Sunday, 27 November 2016


Far too frequently I complain about technology, basically because it does not know what I want of it and, more importantly, I do not know how to command it correctly...errors are usually my fault therefore. None the less frustrating! But today I have to say how glad I am of a fairly old technology, namely the humble television set.
Last evening I was able to sit in comfort in my lounge room and watch and listen on my television to three fabulous pieces of performance. First, over an hour of the Australian band Crowded House,. somewhat nostalgic but great to watch and also to see how the large audience outside the Opera House was enjoying the music. Then came a revealing insight into the life of Nick Cave and his creativity and finally an episode of an English production of Shakespeare's Henry 4th, with just about every good British actor I've ever seen in the cast.  Fantastic production, made all the more realistic by the settings.
At the end of the show I concluded with the obvious yet heartfelt praise that I always do. "Oh, what a writer Shakespeare was."
But then I thought how Neil Finn, the lead singer of Crowded House and Nick Cave are also writers. They attach words to their music while Shakespeare makes music of his words. They are all writers who write words in selected ways and so make them precious examples of what creativity is capable of.
And so, in my own way, I keep trying to make words into sentences and paragraphs to hopefully create a work that is music to some readers ears. Not an easy task but well worth attempting. Words truly are magic.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016


On my desk, a few centimetres from my keyboard, sits a white ceramic drinking mug. I have never used it for coffee or tea. It is the place I keep my pens, pencils, scissors and ruler and I pick into and out of it almost every day. I have done this for over two decades. Yet how rarely do I actually LOOK at the mug itself. I now do so.

It was bought for me over two decades ago by a friend when I was suffering a great deal of hurt from a professional disappointment.  It was a gift worthy of a friend who understood what I was going through. On one side is the picture of a mouse dragging a heavy, live, upside down elephant, a design by Boynton. It depicts just how hard life can be, both personally and professionally. It reveals what a writer trying to find a publisher sometimes feels like. A writer dragging their book behind them, seeking out a publisher, can be heavy going and a weary, sometimes never ending climb to the top. Yet, when the mug is turned around the words, "GO FOR IT!" are writ large and that is the other side of what life can be like. No matter what we have to carry on. That is being human. Joy and pain. Pessimism and optimism. Dead weights and lightweight laughter.

Looking properly at the mug I can sense what stories could be bound up in that one small item. There are the memories of me and the people who were with me at that time. Then the people who made  and sold the article. How many hours did the designer spend on getting it just right? And there were people who heaved the clay, ones who sold it, and how many others stared at it in the shop before it was whisked away by my friend. So many true stories to be told plus those where the imagination can forge further stories. A number of worlds,both real and imagined could be bound up in that one silent, ageing, simple drinking mug,

So when people ask what do writers find to write about it may be a cliche to say, 'Look around you', as I often do but it is exactly right. Look, listen and imagine, is the crux of all story telling surely. It is the imagination that can take us into the lives of others and it is that experience that can help us understand and accept others as being as human as we are. Stepping into another's shoes is really the important part, for it opens eyes and hearts. Is this why fascists and fundamentalists feel the need to burn books? 

Saturday, 12 November 2016


Yes, I am enthralled, amazed, enchanted, enthralled, entranced, in love. Not in a sexual or even a sensual way but in the way that a lover of words loves another lover of words, one who uses them with such skill to turn a story of ordinary humans into a wonderful experience for a reader. I speak of Geraldine Brooks and in particular her book Year of Wonders, a story set in England around the time of the 17th century Plague. Not only do I like the way she gets into the head of the protagonist and makes the historical facts of interest but it is her descriptions that enthuse me. For example, "The Plague is cruel in the same way. Its blows fall and fall again upon raw sorrow, so that before you have mourned one person that you love, another is ill in your arms." What better way to express the continuing horror of a disease. The her descriptions of the Nature that surrounds the villagers of that period are so fitting, a time before Industrialisation and Nature at its best and worst. "Grey is the sky colour here, the dove-breast clouds louring so upon the hilltops that sometimes you feel you could just reach up and bury your hands in their softness." And her description of how readily a group of 'ignorant' villagers turn on women they believe  to be a witch is an incredibly powerful indicator of how we can all turn into unthinking animals. A lesson to contemplate in today's world of fundamentalism on many sides.
So, yes I an enamoured of this writing and yes, you should read the book but what is so important to me is the lesson that Brooks brings to us lesser writers. In this modern (2001) book I am experiencing the divine pleasure of  what I have always loved about writing and reading, the use of adjectives and adverbs that flourish and expand a story, even if within the confines of skilled containment. I have spent  years of my life being told NOT to use too many descripters. "They pad a story.  They are unnecessary. They are the sign of amateurism." SO many teachers,whether at High School, University, Creative Writing courses, have battered me with such  commands that I eventually inculcated them into my own work. While understanding that every word must count, must move the story on, I have always thought that the use of more than simply sufficient adjectives and adverbs is what makes a story special. The likes of Geraldine Brooks and Hilary Mantel and many other female writers bare me out and it is so good to see that it is not just 19th century writers who 'padded' out their books for our enjoyment. Imagine Austin, the Bronte's and Dickens, without their informative and delightful and often vast, descriptions. It makes me wonder of course how my lesser described characters, situations and places stand up to the scrutiny of readers. Please let me know.

Saturday, 5 November 2016


The first confession is that I have quite enjoyed the week or so that I was  without access to the web while at the same time being frustrated by it. This is all a part of being human, contrary emotions playing against each other.So while  it was good to have more time to read and to think and to do physical research it was also frustrating in that I was wandering from one tech person to the next and back again to ascertain the cause of the breakdown.
The second confession is that I have only myself to blame. Ignorance of the complexity of the services coupled with naivity about how clever are certain IT companies caused my mind to wash over the simplest of reasons. A good lesson in poor observation, when I had always thought observation was a strong point in my make up.
Third confession is that I have not done enough writing during this process but my brain has been working overtime which has to be good for thoughts about characters and situations in any work. So I feel good about that.
What I feel even better about is that I have spent more time gazing at my surroundings and those awesome sunsets we get around now. Nature always puts things in perspective. Good for the mind, the body and the soul. Another lesson I must not forget.