said they always like to sign off with a piece of music that encapsulates the theme, so what would I suggest? Talk about maximum pressure under exam conditions. I was so grateful I'd just seen 'Failure to Launch', because I remembered they'd played 'Hit the Road, Jack' while the credits rolled. Otherwise, I'm sure I would have drawn a complete blank.
Their phone line was crackly, so the interviewer's voice kept fading in and out. Periodically, I could only make my best guess at what he was actually asking. I just kept responding in a confident tone, while hoping I wasn't making a complete idiot of myself. A question though that came across with bell-like clarity was one that Wayne said originated with his producer. I had my doubts - it sounded suspiciously like the old 'my friend wants to know' to me. Anyhow the question was: 'Did your sex life improve when your sons moved out?' Visions of how my partner would feel about me taking the whole of Queensland into my confidence about our sex life flashed across my mind. After I'd stopped gulping, I said that the producer was a bold lad, and quoted some relevant stats!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

'Failure to Launch'

Today we saw the new movie 'Failure to Launch'. The sub-title says it all: 'To leave the nest some men just need a little push'. And that's what the advertising poster displays - Sarah Jessica Parker pushing the improbably good-looking Matthew Mc.Connaughey, whose heels are dug firmly into the ground. The film also stars the wonderful Kathy Bates as Mc.Connaughey's baby boomer mother, called Sue!
Though the film is predictably light-weight, a couple of the wider social and familial themes I've covered in 'The Crowded Nest' are touched on. Without giving too much away - one of Mc.Connaghey's best buddies, who also lives at home, has moved his business back there as well. And Bates confesses she was initially reluctant for her 35-year-old son to move out because he was a useful buffer and she was anxious about how her marriage might fare in his absence. To some degree the film moves away from the unhelpful though popular notion that kids are staying on for longer simply because they are lazy, spoilt layabouts.
Despite its obvious flaws, I found it amazing to see a general release movie addressing a topic that is so close to my heart. And what's becoming increasingly apparent, if the flurry of media activity is any gauge, is that I'm far from alone in my interest in crowded nests.

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Friday, April 14, 2006

The Crowded Nest in the News

The Daily Telegraph
http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,18792261-421,00.html

Courier Mail
See below for an extract.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Luke's speech: Crowded Nest Launch

At the launch of my book 'The Crowded Nest', I was fortunate enough to have my son Luke write a speech, which many people have suggested is really an unofficial introduction to the book itself. A sample is included below. To read the full text, visit my homepage and click the appropriate link.

'Every artist needs a muse – a reason for doing what they do. Johanne Vermeer had his ‘Girl with a pearl earring’. Leonardo Da Vinci had the Mona Lisa. When I heard that I would be featured in the first chapter of my mum’s new book, I tried to find the right mixture of surprise and humility. ‘Me?’ I thought. ‘Surely I’m notsignificant enough …’ But my mother insisted, chapter one was written and chapter two began … and I forgot about the book for a while. It was six months later, when it had already been accepted for publication, that I heard the book’s title for the first time. ‘It’s called The Crowded Nest,’ my mother told me. And the fear began to set in...'

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Technology and book selling

It's interesting how different this whole business of book promotion and selling feels from 8 years ago, when my last book came out.
Back then my co-writer and I were responsible for writing the book, but what happened afterwards was pretty much out of our hands. Sure we spoke on the radio, TV and to magazines and newspapers, but I can't even remember the name of the person at our publisher - Allen & Unwin - who was actually responsible for promotion. We responded obediently and no doubt enthusiastically, but essentially took no personal initiative. I had no idea how the book was selling or even if it was selling.
You can obviously put that down to the fact that we were novices, but there's more to it. Because the times in publishing and technology have changed. Not to mention that, especially due to the input from my sons, Luke and Alexander, so have I (at least a bit).
Luke made my website (and this blog) as gifts. So as a woman of my generation and profession I'm very unusual - none of my friends have a website or blog. And initally, apart from looking at them and admiring Luke's handiwork, I didn't really know what to do with them. But as it got closer to the publication date, I realised what a gift they really were. Suddenly I had some influence over what happened next after the book left my hands and landed in the publisher's - I could direct people to my site so they could buy the book online. I could also communicate with readers and potential readers. And it felt great.
Because another thing that's happened over the years is that small publishing companies have been having a hard time making ends meet. In fact Lothian, the publishers of 'The Crowded Nest', after being a family company for over 100 years, have been taken over twice in the last couple of months.
It seems to me that many of these companies no longer have the resources to promote books, especially by 'unknown' authors, that they had in the past. Don't get me wrong - Georgina Way, who's the Marketing Communications Manager at Lothian - couldn't have been better. See I know her name - in fact I feel we're part of a team, certainly with limited financial resources, but lots of energy and enthusiasm. This time round I couldn't feel more involved in the whole promotion process. And I'm surprised at just how much I'm enjoying it.