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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Media Schmedia

Years ago and once upon a time, I was actually a highly paid public relations consultant, working for large organisations and confidently generating and handling media inquiries.

I would confidently pick up the phone, pitch my story and often cadge a Page 3 or, the Holy Grail, the front page.  

In fact, sometimes I'd go one better - I would actually BE the story.  Well, that happened once.  It was my very first 'real' job - you know, where you are paid a reasonable salary?  I moved up to Rockhampton to work for Senator Stanley Collard, Shadow Minister for Veterans' Affairs.  I moved into a flat with a girl called Anne Marie who was a teacher.

And then one dark and dingy night, Anne Marie awoke to find a burglar leaning over her bed.  We promptly ran out onto the balcony and proceeded to scream like the useless girls we were.  We screamed for Alistair, a journalist at the ABC who lived right next door, and he came outside in his sexy striped pyjamas to soothe us.  I think we screamed for about 10 minutes.  It just seemed appropriate at the time.

The next day, there we were on Page 3 of the local 'Morning Bulletin' - a highly inaccurate story that had Anne Marie and I getting home from a drunken night on the town, disturbing the burglar and then actually giving chase down the street.  (That version sounded so much more exciting!).

That week, I received a letter from my friend, Louise,  also in PR, who had proudly included a cutting from the newspaper - her first successful story placement.

I have to admit I enjoyed the one-upmanship as I returned with the article about the burglary.  "You may be placing the news down there, Louise," I boasted.  "But up here I AM the news". Hahaha.

Since those halcyon days, however, life, in its usual way has altered what one would call one's 'media savvy'.

Media relations is a field that requires huge self esteem, salesmanship, and confidence.  You must be good on the telephone.  Once upon a time you also needed to be able to drink … copiously… as what 'media relations' actually meant was that you could skull a bottle of rum with the boys and remain standing.

Those days, for me have gone - and not just because I lack the necessary skills.

To be honest, it's because I find modern journalists inaccessible.  Many are young and often rude.  They don't return phone calls.  Emails are not responded to.  Messages are lost in the ether.

Really, who can be bothered?

But the publication of my new memoir is now demanding that I revisit this realm.  I need to 'get in the zone', get 'zen', pick up the phone and start hassling.

I am sure it is going to be a hideous experience, but really, after being through chemotherapy, surely it's not going to be that hard for me.  Or is it?

Yesterday I took the first baby steps.  I sent off some books to Lisa Wilkinson, Sonya Kruger and Samantha Armytage, all 'celebrities' of a kind I suppose.

The hopeful me imagines them leaping onto the packages I sent, excitedly uncovering my tome and then screaming with excitement - like useless girls even - maybe mouthing words to the effect of 'Oh My God, Oh My God, Oh My God'.   I see them rushing home to read my book, returning to work the next day, bleary eyed as they spent half the night reading it from cover to cover.  They lavish praise in excited tones to anyone who will listen, and adjectives such as "fabulous" and "amazing" and "brilliant".  In fact, they get down on their knees and grab the producer's hairy ankles to beg him to include a story about my book, promising huge spikes in ratings and offering to sell their bodies for sex in return.

However, the practical (and more cynical me) anticipates the opposite.  No doubt this package will be shoved into a tower of mail where it may sit forgotten, possibly for days or weeks until one evening, the cleaning lady is passing and thinks no one will miss it.  She takes it home to read but forgets about it until in circa 2019, she is decluttering and my book, in mint condition, ends up on a shelf at St Vinnies with a sticker saying 0.50 cents.  Lisa Wilkinson, Sonya Kruger and Samantha Armytage will return to earth shatteringly important discussions such as:

A French restaurant has banned cameras after the head cook complained about diners taking snaps, claiming it ruins the atmosphere and could give away their secrets.   Does he make a good point? 

or

AWKWARD INTERVIEW: Los Angeles entertainment anchor, Sam Rubin, recently confused Samuel L. Jackson with Laurence Fishburne on live TV.   Have you ever had any embarrassing cases of mistaken identity?

Aah well.  It's true that it is not always the worthy stories that make it to air.  Whatever the outcome at least I can say I tried (if only the bastards would answer their phones!).

As I write, my well-crafted media releases and books are probably being slung into the back of a waiting Australia Post van.

At the very least, I hope my packages aren't lost in transit.

At the very least, I hope they actually land on the right desk.

At the very least.  I hope.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Book 1


And so my life segues into a new chapter.

On Australia Day with little to no fanfare, I quietly sold the first ever copy of the memoir I have produced, based on the earliest parts of this blog.  Well actually, it is more or less the contents of this blog, but in book form.  At the very least it looks pretty.

Here is a picture of it.




A woman from Epsom in Victoria was my first customer and no, I have no idea how she even found me.  I can only imagine she has a diagnosis of breast cancer and was possibly googling the subject. Either that or she thinks this is a book about ice-cream.

I decided to press ahead with creating the book format of my work primarily as I wanted to expose more people to my story.  There was that and the fact I am basically an unemployed haus frau and it has given me something constructive to do.

In fact, in my dreams I see myself transformed from this:



To this:






I did say in my dreams.

The process began in September last year, around two years since my diagnosis.  To be honest, I doubt I could have started it any earlier.  Prior to this I simply did not have the stomach to re-read anything I had written as it was quite confronting.  Believe it or not, there is no drearier experience than reading about yourself.

But when I first opened up my material to begin the process of editing, it was with some trepidation at the onerous task ahead   I actually sighed with resignation.  Never mind the idea of going back over what was, ostensibly, a rather difficult period for me.  I was also worried that, on reconsideration, this material would be utter crap.  I would then have to truly confront the utter lunacy of every putting myself out so openly.

It was a relief then that I was pleasantly surprised. By about the middle of the book, I was telling Al that:  'Actually, it's pretty good' (And several re-reads later, my opinion held true).  It is only now that I realise that that's because the version I read had been sub-edited. At this point I should acknowledge, once again, my dearest friend Tim Wilson who kindly gave up his time for me.

Next, I secured the services of Lyndal and Garry's daughter, Lucy to assist me with the design.  I have known Lucy since she was eight or nine years old.  While Al, too, is a graphic designer he is very busy with his own projects (and has been burned-out by his bloody wife's bloody pet projects over the years).    But Lucy is young, keen and on the cusp of her brilliant career.  I felt she was perfect for the job.  Most importantly, I felt that one important 'Selection Criteria' was:  Must have breasts (and no, very fat men need not apply).

As well, in collaboration with my sister Fiona, I secured the services of a Print on Demand supplier (based in Melbourne).  I have used Lightning Source and, according to Fiona, they are reliable and a boon for authors wishing to distribute around the globe.

From here, the process has been physically draining.  There are so many parts to the process, I have discovered one needs a great deal of stamina - and maybe just a tiny bit of alcohol - to stay focussed and positive.

It has been, naturally, financially draining.  It's a self-funded project and, in my current situation, that has also required a certain amount of self-belief. Alas, I am not exactly a millionaire so it really has been a case of directing my few spare shekels to this project.

Importantly, it has been emotional draining.  Given the very intimate and personal nature of this memoir, I have to weigh up the fact that there may now be countless strangers learning about, for example, vaginal dryness.  This is a good thing, yes?

I understand there are some who will judge me badly.  There always are.

But what to do?  I started this process in September 2011 and this is the new chapter: this book, the thing that will allow me to derive a greater meaning from it all.

Is it a foolish endeavour?  Probably.

Is it worth it? As with anything in life, only time will tell.

So what now, but Tally Ho!  Books to print and distribute, book signings to organise, launches to be had, friends to be mercilessly hounded until…

Wait… did I mention….

If you have read and enjoyed my blog at any stage, I would sincerely appreciate your support.  Please please please purchase a copy of this book.

Even if you think that you are more than familiar with its contents, I hope I can entice you to part with your $28 as the book contains several photos no one has seen.

These, incidentally, include one very, very intimate never-seen-before photograph.  Me and Al filming our sex tape.  (No, wait, that wasn't Al.  Hahaha).

But really, the never-before-seen photograph is of Nicky and Paris, taken just before the whole sorry business of de-boobification began is sure to titilate.

This is the only picture of my boobs ever to be seen by anyone (other than Lucy) and no, not even Al.

What can I say.  'The Breast is History' really is 'An intimate memoir of breast cancer'.

Please purchase your copy here:  www.thebreastishistory.com  

Remember, part proceeds go to the service-based charity, 'Chicks in Pink' which is run by Mater Hospitals.