Maureen Bartlett

I came into the world on the middle day of winter in 1943 at Belmore Private Hospital. Having a big brother, my parents hoped for a girl, so I was welcomed and dressed in pink. Another brother and sister followed, making a fun-loving family of six. Sydney has always been my home. We had three moves by the time I was sixteen. I have wonderful memories of childhood pets. Skipper, a foxie was my favourite.

Holidays were always just around the corner. My parents would sometimes rent a modest cabin or pitch our great big tent on grassy sites along Australia's east coast. Sometimes we'd hammer the pegs into hard brown earth inland. Many school holidays were spent on the family farm where my father was born.

Like many authors, I started writing in my childhood – a verse for my mother – a welcome poem for a sibling. Reading, playing mothers and fathers and street cricket took up most of my leisure as a child. I distinctly remember reading Enid Blyton's Favourite Five and Secret Seven series in our lounge room to the sound of Mantovani's Strings. My father was convinced stereophonic music should be turned up for full effect. Even today, when I hear one of the background melodies I am immediately transported to the secret cave, clamouring for a safe footing as the waves smash up against the rocks. It seems the music was recorded in my brain along with the adventure story.

After school and college I met my husband, Neville. He courted me in the first instance by driving me around to Saturday netball matches. What lingers in my mind is the fact his little Renault, purchased without his father's full blessing, matched my aqua netball uniform. I thought that was pretty cool. We married on a hot February day in 1965 and set up home in the suburbs. Life was good. Tammy, our Pembroke Corgie gave us a litter of beautiful pups, our first ‘babies'. Several years later we were blessed with three healthy children who are all married with children of their own now. Time flew by as we kept pace with the soccer circuit, physical culture competitions, water sports, holidays and a lot of study. A lot of tidying up kids rooms, too….. Getting through the L plates, learning to drive and letting go – these were times to chalk up, to wave goodbye to with a sigh.

Our eight young grandchildren bring much happiness. Enjoying their world, cheering them on in their sport, dancing and music endeavours adds great richness to our lives. Tuning into what makes children tick, without the fatigue of tucking them into bed every night, brings a delightful wide-lens perspective. Who can sit on the sand at sixty-three, in the middle of a huge sand castle fortress and not be attuned to the vastness of the sparkling sea, the salt, the timeless pippy search and bucket brigade? It's powerful therapy for busy big people. You hear stories there you're not likely to hear anywhere else. Relaxing, so relaxing – until you feel a crab placed on your shoulder!

My focus is on people - family, friends and community activities. I have a keen interest in travel, within Australia and beyond. My first overseas holiday included a trip to Someo, Switzerland, to look up relatives of yesteryear. Someo features in The colours of our lives, one of the stories in Sharing the Joy.  

For many years I attempted to juggle motherhood and a career. I trained for and became a Special Religious Education teacher, or Scripture teacher, and taught at our local primary school for fifteen years plus managing part-time work then a full time job. This, together with my involvement in educational and recreational vacation programs, led to an increased interest in writing for children. Some of my earlier stories were dramatised during school concerts.

My career background is information technology, workplace training, education/business partnerships and mentoring schemes. My very first job was Stenographer to the Training Manager at The Australian Gas Light Company, then located near to Sydney Central Railway Station.

Shorthand became a handy friend to me. I took extra courses and developed court reporting speed. This meant I could capture words as they popped into my head, jot things down that would otherwise waft into oblivion. Of course the speed was welcome in the board room and parents & citizens meetings, but I had a tool that was to become a real gem in my world of writing.

I became thirsty to keep abreast of computer technology. I trained in every advanced software course available and won a place to train at University Technology Sydney (UTS) for a pilot school/industry course. This led to rewarding work with high school students during school hours and editorial mentorships after school. I also developed inhouse business and software training programs. The company I worked for received good press and everyone seemed happy. In each of my two significant workplaces I found myself editor or co-editor of the company journal or newsletter.

Writing became more and more important to me as life went on. When our chidlren were born I felt compelled to record the absolute joy of their arrival, the whole motherhood experience and everything in between. My senses took on a new dimension. I poured my heart out on paper - the kid stuff, the trials, rewards and tenderness.

For many years I have immersed myself in the world of writing, including on-line courses, correspondence courses, writing critique groups, bookshows, conventions, bookfairs and festivals. My bookshelf bulges with ‘how to' reference books. But none of these resources can amount to anything if TIME is not set aside to write. Getting that time is not always easy. However there is an urgency strumming a tune to get on with it, to write what I was born to write ……

"I write because the words rise up and whisper to be free,
to capture life, to light the way, to sparkle like the sea".  

Some of my favourite things

I love chocolate, cappuccinos and celebrating almost anything. My favourite colour is yellow and my favourite place – home. A small pillow sits beside others on my bed. The tapestry reads ‘Home is where the heart is'. In the bigger picture, I love my country, my flag, my friends, my family, my church.

In contrast to writing, inspirational speaking engagements and performance poetry, my hobbies include bush walking, water sports, cooking, sewing and costume design.



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