How to hold on to it
Hold on to it like you hold a day old chicken
Hold on to it like you hold a live fish
Hold on to it like you hold a horse
Hold on to it like you hold a bowl of soup
Hold on to it like you hold a door open for the Queen Mother
Letting go of it is just as difficult and shall be dealt with at some later stage.
The enticingly and profoundly quirky Australian cartoonist Michael Leunig was a guest speaker at the recent Auckland Readers and Writers Festival. He was talking about the duck that he often draws in his cartoons. He said that a duck is ‘a lovely symbol’ to put in; it changes the whole mood of a drawing. He said that unbeknownst to him originally, a duck in German folklore is a symbol of transcendence; when your life is blocked, a duck turning up can carry you forward.
I didn’t know this either. But when my mother died, a duck turned up in my life. It took me out of a grim patch. It took me out of the house and to the bottom of the garden. Indeed, as Michael Leunig discovered, the duck in reality, and the duck in the cartoon of my life, was a ‘lovely symbol’. And at a time when my life and my writing was blocked, the duck turning up as it did, carried me forward.
And now the duck is taking me to London.
The Elusive Language of Ducks was published a couple of days ago in the UK by Oneworld Publications, 10 Bloomsbury Street, London.
It has a new cover, and is endorsed by Lucy Beresford, a broadcaster and psychotherapist.
Other news: A contract has been signed for the Chinese complex character rights with the China Times Publishing Company, based in Taiwan. China Times is one of the biggest publishing companies in Taiwan. Their authors include Paulo Coelho, Malcom Gladwell, Anne Rice and Haruki Murakami.
Meanwhile, a rather nice review in a recent literary magazine, Landfall Review.