Sunday, July 10, 2011

Keeping busy

To paraphrase Austen: It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single ageing woman in possession of turbulence, must be in want of good friends. I packed my small bag mid-week and flew to Ballina on the north coast of NSW. A good friend of over a decade now, has recently retired to a small holding, up here where the weather is warmer and the crowds fewer.

Lesley is a Librarian by training, and brought out piles of children's picture books for me to read through. I am a member of a writing guild that meets around a table each month, to provide amateur critiques to each other. There are now 20 of us, and the feed-back is invaluable. I now have 5 manuscripts gestating in my 'drawers'. And Lesley has two ... Yesterday, we had our July round-table where 7 of us provided feedback on 5 stories. Over this weekend, we have our email-table where 5 of us provide feedback on 3 m/s each. Such a good (and cheap) way of getting a story ready for the travails of submission to competitions or publishers.

I now know that I can develop a first draft of a story in about 4 hours: the first half stomping around the house talking out loud; the second half, writing at this keyboard. I still try to have my stories involve a narrative (characters, problem, resolution). And find that the topics which appeal to me are too sombre for the under 3's. Hell, they are too sombre for this writer! However, my story on 'dementia' is lightening up wonderfully. It is astounding to read back through the various drafts. I think yesterday's was Draft 11. Rather than being totally descriptive, it now involves a 'quest'.

Lesley has invited me back to Jiggi on a regular basis as a 'writing camp'. She will have a studio soon for her painting, and I will write in the study looking down the valley. What bliss! And the valley has many birds. I already have shots of: egrets, straw-necked ibis, grey fantails, superb wrens, and spotted pardalotes. And then there are the wallabies, with joey in pouch.


freefalling said...

You never cease to amaze me.
You're pretty impressive?
What do you think of yourself?
Are you impressed?
You should be.

brattcat said...

I've always wondered how it can be that writing is such a solitary act and yet needs such a vast safety net of eyes and ears and voices to support it.

Margaret said...

Glad to hear you are escaping to the warmer weather too... my home town is damn near freezing, but 3 hours drive away on the Sunshine coast it is shorts and t shirt days !

Enjoy your break.

Joan Elizabeth said...

Last week my contract was extended to the end of December than that's it. I am going to take a break to write, take photos, go Wayfaring, and watch the birds at Whistler;s Rest. This post makes me hungry for it.

Julie said...

Letty: not really. Never been my style.

BC: It is, isn't it? I can imagine you up there in your attic, typing away and sucking pencil ends! What really intruiges me, is that these 'others' read my m/s and all see something quite different from what I had envisaged. And this gives me yet more ideas ...

Margaret: I quite enjoy the colder weather, not necessarily the wind, though.

Joan: I have another friend who retires at the beginning of August. She is hoping to go diving over archaeological ship-wrecks! I think I would settle for your list, instead.

Kay L. Davies said...

"in possession of turbulence" is a lovely Austenesque phrase, Julie.
What a wonderful time-away for you. I hope you do take Lesley up on her offer.
Your mention of a story on dementia made me realize how much of my youngest niece's and nephew's childhood revolved around the care facility in which my parents lived out their final years. The children were 5 and 3 when their Nana and Tata went into care, and the residents of the dementia unit in particular loved to see them come to visit. Even after my parents had both died, my niece, by then 8, insisted she and her friends should go back to visit the people who had been her grandfather's friends and neighbours in his final years.
Good for you — 11 drafts means you are working very hard at perfecting what could be a very important story.
Luv — K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

diane b said...

Just been reading through this blog and Kirsten's. You both have a lot of problems and my heart goes out to both of you. I feel guilty being miserable with my incessant cough caused by Bronchitis and Asthma (caught on the bus tour) After one failed week of antibiotics, I now have a new one to try but I should be better by Thursday whereas you and Kirsten have a much worse future. I sincerely hope the joy that Allanah brings to you both will help ease the pain and anguish.
She is a gorgeous little girl and oozes intelligence.
A week in Ballina would brighten anyone's soul and I'm glad that you had the opportunity.Good luck with your story writing too.