The Rory Gilmore Reading List

Gilmore Girls has held a special place in my life since the mid-December Wednesday evening I sat down to watch the pilot with my mum and sister when it aired in Australia in 2001. I was twelve-years-old and heading into my last summer before starting high school. Gilmore Girls gently helped usher me into this next step towards adulthood, popping up weekly throughout my first term of Grade 8 and the years beyond and showing me that a grown up world could still be filled with fun, laughter and books. So many books.

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As a voracious young reader, Gilmore Girls had something special that I’d never seen before: a young female character who loved to read. It wasn’t an ugly duckling story, no, Rory had plenty of boys vying for her attention at the school dance, and she wasn’t a nerdy sidekick. Rory was a book-loving protagonist lauded for being clever and serious, sincere and sweet. She provided a scarce role model for girls my age, proving that a girl could be both studious and fun, passionate and pretty.

I’ve never taken on the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge, the task daunts even the most dedicated of readers. Independently I’ve read 49 of the 339 books Rory was shown or mentioned to be reading throughout the seven seasons. While I’m not too concerned with working through the entire list myself (though it makes a great companion at the library when choosing what to borrow) I have been wondering what Rory Gilmore would have made of the literature of the past decade.

What hundreds of books would have been added to her list in that time? Certainly Obama’s memoirs, and perhaps now Trump’s. Would she have read the fiction of Anna North, Meg Wolitzer, Chad Harbach and Jesse Ball,  these real writers who would have been her contemporaries?

Being that I work so much with Queensland and Australian writers, I wonder which of our nation’s voices she would have taken in. Would she have found Charlotte Wood, Ellen van Neerven and Maxine Beneba Clarke? I hope so.

Where would she land on the ethical dilemmas of reading Go Set a Watchman or the uncovering of Ferrante’s identity? Would she have come back to YA as so many of us have, shedding tears at The Fault in Our Stars, journeying through space in Illuminae, falling hard for the liars in We Were Liars?

While these many questions won’t all be answered, I’m excited to dip back into the world of Gilmore Girls tomorrow, to get just a hint at what Rory’s been reading and a refresher in smart, sassy women characters. To see how many books can be added to that list over six hours of television.

Planting poppies

Poppies are my favourite flower. Their cheerful heads bobbing hello in the morning, their fuzzy buds and delicate, papery petals, their association with remembrance. Any colour, anywhere, any day, I’ll take poppies!

My father scatters poppy seeds across the front garden each year, with months of blooms to follow. For years, I’ve looked forward to living in a house with suitable space to grow some of my own.

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I planted my first poppy seeds last weekend, and already a handful of tiny seedlings have sprouted. New life, stretching toward the sun, promising me a potful of colour over winter and spring. I chose Icelandic poppies this year, hopefully we’ll see a mix of white, orange, yellow and pink flowers popping up.

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We also set up a herb garden a few weeks ago, which is flourishing inside a wire cage designed to keep the possums at bay. It’s wonderful to add flavour to home cooking with fresh herbs again. In particular I’ve been enjoying adding handfuls of mint in Anglo Asian Lamb Salad, and fresh rosemary and thyme to roast chicken and vegetables.

Gardening always serves as a great reminder to slow down. A little poke in my side encouraging me to remember during busy days that life still takes time, and how eager other living beings are to adapt, grow and flourish. To bask in the sunshine, soak up food and water, sway in the breeze. A few minutes in the morning spent watering and watching for new growth is a welcome addition to my routine.

Do you have favourite plants in your garden?

Changing perspectives

This week, I’ve started work on a new play, the idea for which has been slowly germinating for the past few years. It’s exciting to start work on a project that I’ve thought about for a long time, but when I sat down to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard as it may be) I realised that I was still stuck on the outside of the idea, looking in.

While I know the concept I want to explore, and that the stage is the right place to explore it, I don’t yet have my story or characters. Without these to act as vessels, I’m unable to wander any further into the ideas I want to end up sharing in the script. I feel like a pirate standing on the shore, able to see with my spyglass the endless waters with their potential for new booty and undiscovered land, but no boat to get me there. And by my beard, it doesn’t feel good.

Luckily, I’ve picked up some tricks for getting out of these kinds of sticking points. Instead of entering into the idea in the way I thought I would or using the type of character I’d always envisioned, it’s time to look at the idea from a new perspective.

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Looking out through the Art Deco windows of City Hall.

Last weekend I visited Brisbane’s City Hall with my friend Jami, where we took a little tour to learn about the building’s history and architecture. One of the best parts of the tour was heading right up into the clock tour and peering back down on our city below. Buildings we knew at street level looked like tiny toys, especially Albert St Church, where Jami is going to be getting married in August!

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Looking out through the Art Deco windows of City Hall.
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Looking out through the Art Deco windows of City Hall.

There’s something refreshing about seeing things so familiar in a whole new way, and that’s the approach I’ll be taking with my play, too. The ideas I’ve had floating around my head and journals need a refresh, so it’s out with the old and in with some new ways of thinking about this play. I’ll be throwing any and all ideas at it this week, until I see what sticks best.

Do you find a new perspective helps clear your mind of stale ideas?

At home alone yoga

As an ex-gymnast, I’m used to exercising in groups. I spent twelve years of my childhood running through drills, alternating tumbling lines and feeding off the energy of my fellow gymnasts. We trained together, we competed together, we grew together.

Finding myself at a Bikram yoga studio a few years later was really no surprise. The classes were challenging and the group dynamic uplifting. I joined the yogis training for the annual asana championship and the work trade group cleaning the studio in exchange for free classes.

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An oldie of me and my reflection rocking standing bow at the Bikram studio. Note also those sparkly clean mirrors and floor!

But a new job, time and distance led me to a different studio in 2015, one with not only yoga classes but also pilates and barre, which I loved. Again, I found the community energy lifted and encouraged me to continue coming back, and to push myself harder when I was there.

In 2016, though, I’m lone-wolfing my exercise regime. I’ve made some changes to my work schedule that mean there’s no longer room in my budget for a fortnightly yoga payment. After all my years of riding the wave of the communal exercise buzz, I’m a little worried about how I’ll go with solo motivation. So, I’ve been compiling a list of online yogis who can teach, inspire and buoy me in my at-home practice.

Adrienne can be found dispensing humble, cheerful yogi wisdom over at Yoga with Adrienne. In 2015, she ran a 30 Days of Yoga course, with 30 free downloadable videos to take you through a month of practice, and in January 2016 she’s following this up with Yoga Camp. I love Adrienne’s videos because she’s not afraid to laugh at herself, and have a little fun.

One of my favourite of Adriene’s videos is her yoga for when you’re unwell sequence. It’s gentle and kind and to be honest, one I practice even when in perfect health if I need a little pick me up.

My dad turned me on to Erica the Yogi. Erica is the yogi definition of “kind but fair”, or you could say “kind but kicking my butt”. Her classes are tough enough t0 challenge, but not so hardcore that I’m going to flake with no in-person motivation. She also explains postures in the most minute and careful detail, which has led to many an “aha” moment when I’ve realised just which way my fingers and toes were meant to be facing all that time in downward dog.

Even Erica’s twenty minute beginner’s sequence is enough to build up a sweat.

Caitlin Turner, or Gypset Goddess, is one of my top instagram yogis. She posts posture pictures and flow videos, as well as some great partner yoga postures and acro yoga flows. She also keeps it real with her quirky captions and a few insights into her personal life – which I enjoy in its difference to teacher videos. She also has a habit of traveling to awesome locations, which make the backgrounds of her photos and videos equally fun.

Do you have any favourite online yoga portals, or tips for keeping up a home practice? I’m really hoping to not let my practice slide in 2016, so do share!

How to: set your 2016 writing goals

My guide, as a compulsive goal setter, to setting your 2016 writing goals.

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1. Be realistic…

Look at your timetable, budget and set-in-stone commitments and set goals that will be achievable within these bounds. This isn’t about giving yourself an excuse to slack off, but making a well thought out plan that doesn’t give you any excuses not to execute it.

2. …and check your hubris at the door

When you know that it takes most writers a serious chunk of time to write a novel draft, don’t convince yourself that you’ll need just two months to get your very first attempt from imagination to paper. If you’ve not delved into the world of screenplays before, pinning all your hopes on penning an Oscar winner might not be a smart plan for 2016, either.

As with the first point, setting realistic, achievable goals will help you set yourself up for success rather than failure. Part of this is keeping yourself humble while dreaming big enough to push yourself to the next level.

3. Look for opportunities at your level

When I look back at my career, it’s often clear to me why I was given some opportunities and missed out on others. The opportunities I’ve received have been suitable for my stage of development, and I’ve had all the right tools in my arsenal to apply for them. My rejections have usually been from programs or grants that were for artists with more experience than me, or could demonstrate practice in an area specific to the opportunity (not just someone who thought it sounded cool!).

Of course it’s good to aim high and sometimes apply for the big, scary opportunities, but too much time spent on applications for programs you’re not suited for can see you missing out on opportunities at your level. The burnout of hardcore application writing for little result when you’re applying above your level is also super counterproductive.

Think smart about the opportunities you’re going to gun for in 2016, and don’t forget to plot them on a calendar so you know when your applications are due and what work you’ll need to do for them.

4. Own your attitude

It’s not just word counts or finished drafts that make up a well rounded writing goal list. Setting some intentions for how you’re going to practice your creative practice can be just as important. These could include:

  • Show up, and show up with some positivity.
  • Commit to not whinging about how hard life is as a writer (and write more instead).
  • Treat your writing business as a business, and whip your attitude into business-like physique.

5. Check in regularly

Motivation is tough to maintain for the long haul. Checking in every month or two will keep you on track and help you break your bigger goals into smaller, achievable to-dos. You can also use these check ins to readjust your goals, if your circumstances change or you find a goal is no longer a good fit for you (or you’ve already achieved it)

6. Find your productivity posse

Checking in with other writers to talk about craft, the industry, challenges and your ideas and projects is refreshing, and can help you keep on the right track to achieve you goals. You might plan regular meet ups with writers in your area, or engage in online conversations with writers and bloggers.

 

My 2016 writing goals include:

*finishing two full length play drafts to submit to opportunities like Playlab or Playwriting Australia’s development programs

*setting up a “Play Group” – a writers group for playwrights in my city

*tripling my writing income from 2014-2015 financial year (a goal I’ve achieved for the past two years, but the maths of this one is starting to make it a pretty lofty ambition!)

Have you set any goals for 2016, writing or otherwise? What are your top tips for successful goal setting?

Writing

Although confident I could take a position as a professional donut eater, I (Lauren Sherritt) am a writer by trade. Here I post links to recently written offerings that you might like to devour, I’d recommend grabbing a donut while you’re at it. If you’d like to get in touch with me about my writing, please email me.

Blogcademy Brisbane - 2013
Blogcademy Brisbane – 2013

2016

The Cusp: How To Take A Headshot When You Can’t Afford To Pay A Professional

The Cusp: Skills I Gained From My First Few (Not So Great) Jobs

The Cusp: Five Things I Switched Out To Afford Working Only Three Days A Week

The Cusp: How To Maintain Your Friendships In Your 20s

The Cusp: How To Take Olympic Inspiration And Use It For Motivation In Your Life

Writing Queensland: Track finances now – Avoid pain later

The Writers Bloc: What Even Is A Mentor?

The Cusp: 7 Ways To Be Assertive At Work That Are Helpful Instead Of Annoying

Junkee: How Facebook’s Message Filtering System Stopped Me from Maybe Becoming an Olympian

2015

The Financial Diet: The Conversation You Need to Have If You Don’t Have Money to Spend this Holiday Season

The Financial Diet: How to Start Treating Your Spending Habits like a Profession

Birdee Mag: Living on a Budget, a Blessing in Disguise

2014

Birdee Mag: Everyday Meditation

Birdee Mag: When Your Parents Become Your Friends

Birdee Mag: Paintbrush, Meet Wine Glass

Trend Hungry: How to Organize Your Jewellery

Ongoing

LifeMusicMedia: Interviews & Reviews

Australian Stage: Reviews

 

Image by Janneke Storm

Theatre

In friendly first person: I’m a theatremaker, happy to talk/watch/read/review all things theatre all day long. If you’d like to get in touch about anything stage related, please email me.

In official third person:

Lauren Sherritt is a playwright and director based in Brisbane, Australia.

Lauren has written and directed two full length plays, Sans Love and One Black Mark, both produced at Anywhere Theatre Festival. Her monologue The Panel, written during The Australian Theatre for Young People’s Fresh Ink National Residency program, will be published in The Voices Project – the Encore Edition by Currency Press in 2015. She has directed for Short + Sweet Festival, developed work in Metro Arts! Free Range program and is currently undertaking a playwriting mentorship with dramaturge Saffron Benner through ATYP.

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Production still – Sans Love (2013)

Sans Love is a triumph in new work. Exploring just how exquisite and excruciating love is, this play is relevant to anyone who has ever stepped a day on this earth, who have experienced love in any form, and who have the courage to remain open to love regardless. – Elizabeth Scales

This is a clever, intricately-thought out show on a topic that everyone can relate to. You could feel the enjoyment amongst the audience, all huddled as we were on cushions on the floor…Sans Love is an utterly delightful and human piece of physical theatre. – Style From the Suburban Intellect

One Black Mark - Lauren Sherrit
Production still – One Black Mark (2014)

I must confess I’m not a keen theatre-goer but shows like One Black Mark win me over. Cathy Dee