“Are you ok?” I hear Mal ask, with a slight pitch of alarm as he walks into my office. I’m sitting on the floor, staring at a carpet of scattered papers. It looks like I’m meditating, but really I’m in half child-pose half foetal position and moaning. Only ten minutes prior Mal had popped his head in to ask if I wanted a cuppa – then I was sitting on a chair staring at the computer screen, albeit a blank one.
“I can’t get my ducks in a row” I whimper. He does a double head shake, turns and walks out the door,
with my coffee.
He’s not even going to ask “what ducks?”.
On my desk, a little yellow plastic duck with sparkly eyes and luscious lashes looks down, its bright red smiley beak taunting me. The damn thing knows I’m a brilliant disorganiser.
Let me go back a bit, a few weekends ago I’d attended a writer’s workshop run by author and journalist – Susanna Freymark. It was a fascinating workshop, all about simulating blowjobs, having sex on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald and pitching your duck. It only ran for four hours but I came away (along with the other 14writers) with some mindblowing information.
So what has ducks got to do with writing I hear you ask?
Well it’s all about standing out.
If ducky was a book and the pitch the author platform, then what sort of presence did it have out there on the pond and who was taking notice. Ducks look alike. Sure there are many breeds and different colours but they all have webbed feet and all quack… unless you’re in Italy, then apparently they say 'qua qua'…
So the question was posed what makes this little duck different and was it flapping its wings out wide enough and engaging a bit of a ‘air’, at the same time paddling the pond, causing ripples to be noticed before the next plucky little duck swans-on-up and grabs the spotlight.
Like hungry little ducklings, we gobbled up the tasty croutons Susanna tossed to us - ideas to promote our books. – Websites, Social Media, Apps, links, press releases, blogging, twittering, pinning and tumbling about and for a split second I had visions of my little duck turning into a Jack Russell bouncing around, wasting time sniffing every corner and annoying everyone. (There was a fine line between wagging the tailfeather for a bit of attention with perceived nonchalance and becoming an annoying leghumper.)
But it turns out, pitching the duck is not the only thing that a writer needs to do. It’s also all about getting all the other little ducks into line, so that everything falls into place just nicely. And as one little quacker paddles off down the river, you’ve got another one all ready to launch. That means actually writing.
Sitting down and tapping out words.
Turning a white screen into a variegation of black grey and white lines with a touch of red and blue highlights that you can play around with.
Simple. Oh I wish. Ducks are popping up everywhere and demanding attention.
And mine are refusing to get into line.
The greatest attention seeker is work-a-duck – no ifs not buts, this little ducky demands that I attend work – if you want eat more than just crumbs, you need to waddle into the office and shuffle that paperwork.
Away from work, walk-the-dog duck is a serious contender with scrub-a-duck and cook-a-chook, though, to look into my cupboards you’d think neither of them did anything as the cupboards are in both chaos and filled with nothing to eat.
Flighty-duck keeps trying to lift off the ground, snatching quick trips here and there; all worthy of writing home about but not finding any time to do so.
Then there’s Chatty Duck who over the past six months has had quite a few engagements – all of them tons of fun, although this little goose got very tongue-tied at the last appearance. I was chatting with the lovely ladies of the Ballina Probus Womens Club, and although I’m not that short in stature, I did find it hard to see over the podium, and as I did the bounce up and down wobble the head to try and see everyone, the session become a bit more of a prodding than probing as I become more and more fluffed and ruffled and forgot what I was going to say.
Reno duck demands the weekends lately – we’re trying to get a house ready for occupation, with a deadline looming which doesn’t work for a float-about person like me. This weekend
the weather was absolutely perfect for ducks as the rain poured down in buckets and my paint dribbled down the walls, refusing to stick because of the cold and damp, and formed puddles of its own on the lovely new tiles we’d just laid and grouted the week before. Enter scrub-a-duck.
And then there's my favourite little duck - grandmother duck - who takes up the rest of the free time (not that this is a problem, this is an absolute joy) to fluff around with the darling grand-duckers.
So here I was looking at all my ducks wondering how to stop literary duck becoming space-cadet goose. I’m not sure how I’m going to corral them all into a nice straight line so they paddle off into the sunset but one things for sure, there’s nothing more satisfying than discovering you’ve got a lot of exciting busy little ducks in your life.
Oh! you want to know about the sex bit?
Yes, well that was interesting too, Susanna Freymark is author of the book ‘Losing February’ a novel loosely based on her life, and explores the love without sex and sex without love and lots of bad boys road; such saucy material saw her book thrusted onto the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald – every authors dream,
the lucky duck!
Images Note: All the little ducks here happily posed for their photos at the Ballina Rotary "Great Duck Race" held each year at Ballina, Nsw.
No more ironing underpants