Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Author Jacqueline Harvey is more than grateful...
When you read Jacquie Harvey’s words below it won’t take long for you to understand why I adore this women. She is full of the positivity required for us to get the most out of life. She is grateful for the things that should be most important to all of us: partners, family, friends, opportunities afforded us, and those who help us reach our dreams. And Jacquie is a fabulous writer of the Alice Miranda series. Shhhh, but the big surprise is that Alice herself will be appearing here tomorrow night!
I met the lovely JH at the Somerest Literature Festival on the Gold Coast and have since crossed paths with her at festivals, including at the school where she is headmistress! Now, headmistresses weren’t as groovy as Jacquie when I went to school! How lucky are her students? Very!
Jacqueline Harvey’s Gratefulness Blog
Life is nothing if not unexpected. I’d have to say that recent events across the world have been a huge wake up call for me and perhaps for others too. Instead of wishing my life away and thinking that ‘things will be better when…’ I need to remind myself, to live in the moment. As seen amidst the devastation in Japan and Christchurch and closer to home in Queensland, none of us knows when our ‘moment’ will come to an end. So better to make the most of it and as a friend of mine often says, ‘don’t waste a minute.’
There is so much to be grateful for. I’ve actually been keeping my own positive journal for the past few years. Having been a pretty consistent diary keeper for most of my life, a few years ago I re-read some of my more recent chronicles and was struck by the fact they if I didn’t know me, and I stumbled across those tomes, I didn’t think that I would like me very much. I’d always thought of myself as a pretty positive person but reading those diaries, I realised they were quite possibly the greatest whinge-fest in the history of the world. They appeared to be the repositories of all manner of angst and worry – and self-indulgent miserablising (I know it’s not a real word, but I’m a children’s author and so am granting myself literary licence). So while I thought of myself as the picture of positive thinking, clearly I was a living example of Newton’s Third Law – To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Except that my reactions somehow seemed to tip the scales even further against me. The person I thought I was didn’t exist within the pages of those diaries. I really didn’t like that person much at all – the one who moaned about work and housework and lack of this and that, blah, blah, blah. And that got me thinking. If I stumbled upon those diaries would I want to be my friend? Probably not. Things had to change and they had to change fast – lest I be swallowed up by all those ugly thoughts. Like Mrs Twit, who we’re led to believe wasn’t always the ugliest hag around, until her evil thoughts overtook her face and she succumbed to ugliness inside and out. No I didn’t rush out and buy a copy of The Secret but I certainly wondered how I could change my attitude/outlook/life. I wanted the person who I thought I was during the day, to match the person who wrote in those diaries in the evening. For Christmas that year one of my sisters gave me a gorgeous Tiffany & Co leather bound journal. I decided something that beautiful deserved better than the trite I’d been spewing through the pages of my other less splendid notebooks. And so, I called it my Celebration Journal. And while I don’t write in it every single day, I have a rule, that when I do, the observation must be thankful and positive.
Over the past month or so I have been emailing with two friends each day, five things we’ve loved about that day. One of the friends was really struggling – she was homesick and having trouble feeling positive about life in general. So the other friend and I decided we’d try group emailing each day and it’s had the most remarkable effect.
It’s amazing the simple things we’ve been grateful for – that we’ve enjoyed – from working hard, to eating something yummy for dinner to having a hot shower and a good night’s sleep. Many things have been ordinary pleasures but when you actually think about what life would be like without them, it makes you realise their core value. I feel so blessed in so many ways but here are my top 5 for this moment!
1. My husband Ian – a more patient and kind man you would be hard pressed to find. He is my number one fan. He has encouraged me from the day we met to pursue my writing and be the best I can be. He listens to everything I write and never balks when I ask, ‘do you have a minute?’ I feel so fortunate to share my life with him – he even organised our wedding as a surprise for me (and he does the washing too!.
2. My family – certainly as I said before, life throws you some unexpected curve balls. If you’d have asked me when I was a teenager, I would have said that by now I’d have had at least a couple of children. But the universe has decided for whatever reason that’s not to be. So after several years riding the IVF rollercoaster, I think (yes I’m still at the ‘I think’ stage) I’ve come to accept that there is another plan. I have two nephews and a niece that I adore, loving parents and sisters, a wonderful mother in law (now how many people can actually say that and mean it!) and three grandparents who I feel so blessed to have. Our extended family also includes a group of amazing Indigenous girls who board at the school where I work. They spend many weekends with us and brighten our lives constantly.
3. Good friends – people who will forgive me when I don’t call them for far too long. People who cheer for me when things are going well and commiserate when times are tough. I don’t profess to having the largest group of friends – in fact I definitely subscribe to the idea that if you’re fortunate enough to have a handful of true friends in your life then you’re a very lucky person, but friends are important and I cherish them (even though I know I don’t tell them often enough!).
4. Opportunities – life is full of opportunities if you’re open to them. In my career I’ve had wonderful jobs working with great people. I love working in schools and being around young children is such an inspiration. To combine my passion for education and writing is fantastic and I think that it’s been a natural progression to marry the two. I adore being able to get out and work in other schools as well – my view is that kids are kids wherever you go – it’s the adults who put the barriers around them, who create the expectations – or not, and who contrive to highlight the differences. Children just want to get on with it.
5. Alice-Miranda, my family at Random House and writing – this precocious little girl with the ‘brown eyes as big as saucers and cascading chocolate curls’ is without doubt changing my life. I adore writing her stories. She’s the most positive child I know. Last year when I had the good fortune to visit New York (amazing!) I met a literary agent who told me that ‘Alice-Miranda is the best version of who you would want to be.’ High praise indeed and every time I write her I feel a great obligation to ensure that she lives up to expectations. When I was introduced to my publisher, Linsay Knight at Random House I felt that we could do some really exciting things together. My experience with her and the whole team has been wonderful, from my fabulous editor Kimberley Bennett, who challenges me to be better all the time to our fantastic publicity crew; Peri, Sarana and Louise, and Nerrilee Weir, the best Rights Manager in the world.
Not for one moment do I take any of it for granted. I know what it’s like to be sending out manuscripts and hoping that they don’t come back in the stamped self-addressed envelope I supplied. I know what it’s like to wait for someone to get back to you about a story – sometimes many months after it first left home. It’s taken years of persistence to get to this point in my career – and I’ll be the first to admit that it’s incredibly exciting and very humbling.
Alice-Miranda at School will be launched in the US on the 5th of April with Alice-Miranda on Holiday to follow in 2012. As I mentioned earlier I had the privilege of visiting New York last year and met my publisher, Francoise Bui of Random House Delacorte. It was certainly ‘pinch me – is this real?’ territory. I can’t wait to see what the response from the US readers is. The series (in varying numbers) has been sold to Spain, Turkey and Indonesia for translation so I’m looking forward to seeing what Alice-Miranda looks like in different languages. The third book in the series, Alice-Miranda Takes the Lead has just been released here in Australia with the fourth, Alice-Miranda At Sea to come in August. There are definitely four more titles after that – but I’m hoping the series will get to ten or maybe even 13 (my odd lucky number!). Alice-Miranda has lots more stories to tell and I feel truly fortunate to have this opportunity to write them. As a writer, working hard and dreaming my biggest dreams,this whole experience has been nothing short of amazing.
Isn't this a fabulous grateful blog? For more you should follow Jacquie on Twitter.
or write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org You can also check out her website.
and Alice Miranda’s! I’m heading there right now!
©Jacqueline Harvey 2011