Sunday, September 28, 2008

Gate crashers

On our writing weekend there were two uninvited guests. They hung about in the copse of gum trees between us and the beach, gorging and pissing. Totally uncivilised.

But very welcome.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

last weekend

Last weekend I went away with two writer friends. We left the city Friday evening and returned Sunday evening, so we were only away for about 48 hours, but though the time went quickly we felt as though we’d been away longer.

We slept in both mornings, walked on the beach, ate constantly, drank, talked, read, workshopped and yes…even wrote.

We all came home with work done and, even more important than that, a clearer idea of where to go from here.

It’s funny with writing. It’s an entirely solitary occupation: you sit for hours with just the thoughts in your head. It’s the only way to do it. But I couldn’t get by without my workshop mates. I wouldn’t want to.

Thanks J and C. Can’t wait to do it again.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What if...

A writer friend forwarded this to me. It's funny but pretty close to the truth too. Sometimes a typical workshop session can sound a bit like this. Not this, but this...

Friday, September 19, 2008

City Life

This week in the city I've had visitors in my backyard.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Country Life

In a recent Island magazine article a poet described city life as narcissistic. It exists for your convenience. You don't have to make an effort. Country life can be hard; the work often feels never ending, especially when you have animals. Animals and fences. But look where you get to do it!

I inhabit two quite different worlds: Mole Creek and Melbourne. I filmed this in Mole Creek on the day before I returned to Melbourne.

Hi, Farmdoc.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

First Drafts

I wrote a lot in the last couple of weeks. Just about all day every day when I wasn’t busy with farm chores or walking to the post office to collect the mail or cooking.

And what I discovered yet again is the importance of first drafts. Of dumping any old rubbish down on the page – or screen. The quicker, the messier, the stupider, the better. Once something’s down I can fix it up, but I can’t fix a blank page.

Pausing to find the exact word or phrase or simile is counterproductive at this stage. I can do that later. In fact, the less censoring at this point, the richer the material will be. It’s hard. There’s such a strong urge to get it right, or at least neat and tidy or at least reasonable, first time around. It’s like unlearning all those lessons I learnt in school.

This is my experience anyway. I know some writers whose first drafts sit in their brains for ages and then by the time they see daylight they are pretty close to something decent. That’s not me. If I worked like that I’d find it would stifle the life out of my material.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Hay Fever

I love how the sheep that are so aloof every other time of the year come to hay. They are still wary, but at least they acknowledge our existence, even if only from the corner of their horizontal eyes.

The hayshed is half empty. There’s probably another month and a half of feeding out left, and then we’ll start to wonder about this summer’s hay: when we’ll cart it, how much it’ll cost this year, and how much we’ll need. We’ll scribble calculations on the backs of envelopes, but in the end as usual it’ll depend on the weather – if we get rain and sun at the right times – and who has hay for sale. We can’t cut our own here because our ground is too rough and uneven.

Meanwhile, used baling twine mounts up on the hook in the garage. At the end of the season most of it will go to the tip. There’s a limit to the uses even the most ingenious farmer can find for it.