Showing posts from 2015

2015 - the things I have loved

Do you ever get to the end of a year and find you've run out of words? I'm feeling a bit that way today. It's been a day of doing, not thinking or writing. I was at the beach before 8am, the sky gloriously high and blue, the dog racing through cool salty water. At home I made French toast thick with egg, slathered it with honey, washed it down with strong Lavazza coffee. I've washed sheets and jumpers. I've cleaned the floors. Set my house in order. These are some of the things I love to do. Later tonight, my love and I will have a drink at the Earl of Leicester before heading to Namaste, our third new year's eve visit to this Nepalese restaurant in a leafy inner suburub of Adelaide. The food is exquisite, the service impeccable. We'll be home before 9pm so we can hang with the dog out the back under newly installed fairy lights. We'll unscrew an old coffee jar which I've decorated with coloured paper, and is  crammed with scraps of notepaper. On

The Way the Trees Are

Walking with my dog in our local park on a clear November morning, I was thinking about space: How much space we occupy; how we m ove through space; what kind of energy we leave in a space.  Individual trees were visible on the Adelaide hills against a fantastically blue sky. An old-timer with a walking stick was the only other person in the park. He wore a pair of faded blue tracky pants and a checked jacket that seemed to hang on him like an animal fur. He lurched awkwardly from side to side through space, and was limping toward us when he stopped to pick something off the grass.     ‘Good morning,’ I said.     He held up a piece of bark and looked at me over the rim of his specs. ‘Good thing about this is it doesn’t bark,’ he said.      I’m slow with jokes so it took me a few seconds to get it, and he didn’t wait.       ‘You’ve got to get this stuff now,’ he said.  It only drops once a year.’      His skin was a kind of grey-brown colour, the complexion of a heavy smoker. I was

Specialising in Story: A short course for new and emerging writers

Specialising in Story: The teacher 'Caroline's guidance allowed me to discover depth and structure that I didn’t even realise was threaded throughout my work. She reads subtext, recognises quality and applies structured technique in order to allow the true meaning of the work to shine through.'  Here's the thing: On September 9th something new is happening in the Adelaide writing scene. For the first time, a small group of  writers are going to meet in one of the cosy rooms at the Mockingbird Lounge in South Glenelg. They're going to explore and play while upgrading their writing skills; connect with like-minded people while deepening their story-writing ability; and they're going to be encouraged by a teacher who invests in people. They're also going to explore the fundamentals of storytelling such as characterisation, point of view, dialogue and setting; how to harness Stanislavski's seven questions when a story doesn't seem to b

Using the power of observation to create poetry

Snowman, chalk on concrete I've recently been spending my Sundays with some wonderful folk in a park in Berri, South Australia. You can read details about the Manifold Project here and here,   but in a nutshell it's spearheaded by the innovative and enthusiastic Alysha, Hermann, and is an invitation for local residents to tell their stories in collaboration with professional artists (I'm one of those). Alysha sees this project as long term (as in, years) so we're only just scratching the surface. What I want to do in this blog is demonstrate how I harness that power of observation I've talked in previous blogs to create new work as part of a project. In this case, the new work is poetry. But first, a little context ... Berri is in South Australia's Riverland, and like everything else in the Riverland, Rotary Park on Manifold Crescent has been affected by the recent, severe drought. Water restrictions meant the council stopped watering the park. Tree

What to do with all those pieces of paper #collage

As a writer you probably have piles of paper, drafts of stories, poems, and notes stacked away and sure, you could throw them in the recycle bin or print on the other side of the paper (if you haven’t done so already) but here’s another suggestion – try transforming some of those pages into art. It can be a cathartic experience and a pleasurable distraction from writing (and we all need that from time to time!) Here’s a recent example … It began with my withdrawal from a creative writing Masters course at the University of Adelaide. (I’m happy to say I don’t regret withdrawing, nor do I regret attempting it and that I haven’t abandoned the project, a work of fiction that has sisters as its focus). But the experience was a bit stressful and challenging and because I like to process stressful experiences through writing and making art, I thought about what I could do with the printed pile of project proposal drafts that I had filed away; I thought about the photocopied

A-Z writing exercise

Before I dive into some fairly intense or dense writing as I have been doing lately, it's nice to begin each day with a warm up exercise or two, in the same way that a musician does their scales and arpeggios before they begin practising the piece they're working on. This is one of my favourite writing warm-ups. I allow myself to write nonsense, be playful and if it's very early in the morning I also find myself reaching for the dictionary, especially with those last few letters. What you are going to do is write a story where each word begins with a new letter of the the alphabet (in order). Do it a few times to get the hang of it and to see if there isn't something in it you could use. (in my example below I was surprised and pleased by the term 'mournful night'). At the very least, like all good exercises, this one gets you thinking about specific word choices and how a single word can change the direction of a story. Enjoy! My example: Abalone balleri

The Power of Observation

--> It took me writing a lot of words to find how to write the right words. What I mean is this: I've been writing in journals for well over a decade and that has been very useful. I still write in a journal most days. Even if I begin the entry by whinging and moaning, by the end of it I've turned things around (or the writing has turned me around) and I'm feeling inspired & ready for the day. I rarely re-read my journal. It's a purge for me, a splat on the page, an exorcism of sorts. But there is a different kind of writing that requires me to pay more attention, to notice, to look out into the world, to develop point of view. It's as simple as noticing what's around me and writing down those observations. I say simple, but like most good new habits, it does take a little while to get into the swing of things. In her address at the 2015 Humana Festival of New American Plays, Ann Bogart said: "I've written in a journal ever

What is Reasonable and Democratic? #freethearts

In case you hadn't heard, earlier this year Minister for the Arts George Brandis announced an $104.8 million cut from the well established & democratic national arts funding body The Australia Council. Why?  To fund Brandis' own proposed National Programme for Excellence in the Arts. How can he do this with no consultation or peer review process? Just because he can. Who will be most affected? Small to medium arts orgs and individual artists . Result? A whole lot of anger and questions  from Australia's arts sector. You can read and sign the open letter to George Brandis, Australians for Artistic Freedom . And have a look at the details of the Senate Inquiry into the impact of Brandis' decision. (Report date for that one is September 15). Please, don't do nothing. All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing.   So Please, do something. The deadline has passed for letter submissions to the Senate Inquiry but you can still w