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Katherine Collette

Australian author + podcaster

S2 Ep44

Katherine Collette

Listen and subscribe on Apple podcasts (itunes)  Spotify and Google podcasts

Welcome! My guest today is Katherine Collette, a writer and podcaster from Melbourne VIC, and a mum of 2.

Katherine spent her childhood writing, whether that be poetry, in diaries, stories or to pen pals. Throughout high school it fell away until her 20s when she would write a little play or comics for friends,

An engineer by trade, when Katherine turned 30, she reflected on the long held hope that during her life she would write a book, so she began.

Her first book The Helpline, based around the people she had met in her work life. was published in 2019 and she followed up with The Competition in February of this year - 2022.

Her style is described as light but clever comic writing with a bit of punch.

Katherine also co hosts the First Time Podcast with fellow writer and previous guest of mine, Kate Mildenhall.

Katherine - website / The First Time Podcast / Purchase / Instagram

Williamstown Literary Festival / Bendigo Wriers Festival / Queensliff Literary Festival

Varuna Writers Retreat / The Divided Heart by Rachel Power / Rachel Power's podcast episode

Podcast instagram / website

Music used from Alemjo with permission.

When chatting to my guests I greatly appreciate their openness and honestly in sharing their stories. If at any stage their information is found to be incorrect, the podcast bears no responsibility for guests' inaccuracies.

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Podcast transcript at the bottom of the page

Thank you so much for tuning in to this episode of The Art of Being A Mum Podcast. I'm beyond honoured that you're here and would be grateful if you could take 2 minutes to leave me a 5-star review in iTunes or wherever you are listening. It really helps! This way together we can inspire, connect and bring in to the light even more stories from creative mums. Want to connect? Take a screenshot of this episode and share it on Instagram tagging me in with @art_of_being_a_mum_podcast

I can't wait to connect. And remember if you or somebody you know would like to be a guest on the podcast, get in touch! I love meeting and chatting to mammas from all creative backgrounds, from all around the world!


Thank you!


Alison acknowledges this Land of the Berrin (Mount Gambier) Region as the Traditional Lands of the Bungandidj People and acknowledge these First Nations people as the custodians of the Region.


Welcome to the Art of Being a mum, the podcast where we hear from mothers who are artists and creators sharing their joys and issues around trying to be a mother and continue to make art. Regular topics include mum guilt, identity, the day to day juggle mental health, and how children manifest in their art. My name is Alison Newman. I'm a singer songwriter, and a mom of two boys from regional South Australia. I have a passion for mental wellness, and a background in early childhood education. You can find links to my guests and topics they discuss in the show notes, along with music played a link to follow the podcast on Instagram, and how to get in touch. All music used on the podcast has done so with permission. The art of being a mom acknowledges the bone tech people as the traditional custodians of the land and water, which this podcast is recorded on and pays respects to the relationship the traditional owners have with the land and water as well as acknowledging past present and emerging elders. Welcome to the podcast. My guest today is Katherine collet, a writer and podcaster from Melbourne, Victoria, and a mum of two. Catherine spent her childhood writing, whether that be poetry in diaries, short stories, or to pen pals. Throughout high school, it fell away until the early 20s When she would write little play or comics for friends and engineer by trade. When Catherine turned 30, she reflected on the long held hope that during her life, she would write a book. So she began her first book the helpline, based around the people she had met in her work life was published in 2019. And she followed up with the competition in February of this year. Catherine style is described as light but clever comic writing with a bit of a punch. Catherine also co hosts the first time podcast with fellow writer and previous guest of mine, Kate Miljan. Hall. I hope you enjoyed today's episode. Thank you so much for coming on today. Catherine. It's a real pleasure to have you. Ah, thank

you for having me. I'm very excited to be here.

Yeah. Must be nice to be the subject of a podcast rather than interviewing someone.

Yeah, it is the I think that events add things to, I think the harder job is being the host, rather than being the guest. You got to be a lot more agile in how you're thinking and think of the next question. But if you're the guest, you just wait for the question and answer. It's great.

You can relax a bit, just switch off a bit. And yeah, hopefully not too much of like, if you if you don't. So tell us about what you do.

Sure. So I am an author. I have written two books. My first book came out about four years ago. And my second book, which is called the competition came out just over a month ago now. So I do writing. I write fiction, the type of fiction that I write is humorous fiction. And I also co host a podcast called the first time, and I believe you had my co host on the show a couple of episodes ago.

She'll say, we know Yeah, it was lovely to make a she's, you guys must have so much fun when you make that podcast.

It's I think it's well, I mean, we've been doing it for about four years. It started out the concept of the podcast was my first book was coming out. And she was the only author that I knew. So I kept asking her all these questions about what to expect. And yeah, we ended up making a podcast about it. And the podcast has continued since. But during the last and it's always been fun. But during the past couple of years with COVID. We're both in Melbourne, we've spent long periods of time locked down, as I suspect have, you know many of your listeners. But she really was my main touch point, aside from my family, my husband, my mom, it was Kate that I spoke to every week. And a lot of those chats are recorded. And we listened back. She made a little compilation a few episodes ago. And we listened back to the conversations just snippets that we had when COVID first hear it and then over time during lockdown, it was just a it was a really fascinating thing. She definitely kept me going but you could also hear the fatigue in our voices over time.

Yeah, it's interesting to have that like little time capsule almost of that, that moment in time and sort of reliving the emotions and the uncertainty and all that sort of thing as as it went through. And yeah,

I think it was fascinating because I think that period particularly at the start, you know of so much uncertainty. Yeah, to reflect back and think. Wow, I'm glad you didn't know what was coming in many ways. Yeah. So strange. Yeah,

absolutely. Yeah. I just want to let you know that I messaged you and let you know. But I am reading the competition. I haven't finished it yet. I'm sorry, I didn't get to finish it. But I love it. I mentioned you and your message I love your sense of humor is so relatable to me. I just I read it. And it's like, I could have said it myself. It's just love it. So.

Oh, thank you. That's so nice. Thank you. I really appreciate that

All right, so let's go back to the beginning. How did you become a writer.

I was a kid who always liked writing. I, I wrote, as a, you know, pretty early on, I would write in diaries, I had a lot of pen pals. Often people didn't realize they were pen pals with B. So they, you know, didn't always write back. But I wrote a lot of letters to people. And I also read a lot of poetry in those letters, terrible sort of rhyming stuff. So it was something that was really a part of my life early on. But it fell away, as I think it maybe is a fairly common experience in high school I was more interested in I played a lot of basketball. For one, I was probably also more interested in meeting boys. So I did, I did some writing, but mostly it was assessment based. So there was some creative stuff in there, but but not, you know, not heaps. And then in my 20s, I would do little bits and pieces, sometimes for gifts for people, like I might write a little play if they were going away, or I might write comics for them. So I had this creative element. But I mean, I'm, I'm 41 Now, when I turned 30, it just not I had a crisis, but I had this moment of thinking, my whole life, I thought I would write a book. And I realized that no one's ever just gonna tap you on the shoulder and say, Hey, you'd be amazing at writing a book. If you if you buy a if you write a book, we'll publish it, you have to just start writing the book. And so I did, and I didn't shut start with short stories. I just plunged straight in. I had met. I'm an engineer, but I was working for a brief period of time at a council doing community development sort of stuff, which I was really very good at. But there I met this president of this local senior citizens club. And she was a really intense woman a little bit problematic. I remember that she I think the first time I met her she was furious because the Chinese subgroup of senior citizens had been playing mahjong in the bingo room. And she had gotten so angry with them for doing this that she had, they had sandwiches in the communal fridge. So she threw out all their sandwiches. And, and told them that it was her fridge and they weren't allowed to keep food in it. So I met this woman, I had this desire to write. And so I wrote a story that was set around a council worker who encountered this senior citizens club. And I was obsessed. I wrote, I didn't have I, this was pre kids. But I got up every morning, I'd get up at five, I'd write for an hour, then I'd go to the gym, and then I'd go to work. And slowly that would encroach into weekends. Like I do writing on weekends. I wrote a bit on the holidays. My husband was like, it's kind of annoying. She would not do this. But yeah, so that was how I got the first draft of my novel down. And I was madly redrafting, wanting to start to send it out. When my daughter was born, that felt like a really big hurdle. But basically, I sent it out. You know, I had a few hurdles and hits and misses along the way. But that novel ended up getting published. And when it was purchased by the publisher they purchased it was a two book deal. So I I was in at that point.

Yeah. Is that scary though? Knowing that you've got to then turn around and do In other words, well, I had a draft

of the other one. So that certainly helped. Yeah, but it is it is daunting. Yeah, I've heard people say that it, it probably is a better example of it, that do weekly columns. And so that feeling of like, you just sent one in. And then the next day, it's like, oh, I have to do another one. Like I just finished the first one. So did definitely have that.

Yeah, right. So not wanting to spoil the competition for people who haven't read it yet. Was that inspired by real life people as well, as they helped me it was,

it was so the competition is set around. Public speaking club, people might have heard of Toastmasters. It's a very similar environment. But basically, I had swapped jobs, essentially, from going from engineering to working at the council. And suddenly, I had to do a lot of public speaking. So I joined the local Toastmasters Club. And I don't know if you've been to Toastmasters.

I know people I know people who have. Yeah, so I so

it's, it's a funny little world. I think that a public speaking clubs probably always going to be pretty awkward. And you would want a public speaking club to be awkward. Both because people are trying something that is inherently awkward. But also, if it was to cooler space, you wouldn't feel comfortable to get up like it has to be this really accepting friendly, kind of gentle place. But that also adds a layer of unusual newness I suppose like if I guess my first impression of Toastmasters was like, Oh, this would be easy to satirize. Because, well, it's awkward, it's enthusiastic, it's really positive, it sort of came out of a probably predates the self help movement on us, but it's definitely a part of it. But at the first meeting that I went to, there was another woman who had just joined and she was a, she's a transgender woman. And she was in the process of transitioning. And she talked about why got to know her over time. But basically, in that process of transitioning, she picked Toastmasters as the place that she would start that so she sort of said to the group, listen, my name is this here. But outside of this, I've called David. And if you see me in the street, don't mention, you know, my name is Greer here, don't don't mention the two things. And that always struck me that Alongside this, this place, that could feel a little bit ridiculous at times, there was something about it, that was really beautiful. If someone who is doing something that's really brave, and I imagine it's really difficult, but they feel that this is the best place to start that journey. And so I always had this view of Toastmasters. And it was a view that I maintained over time, that it was a place where people found their voice, and that there could be elements of that, that were really funny. But there were elements of that, that were really sweet and positive and important. And, and so I started writing a book about it. And the book, the competition is set around a public speaking competition in a Toastmasters like environment. And there is a character in it. It's a really minor character that is based on that original woman that I met. But that's not the focus of the story.

Yeah, yeah. Do the people know that they're in your books? Like, are they aware that they've

had them? She's the only one that is based on Well, I did have a senior citizens club president in the previous one but I suspect she's is dead and and she was heavily fictionalized. The this is really the only character that is more closely based on a person but she's a really small character before it before the book came out, I had because I had interviewed Gregor is the woman same before writing the book. And I said to her, Oh, would you like to read the bits that I've put this character in? And I've set up copies of the book in my she said, No, she wasn't fast. But she my launch comes up in a week's time and she's going to come to the launch, which was nice. That's but it wouldn't be. It is lovely. It would be very daunting though. If I hadn't done those things, the idea of writing about something and not being I open about that. And I can see why people, you know, could make that choice just because it feels harder. But I'm glad I did. And I mean, it was a positive portrayal.

Yeah, that's the thing. You're not You're not hiding it because it was, you know, you turned it into a negative or anything. It's like, it's quite positive. And you don't mind if that person is very aware that that is them? Or based on Yeah, that's right.

That's right. I guess the challenge with that, though, in that kind of example, is that it could feel very random to have a book that is set in a public speaking club. And there is just a transgender character walking around, like, it could feel like a really labored form of diversity or something like that. So I just was a bit conscious of that.

Yeah. Yeah, that's good. So, share a little bit about a bit more about your first time podcast with I mean, I don't want to give away your secrets, because I want people to listen to it. But tell us the sort of the gist of it, I suppose.

So as I said, when my first book was coming out, I had all these questions. And so I would routinely be like, okay, you know, like, my launch is coming up. What am I meant to do at the launch? Or they want me to give a speech at the booksellers conference, what should this speech be about? Or, you know, just all of these different things that I wanted her view on, I wanted to know the answers to because I think it's, I think it's a vulnerable thing for anyone releasing any type of art into the world via books, or music, or sort of visual art, those kinds of things. And so you, you sort of, I really wanted that from her. But I also was very much in this space of being a writer in a community of writers, and a lot of them were emerging writers, that would be going through the same things because, you know, they would have books published, if not now, but they just had books published. So both of us were like, Well, we think there's kind of a bit of space in this. And I think authors, particularly emerging writers also like hearing those stories of how people's books came to be sitting on the shelf. And did you get an agent? Did you enter a competition? Like, you know, was it on the slush pile, all this sort of stuff? So we started the podcast, and it always had these two parts. One part was our experiences. So me saying it was, I think, particularly in those early days, because we recorded a lot, before we had an audience, and we're releasing episodes as their audience was growing. We were both very vulnerable and saying, I feel really daunted. Yeah, so we had this one part, which was about us discussing me asking questions, the two of us discussing pretty candidly the experience of being published. And then the other part was interviewing authors, other authors about what it was like their first time. And so that was the initial starting premise. Initially, we had to not beg people to go on the show. But we certainly had to question please come on, you know, podcasts people can be a bit dismissive of, but we were like, ah, Could you could you come on our podcast and in people very kindly said, Yes. And so now I think we're into our fifth season, we are overwhelmed with people pitching like it, that part has really evolved, evolved. And you don't have to ask anymore,

you've got people knocking down the doors to you to be a part of it.

RedBubble. And the best part of that is, is that you get st people's books. So you just have we get lots and lots of books. So as someone who loves reading, as well as writing that, I just I constantly pinch myself and going to the mailbox and having all these books there. It's great. So that was where we began. We are now five seasons in we still interested in people's first time, and that's sort of what we're known for with our guests. We always ask them about that first time. But I guess as we've evolved as writers, we ask also about the craft of writing, as well as the publication experience. Yeah, it's been really nice. And I think what's nice about it is that you start to build a community around it, so it's got a really beautiful community and it's been such a nice thing to do. Writing can be really solitary, but this feels a bit more like a team sport. Yeah,

absolutely. And it would be so rewarding to like knowing from your own point of view, what it's like, for your first time and how daunted you are, you're actually helping other people as well. I think that would be amazing feeling.

It is, it's lovely. And some of the letters that we get, and emails are so touching. I keep mentioning COVID. But I think COVID is really dominated life. And we've had so many people that have messaged and said, You really got me through COVID I couldn't write I didn't feel creative. I was I couldn't meet with my writers group. But having you and Kate talking and being able to listen to you guys and hear the same struggles. And here also the your defeat your challenges in being creative at such a strange time. Yeah, so

it's like they were they were, they were hearing from familiar figures in their lives. You know, it was they felt reassured, and yeah, it's like you. Even though you weren't there, you were there for people, you know.

It's true. And I feel that myself with a podcast that I listened to podcasting in audio is such an intimate medium, because it's intimate. When you create it, it's just you and I sitting here, it's intimate when you listen to it, because it's generally most people listen on headphones, or, you know, maybe in the house, but they're generally listening on their own. It's only when you then realize that, you know, it's 1000 people listening on their own, that you realize what's not, you know, probably only to say everything.

Not good on you that that's really awesome. I think yeah. COVID was, and it still is, you know, it's it's a time that's divided people like physically. And so having those, those connections that people can tap into, it's just been everything, it's been so important for people and yeah, good on you.

And I think that community has helped us too. I remember early on in COVID, we had a listener that wrote a letter in and was saying they had just been at for Runa, which is a very well known writing retreat in the Blue Mountains. And it was in a house that was formally owned by Eleanor dark, who was a writer. And this listener that wrote in was saying that she had read Eleanor darks, diaries or something from the Second World War. And in them, Eleanor was saying that for the duration of the war, she couldn't write because she felt this creative malaise. Survival was sort of front of mind. And it just sort of felt frilly to be writing amidst all that, and something that really helped me when I was struggling to hear someone say, yeah, that is really difficult in times of hardship to want to write, but also that that malaise goes away, and that as as things in life get better. It comes back.

Yeah. But yeah, it's, it's, it's like a, it's not a thing that's sort of reserved for this era of COVID. Like, this is an experience that people have had for many, many generations. So it's sort of reassuring in that way, you know, that you're not alone. And what you're feeling is normal. And you can feel exactly, yeah, exactly. No, that's, it's interesting. Because I found in people that I've spoken to, through this podcast, it can go either way. It's like, some musicians go bonkers. And just they've got to express how they're feeling through their art, or painters, and, and such, and others that just go nuts. Like survival mode, like you said. It's like daddies that it's like almost the primal brain kicks in. And it's just day to day looking after yourself. Looking after your family. Yeah. And everything. That's really true. Yeah. And I guess, to everyone's experience with the COVID, throughout Australia and around the world as being different to like, even you guys compared to me here in South Australia, I've had nothing compared to what you guys have gone through. So I sort of touched with that. You know, we've been really fortunate here and yeah, I don't know. It's just interesting.

I think that's really true. I think it's also if you err on that side of that, I can't write I can't do anything. I've got nothing. It's really hard seeing people that Oh, my God novel fell out of my head overnight. And I've you know, written it in three days. I think we often feel that since well, I think jealousy is always a part of creative life, how much you try and engage with that and be calm. Just not to let it in, but you can feel like you're falling behind Yeah. All right, so

let's talk about your family and your children. You mentioned briefly that you had your first child when you were sort of the helpline was getting going places and happening and things. And yeah, tell us a little bit more about your children.

Yeah, so I've got two children, the eldest, Matilda is eight now and Oscars, six. So they're both at school. This is Oscar's second year at school. So he's in grade one. So I feel like now is a really exciting time creatively, because I get two days a week that they're both at school, and I'm not doing other types of work. So that's really exciting. But yeah, so when Tilly was born, I took a year off work, you know, stayed at home, I wrote a lot in that time, she was a good sleeper. So I was really lucky in that respect. I feel like I've been able to maintain my creative practice through motherhood, probably the bigger blip in that was having two kids, because most people with multiple kids will know, you have this idea that maybe they'll have a nap at the same time, but think that ever really happened. So I think that felt that sort of first year of Oscars, life felt like far more of a hit in that respect. But I wouldn't change it for the world. I feel lucky, like those. I feel lucky to have both to both be able to maintain a creative space and energy and be able to do that. But also to complement that with family life. I feel that one enhances the other.

It can you elaborate on that a bit more?

Well, I think that pre kids, that was a fear for me, like I had this sense of urgency when Tilly was going to be born, that life would change. And I had a sense that what if I can't write anymore? What if? Or what if I can't write for a long time, what if it's not until they're both at school that I can sort of pick up a PIN, I really didn't know how that would work. And I think those early days of motherhood are so hands on, there's so much sleep deprivation and all those kinds of things that whilst I enjoyed all that I I had framed it around loss, in some ways that I would lose this ability to be creative. And, and a lot of that was related to time. But increasingly, I think having kids is enhanced my creativity, both from the point of view of productivity and the lesser time that I have. But kids also awaken a different sense of curiosity in you and a sense of play, which I mean, you reading different books and seeing different words in that way. But I don't know, like, just how a child will spend an hour balancing a beanbag on one foot, or you know, those sorts of the game of life, you know, games in nothing. And there's something that's I remember being a kid and thinking, encountering adults that I knew had forgotten what it was like to be a kid and thinking, I'm never going to forget what it's like to be a kid. I'm never going to forget what it's like to be a kid. But I think for me, it wasn't until I had kids that I remembered what it was like to be a kid like I had forgotten.

Yeah, because life takes you in that direction, doesn't it? Like life expects you to be a certain way and behave, you know, this level? And it doesn't encourage times of play and

and it doesn't. You wouldn't the things that you do with kids. Like I don't know, it's sometimes it's boring, like you're playing in a sandpit and that repetition of activities that really little kids like But the delight they will take in playing with an adult is really a joyful you're listening to the art of being a mom. I started doing improv comedy last year, just they do a series of like terms, basically. Yeah. And improv, particularly in the early stages has lots of games that you'll play it. And they're really fun. So something very small might be one person you're in, say, pairs. One person says, well, well, if it isn't there, and then you have to think of like an adjective, and then an occupation or a type of thing. So well, well, well, if it isn't that angry bus driver. And then the other person has to say something that an angry bus driver will say, like, oh, you know, I haven't got a good ticket to get off the bus, something, something small. But I do that. And I take a lot of those games, but that sort of thing with my kids, where you'll say, well, well, well, if it isn't there, something something. And it's just really fun seeing what they come back with and what. Yeah, I would feel silly, potentially doing that with adults, but kids are always up to that stuff.

Oh, yeah. Yeah, I

love it.

I work in childcare. And I, it's the perfect environment for just being yourself, like truly being yourself. Because you can be as silly as you want. You can have in the staff it everyone's the same. So there's all these banter and silliness. Like I could imagine going into my work and doing something like that, because people are just in that headspace that, you know, your inhibitions are gone. No one's judging you like, a kid's not gonna look at you and go, Oh, that's not very funny. Like, you know,

it's so good. I do. Like there are certain friends I have that, that you can do that sort of stuff with my publicist for the book, the competition, we've traveled around a bit since the books come out. And she was saying when she was a kid on long car trips, obviously, you had the radio, but the radio would go out. So her family used to play this game where one of them would pretend to be a talkback radio host and the others would call in. And she said, the great joy of it was just in the name this so you sort of drive past a church and say, Oh, we're looking at churches today. Have you ever been in a church? What's the funny thing that's happened in a church? Do you like churches, you know, this sort of thing? And just the ridiculousness? We did it for hours. Like, just as we were sort of being driven from place to Oh, suitcases. Do you have a hard suitcase? You have a lost a suitcase? You know, just Yeah. So I tried doing that with my, my kids, and they have never heard talkback radio. We listen to podcasts and things.

Yeah, that's interesting, isn't it? You sort of that's that generation. Yeah. Oh, I should try that with my kids. They would love that actually.

So much fun. Yeah. Like, the more inane that it gets is just and because talkback people are so like, have such an opinion, such a singular point of view. Yeah.

I can imagine your lady you said about before that it's

like, yes, she'd be on Mars young into being gay. Right? Exactly. Oh, my goodness. One of the things

I like to ask my guests is about how having children or being a mother sort of might have changed the way they create. And that's how it sort of has influenced you, I guess is that it brought back that ability to play and look at things differently. Maybe look at things through the eyes of a child and yeah,

I think that's the real. Yeah, that's, that for me, that's what kids have brought. I think also that I've had much greater exposure to kids books. Kids books have changed a lot since I was a kid. You still have I mean, I love Roald Dahl. And I still love Roald Dahl. But even when I pick him up, I'm like all It's pretty harsh at times. You know, a lot of it is sort of carried through. But other things like I don't know if we'd get away with that

now. Yeah, that's actually that's a really good point. You see some of the stuff. Yeah, I've noticed the same thing and like reading to kids at work over the years. It's like it's gone from like, almost like an adult way of writing to this completely the other way that you think you'd hear that in? Like, you know, the schoolyard like, it's not even formal enough for a book, you know what I mean?

Yeah. This Yeah, the, my kids read a lot of Ra sprat, who does nanny Pickens. And anyway, she is very funny. Just listening to kids books is really fun. We listen to a lot of them on audio, on podcasts or on borrowbox, like library apps. tightenings. So I think, not only that sense of play with my own kids, but being exposed to authors who play a lot in their writing. I think there's so much more of that than there ever was, before you look at the tree house books or books that are just a bit absurd or, Yeah, funny books.

Yeah. You talked before about not really knowing what to expect, like, you're thinking of things in a point of view of loss, like, will I get this back? You know, maybe how it's going to fit into my life? Did you have other members around you at the time, who were writers that you could sort of glean information from? Or are you just basically making it up as you went, I suppose

I had, I had just started a writers group, there were four of us in the writers group. And I know I didn't have that, then that's a lie. So I had gone to RMIT. And I was doing some creative writing courses there. But I didn't have a group at that point. But it must have been fairly early on. When I went back, so Tilly must have been about 12 months old, and then met a couple of people. And we set up a writers group that was separate. So that was a really pivotal moment for me, in having other people around me who were writers that I could talk to, they were obviously less established writers. So they were also had pretty young kids. And we're figuring those things out. So I think it was a more lonely endeavor. By the time we're not a lonely endeavor, but probably everyone has to figure that balance of stuff out for themselves. But when my son was born, one of the girls in the writers group was Kate actually gave me a book by Rachel power coat, ah, what's the name of the divided heart. I remember breastfeeding at night, and just devouring this book, which is a book, it's a collection of interviews with creatives, writers, musicians, all different sorts that talk about particularly those early stages of motherhood and motherhood and how they fit it in. And so you would have people who were sort of literally breastfeeding to the side of the stage before going out and playing a set, and others who really had struggled to be able to do everything to be able to do anything. And, for me, that was the greatest education because it was this breadth of experience of how people had made it work. And so it sort of did reinforce that idea of you just have to figure it out. But it presented a vision of it can coexist. You don't have to give one up. You can have both, and it will be a juggler. And here are examples of what the juggler looks like. But yeah, yeah, that was huge for me. Yeah. And in fact, I've tried to give it to people who've just had babies and who are creative, and it's very hard to get.

Yeah. I had Rachel on the, on the show on the podcast in season one. And gosh, she's an amazing woman to speak to. She's just, I don't even know how to describe her. She's just incredible. And the gift that that book keeps giving to people. It just it's endless, like so many people had had mentioned this book. And I actually had it I hadn't read it. I'd heard of it, but I hadn't read it. And I reckon the first three people I've spoken to had mentioned this book, I'm like, I need to read this book, and then I read it and like I need to talk to this lady that wrote it. I need to get inside her head more. And yeah, she was so generous with their time Um, it was wonderful to speak to it.

It's such a known book among, like, I want to say it's niche, but it's kind of not niche because it really applies to so many women. It's just that it applies at this particular gets you at this particular stage of life. That's it isn't. It's yeah, it's an incredible book. Yeah.

I approached my interview with with Rachel, like, I didn't want to be complete fangirl. You know, you might be like, actually, when you speak to authors, it's like, I need to contain myself. But I'm so excited to speak to it. And I just wanted to to really understand from a layperson, that what she's done is just been incredible. And the gift that she's given to so many people, and yeah, just how grateful we all are,

you know, for does she know that I imagined check and save a lot. Does she think? Yes,

I hope she does. If you're listening, I hope you get it.

Push it really to me. What in, in what I have seen, it is the only book of that kind of milk that I have discovered. And it is a very beloved book.

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So. So yeah, like, I think what, what I've sort of taken from that, what you're just saying is like, you can see what other people do, you can't exactly copy what they're doing. Because everyone's life is different. But it's reassuring to hear everyone's going through it. And we can make it work. And like you said, these are some ways that you can sort of manage that, that juggle.

And I think it helps with that. You can feel very judged in that juggle at times, particularly in a creative juggle is very distinct from a work juggle, because at least a work juggle is bringing money in. Whereas the creative juggle, might not bring money in at all, or a very small amount of money relative to return. So that tension, I think, is what profound in that space.

It's a whole, like, I can never say it right? It's not a kettle of worms. It's a can of worms, can I get my kettle of fish in my cameras? But that is it like the value that artists have been honest, a forced in inverted commas, because I don't really believe we bring it on ourselves. It's something that society and external judgment has brought upon us that we, if things are only a value, if that's a monetary value, and that's a horrible thing to say, unless you can commercialize it, unless it's part of capitalism, society, it's what is it worth, you know, and that's a really, really sad thing with

so I think it's so deeply ingrained that in many people that many people don't even realize like one of the things people always ask you, when your book comes out, or when it's been out for a little while, it's generally not other writers or other authors that would ever ask this, but just kind of people that are outside of that world is Oh, what a sales like, Did you which, and I can understand that compulsion to ask that. But it's, it's such a fraught question for someone producing creative because it's so diminishes the worth of something to this volumetric measure, when equally, they could say, you know, what's been the response? or what have you, you know, like, there's so many other ways that you could measure the success of a thing to talk to sales is, is Yeah,

yeah, it's interesting. Some of the moms I've had on this show, have felt the judgment from not their own parents, but like parents in law, about there's one example of a lady that the mother in law would look after the brother's children because the mum was going to work like an actual job, but she wouldn't look after her children because what she was doing wasn't deemed as being worthy enough to have childcare. You know, it's like this, this massive judgment that comes at you from all angles.

That kind of ties into one of the things I love to talk to moms about is this whole concept of mum guilt. What's your sort of take on that in relation to, to creativity?

I think, I think Mum, guilt is hard to escape on some level. What has made a massive difference for me and I would say it's probably in other writers lives as well is publication. So pre, it's like that gives something a legitimacy and a validation that all of those years where, you know, you might get an article here or a short story here and all that stuff is the real turning point in terms of perception, because I think there is a relationship. And, like a real life relationship between perception and and that kind of valuing of what you're spending your time doing. There's also an element that is in your head as well. Yeah, I don't suffer majorly from guilt. Because I guess for a lot of years, I tried to make my writing as invisible as possible. So I would get up at five o'clock or 430. Before kids, pre COVID, I would leave the house, we have a 24 hour McDonald's nearby, I would spend that, you know, be back by 7am, which, you know, I'm in a privileged position to be able to do because I have a partner who was in bed at that time. So I did work really hard to kind of make that as invisible as possible. Because I have now got two books out, I've been able to carve out more time. But I remember when Tilly was I think she was about nine months old. And she might have been 10 months. And I got my very first fellowship to go to a writing retreat at Bruna at this retreat that I've mentioned before, and it was a full week all on my own. And I was so unbelievably excited, because it was a really validating thing to have one in the first place, but also because I had a 10 month old baby like to be away from that child was like hard, but I was gonna love every minute of it as well. Yeah. And I think I even weaned Tilly in order to go, which I would not have told people at the time, but I didn't want to be pumping milk and being at this retreat the whole time.

Yeah, a week.

Oh, my God, having is the worst. Anyway, so my husband and I were in Sydney and I was going to catch a train to Verona. And so I was in this like, great, joyous mix of excitement and all the rest. And he got up at sort of 5am put to leave the car and they drove off. And so I lay luxuriating in bed and was just about to get onto the train, and was just pure, pure excitement. And you know, like, I'll miss you, but I'm so happy. Anyway, he called me at like 730. And something had happened with the car. And they've been driving. And he what had happened, the brakes had failed. So he was trying to slow the car down and pushing on the brake and nothing was happening. So he was stuck on the freeway with no way of like slowing down. And so he managed somehow to get the handbrake to go on. We just got to get like 100 kilometers now. So it's like this real near death experience. And it was so like, it was awful and crashing on multiple levels. But I remember feeling really worried but also, if I hadn't have been if I hadn't have been going off to do my writer's retreat or why myself that would like it was such a guilt laden moment, even though it was complete chance. And me having been there or not, wouldn't have made a difference. Yeah, there's just yeah,

like, did you get to go on your retreat still? Or did they did

and I still had a great time. But I always whenever I think of that retreat, I think of this need if that was it, the cruise control got stuck on and he couldn't turn the cruise control off my God. So it just kept the car kept barreling along so it's it's really frightening thing. But whenever I think of that retreat, I also think of the two of them having this near death experience. And it is overlaid with joy and guilt. So as much as I sort of am conscious of it and try not to feel it. It's it's yeah, it rears its little head.

I love that. And I love that you didn't go back and save them in the lucky which rich rage because like, like you said, like what would have been nothing would have changed. If you were in that car, the same thing would have happened. It's like

I would have made it worse because I would have been like ah like I didn't die. So it's probably better for everyone that I was

I had topic that I like to raise with my guests is about identity about how the concept of how you saw yourself changed when you became a mum. Did you sort of have any To sort of experience where you went, I mean, you did talk about before, how you were concerned that you may not be able to write again.

Yeah, identity is an interesting one. I think that I have never been a person that has, when I became a mother that that became my single identity. And I'd probably say that from even when I worked, I worked as an engineer, I really struggled to say I'm an engineer, were to take that honest identity, like some people do really take their job on as an identity I never really did that. I struggled to take on I'm a writer as an identity, which probably is more impostor syndrome, you know, is, is probably the source of that more than anything. So with motherhood, I was obviously a mother, but I never saw that as a singular entity to how I was. And I think part of that was, I was able to write in those early days of motherhood, you know, a couple of months in that sort of stuff, I did go back to work. So I didn't spend, I spent a year off, but I didn't spend a prolonged period of time. So I think that really helped. I have a tendency to obsession, like I could very easily focus singularly on art, like I have to be very conscious of what is important to me in life. And I want to have strong relationships with my kids and my partner and be in the world. But I have to really be conscious to balance that and to not let obsession with writing and those kinds of things overtake it's a really conscious effort for me.

Yeah, yeah.

It's you find that but like, how do you

I'm an all or nothing person that my psychologist has told me that many times, I, I get fixated on things, and I have to do them. Or conversely, I just couldn't do it about anything. Like it's really odd. Yeah. Like, if I've got something in my head that I want to achieve, I'll do it. But that's very rare. I'm a very unmotivated person generally. That's like, when I watched the Olympics, and you hear people their story, like, they broke their leg, but they came back, and then something else happened. And they came back, I just think, God, I would have just given up after the first thing, you know, I'm not that person at all. So I have so much admiration from people that do that. But yeah, I I'm a bit I'm a bit the same sometimes. And then I sort of think, ah, who's cooking tea tonight, you know, like, just getting this. I'm just doing doing doing and I'm like, Oh, I lift my head up and go, Oh, what's happening in the world? You know,

I think it's as well like, the tension we often have in my house is my husband is a much neater person than I am. So, yeah, I can really, I can live in fields, but like, as long as there's no like dirty food and dishes and that sort of stuff. Like I can absolutely, I can tune it out. It doesn't bother me and I sometimes think, like not to overstate it. That's a gift in life, too. Because I was not someone who when the child was napping, I wasn't like, I'll quickly tidy that never occurred to me. I was there was not going to happen. I can

completely relate to that. Like right, what can I do now in 45 minutes? Jumping this

just exactly which I think is what you have to do, like, in those early stages in those early days of motherhood. If you are the stay at home and the babies you're doing 90% of the caregiving oh my god you can't be cleaning your house in the 45 minute nap that that child has. No, absolutely.

Just makes me weary thinking about it actually.

I know. But you also have to be tolerant like you have to be able to stand the mess

Oh, that's the thing, isn't it? You do but you do you get you get used to a level of discomfort that then sort of disappears it's like I can handle that being there can i Yes, I can but I don't even say anymore it's absolutely spotless. Oh my gosh. It's hilarious. So do you feel I know your children are six and eight, they're very capable of seeing what's happening around them. Is it important to you that they see what you're doing and what you're contributing to the world?

Yeah, I think I think it's really important. And they are really proud of that to my son in particular, is, I think, my best PR agent in the world, he will always tell when he talks to his teachers and says all mums, you know, last year, he was saying all mums written a book. And this year, he was like, Can I take the book in for my teacher and to this fit, like, he tells everyone, we went into a bookshop recently, and my book was on the shelf. And he was quite a small shop. And he was very loudly, ma'am, there's your book, and I was sort of, like, cost cash Don't, don't don't. And then when we came out, and he's like, You should be so proud. Why why, you know, like, really, really sweet. So I think it's really positive for them. I think I didn't grow up in a household that, you know, when people talked about where they were artistic people in it, people read a lot and, you know, went to theater and shows and likes things, but the idea of doing it yourself was pretty foreign. So I really liked that that's a possibility for them. But they also, and I think this is good to see that you're generally not going to make a living from it, it will bring you great joy, you can have a lot of success with it. But from a fiction writing perspective, it would be 20 authors in Australia, you know, a pretty small number that get to write full time.

Yeah. Yeah. So they're learning early on the realities of hanging out?

Well, that it's it coexists. And it's an important part of life. But it's you might not want to put all your eggs in that basket, but also, equally, you might want to retreat, arrange your life, so that there's space for that. So you know, you can, you don't have to work full time, you don't have to, you know, be ambitious, I think we look so much to work as to give people fulfilment. And I think that's not a message that my kids get, not to say that you can't enjoy work. And that work, you know, I work in the environmental space and sustainability stuff, I think is, is really important. And so I want them to understand that responsibility. But also that, that creativity is an important thing, too, because we look so much to sport in Australia. And, and, and I know sport has a health dimension, but so did the arts. And you can pick up all those skills around teamwork by being in the theater or dancing or, you know, it's doesn't need to be so singular.

Yeah, I had a conversation with the, for the podcast with a lady who is overseas, and we were talking about what happened during COVID. What stopped and what didn't stop. And I was just like, reflecting on the fact that even though they were locked down to the restrictions, hundreds of male footballers were allowed to move around this country like COVID didn't exist. But then on the other hand, every performer, you know, anyone who was doing something in the public eye that wasn't bored, just had the rug pulled out front of them, it was just really, really showing what caught our culture in Australia values. And it was really sad.

Absolutely. And meanwhile, you know, 99% of the population are watching Netflix and consuming the culture that that artists produce is when I said

to someone, like, everything that we touch, everything that we listen to, and we consume has been made by someone, a creative person has made that and I think we forget that, that. It's like, if we cut the arts off, you wouldn't have the radio, you wouldn't have the TV, you wouldn't have your Netflix, you wouldn't have music, you wouldn't have, you know, houses, you know, everything would start you wouldn't be driving a car because now we'll be creating, you know, beautiful cars, it would just everything would stop. And no one thinks about it in that way, like the government said.

It's yeah, it's hugely disappointing. And I think that valuing of not only sport, but male sport, yes. Is just makes it particularly disappointing particularly, you know, given the role models that sports men often playing, there are a lot of issues that I think the creative types are Uh, you know, more across. You don't see them in the paper, you know, upon sort of sexual assault or harassment charges and those sorts of things,

or sitting sitting in hotel rooms, snorting cocaine or something. I don't know. Sorry, maybe maybe they're doing it, but we just don't know. better at not

getting caught. That's right. No, honestly, it really has been a massive eye opener, and not in a very nice way.

Would you do you have anything else that you wanted to share? Like what you've got coming up? I mean, you mentioned that you've got like your official launch? Do you want to share? Sort of?

I think I've got a few festivals there'll be at I could share about Yeah, so I will be at Queenscliff and Williamstown writers festivals at those. I'm talking with Tony Jordan, who is an author that I'm a huge fan of. So that feels like a very special moment. And I'm also going to Bendigo, where I will be thinking a session with Kate talking about the first time podcast, I think we're doing a live recording. Oh, cool, beat a lot of fun. And so those are coming up in May and June and the details will be on my website.

Awesome. That is so cool. Thank you so much for coming on. It's just been so nice. So nice.

So nice to think about creativity and kids. Like this feels like the podcast version of Rachel's book. That's incredibly flattering. Thank you. I think that's what we need. Like it has a bigger impact on women than it does on men to adventive children. Absolutely. Yeah. He's good. Keep up the good work.

Likewise, thank you. Thanks for your company today. If you've enjoyed this episode, I'd love you to consider leaving us a review, following or subscribing to the podcast, or even sharing it with a friend who you think might be interested. If you or someone you know would like to be a guest on the podcast. Please get in touch with us via the link in the show notes. I'll catch you again next week for another chat with an artistic mum.

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