The Darklings Unmasked

July 28, 2010 at 7:50 am (Uncategorized)

I’m pretty beat right now, as a result of much frenzied bashing of the keys the past two days, finishing off this month’s Varuna Alumni News, which now requires that I write a feature article each month on a topic of interest or relating to Varuna, the Writers’ House Alumni. This is great for me – it’s hard to imagine a better gig than writing about writing – but in some ways it means I’ve personally got more on the line… when I wasn’t generating the content to quite the same degree, it was so much easier to, well, hide. Now my name is on the thing, and everyone knows at whom to aim the eggs if I do a lousy job. So it’s not only the hours of nonstop work making me tired this afternoon (and why is it that when I am in the middle of meeting a deadline, I can’t even seem to allow myself a toilet break?? Is this normal? It’s certainly not healthy), it’s the performance anxiety.

(For god’s sake, just go to the toilet, would you? Step away from the computer. There you go, nice and easy, slowly now, that’s the way…)

Back again. I really knocked myself out: relieved my bladder, unloaded the dishwasher, made a cup of tea, promptly spilt it all over the floor, cleaned it up, and am now self-medicating with the help of a selection of cookies (swallows). Better now.

I had a lovely surprise yesterday, when Darkling JB sent us a group email direct from her Olvar Wood residency in Queensland. She said she and the other fellowship winners were sitting around at dinner discussing blogs, and I guess JB must have mentioned the Darklings and that one of us is a blogger, when one of them said, “Oh my god! You’re ‘JB’ from DoctorDi!”

It turns out this writer – her name is Penny (hello, Penny!) – has been considering starting her own blog, and at some point, she somehow stumbled across DoctorDi while looking at various examples of the form. I’m not sure how she found it, and neither is she. She thought it may have been from Jonathan Crossfield’s list of Top 50 Australian Blogs for Writers, but sadly (gulp!) I’m not on it. Anyway, it’s not only the bizarre coincidence I find so pleasing, but the large compliment that, having found this blog once, Penny quietly chose to return. I can’t tell how many times I’ve sat staring at my blog stats wondering who you are, so I’m just chuffed to have had this unlikely mutual unveiling take place. It’s hugely gratifying and funny; this is a BIG country, so the degrees of separation ought to be slightly larger than that.

Pretty wild, huh? So JB’s revelation from up north prompted me to ask the Darklings if they’d prefer I use their full names in future, and three of the four said yes – although it occurs to me now that we probably all intended such naming to occur only when I am writing about writing matters, such as when one of them has a win, in which case it’ll be lovely to do some loud public cheering from here. I doubt they’d appreciate my blithely divulging anything else (experience has taught me people love seeing their full names in my blog posts like a filthy great hole in the head), but their successes are another matter, and I hope and trust there are plenty more of those still to come. So without further ado, it gives me great pride and pleasure to reveal the identities of these three Darklings: Jewelene Barrile (who’s just received an Honourable Mention for another of her short stories in the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition in the US, so we’re clearly going to have to build her a bigger trophy cabinet…); Deborah Rice (an ABC broadcast journalist – yes, she’s on the telly); and Jennifer Scoullar (who has actually been named here before, as she’s the author of Wasp Season). Darkling C has her own good reasons for wishing to protect her anonymity, so I’m afraid you’ll just have to keep guessing for the time being, as ‘Darkling C’ she is and shall remain. So there they are. They’re my girls.

Now I’ve filed the Varuna News, it’s back to redrafting the doll’s house story tomorrow… and I might even be gearing up to take another run at the MS. Who knows? I guess we’ll see.



  1. plumbean said,

    it is hard to sail under your own colours. but so worth it and i know your writing will be luminous.

    • doctordi said,

      Priya, thank you, you are so, so sweet. Sailing under one’s own colours is a very lovely way of looking at conditions that sometimes seem very grey and windless!

  2. Pete said,

    What a talented bunch you all are! And I’m intrigued by the one who remains anonymous. And yay for new readers and admirers.

    • doctordi said,

      A little bit of intrigue never hurt a girl’s reputation, Pete!

  3. Grad said,

    Once again I’m just catching up. First, your doll house short story will be ready for the next competition – or the one after that. Be true to your voice and it will be wonderful. As for the mentor thing, there’s usually a very good explanation for a non-reply. For instance, I haven’t checked my personal e-mail in weeks! Can you believe it? I refuse to get the internet at home (I’d never get anything done) and at work…well…there’s that pesky work thingy and constant work emails that pop up every 5 min. So if someone has sent me an email this month at my personal address they are beginning to think I don’t like them by now. And your so right…I do hate it when someone doesn’t give the courtesy of a repy. Like a big fat pin in my balloon.

    • doctordi said,

      Wow, Graddikins – weeks? Really? I couldn’t stand that. Internet at home is horribly distracting – particularly for one who *works* from home, as I will guiltily attest – but I just couldn’t stand the thought of missing mail. I open my letter- and Inbox every weekday.

      I hope the story will work out all right eventually… Llew read the first draft and gave me some good feedback, very astute and helpful, so I’ve just been letting it all simmer in my mind before I go back in. Thanks for believing in me – I do really hope to do you proud one of these days!!!

      Yeah, it doesn’t seem to matter how many times this happens to me, I find non-reply very deflating too. A funny thing is the way it always, always leads me to think about all the *other* non-replies, and I find myself wondering about each one of them, mourning them all over again.

  4. Lilian Nattel said,

    That’s a lovely compliment from Penny. 🙂 And what kind of cookies?

    • doctordi said,

      Isn’t it, though? I think so too. It really made my week. Now, Lilian, I must confess I did not bake my own cookies on this occasion. These were store bought: Pfeffernusse (spiced and iced ginger cookies) and chocolate chip.

  5. litlove said,

    Oh it’s so special to find that someone, somewhere is reading you… (and it’s not just a fix by the kind wordpress people who sit around concocting stats). Yay for that! And hello darklings, go forth, write marvellous books for me to blog about (that includes you, Di!). I’ll be waiting. 😉

  6. Jewelene Barrile said,

    Thank you, Di. It was a big buzz to meet another fan (hi Penny!) of yours in the flesh.
    Yours, unmasked XX

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