I return to the interview, the record of the day:
MMC: and then, after a period of depression, I took [the manuscript] up again
after a period of depression, I took [the manuscript] up again and I dreamt of [a] scene [seemingly from the novel] and [in the dream], it was called Ramshackle. It was a ramshackle jetty-like structure, which […] kind of grew rhizomatically
It was a ramshackle jetty-like structure, which […] kind of grew rhizomatically.
‘After a period of depression.’ I note this, repeat it, re-write it.
My attention keeps returning this phrase. Just five words. Not the focus of the interview or even of this section about Marion’s early work. The under-statedness of it. As if it is worth mentioning but not worth dwelling on. Placed between a period of intense work, being rejected from a system (the academy) and the picking up of writing again.
Is there a cause and effect? Was Marion able to start writing again because she was not so busy working? Did the period of depression provoke or necessitate an engagement with the writing, with creativity?
I’m over-writing. It’s the elegance of the statement. How gently it is placed.
I seek out the parts that speak to my research. I realise I am not a good interviewer. I haven’t elicited. I strayed from the questions. I didn’t even start with the questions. What does this mean ethically?
MMC: And with the second book, Not Being Miriam [published 1988], perhaps rather [00:08:00] too, um, [too] boldly in a way, I wanted to do a kind of serial [from one character to the next], um, it was like a relay, um, between these women characters,
[00:08:15] and I needed some sort of event that brought these very distinct characters within [their] distinct […] spheres of activity, their cultural repertoires, their ethnic background, all together. And […] so, I worked sort of metonymically with […] you know, this-touches-that-touches-that.
this-touches-that-touches-that on the table when I arrive a stack of books several are gifts for me to take home plus print-outs some new poems an essay introduction the new book I try to find the right word without sounding – that is I am touched it is touching this gesture: here: my works I cared that you were coming I wanted to show not show off but show is it evidence a neat pile the body what has been made legacy this happens again with another writer the archive presented or bits of at least and food again too gestures of sharing welcome, let me and briefly my anxious heart what would I have to show? if anyone ever were to ask
MMC: And to the degree that it was fragmented [a critic like] Helen Elliot reviewed it as […] a collection of short stories. It didn’t have a generic affiliation, you know, ascription, on the front: Not Being Miriam, a novel, um, but Elliot read it as a collection of short stories and she said it was ‘high literary junk’.
EC: Was that a compliment, or …
MMC: It wasn’t meant to be a compliment, oh she said, ‘she can write like an angel’ but it’s ‘high literary junk’. Anyway. Um, and, but somebody else who, in the West Australian, you know, um, wrote ‘We’ll call it a masterpiece’.
Another Helen (Daniel) will come up again too with the other writer as someone who always gave her work and me Helen Daniel gave me a prize for a review I wrote said there would be more work she was kind then she died and there was no more work (with that journal)
MMC: what I’m inclined to call the metonymic, or that relay [from one character to the next], um, was [a mode of] assemblage, showing how a community through, you know, feminist empathy, whatever can be formed by default with these improbable encounters or, and, and they do finally [find a degree of solidarity].