Sunday, July 10, 2011
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.