All posts filed under: Lizzie Borden

The Borden Box: rediscovering the case

It’s been a while since I’ve had to deal with Lizzie as a character, had to figure out how to move her from A to B, think about how she would feel about a particular situation. It was the break I needed. In the space between edits, I’ve read quite a few books and have ripped a data-hole in my Netflix account. There’s been a different kind of break too. My dreams have normalised. Somewhat. Last night I dreamt I was cutting people’s fingers off, ate those small delicacies then spat them out, watched them regenerate. This is nothing compared to what I dream when Lizzie is around.

Will the real Lizzie Borden please stand up

This past week I have been talking about Lizzie a lot. When this happens, she tends to dig deep holes in my mind, leaves a trail of herself behind. I’ve been dreaming of her again: there she is at the end of my bed, there she is eating a scone, eating jam, there she is at my breakfast table, there she is holding my hand. That warmth. It wakes me. I was in Sydney last week. I blame that trip for Lizzie’s return. Every time I thought about Lizzie, how I wrote my book, all that, I couldn’t shake the uncomfortable feeling that pinged at the the base of my neck: what part of Lizzie is me and what part of me is Lizzie? Let me explain: I think it’s natural for writers to inject some of their own experiences into their work, give their characters some real life meat. This is definitely true for me when writing about the Bordens. I needed to find a way into that family and as I started to think about why …

You have no choice but to take the Bordens with you

Over the Christmas/New Year break I took some extra time off work so I could begin and complete the latest draft of See what I have done.  To make things more interesting, I took the Bordens with me to Tasmania with the hope that distance from my usual writing places would allow me to discover a few more things about them. I get sea sick. I remembered this as soon as I stepped onto the Spirit of Tasmania. Needless to say I was ill prepared for the night journey out at sea. As we rocked over waves and my stomach swam toward my chest,  I remembered that Bridget and Lizzie had taken ships to and from Europe. Here was a moment to transpose my experience into the book. I clung to the railing, looked down into depth and tried to see the ocean from their point of view. I wish I could tell you something profound happened. I managed to take this photo of the sun setting over Bass Strait before I was defeated by the sea: So things continued. …

Regrets, I’ve Had a Few OR How to Distract Yourself While Doing Yet ANOTHER draft

Melbourne is hot. The days have been accumulating uncomfortable situations. This is not the time to be cooped up in a room working on edits of another draft. Tonight I sat down to work. For the first 30 minutes, I was feeling pretty satisfied with myself. ‘Look at me! It may be hot but I’m moving words around on a screen. I deserve a drink.’ I got said drink, came back to the screen. And here I am. Best laid plans and all that stuff. My mum called tonight. She loves a chat. My mind may or may not have started wandering during the phone call… and for some reason I started thinking about my early teen years, before ‘tween’ was invented and I was just a kid living in a creepy house reading books. This brings me to regrets. Here is where two things collide. Last year while I was looking around the Op Shop down the street, I came across an eight to twelve year old’s holy grail. My holy grail. A box …

Writing aftershocks #1

It’s been roughly three weeks since I finished the latest draft. I haven’t written a word since. It feels strange. The usual self-loathing-writer-crap pops up from time to time: I hate everything I wrote and I now realise where some of my problem chapters should’ve gone. I’m disappointed with myself that I could only figure this out after I handed in. Complaining to a writer friend, she told me to give my brain some time to relax and free up creative space and while that’s been great (I’ve finally been able to get some reading done!) it’s made me slightly unhinged. The first thing that happened when I stopped writing was temporary ‘loss’ of hearing in my left ear: blocked for a week, it felt like I was stuck in a thick concrete tunnel, unable to regulate how loud or soft my voice was. More than once I was told at work that there was no need to shout. Then the dreaming started: Lizzie came every night, whispered and laughed in my ear. Every time I woke up …

The Boon of Keening: how being lazy led me to character insights

I’ll say it now, writing is terrible for your health. I’m taking a few weeks off work to work on the novel. The last time I did that, i wrote 70 + hours a week and finished with a severely blocked ear, limited sight in my left eye (I’m already short sighted, so this doesn’t help) and enlarged glands. I was also unable to sleep properly. This happens every time I write in huge concentrated blocks and I’d love to figure out what, if any, is the connection between intensive creativity (or simply longer periods of time of concentration) and the weird eye, ear and throat things I get. I decided this time around, I’d slow it down and try not to injure myself. Two days in, my ear became blocked and by the end of the week my throat looked like goitre city. So i took a morning off to visit my good friend, Netflix, and binge watch the rest of  ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’ hoping that would help my …

Hello, Bridget: redrafting the first project.

In April I put Lizzie Borden in the drawer. After 10 years with her and her family, it was time to take a long break and begin work on something new. The distance between us was easy breathing. For the first time in a long time I stopped dreaming of Lizzie, stopped thinking about the way she might move around her house, stopped wondering if she talked in her sleep. I had lost a shadow. I started sleeping in to 7 am. Around 3 years ago, I began searching for my next project. It was exciting to think about what it might feel like to experience new characters and expand on the themes that I was exploring in the current project. That’s when the recurring dream started. A single image: a woman driving to the Blue Mountains with a decomposing child in the back seat. I knew immediately this was the next book. The instinct was there, the way it sat in my body and hooked. It had been that way with Lizzie. Now the feeling was …