Tag Archives: Creative writing

Writing amongst the trees

IMG_3297I can hardly believe my two weeks at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre are almost over. I’ve had such a good time here, and not in exactly the way I expected.

I thought I’d write three or more stories during my residency. But I arrived with a story yet to be finished, and worked on that for a couple of days. Then I panicked for a couple of days, because I felt this intense pressure to choose a Good Idea for my next story and nothing seemed close to adequate (normally I would take the vaguest of concepts and just wing it). Eventually I calmed down and told myself to just play. So I tried something I’ve never tried – writing a story in second person. It was truly bad at first, so I worked on it, and now it’s approaching fair. After that I began a new story which I’m having fun writing. And here I am on the Friday of the last week.

So with two full writing days to go, I’ve edited one story, written a full story in second person, and am perhaps halfway through a new tragi-comedy sort of piece. I wouldn’t call that an enormous output yet. I say yet because I have no doubt that my experiences here will lead to more stories, perhaps as many again as I have written so far. I have walked at sunset, shopped in an Indian grocery store, met many creative people, attended writing groups and had dinner with a lovely writer friend I hadn’t yet been able to meet in person. I’ve had meals and discussions and lots of laughter with the other two Fellows here. I’ve read every night before bed. I’ve had time to become immersed in writing.

It became a bit of a catchcry between myself and my next-door neighbour Fellow Mark J Keenan (who is going through the re-drafting process with his novel) – It’s not about the word count, it’s about the whole writing experience. Thinking, planning, dreaming, talking and writing amongst the trees.

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owls that come from nowhere

I realised today that birds almost always appear in my stories. Birds call, hop and peck, or even swoop past in the night (like the owl in my latest story). But I never plan it. I never think to myself, ‘O-ho, I might just stick a bird in here. Yes, perhaps a magpie.’ It’s not like that at all. The bird just appears.

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Thinking about the birds got me pondering just how much I love writing (when I’m not hating it, that is). I love the fact that I sit down with only the vaguest idea what I’m going to write about, and then characters appear and do things, and even birds arrive and do birdlike things. It’s like a movie the way it all pans out. And once I’ve worked on a story for awhile, it becomes so real and true in my head, I almost believe it all actually happened (I don’t truly believe it; I’m not crazy. Or so I tell myself).

So I’m wondering if other writers have recurring creatures or objects? I don’t mean themes or topics, I mean the weird mouse that’s always in the corner or your characters forever eating cheese. What is your ‘bird’? I’d love to know.

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Countdown

It’s all happening. In less than two weeks, I will walk away from my life as a clinician. Instead I’ll be doing some part-time work in a more simple medical job that will keep some income coming in, but that won’t occupy my mind all hours of the night and day.

I’m terrified and excited, both at once. I have no idea how the whole writing world works, and I have a steep learning curve ahead of me. I’m reading and writing as much as I can. I hope to do some study in creative writing down the track. I’d be grateful for any words of wisdom from other writers! What are your top tips for a writer starting out?

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