Wow, you really can’t tell I’m dressed up as a flower child in this photo. My hair was a mess of flowers, but it was all in back. Mum did have a great costume, though, didn’t she? She even has a frog prince, in the form of a particularly tasteless squishy green frog ring.

I’ve been away at a writing conference for three days — the Romance Writers of Australia annual conference in Southbank. Mum has been writing sucessfully since my brother was in kindy, and I’m a newbie trying to write whole books for the first time. This year, she brought me along to the conference and shared all her knowledge and her friends.

It’s been such a blast, for so many reasons. Romance writers are such fantastic people, generous and warm. I don’t know how many writers I’ve introduced to lolcats and Dexter this weekend, but if there’s a sudden dearth of sexy bathtime reading around next year, I’m afraid you’ll have to blame me. Re-read The Unknown Ajax or Anyone But You. I’ve found out about vampire/werewolf heroines, learnt so many ways to overcome my own fears about writing fiction, and watched my mum set a hundred or so people into giggle fits in her workshops. It’s good to see her in her public element. We lead such similar lives — 98% tracky dacks and slippers, at home so often that the postman beeps and waits for us to come get our mail, then 2% public faces and hoping you said the right thing because ack the microphone is attached…

Anyway, I thought you might be interested in a writing exercise we did in Barbara Samuel’s workshop. I’m not so sure if it’s just good to set you writing, or if it’s good to send you living, or both, but I’m sharing the idea because it made me happy. It still makes me happy.

Sit down — now, if you can — and write down 25 things you love. Specific things, not ‘I love my cat’ but ‘I love the way my cat smells when he’s sleepy.’ I struggled over the last five or ten, but that was a good thing because I had to think a little harder and be a little bit more true. I’m so glad I finished it. I think I understand myself better, and maybe I understand what I want to write about, too.

  • I love to fall asleep in a sun beam.
  • I love the first hot cup of coffee.
  • I love my boyfriend’s arms.
  • I love the way he tells me what he loves about me — not just that he loves me.
  • I love watching seeds sprout — actually, I just love watching plants grow.
  • I love hot chilli broth and slippery noodles.
  • I love to swim underwater and look up at the sky through it.
  • I love picking (eating) berries at the Pick-Your-Own farm in summer.
  • I love having more of a really good book still ahead of me.
  • I love knowing somebody chose me.
  • I love using my hands.
  • I love the smells of jasmine, roses, and violets, and tomato plants after watering.
  • I love old red wine.
  • I love having made something good.
  • I love planning the next thing.
  • I love birthdays (yes, it’s mine tomorrow).
  • I love possibility.
  • I love Cuban music and hot jazz.
  • I love sweet folk songs with barely three chords.
  • I love old 50’s dresses and kitchen things.
  • I love not having to get up early.
  • I love getting up and reading blogs and email over that first coffee.
  • I love heaters and fires.
  • I love the kind of tired I get from hard physical work.
  • I love tidying and arranging things.
  • I love patterns.
  • I love green things.

What are yours?