5 WRITE ANSWERS
ONE QUESTION 5 ANSWERS.
PUBLISHED IN THE WOMEN’S INK SWW MAGAZINE SPRING/SUMMER 2020
QUESTION; WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE RECEIVED FOR YOUR WRITING
To read my poetry out loud and listen carefully for meaning and rhythm.
When I am stuck, I record it and play it back to myself. I know there are modern methods to do this on our iPhones these days, but I still have an old portable tape recorder on the shelf above my desk which I read into and listen back, checking out the lyrical bent.
I get so much insight from this process.
Colleen Keating is an award winning Sydney-based poet. She has four books of poetry including her latest poetry book Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey, awarded the Silver Nautilus Award 2019 Better Books for a Better World USA.
It’s hard to pin down a best advice because I’ve had lots of good advice. But perhaps the earliest and most fundamental is good old Show Don’t Tell.
I can’t remember who or when I first came across that piece of advice, but it was certainly reinforced by Patricia Gaut when I was one of her Willoughby Writers. Since those early days, I have modified it a bit so that it’s: mostly show, and tell when you really need to.
Pippa Kay is a Sydney-based author whose most recent work Keeping it in the Family won the Society of Women Writers Fiction Book award in 2018. Pippa’s work has also appeared in multiple anthologies including On Murder 2, No Thanks or Regrets, and various Stringybark anthologies.
It was years ago when I was submitting poems to the late Les Murray, Literary Editor of Quadrant magazine and all my poems were getting rejected.
I said to Les, ‘I am not a poet, am I?’
He said, ‘You could be a poet, but you need a surprise at the end of each stanza.’
So that’s what I do now and it’s working.
My own advice to new writers is a quote from Ernest Hemingway: ‘The only kind of writing is rewriting.’
Libby Sommer is an award-winning Australian author of ‘My Year With Sammy’ 2015, ‘The Crystal Ballroom’ 2017, ‘The Usual Story’ 2018 and ‘Stories from Bondi’ 2019. ‘Lost In Cooper Park’ will be published by Ginninderra Press in late 2020. She is a regular contributor of stories and poems to Quadrant magazine.
It was delivered in a workshop at the SWW by the wonderful Australian author, Sue Woolfe.
In discussing the early stages of a writing project, Sue spoke of ‘The tragedy of knowing what you’re doing’. She explained that it is actually important, in terms of the way our brains work creatively, not to know. That ‘our unconscious mind is much smarter than we are,’ and that in a sense, we need to trust that our story knows what it’s doing, even if we are initially uncertain.
I’ve since heard this idea mirrored in various ways by other authors such as George Saunders and Elizabeth Gilbert and I love and believe in the magical element of the concept, though it’s easier said than done!
Melissa Bruce an award-winning writer of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and drama. Her debut novel, ‘Picnic at Mount Disappointment’ won the inaugural Woollahra Digital Literary Award for Fiction and was Highly Commended by the Society of Women Writers, NSW.
From Elizabeth Jolley, the importance of observing and jotting down the ‘quick note’.
From Stephanie Dowrick, allowing the creative mind to bring ideas to the surface, while your hands are engaged in doing routine chores.
From Patti Miller, the value of narrative withholding, where a writer withholds certain information from the reader in order to create mystery, suspense, tension, interest and dramatic irony.
From David Malouf, that ‘writing is about an enthusiastic rush; it is also about patience’. He is right. For a writer, patience is essential – patience when writing and patience when publishing.
Dr Sharon Rundle is an Editor of books and online Story Mosaics, who has taught writing for over 25 years at universities and institutions in Australia, India, and the UK. For the past 15 years, she has edited books by authors in Australia and the Indian Subcontinent.