Thursday, 5 November 2009

A Room of One’s Own

I had meant to start blogging from the moment the plane touched down in Melbourne. However the last three weeks have disappeared in a blur of meetings, interviews, job searches, house hunts and jetlag recovery. I haven’t really been able to focus on anything else other than the day-today; perhaps Virginia Woolf was right in saying that ‘a woman must have money and a room of one’s own if she is to write...’

I now have that elusive room, defying Melbourne’s current housing crisis. It’s a beautiful space, bright and sunny, with eaves and space for an enormous bed (I got carried away in Ikea) on which I am sitting right now, luxuriating in the sheer roominess after 3 weeks of dorm living. I could describe it as a garret to make me feel pleasingly poetic but that would not do it justice. I’m sharing the house with a fellow bookseller and English teacher; it’s all I can do to stop myself from rootling through their shelves, particularly as I feel very bereft of my own library! I have seven books to my name in this city, and one is a Rough Guide to Australia...

Anyway, now I have indeed found gainful employment – primarily bookselling with casual work as a MS reader and have also been in touch with some book festivals about potential contract work in the new year. As in the UK, there are hundreds of smaller regional festivals springing up around the country alongside the big hitters and it will be interesting to observe any organisational idiosyncrasies, particularly in light of Amanda Craig and other authors’ recent comments on the perils of visiting a badly-run festival. (A L Kennedy spoke – at length, and with great warmth and wit – on a similar topic at the EIBF a few years ago; the transcript is here and it’s just very, very funny.)

As I hope to be blogging about cultural differences between Oz and the UK, both in the book world and the real world, I shall leave you with just two today.

1. The Aussie love of abbreviating any word in the language (and ideally adding an ‘o’) also applies to bookselling, as in; ‘merching’ some tables and making sure you ‘alpha’ the books correctly.

2. I am currently eating some Tasty (TM) cheese; this is a type of cheese here, not just a brand, but an actual type. As in there are many different manufacturers of Tasty cheese. I love this country.


  1. Glad you're doing well, Vanessa. Love the present-style background, too! Congrats on finding work; feel a little jealous of the Tasty Cheese...

  2. Could you perhaps bring me back some of this Tasty cheese? On second thoughts, you may end up on 'Border Control', accused of cheese smuggling as a large sniffer dog invades your most private parts...

    I am loving the blog. Stick with it! I'm excited for some enlightenment, plus the possibility of excellent book recommendations!