Tuesday 31 July 2012

Great sentence of the week #3

Actually - two sentences - but still great!

The blackness he woke to on those nights was sightless and impenetrable. A blackness to hurt your ears with listening. The Road (McCarthy).

Monday 30 July 2012

Mark Tredinnick wins (another) award

Was thrilled to read this afternoon that my friend and mentor Mark Tredinnick has won another international poetry award. His poem "Margaret River Sestets" won the Cardiff Poetry Prize. This adds to his recent win in the Montreal Poetry Prize, and wins in numerous major Australian Awards for both prose and poetry.

To find out more about Mark and his writing, visit www.marktredinnick.com.au


Wrote this last Saturday morning; sitting on a levee in Mildura. Kind of sums up where I was at the time.

Somewhere, in some other time zone, they’re playing Bee Gees music and welcoming the athletes of the world. Not here. I think I’m glad of that. It’s cool and overcast. Morning quiet. The river is dark and shining and wider than it has been for a decade. It feels like I can reach out and touch it. I might.

Through a boneyard of lost River Red Gums, a pelican glides on the breeze, wingtips feathering the water. Butcherbirds start up a chorus and the petrified forest becomes a conservatorium. A Whistling kite flies over me, flapping hard. Something hangs from its talons. Shining and quivering. One less carp in the Murray.

There’ll be one less man in an hour or so. It’s almost time to go home. Time to learn how to earn a living. On my own. No direction. No net this time. A fresh start – or a disaster. Only if I jump will I know. Only if I leave my place by the river. And head somewhere.

Saturday 14 July 2012

This week...

It's been a big week.
Have you ever had those? Good and bad. Happy and sad.

Saying goodbye to friends. Starting a new enterprise. Lamenting problems with your writing and then being shortlisted in a national competition. Learning how to use a Kindle. Finding out your story has come runner-up in that competition and will be published. Remembering to breathe...

Maybe it's time to head off for a while. Stare at a beach. Walk on one as well. Go whale watching. Stare into the eyes of a lion or two. Listen to Siamangs shatter the dawn. Watch red earth kiss blue sky. Sit under a big sky and feel insignificant. Follow a river and find her confluence.

And write about it all.

Tuesday 10 July 2012

Dubbo Damsel - a teaser

OK Sash, I know you're out there, so here's a sentence or six for you.

A hush came over the oily vastness of the shed. Even the fly-maddened mob had fallen silent - like they somehow knew. There was just the ticking heat of the tin, and the sound of her heart, beating out the breathless rhythm of his name...




Not since Cebu had she felt so alive. So perfect...

Saturday 7 July 2012

Words and Art

Bernie Meyers is an artist friend. A very talented lady. Her work hangs in my office. Stirs my heart. I wrote this memoir for a piece of hers.

In the forest is a circle of life.

A circle of life, lifted from a pallet of rainbow colours.
Colours as old as life itself
Colours mixed by the Master painter.
When the spring rains are good, new growth paints the forest canopy in gold and pink and scarlet.
Mature leaves grow and harden and turn a thousand shades of green.
Eventually older leaves turn, not by the change of season, but in their individual time.
They return to the colours of their youth.
And then they fall, to carpet the earth in gold and pink and scarlet.
And with their brown bones, they lay a foundation for the next generation.
In this circle of life.

Great sentence of the week #2

"The sun has been out all day, and now what's left of it has fallen into the valley and is lying there on the yellow grasses like whiskey in a glass." The Blue Plateau: A Landscape Memoir (Tredinnick).

Tuesday 3 July 2012

Homeless sentences

I'm an obsessive-compulsive, which means the things I do, I tend to do a lot. Like writing. Thousands of sentences. Millions of words. Some have found their place. A select few have won awards. Fewer have been published. I have plans for the rest. Well, most of them.

Here are some of the currently homeless...

The wide sweep of the coppery creek is framed by cream sand and green forest. The rain has yet to make a difference to her flow and the silent water shatters in a thousand ripples. I sit, equally unmoved and try not to feel guilty about being here.

The crow sat out on the sway of a dead branch. A silhouette against the chromatic pastel of morning; darker than black; absorbing light. When it didn’t move, Bobby Cowell wondered if the bird had come for him.

She might have looked like a woman, but there still lived a child inside. A child who didn’t know what she needed. She sure as hell didn’t need me.

Above the black silhouettes of the trees, the morning is pink and grey. A pair of Galahs bound across the dawn; they are marionettes on invisible strings.

Heaven is sitting in my own dusty library; jammed with shelves jammed with book spines – some of them written by me – with a small fireplace crackling away the cold and an old mug of coffee, and nothing to do with my day but think of the next story.

Characters are people too?

I’ve had some interesting discussions in recent weeks. Frogs and their girlfriends not the least of these. One issue has re-emerged several times. The issue of character.
In fictional terms – what is a character? What’s the difference between a character and a person? And if there is a difference, what does that mean for those of us struggling to create great characters? I’ve been challenged by these questions, and more. So I did some research.
In the past week I’ve read a fairly divergent range of views on the subject. From litigation risks using real people in your fictional characters – to what constitutes the feel of a great character. And though the experience was very beneficial, I think I’m at the same place I was in the beginning.
And that is... Characters are not people. Some not at all...
Even human characters are fragments of real people. Reflections of people. They may look and sound and smell and feel and, God forbid, taste like real people, but they are not. And if that’s true, then it frees the writer to break some “people rules” when they draft their characters.
Below are some rules I plan to write by. You might as well – or not.

 1)      Characters are amalgams. They can be anything you want them to be. Parts of real people or not. I wrote a character piece this week where a woman had a face like a red potato. Now no living person seriously looks like a red potato, but I think the imagery works.
2)      Characters do not have to have redeeming features. No person is without a redeeming quality, but a character can be. Remember – their role is to help you tell a story, not to be a real person.
3)      People can be boring, but characters shouldn’t. Or if they are, make them entertainingly boring... OK, think about that one for a while... it will make sense.
4)      Characters have to move the reader. All the great characters of fiction move you in some way – even if it’s negatively. Characters help earn you the right to have a reader read on.
5)      You don’t have to tell the reader everything about a character for them to “get” it. And if your hints are good enough, the reader might discover things about your character that even you didn’t know.
OK, that will do for now. Comment below if you like – hairyipants, are you out there? I have some characters to write.