Catherine Deveny’s Gunnas Writing Masterclass - Frankie Darling  

I knew I would love Catherine Deveny, despite not knowing much about her before the workshop, except that she was feisty and funny. Slapped over the Gunnas Writing Masterclass webpage was the promise of receiving a creative enema, and really, how on earth could that not be fun?!

As I trotted to the Gunnas Writing Masterclass on a glorious sunny Saturday to Lygon st, I felt slightly apprehensive and wondered if I would get scolded for being 10 minutes late. I felt a stab of worry: I’m not a writer, just a simple old English teacher! What if I’m terrible today, and will I be out of my league?

Greeted by creaky stairs and a warm smile, Catherine welcomed me by asking what coffee I wanted. I took a seat on a large family sized table, with around 14 guests present. Chatting to the people next to me, turns out everyone was feeling a bit nervous.

Catherine utterly charmed the group with outrageous anecdotes, putting the class at ease. We began with a Dr.Philesque sharing about writing goals and why we were there. An assorted array of characters fronted up; parents, journalists, authors, people who had never written, and others just for the hell of it.

The creative energy crackled as we received loads of practical advice, useful feedback and of course, time to experiment with our writing. Oh and the food, delicious and I’m pretty sure we all went home with a food baby.

Some of Catherine’s gems I stashed in my pocket included;

Exercise, sex and writing are the best ways to be happy.

Motivation follows action.

Write the book you want to read.

This day is an investment into your future self. All you need is a pen, paper or laptop. If you are wrestling with ideas slash writing slash creativity; then don’t let your soul stay constipated and go see this crazy and inspiring lady. 


You Know You're A Brunswick Mum If...

So my 12yo talks about Brunswick Mums and my 13yo talks about Lygon St Ladies.

We recently discovered they are the same thing.

Here is a guide to how they are identified according to my sons.

Do you wear,

a) Denim skirts with colored patches?

b) Gardening boots with socks pulled up high?

c) Stupid hair clip shit in your hair?

d) All of the above.


Do you accessorise with,

a) Cardigans?

b) Large colored beads?

c) Glasses? (They all wear glasses, Mum.)

d) All of the above.

(BONUS points if they are purchased from an op shop, hand made or the result of a clothes swap transaction.)


Is your job,

a) Working in a café?

b) A bullshit writing job writing shit no one cares about?

c) Drinking coffee and talk about feminism?

d) Something involving chunky shoes and/or emotions and/or writing grant applications?


Do you have a crocheted blanket over the back of your couch?

a)    Yes.

b)    No.

c)    Good idea.


Do you,

a) Have a partner you crack the shits with for not checking their privilege enough?

b) Love recycling hard rubbish collections and compost?

c) Go to an all women book group made up entirely of women with one syllable names?

d) Have one of the following names; Lou, Jo, Mon, Liz, Cath, Jane, Mish, Sooz, Rach, Bridge, Mars, Fi or Em?


When speaking to a child have you ever said

a)  ‘Are you making the right choices?’

b)  ‘Thats a  ‘sometimes food'’?

c)  ‘Would you like some more hummus?’

d)  ‘Is this your friend Jasper?’

Do you,

a) Have a small dog called Sophie?

b) Have children named Milo, Amelia, Sunday or Arlo?

c) Own a vibrator you keep hidden from your partner?

d) Consider yourself ‘monogamish’ and/or ‘heteroflexible’ and/or ‘bi-curious’ but that’s as far as it’s ever gone?


Are your turn ons,

a)  Step through bikes with baskets?

b)  Coffee?

c)  Gardening, farmers markets and chooks?

d)  Refugees?

e)  Writer's festivals, scarves and menstral cups?


Are you turn offs

a)  People who don't check their privilege?

b)  Big corporations?

c)  Other people's children?

d)  Screen time despite the fact you spend all your time on Facebook, Etsy, the Guardian and Pinterest?

e)  Excessive packaging?


Do you know the meanings of these words?

a)  Bunting

b)  Yarn bombing

c)  Quinoa

d)  Kombucha


Have you ever

a)  Played the ukelele?

b)  Purchased duck fat?

c)  Done extended breastfeeding?

d)  Holidayed in Vietnam?

e)  Tried Bikram yoga?


Do you own

a)        Cushions with triangles on them?

b)        Several pairs of wooden Swedish clog shoes?

c)        A car with a 3RRR sticker on it?

d)        A mortar and pestle?


Do you like

a)  Fermented anything?

b)  Free range anything?

c)  Sour dough anything?

d)  Saltwater sandals?


Is you hobby

a)  Craft?

b)  Hand dying colored tights?

c)  Making soy candles?

d)  Slow cooking?


How many of the following do you own?

a)    Clare Bowditch albums

b)    Cross-body bags.

c)    Wooden brooches

d)    Pairs of Camper shoes


How often do you go to Nova Cinema?

a) Once a month

b) Weekly

c) Every day

d) The book was better 


Sounds like you would love my Gunnas Writing Masterclass! Gift certificates available. 

Gunna write? Gunna write better, different, more or that project you're blocked on? 

Let me give you the magic pill and provide you with that creative enema you need. I'm the midwife to help you birth your creative baby. You need to come to my one day writing masterclass at La Luna Bistro. Great people, delicious food, magnificent day. Beginners and vegans welcome! 



I have never told my children I am proud of them

I tell you what weirds me out.


Me “I just had a great chat with your daughter. She’s an interesting kid.”

The Mum “Thank-you.”

Me “Wh…at? Why are you thanking me? I am talking about your daughter not you.”

That’s when I back away and talk to an actual grown up. Someone who does not think they are the same person as their child.

When people say positive things about my kids you know what I say? ‘I’ll tell them.’ 

(Actually, that’s not what I always say. If someone is blowing smoke up my children’s arse in an attempt to flatter me I respond ‘My children are hideous’ or ‘actually, if you got to know him better you would find out he’s a bit of a cunt.’)

I have never once told my children I am proud of them.  

Am I the ONLY person who has a problem with people saying they are 'proud' of other people? Particularly their children. It infers a sense of ownership and propriety which exposes a feeding off other's achievement and the bestowing of approval suggesting an inflated idea of what their opinion is worth. Strangers tell me they are proud of me all the time. It's almost as if they expect me to be grateful for their approval.



Despite not knowing anything about these people, their values, their morals, how they live their lives, their arrogance embedded offering is staggering. 

Happened last week at the pool. 'I am proud of you for what you did on Go Back To Where You Came From.'

Often the 'I'm proud of you' I get from strangers includes an unwanted and inappropriate familiarity, a hug a bit too long or a bit too hard, a knowing look and more emphasis on the 'I' than the 'you' in the 'I am proud of you' sentence. Gives. Me. The. Creeps.

The expected response is a humble and grateful ‘Thank-you.’ I respond ‘Why? I didn’t do it for you. I did it for myself.’

Occasionally strangers tell me they are proud of something I’ve done but chastise me for something else. Just in case I get too up myself. 

‘I was proud of you on Q&A but the swearing is unnecessary.’

‘Okay! Thank you so much for your unsolicited feedback. I’ll take that on and will do my best to meet your approval next time. Please accept my humble apologies for not meeting your expectations total stranger who’s value system and motivation I know nothing about.’


This 'proud of you' thing has always given me the ick. 'You are living your life in a way I approve and I will award you by bestowing my blessing'. What is inferred is and ‘if you don't live your life in a way I approve I won't. And you will be sad. Because my approval and blessing is worth a great deal.’ The clutchy assertion of ownership is revolting too.

I never tell my kids I’m proud of them. If they achieve something I say I am thrilled their hard work has paid off. You can only be proud of yourself. 

Embedded in the sentence ‘I am proud’ of you is a vanity and desire for behavioral control that is unhealthy. It’s social pressure to conform to ideas of what people should do and be delivered via carrot as opposed to stick.

Why do so many people confuse approval with love?

So often movies and narratives hinge on the 'all I ever wanted was for my parents to tell me they were proud of me'. FUCKING WHY? Who cares? Live your life how you choose. If people live their lives hungering for approval from withholding parents they are not living their lives. They are living a life in a way they hope will get The Magical Tick Of Approval.

Based on what? What are these people’s credentials other than being the approval wanters parents.

People will often moan to me that they wished their parents approved of them or their choices. More often than not their parents are failures with rotten lives.  I say ‘Why do you give a shit? Their life and choices are terrible. They have lived a horrible life and made bad choices. How is their opinion worth anything?’

The other side of the ‘I’m proud of you’ coin is this; when people say you’ve changed it means you are no longer living life their way.

The ‘proud’ thing is simply control. Praise trolling. Encouraging approval junkies and people living lives that others want them too. Never once asking themselves 'What do I want to do? What makes me happy?'



Pearls of wisdom

just got a phone call from my friend Cass. She’s a jewellery designer. (Yes all my friends have jobs like this.)

“Dev, I’ve found a pearl to match. It’s $150 which is really cheap. The other ones were all close to $400.”

“Just match the pearl so the earrings are the same. Money is no object.”

“Money is no object.”  Yes, I actually said that. Don’t judge me!

All right DO judge me.

Kinda odd don’t you think? A freelancer artist single mum paying $150 for a pearl to be made into an earring to replace the one I lost? And that’s not even mounted and made! We’re talking $250 all up. That’s four tanks of petrol, five take away dinners for my family. A great donation to a worthy cause. But here I am spending in one earring! I’m ashamed. Don’t look at me, I’m hideous.


The Stupidest Study Ever 

Attention smart sheilas and dumb blokes!

There’s good news and there’s bad news. 

Good news is there’s a new study on relationships. Because god knows the world would burst into flames if a day went past and we didn’t have another bunch of nerds in white coats carrying clipboards telling us what their fancy so called science has to say about our choice of shag. Which can usually be summarized as ‘Your entire life has been a huge mistake, you have no one to blame but yourself, it’s too late to start over so you may as well just kill yourself.’

The bad news is that Natalie Portman is wrong.

I know. Catch your breath, make yourself a hot drink and wrap yourself in a blanket. It will pass. Eventually.