After much soul searching and endless discussions with Ian, a few weeks ago I decided that I would resign from my full time job as Director of Development at Abbotsleigh School for Girls in Sydney. I know that there are many things I will miss – mostly the people and the stimulation of doing such a broad range of tasks, but the time is now to try my hand at writing and speaking full time. I’m excited about the future and a little nervous too – it’s impossible to know how things will go. I do know though, that while I was on tour, I realised that I missed working with children in the classroom. I think I was born to be a teacher and a writer and I need to work in a way that caters for both. I am not leaving until the end of October so the school can find the right person to replace me, but come 1 November I’m looking forward to being able to say ‘yes’ to opportunities that come my way. I’ll also be looking for speaking and teaching opportunities so if you’d like to talk to me about that, please email!
This past week we had our Literary Festival at Abbotsleigh with so many talented Australian authors and illustrators. Sally Murphy, Hazel Edwards, Kate Forsyth, Gabrielle Wang, Morris Gleitzman, John Marsden, Colin Thompson, Anthony Eaton, Aleesah Darlison, Tobhy Riddle, Ursula Dubosarsky, Sarah Davis, Aaron Blabey, Geoffrey McSkimming, John Larkin, Chris Morphew and Barry Heard to name a few – sorry if I’ve left anyone off!
It’s fantastic to have so many like minded people in the one place and my only regret was that I didn’t have a lot of time to sit and chat, being part of the organising committee and conducting sessions, while also keeping up my other job. I did have the pleasure of collecting Barry Heard and Anthony Eaton from the airport on Wednesday evening. Anthony was flying in an hour after Barry, so Barry and I sat and had a cuppa while we waited for the flight. Barry Heard is without doubt an extraordinary man. I must confess that I didn’t know much about him until then – a Vietnam veteran who had written a couple of books was about all I had learned. That was underselling him something shocking. He’s a survivor, a dad, a husband, a mate and an incredible story teller who has a quiet passion for history. I wanted Anthony’s flight to be late so I could keep talking to Barry (sorry Anthony) – and I was upset that I couldn’t see him speak on Thursday as I had my own sessions to do. I will be buying every one of his books and reading them in a quiet place, with plenty of tissues on hand. He made such an impact on our girls at school that several of them told me afterwards that he was ‘amazing’; ‘I just wanted to give him a hug’; ‘he was incredible’ and so on. I can believe that’s exactly how they felt. I am so pleased that I had the opportunity to meet him – and I do hope that our paths will again cross in the future.