Tag Archives: journal writing

Writing memoir is a tricky business – work in progress

Blaise 1977. Photo by Lin Van Hek

Writing memoir is a tricky business. What POV do you write in, what style, how much detail? I’ve decided to write from my childhood self. The hard thing about that is to try to not bring in too much of my adult understanding into the story. It’s impossible, really, and it takes a lot of reworking to make it work. Here’s some work in progress:

Markie brought mail from town. Mama is sad after reading a letter because her granny died. I can’t really remember Granny Whitehead very well – only a little old lady with white hair. I know that’s not why she’s called Whitehead. That’s her actual last name.

Mama walks down to the river to be by herself and have a good cry. That’s the best thing to do when you’re sad. Now that Granny Whitehead is gone, I guess there won’t be two dollars a week in Mama’s bank account. But I don’t think that’s why Mama’s sad. She’s sad because she loved her granny and her granny looked after her when her own mama was too busy. Granny Whitehead made Mama feel special when her own mama was mean to her.

Today seems to be the day for people to be dying because on the radio we heard that Elvis died. He died sitting on the dunny doing a poo.

Will Elvis be in the blood and bone now? Couzie asks. We try not to laugh when he says things like this but it’s hard because he’s always saying something funny and then we get into trouble for showing off. It’s good to see Mama laugh after crying about her granny. When she laughs her eyes crinkle up like mine.

Actually Granny Whitehead didn’t die the same day as Elvis. It took a while for the letter to come from Melbourne to the Cobargo post office, which means that she probably died a few weeks ago. Mama’s sad about that too. She didn’t get to say goodbye and she was being happy in the bush not even realising that her granny was gone.

To make us feel better, Markie makes strawberry junket, my favourite. It takes a long time to set but the kookaburras have just started laughing. They’re laughing so hard that they will probably fall out of the trees. When they laugh like this we know that it’s only about ten minutes until it gets dark and then we’ll have dinner and the strawberry junket will be ready.

Mama doesn’t seem so sad any more, now that she had a good cry. I want to ask her if Granny Whitehead is going to be in the blood and bone like Elvis but I don’t know if she’ll like the question. Only Couzie knows how to ask these things. Maybe because he doesn’t think too long about them before he asks.

***

I’m planning on publishing my memoir, The Road to Tralfamadore is Bathed in River Water, next year.  I have a lot of work still to do …

Blaise

 

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Every champion needs help

Champion: Top of Stok Kangri, India. Photo by Kev Howlett

We all want to be a champion in our writing life. We want to be able to articulate the ideas and thoughts in our head and share that with a reader. But any great champion needs support and guidance to get to where they want to go.

Writing is an especially lonesome activity. Unlike something like training for a marathon, where you can measure your progress through your fitness or physical prowess, the only way to know if you are improving or even on the right track, is to get feedback on your work. For many writers, this can be daunting. Some writers even think they don’t need it because their writing is going to evolve into a bestseller. Yes, it’s true.

What kind of help might a writer look for?

Seek Feedback

If you’ve written a novel and no one except you has read it, how do you know if it’s any good? The first step is to have someone read it. This may be paralysing for some but if you really want your work out in the world, many people will read it eventually. You want it to be the best it can be. Feedback at this stage is critical.

Join a Writing Group

One reader’s opinion is great but not well rounded because writing, like any art form is subjective. Being in a writing group with several other writers who can give you valuable, critical feedback is priceless. Some of your group won’t like or get your writing, others will but the aim in this situation is to be able to tell each other what does or doesn’t work and how it might be improved.

Not only will you grow as a writer, you will also learn what a reader looks for in a story. You will also learn how to articulate what does and doesn’t work in a story, which can be translated in your own writing. Hanging out with likeminded people also makes the writing journey much less lonely.

Find a Mentor

You can travel the writing journey on your own but this means that you will make many mistakes that may set you back time and time again. These mistakes may even mean that you never reach your destination.

Every champion has a coach or mentor. Mentors provide guidance, training, inspiration and motivation. Your mentor has walked the journey that you want to follow (if you’ve found the right one), which means they have many lessons to share with you.

What do you need from your guide? You need them to be honest with you about your work and the direction you want to go. You need practical advice on ways to improve your work, how to get into the writing industry and how to keep going when you are ready to give up. This person will teach you, from their own experience, the things you need to know that will fast track you to your destination.

Is there someone you know who can fulfil any of these roles above, someone who will help you get to where you want to go so that you can be a champion? They could be friends, colleagues, someone at the library, a writer’s centre. When you start looking, the right person will show up. If you think our Creative Fellowship might help, check it out here.

Blaise the book chick

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