Category Archives: Writer

Money and a room of one’s own

It’s been a while, guys. That wasn’t the way it was meant to be, but there are a series of unremarkable things that happen in life that can push an author in unintended directions. Case in point: what happens (or doesn’t happen) at work. A vast majority of us indiefolk have to do other kinds of work for a living. Many of us belong to the so-called precariat: we hold casual positions at work which don’t allow us to think in terms of earning so much a month, because there are months in which we don’t earn anything.

Gone are the days in which an academic like me had the chance of being employed full-time. Managing money has become “a thing” in itself and it saps my creative energy. I happened to be discussing this with a dear friend of mine this arvo when she nodded and said something like ‘Yeah, having money and a room of one’s own.’ It was Virginia Woolf who wrote those words in an essay that would become a classic in feminist thinking:

…a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction; and that, as you will see, leaves the great problem of the true nature of woman and the true nature of fiction unsolved…

I can’t complain about the little room where I do my writing (when my mental state allows me to). Even the local library where I live counts as a “room of my own” with a breathtaking view of the Blue Mountains. We can discuss “the true nature of woman” till the cows come home. In any case, this isn’t what I intend to do here. I guess that what I want to discuss is the role of money in the life of a writer. Yes, that unspeakable monstrosity, that hideous vulgarity. Money, or lack thereof, that can hold back many a creative soul and their creative career.

Every time I want to find an answer to life’s dilemmas, I ask Google. Yeah, effin’ Google and its nerdy relative Google Scholar, my true ally in these days of post-truths. A couple of days ago I came across a very cool website run by Mark McGuinness, poet and coach. In this well worded article he discusses the uneasy relationship that creative people have with money, and he does nail it on most counts. Many authors think that money isn’t important; they don’t know how to get it or don’t know how much they’re worth; they don’t want to sell out or look greedy; not to mention that in countless cases they don’t know how to manage it or spend it.

Make no mistake, one-hundred dollar notes could put a huge, lasting smile on my face.

If I use the third person singular “they” it’s because I’ve got a very clear idea of the role of money in my life. I’m also painfully aware that the need to have a “day job” will be there for who knows how long because very few creative writers make a living as such. I’m not saying I’ve given up; on the contrary, I believe there could be a future working as a creative writer for me. But in the meantime I have to support myself in a different way, namely through a “day job”. A stable “day job”.

‘These are hard times for dreamers,’ said the porno shop assistant in the movie Amélie.  I’d say they’re hard times for those of us that want to make a living without making a fuss. Of course I want to make a living selling novels and collections of short stories, but in order to write them I need the peace of mind that comes from knowing that my bills are paid.

Must leave you now. I need to continue fighting the bad guys and keeping the wolf from the door. Catcha later 🙂

Germaine, oh Germaine!

Germaine Greer … A name that’s synonymous with feminism, English literature and Shakespeare scholarship … and brain farts 🙁

Germaine Greer on QandA (11/4/16). Photo by ABC.
Germaine Greer on QandA (11/4/16). Photo by ABC.

Her comments on ABC’s QandA, broadcast yesterday April 11 from their Sydney studio, left me wondering … I could only find a link from, which will have to do for now, given that there’s no YouTube link that I can easily embed.

GG was hell reasonable most of the time. She made a number of valid points on refugees, terrorism, the Panama Papers and Shakespeare. At some stage she expressed a firm disagreement with Dr Theodore Dalrymple, psychiatrist and author. He said that in his years of experience as a psychiatrist, he found that the underlying reason why men treat women violently is jealousy. GG replied that she thought it had everything to do with misogyny.

Germaine, Germaine, have you ever heard of pathological jealousy? By the way, it can also affect women …

Someone like her, who I’m sure can analyse Shakespeare’s Othello like no other, should know better.  I’m not saying that misogyny isn’t part of the problem, but disqualifying a psychiatrist’s well founded observation wasn’t precisely a brilliant idea. First brain fart of the evening.

The best was yet to come, though … Stay tuned.

Questioner Steph D’Souza said, ‘When I was younger I found your work a great source of strength and inspiration. It helped me resist the limitations that society or even misogynists could place on me, but I find really confusing views you’ve expressed that transgender women are not real women. Why do you believe there is such a thing as a real woman? Isn’t that the kind of essentialism that you and I are trying to resist and escape?’

‘This is so difficult,’ Germaine responded. ‘The interesting thing to me is this, that if you decide, because you’re uncomfortable in the masculine system, which turns boys into men often at great cost to themselves — if you’re unhappy with that it doesn’t mean that you belong at the other end of the spectrum, that by expressing it that way.’

At this stage, I began wondering whether I’d had too much Verdelho with dinner …

GG continued, ‘We’ve got a problem now with the word “know” and we could spend a lot of time discussing what that means philosophically, is believe the same as “know”? Is true belief the same as knowing? None of this is easy. The difficulty for me, that women are constantly being told that they are not satisfactory as women, that other people make better women than they do and that the woman of the year may be Caitlin Jenner which makes the rest of the female population of the world feel slightly wry.’

Hang on a minute, Germaine. It doesn’t make me wry. How would you know? You don’t speak for me. Are you “all women,” m’dear?

‘I don’t believe that a man who has lived for 40 years as a man and had children with a woman and enjoyed the services, the unpaid services of a wife, then decides that the whole time he’s been a woman and at that point I’d like to say, “Hang on a minute, you believed you were a woman but you married another woman. That wasn’t fair, was it?”‘

You thought that was the whole brain fart? There’s more.

Wisecracking Germaine finished her comment saying to the host, Tony Jones, ‘I belong in this hole.’

And effin’ stay there, Germaine. In the hole.

Last year she uttered fiery claims that transgender women are ‘not real women’ and accused Caitlyn Jenner of misogyny for attempting to steal the limelight from the females in the Kardashian clan. That’s a very lazy point of view. Apparently she didn’t bother to inform herself on what it is to be transgender. The Internet is full of quality resources like this one published by the American Psychological Association (.org and .edu online resources are the quality ones… I’m sure Germaine knows that). My good friend Dr Vek Lewis is a Sydney Uni academic who is also an advocate and activist in the field of sexual minorities in Latin America, and he’s my go-to person when I have doubts on this topic. I bet that Germaine will surely benefit from a frank and robust conversation with Vek.

I look forward to a debate between Vek and Germaine …

What most surprises me is that as different sciences move fast and elegantly, and do research on gender that go beyond capricious beliefs, Germaine Greer sticks to “her guns” (whatever those guns are). She used to be a feminist hero of mine. She opened my eyes to different possibilities, beyond those of being a wife and mother. Now she appears to be slamming the door shut in the face of transgender people, bordering on vilification.

Nobody can deny that a contrarian and provocateur like Germaine Greer has enormous entertainment value on television. However, her manner of entertainment isn’t helpful at all. QandA now owes us, faithful audience, some quality feminism. Bring Eva Cox, Anne Summers, Raewyn Conell, Naomi Wolf, Isabel Allende, Susan Faludi, Rigoberta Menchú and Tara Moss. Bring others. Let Germaine stay in her “hole”.

Catcha later, a glass of Verdelho is calling me. FFJ 🙂

If this is how some people write obituaries, I’m Virginia Woolf: my outrage at how some airhead decided to write about the late Colleen McCullough

Stupid people are hard at it. Whatever they do, there are times in which they incite outrage. Someone shared this ‘brain fart’ it in a tweet early this morning, and later a friend of mine shared it on Facebook. I found it so distasteful and outrageous that I need to vent about it here.

The highlighted text speaks for itself: airheads are hard at it. Meh!
The highlighted text speaks for itself: airheads are hard at it. Meh!

We Australians are saddened by Colleen McCullough’s passing. I’d like to say a few words about her and her work. But first I need to get this off my chest: some airhead journo from “The Australian” or any other Murdoch newspaper (it doesn’t really matter; they’re all the same) decided to make a very ungracious comment about the late Dr McCullough’s physical appearance. I can’t bear to repeat it, but will share the incriminating evidence that has been doing the rounds. Pathetic is the first word that comes to mind, and then a flood of four-letter words.

 “The Guardian” published a column by Elle Hunt in the Australia Books Blog that captures the mood among those of us that admired Colleen and grew up enjoying her books. Some of the tweets that this article reproduces are a scream, and patently show that thinking people won’t buy a third-rate piece written by a dimwit.

Such a comment on someone’s appearance in their obituary is what I call “Fifty Shades Of Non-Thinking”. Nuff said.

What I do want to write about is what Colleen McCullough means to me: she’s the first Australian writer who opened my eyes to Australia when I was a very young girl living in Argentina. I first read a very poor Spanish translation from my mother’s bookcase, but a couple of years later I got hold of the English version and enjoyed it no end. The landscape and the consequences of a natural disaster had a few striking similarities with the Argentinian hinterland.  I did fall in love with Father Ralph de Bricassart and felt for Meggie. Fee’s life and the decisions that she had to take became an eye opener into how life can be “unromantic” and yet full of love between a man and a woman.

Colleen was an accomplished scientist and started writing after a relationship breakup (I can relate to that, even though I never finished what I started after that disaster in my love life). She was a ‘voracious reader’ who came from an Australian-New Zealander family, born in Central-West NSW. She worked as a teacher, librarian and journalist before she started her studies at Sydney Uni, where she graduated as a neuroscientist (I have to confess I didn’t know that about her). She had a remarkable academic career in the UK and the US—at the University of Yale, no less!

Her first novel, Tim, was written in 1974. You can find her bibliography in countless websites, so I’m not going to bore you with that sort of detail. The Thorn Birds was her second novel and became an international bestseller that was later turned into a successful TV miniseries.

I was stunned to find out that her last novel, published in 2013, is called Bittersweet. I’ll have to read it. In any case, I swear that my choice of title for my first work of fiction comes from a different source 🙂

Masters Of Rome is a superb collection of historical novels. I’ve never read it, but I applaud the fact that she chose to focus on the Republic, instead of revisiting the rather trite topic of imperial Rome. There’s a general consensus that Colleen did very thorough research on the topic.

What is it that I have learned from her as a writer? How is she a kind of role model for me? I suppose that if I could choose, I would love to become one of those writers who becomes the readers’ darling and can make an independent living on her works. I’d certainly love Bittersweet Symphony—or any of my future works for that matter—to be made into film or a dazzling TV miniseries. Prizes? Sure, they’re welcome, but many times they don’t bring home the bacon. The critics? Yeah, I know they’re there, and that they’re to be listened to (or read) once, and then quickly forgotten.

Germaine Greer said that The Thorn Birds was the ‘best bad book’ she knows. Certainly good ol’Germaine can be as ungracious as a nun criticising a young girl’s make up! But she can also be fair and praise the Australian setting of the novel. Good on her, but I can predict that Germaine will never become a national treasure as Colleen did! 🙂

My foot needs some attention. Catcha later, my dearests, FFJ 🙂

‘In The Hot Seat With FF Jensen’: main highlights

G’day to all of youse there,

It’s a shit of a day: my car needs some repairs and that costs $$$ that I didn’t quite like to spend. I’ll probably have to walk to the gym later, rather than drive, if the car isn’t fixed today. Grrrrr!!

In any case, good stuff does happen: Jenny Mosher from IndieMosh, my publishing facilitator, has transcribed the most interesting bits of the ‘In The Hot Seat With FF Jensen’ interview in a blog post on Online Village Blue Mountains.

For those of you who don’t like watching videos on YouTube, I can say that Jenny’s blog post is a pretty good (and quick) read. You can also appreciate how to-the-point her questions are.

Back to my car headache. Talk to you soon, FFJ