I am often asked when and/or how my interest in Australia got started. As with so many of my interests, it started with books. Between his service in the military and his career in business, my dad had gotten to know a fair number of Australians, and as Australians are great book lovers, books were what they most often sent as gifts. The one I remember most vividly was a magnificent volume titled The Australians, with gorgeous photography by Robert Goodman and wonderfully crafted text by George Johnston. It came out in 1966, and today you can only find it in secondhand shops, but during my childhood and into adulthood, I returned to it often. I’m sitting now, flipping through the book, and smiling that I have visited so many of the places that captured my imagination when I was a youngster.
Many other books followed, but it was about 10 years later that I saw the first images that suggested to me that Australia was actually a potential travel destination. John Denver shot a TV special in Australia, and he took a gaggle of celebrities on a tour to some of the most interesting places. Among those places, the one that was burned into my memory from that program was Ayers Rock/Uluru.
It was many more years before I finally got to the place where I needed Australia–really needed to go and explore it for myself–and understood that it was okay to go. That was the trip, of course, that changed my life, the trip that became my book Waltzing Australia — the reason people ask me how my interest in Australia got started.
I like to think that someday, someone else will be asked how their interest in Australia got started, and that for someone, it will be with my book or my blog. We’ll see.
Anyway, John Denver really liked Australia, so he went more than once. In fact, the John Denver CDs in my collection were purchased in Australia– which means they have songs that I don’t think many folks in the United States have heard, including Sing Australia. It’s not my favorite John Denver song (hard to pick a favorite, though if I had to, I’d say Calypso), but it’s definitely the most Australian of his songs. You can check it out here– with a nice slide show of Aussie images.
I’ve mentioned A.B. “Banjo” Paterson a number of times previously, most especially in relation to “The Man from Snow River,” one of the most famous poems in Australia. It’s highly enough revered that I have an Australian $10 note that pictures both Paterson and a horseman making the “terrible descent” celebrated in the poem. Paterson also wrote “Waltzing Matilda.” But he wrote a lot of poems, and many of them have become favorites of mine.
This one I particularly love because I have found it so often to be true. Writing rarely offers reward commensurate with the amount of work done, and yet the work itself is why one writes. So here is “Song of the Pen,” another in a continuing series of Aussie classics.
Song of the Pen
Not for the love of women toil we, we of the craft,
Not for the people’s praise;
Only because our goddess made us her own and laughed,
Claiming us all our days,
Claiming our best endeavour–body and heart and brain
Given with no reserve–
Niggard is she towards us, granting us little gain;
Still, we are proud to serve.
Not unto us is given choice of the tasks we try,
Gathering grain or chaff;
One of her favoured servants toils at an epic high,
One, that a child may laugh.
Yet if we serve her truly in our appointed place,
Freely she doth accord
Unto her faithful servants always this saving grace,
Work is its own reward!
For those of you who prefer electronic books but don’t have Kindles, Waltzing Australia is now available at Smashwords. That means it is now in forms that will work in Nooks, iPads, and any other device on which books can be downloaded.
If you’re interested, you can find it here: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/143849
So now, everyone can have access to the adventure, the joy, the history, nature, and lore of Australia that flows through the pages of Waltzing Australia. I’m pleased that the delights of the land Down Under can now be shared with an even wider audience.
Of course, I’ll still keep posting peripheral material here — all the things that wouldn’t fit in the book. So you can continue to enjoy and learn about Australia, even if you don’t latch on to the larger story. But, of course, I do hope you’ll join me on my 20,000-mile trek around and across a country I found so enchanting.
Filed under Australia, Book, Food, Geography, History, Literature, Lore, Nature, Poetry, Travel, Writing
Shortly after my book, Waltzing Australia, went live for Kindle readers, Kindle Digital Publishing asked me if I’d consider giving them exclusive rights to the book for the next 90 days. So a version for other ereaders is being postponed. However, there is good news for Kindle owners who are also Amazon Prime members: you can check Waltzing Australia out of the Members Lending Library for free.
Both the print version and Kindle version will still be available for sale, if you aren’t an Amazon Prime member — or if you simply prefer to own the books you read. But for anyone with Amazon Prime, you can now read Waltzing Australia for free, as one of your membership benefits.
I hope this leads to many more people sharing my adventures, and that more people will find out what a dandy travel destination Australia is.
For those of you who may have been holding off on buying my book until there was a Kindle version — the time is here. Waltzing Australia went live on Kindle a couple of days ago. You can find it listed on Amazon — a search turns it up right after the print version of the book.
For anyone who has a different ebook device, I hope to have the book available on Smashwords soon, which means it would be available for most other ebook readers (including iPhones).
So if you’ve got a Kindle, I’m ready for you now: here. (And be aware — even if you don’t own a Kindle device, you can download the Kindle software for free on your computer, and then just read Kindle books there.) For other devices — stay tuned.
The Australian writer and book blogger known as Soooz has just posted an interview with me on her book review and authors site. I think Soooz asked some interesting questions.
If you’re interested in some of the background on how I got to Australia and why, plus how I rebuilt my career, Soooz has covered it all.
Sooos Says: Interview with Cynthia Clampitt
They say that books need video trailers these days. I don’t know how much good they do, but I found a place that does a good job for a reasonable price, so I gave it a shot.
I had my first video book trailer done a couple of years ago, when my book was new. I thought that this year, with the book having won an award, it might be time for a second trailer. So I asked the team that created the first video to do a new one. This time, I supplied several photos from my travels, to get away from using images everyone else might be using (all but the shot of Ayers Rock/Uluru and the Sydney Opera House, both of which they used in my original video, are mine). I think they did a good job of creating something that was very different from the original.
For any writers out there who might be considering a video book trailer, I’d definitely recommend these guys (their info is at the end of the trailer). Not only do they create the video, they post in on the Internet for you.
So here’s the new video:
I love writing about food just as much as I love writing about travel and Australia. So when I read that there was a contest being run by Tony Bourdain to write about why we should cook well, I couldn’t resist. Of course, the real purpose of the contest is to get people to flock to the publisher’s website, but my reason to join is that it would be nice to have Tony put in a good word for me somewhere, if he did like my writing.
So how do you win? How do you win any contest these days? You get people to vote. This is kind of American Idol for food writers—except without the recording contract or any real degree of fame. That said, I’d still love to have you vote for me. Here’s the link to my essay: The Thread of Life.
Thanks for any and all votes.
Filed under Food, Writing
With Tasmania behind me, I was headed next for Canberra. But I thought I’d interrupt the flow of the tale to insert links to a few guest posts I was invited to submit to other blogs.
The first one is about why writing longhand is not merely a virtue, but a useful tool in the writer’s arsenal.
The second is about why one needs to look things up. Of course, the real reason is so people don’t simply dismiss your writing because of the errors. But here are some examples.
And finally, here’s one on delighting in writing.
Hope those of you who are writers find something useful and/or encouraging in these.
I was interviewed this last weekend on the Passions and Possibilities radio show. As is so often the case these days, the live show was recorded and is now available online as a podcast.
In this interview, while there is some discussion of my motivation for going to Australia, much of the conversation centers around practical steps for pursuing dreams, as well as tricks for staying motivated.
Passions and Possibilities Interview