Friday, September 11, 2009

The best thing I've ever made

Well, collaborated in the making of!

Here she is, our darling baby daughter, Poppy Greenberg Ewin, born on 21 July 2009. I am just overwhelmed with joy at having this beautiful little person in our lives.

The 9 months leading up to Pop Pop's birth were hectic to say the least. I had to get the entire second half of Hamlet done before Delivery Day (my own deadline, not the publisher's!), which meant working at an absolutely gruelling pace. No time for blogging when my quota was 7 pages per week, come hell, high water or morning-noon-and-night sickness! Turns out that Hamlet and nausea make quite a fitting combination - I felt very much in character.

Happily it was all done and delivered in the nick of time - especially as Poppy popped out two weeks early. Very pleased with the final hundred pages in particular, as the action in the final quarter of the play puts most Grand Finals to shame. Ophelia's death came up a treat - and as I got deeper into the play, I began to feel more and more strongly that Ophelia's is really the greater tragedy in this story. She is so comprehensively crushed by those around her, so stripped of any real agency that she is denied even the scope to consider whether to be or not to be. Hamlet has all the possibilities of action and agency open to him, but builds his own mental prison. Ophelia, however, doesn't have this melancholy luxury. The prison around her - and in her own head - is built for her by her father, her brother, the court and by Hamlet too. Hers is the tragedy of girls treated as possessions, wantons to be constrained and tamed, fools, tools, and vessels of shame. We should all be raging against Ophelia's fate, and refusing to collaborate in building these prisons for the girls in our lives.

Ophelia, Hamlet and all the rest have definitely taken a back seat for the last couple of months, though! I am delighted to report that the first seven weeks of motherhood have been absolute bliss. People love to dish out dire predictions about how you will turn into a frantic, desperate sleep-deprived zombie who watches daytime TV, but the reality has been quite wonderfully different. Compared to the psycho pace I was going at before (Hamlet, work, renovations, preparations and carrying that watermelon belly), things feel beautifully peaceful now. I keep thinking of the line from Donne: The world's contracted thus. That is just what it feels like, here in our cosy domestic sphere.

Things will probably be a bit quiet on the blog for a while, as right now I can't even contemplate picking up a brush, pencil or pen. It's definitely time for a bit of R&R&R (the third R is Reading); time to just enjoy every day as Poppy blossoms before our eyes.


Colin Wilson said...

Hey, well done on both deliveries! Congrats all around...


genevieve said...

What a beautiful collaboration! congratulations all, and enjoy that R+R+R

Ian T. said...

Fantastic! Congratulations to all of you!

ClareSnow said...

Congrats on your Poppy.

I'm not sure whether your reading includes any Hamlet variations, but I know of 3 YA versions that you might not have come across. I agree with the appalling way Ophelia is treated by everyone who is meant to love her and then to have her overcome this with suicide. (I studied Hamlet in year 12 and it didn't help my self esteem.) I realise its a tragedy, but only she dies by her own hand (or does someone else at the end of the fight?)

In "Dating Hamlet" Lisa Fiedler came up with a very teen girl lovey dovey version. But Ophelia is painted as a girl with her own thoughts who can make her own decisions. And its great to read while sitting in the sun at the park or the beach.

John Marsden recently wrote a tragic version, in which Ophelia is again ditched for more noble pursuits like feeling sorry for oneself. But I found it an amazing read - better than a lot of his work :P

And back to girly YA romances, my fav fun YA author Maureen Johnson (fun coz I can count on her to never reduce me to tears) wrote "Suite Scarlett" which includes a theatre troupe putting on Hamlet and Scarlett's employer deciding to "put on a play to catch a king". Maureen Johnson isn't as fluffy as most YA "romance" authors, so I recommend this if you only read one of these three.