Remember that story I was posting about, the one that kept breaking my balls, for Gillian Pollack’s “Baggage” anthology?
“Baggage” is, in brief — in Gillian’s words — a speculative fiction anthology that examines the stories and other cultural baggage that migrants have brought with us to Australia over the last 200 odd years. She also says: “If you think Australian culture is all about neighbours and mateship, you may find Baggage distressing.”
My migrants came to Australia between 120 and 150-odd years ago — recently enough that we’re still in contact with cousins in Scotland on my father’s side, but long enough ago that we can’t claim to be anything other than Australian. And we’re white Anglo-Celts, as invisibly, pervasively mainstream as you can get. So I had to think about what kind of cultural baggage we might have, and settled for what I knew or thought I knew we had, since I wasn’t able to go back to Oz and do any research on things I didn’t know about.
This was without doubt the hardest writing job I’ve ever had. If I hadn’t agreed to do it, and if I hadn’t been so dead keen to be part of a project that dares to be about a big and complex and sensitive topic, I would have given up. I’m very happy that I didn’t give up. I’m proud to be in this anthology and I can’t praise Gillian enough for her great patience with me as I repeatedly stressed out. Hecatombs to you, Gillian.
And I’m still nervous, perhaps because I’ve been told what to think about cultural baggage by academia and the media, so that it was difficult to put a whole bunch of very educated people’s opinions aside and tell the story I wanted to tell; and there was always the terror of clumsily saying something I shouldn’t, or not saying something I should, and that terror is now echoing on, probably quite irrationally, now that I can’t make any more changes.
This story became very important to me as I was writing it; it’s by far the most personal story I’ve ever published, and there’s a fair bit of true material in it. It preserves a couple of our family tales, and I’m glad about that. And looking at the list of who’s on board (below), I can’t wait to have my own copy of what I think is going to be a great book.
Here’s the table of contents (note that Tessa is in it too!):
Vision Splendid — K.J. Bishop
Telescope — Jack Dann
Hive of Glass — Kaaron Warren
Kunmanara – Somebody Somebody — Yaritji Green
Manifest Destiny — Janeen Webb
Albert & Victoria/Slow Dreams — Lucy Sussex
Macreadie v The Love Machine — Jennifer Fallon
A Pearling Tale — Maxine McArthur
Acception — Tessa Kum
An Ear for Home — Laura E. Goodin
Home Turf — Deborah Biancotti
Archives, space, shame, love — Monica Carroll
Welcome, farewell — Simon Brown
There are now electronic uncorrected proof copies of Baggage available for review. For more info, please visit Gillian’s blog here.