gillpolack (gillpolack) wrote,

Women's History Month - Nicole Murphy

Artistic inspirations

It might be a surprise for me, a writer, to name two musicians as two inspirations for me. But while I love words, and I appreciate the power of an incredible story, they are tools to me. The art of creating a story, creating a book, doesn’t hold much mystery to me…

Music reaches into my soul. Some of my happiest moments, the memories that are still sharp in my mind involve me singing. If I had any talent I would be a rockstar, not a writer.

A writer I am, and here’s two women that in the past couple of years of my journey as an artist have meant a great deal to me. In particular, they’ve taught me that ‘artist’ isn’t a label to be scared of, or that I’m not good enough for. It’s what I am.

1). Amanda Palmer

I came to know of Amanda Palmer a few years ago when I started following Neil Gaiman on Twitter. Neil is a god to me, his writing hits me every time. When he started banging on about this girl he was dating, I decided to check her out.

Nowadays, I’d push Neil out of the way to get to Amanda. There’s so much about her I love. Her fearlessness. Her honesty. Her openness.

Amanda’s not afraid to make mistakes, not afraid to step on toes in her pursuit of her art. For her, the truthfulness of the song she’s writing or performing at that moment is what is important.

Amanda also teaches good habits of artistry. She doesn’t hide the work that goes into what she does. The hours she spends thinking about her lyrics. The days she spends rehearsing for tour. Last year she was taking piano lessons and learning to play classical pieces, because she understood that while right now she was good enough, she needed to be better.

Last year, when she played in Canberra, I made my sisters wait while I went to get her signature and I got to thank her for her inspiration and for giving me the courage to stand tall and say I am an artist. She was so excited for me that I’d sold my books to a major publisher – “That’s Neil’s publisher,” she said, squeezing my hand.

Even now, remembering that – yeah, I feel fearless again.

2) Clare Bowditch

As a fan of music quiz shows Spicks and Specks and Rockwiz, I was aware of Clare Bowditch but I fell in love with her two years ago. It was my 40th birthday, the Rockwiz show was on tour and my sister bought me tickets, so we went to the ANU to see it.

It was a magical night. Firstly, because John Paul Young came out and sang “Love is in the air”. Ever have one of those moments where you realise your life has been bereft until this point in time, even though you didn’t know it? That was one of those moments. My life is better for having seen it.

Secondly, there was Clare. She came out to play, but there was something wrong with the sound and her keyboard couldn’t be heard. It took about five minutes to fix, during which time Claire entertained us by making up a song on the spot about the frustrations of equipment not working.

Class act – not ranting, not pouting, doing what she is meant to do – perform, entertain.

Then it was sorted and she played her then current single – The Start of War – and I was astounded by her beautiful voice and the power of words.

I came back home, bought a whole lot of Clare’s stuff from iTunes and indulged. Now I follow her on Twitter, so I can get almost daily inspiration. Currently, she’s doing an experiment on happiness, which is really interesting to follow.

A few weeks ago, Clare tweeted that recording had stopped because a car had crashed through a fence and into the house (she has her own studio). A few hours later, she tweeted that they’d finished recording for the day. “And yes we did keep recording – that’s what art is for. x”.

Yes it is, Clare. Yes, it is.

Nicole Murphy has been a primary school teacher, bookstore owner, journalist and checkout chick. She grew up reading Tolkien, Lewis and Le Guin; spent her twenties discovering Quick, Lindsey and Deveraux and lives her love of science fiction and fantasy through her involvement with the Conflux science fiction conventions. Her urban fantasy trilogy Dream of Asarlai is published in Australia/NZ by HarperVoyager. She’s just commenced a new venture, In fabula-divinos ( which is aimed at mentoring up-and-coming writers. She lives with her husband in Queanbeyan, NSW. Visit her website

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