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THE VICTORIAN WRITER March 2012 From the Director 05 News 06 Writers Victoria Program 07 The Month, Carmel Bird & Archimede Fusillo Pen Report, Arnold Zable 11 Opportunities & Competitions 30 Voices, Robyne Young & Sue Roberts 34
Features The Tribute, Andee Jones 13 Getting Your Blood Up, Francesca Rendle-Short Another Year, Paul Bateman 25 Inking the Bridge, Neil Grant 27
Calendar 18 Members 32 Back Story 20
Cover art courtesy of Melbourne artist, EIRIAN CHAPMAN www.eirianchapman.com / www.teethhair.tumblr.com
Note to self– ‘Remember’ I can’t remember things as well as I once could. I used to have a veritable steel trap; now it seems to be a little rusty. Is this through overuse, underuse or just Father Time cruelly chipping away at my grey bits?
Of course, we’re lucky to have more forms of memory than in the old days. Our clever laptops and smart phones can each store the equivalent of whole libraries, perhaps whole lives. They are not, however, invincible.
I spent a decade running a street theatre company that toured almost obsessively. I’d spend four or five months of the year overseas, often in the most spectacular locations: several months in all corners of Europe during the Melbourne winter, short trips into Asia, heady adventures in Latin America and even an ill-advised tour to Angola. It was a fabulous way to see the world and gave wonderful insights into other peoples and their cultures. It left me with a head full of extraordinary memories. It must be said it was also very hard work. I well remember a ten-day period in which we performed in four different countries. It was a constant whirl of long road trips, ferry journeys, train trips, flights, check-ins and check-outs, not to mention the very physical set ups, pack downs and actual performances. At the end of these tours I’d end up with seven or eight different currencies rattling around in my pockets; and an urge to do it all again.
Over the Christmas break I went away, as one does. I was very proud of myself for leaving behind my laptop. There, I thought, I can live without it. (Just quietly, I did take my iPhone and iPad, but the joke was on me because I could then find no coverage.) My laptop sat at home, neglected, lonely, full of photos, writings, notes and ideas stretching back many years, all locked into high-tech digital memory. When I arrived home ten days later it was dead. No response. A taunting, blinking question mark was the best it could do. All that data, all those memories locked away and no way to access them. Of course I’d backed up. Daily? No. Weekly? Not exactly. Monthly? Maybe … almost. I’d backed up on some disks, and the disks were somewhere. They WERE somewhere, weren’t they? In the meantime, I removed the hard disk and took it to a series of ever increasingly high-tech specialists before I finally found one who could “pull off” the data. The cost would be $2,500! Surely no! How much are memories worth?
For many years I could recall these experiences vividly. I could remember each and every hotel room, each site we performed on and had a good recollection of the nuances, mistakes and triumphs of over 500 performances. Unfortunately, the rust has set in. This brings us, slightly obliquely, to the theme of this issue of our new-look magazine: memoir. It’s a genre that remains extremely popular and is, for many, the first step in a new writer’s journey. My attempt at a definition: memoir is the genre that won’t go away, about memory that might.
After turning the house upside down I did eventually find my back-up disks, sitting in a rather obvious place on my desk not unlike Poe’s Purloined Letter. However, there are gaps, mysterious omissions; some things have been lost, and they won’t come back. Much like my softer, greyer head-based memory. If you are considering writing your memoirs, I might suggest beginning sooner, rather than later. Now, has anyone seen my keys? RODERICK POOLE, Writers Victoria Director
The Victorian Writer
NEWS Grace Marion Wilson Mentorships announced
Kate Grenville and too many more to mention. The winner receives $20,000 and gets to see their book in stores, published by Allen & Unwin.
Congratulations to the four talented writers who will receive 16 hours of individual mentoring from a professional writer as part of the Grace Marion Wilson Mentorship program. Toni Jordon will mentor fiction writer Eva Lomski; Robin Hemley will mentor non-fiction writer Hugh Kiernan; and Kalinda Ashton will mentor young writers Dominic Counahan and Jacinta Claire Butterworth (who receive eight hours each). By pairing them with established professionals the mentorship is designed to assist emerging writer to improve their craft, build confidence and widen the understanding of the practice of professional writing. Writers Victoria looks forward to reading the work that is to come!
New avenues for unsolicited manuscripts For the first time in six years Penguin Australia has opened its doors to unsolicited manuscripts. “Manuscript Monday” is open from 10am – 4pm for electronic submissions only. It joins Pan MacMillan, whose “Monthly Catch” is open to unsolicited submissions for the first seven days of every month (electronic only). Allen and Unwin is ahead of the game, having run its “Friday Pitch” program now for five years. It’s open all day Friday, again for emailed submissions only. The publishing houses’ websites have submission details and guidelines.
Adelaide Writers’ Week
The Adelaide Festival of theatre, music, dance, visual art and film dedicates a whole week to celebrating writers and writing. Writers’ Week runs 3–8 March and has a program of Australian authors – think Robert Dessaix, Alice Pung and plenty more – and there are specialised events and forums, kids’ activities and book signings.
Melbourne Comedy Festival comes to town As usual the 2012 Melbourne International Comedy Festival program is overflowing with big-name Australian and international comedians. Local highlights are comedian and writer Tim Ferguson and Victorian Poetry Slam winner Simon Taylor. For members keen on literary jokes, we draw your attention to The Shakespeare Fight Club (details in the MICF program).
New centre for Australian writing “Comfortable chairs, tables and a coffee machine so that readers can sit and browse while they enjoy a cuppa.” The Centre for Modern Australian Writing, with a relaxed atmosphere for soaking up new, local literature, will open at the Ballarat Mechanics’ Institute on 23 March. Each month an Australian writer will speak about their book. First up is Paddy O’Reilly talking about her novel The Fine Colour of Rust. We look forward to hearing from our members in Ballarat about their new literary hangout.
The Festival runs from 28 March to 22 April. www.comedyfestival.com.au
Applications open for Writers Victoria mentorships program and regional funding Bookings are now open for mentorships for paying applicants. Mentorships offer writers the opportunity to work with an experienced professional on a one-to-one basis over an extended period of time. Experienced mentors Ouyang Yu, Damon Young, Arnold Zable, Liz Kemp, Jane Routley, Clare Allan-Kamil, Ned Manning, Claire Gaskin and Lee Kofman are able to mentor emerging writers across a range of genres. See writersvictoria.org.au/ services/mentorships
Applications open for the 2013 Vogel Publishing costs and market pressures are making it harder for unsolicited manuscripts to make it onto bookshelves. But fear not, The Australian/Vogel Literary Award is looking for exactly that. Pitched at writers under 35, the Vogel is one of Australia’s most prestigious writing awards. It launched the careers of Tim Winton,
Round one of the Writers Victoria Regional Partnerships funding program is also open. Applications close 2 April. See writersvictoria.org.au/services/regionalpartnerships
The Writer’s Journey Children’s books, creative non-fiction, romance and the law of the word; these topics and more are covered over the next month at Writers Victoria. All 2012 event details at writersvictoria.org.au/what-s-on
BOOKING Book and pay online at writersvictoria.org.au/what-s-on or phone Writers Victoria on 03 9094 7855. Venue details Unless otherwise stated, events are held at Writers Victoria @ the Wheeler Centre, alongside the State Library. We’re at Level 3, 176 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne. Booking policy As places are limited, and to allow confirmation of Writers Victoria events, booking deadlines are imposed for all events. We strongly advise bookings at a minimum of one week prior to event start. Cancellation policy Refunds will only be given where a cancellation is made three working days prior to an event or start of a course. Writers Victoria reserves the right to cancel any event due to lack of bookings up until two days prior. Disabled access Writers Victoria attempts to provide disabled access where possible. Please phone prior to your visit if you have any special needs.
Year of Children’s & Young Adult Writing
with Archimede Fusillo Course: This course will introduce participants to the world of writing for young people and assist with developing your idea into a manuscript over the course of the year.
Archimede Fusillo is the award-winning author of YA novels and children’s books, including the Aussie Bites series Let it Rip, Bragging Reggie, Game Or Not and The Great Switcheroo (Penguin). Rating: Early and emerging When: Sundays, 10am – 4pm, 4 Mar, 6 May, 8 July, 9 Sept & 11 Nov Cost: $690, Members $625/$580
Year of Memoir
with Dmetri Kakmi Course: Dmetri Kakmi’s practical guide to writing memoir leads emerging and novice writers through the writing process from inception to publication, addressing technical issues such as theme, voice, tone, form, plot, structure and character development.
Dmetri Kakmi is an experienced editor, writer and broadcaster. His acclaimed memoir, Mother Land, was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards in 2008. Rating: Early and emerging When: Saturdays, 10am – 4pm, 17 Mar, 12 May, 14 July, 15 Sept & 17 Nov Cost: $720, Members $650/$610
Year of Romance
Marion Lennox has written over 90 romance novels for giant romance publisher Harlequin Mills and Boon. Her books are translated into 28 languages and sold in over 130 countries. Rating: Early and emerging When: Saturdays, 10am – 4pm , 14 Apr, 23 June, 11 Aug, 13 Oct, 8 Dec Cost: $690, Members $625/$580 Early birds receive 10% discount. Offer closes 28 March.
Di Websdale-Morrissey is a Melbourne writer with an MA in Creative Writing who has taught Creative Non-fiction in RMIT’s Diploma, Bachelor and Masters writing programs for more than a decade. She has published two books, has two more on the way, and has written regularly for The Age and various lifestyle magazines. When: 15 Mar, 12 Apr, 10 May & 14 June
with Marion Lennox Course: Over 50% of the world’s trade fiction is romance so your market is assured. In 2012, Marion will take you and your manuscript on a journey to discover your market and how to work your romance novel so it sizzles on an editor’s desk.
with Di Websdale-Morrissey Explore the characteristics of creative non-fiction, the elements that set it apart, and how to craft short and long projects. Participants will explore different types of creative non-fiction and participate in writing and workshopping activities designed to enhance their own non-fiction writing.
Year of Novel Extensive
with PD Martin Course: Whether you’re a beginner or emerging author, by the end of this eight-month course you will have improved your writing craft and finished a first draft of your novel. Sessions include theory, practical tips and exercises to improve your writing skills, the basics of self-editing and the publishing industry and lessons on self-promotion.
PD Martin is the author of five crime fiction novels published in 13 countries. Her Sophie Anderson series has met with international acclaim. Her books are Body Count, The Murderers’ Club, Fan Mail, The Killing Hands and Kiss of Death. She’s also published an eBook novella, Coming Home. Rating: Early and emerging When: Sundays, 10am – 4pm, 18 Mar, 15 April, 20 May, 17 June, 15 July, 12 Aug, 16 Sept & 14 Oct Cost: $1070, Members $960/$890
First Draft Postmortem
with Toni Jordan Course: You’ve finished the first draft of your novel. Congratulations, but don’t crack open the champagne just yet. It’s time to get your first draft on the slab and open it up. This hands-on course examines character, plot and structure, pace and theme to help you to a better second draft.
Sofie Laguna is an author, actor and playwright. Her many books for children have been named Honour Books and Notable Books in the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards and have been shortlisted in the Queensland Premier’s Awards. When: 8 Mar, 5 Apr, 3 May & 7 June
Toni Jordan is an award-winning, best-selling novelist. Her debut novel, Addition, was published in 2008 and long-listed for the Miles Franklin Literary Award, and won best debut fiction in the 2008 Indie awards. Addition has been translated into 12 languages. Her second novel, Fall Girl, was published in 2010 in Australia, with the UK, Germany and France to follow. When: 22 Mar, 19 Apr, 17 May & 21 June Early birds receive 10% discount. Offer closes 7 March.
WEEKDAY WRITERS (Running Thursdays, 12–4pm. Cost: $360, $310/$275. Rating: Early and emerging.)
with Sofie Laguna Course: Focus on developing picture books and chapter books for children. Learn about creating appealing characters and plot lines that engage the younger reader. Participants will examine the relationship between text and image, and can expect to be encouraged and inspired.
Please submit a five-page sample of the manuscript and a two-page synopsis by 8 March.
Introduction to Editing
with Ian See Course: Whether you’re an aspiring writer or editor, this introductory course will equip you with the basic tools to improve your own or others’ writing. You’ll brush up on your grammar and punctuation, and learn how to use style sheets and proofreading marks. Although you’ll gain insight into the book publishing process, the techniques covered in the course can also be applied to other publications, such as corporate reports, media releases, newsletters, brochures and website copy.
Ian See is an editor at Scribe Publications. He is a graduate of RMIT’s Professional Writing and Editing program and has been involved with Sleepers Publishing, Overland and Meanjin. Rating: Early and emerging When: Wednesdays 6.30–8.30pm, 7–28 Mar Cost: $220, $180/$165 SPECIAL EVENTS
Australia Council for the Arts Client Meetings
The Australia Council offers grants to: • Writers and illustrators, with at least one full-length literary work published or performed, to create new work • Eligible organisations to publish and promote Australian writers and writing. Staff from the Literature Board will be available for 30-minute individual meetings on: Thursday 15 Mar, 10am – 4pm & Friday 16 Mar, 10am – 3pm To book an appointment, please contact Writers Victoria at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 9094 7855.
LL now FU e r a kingswe strongly advise you to look at the Before Booappointments Australia Council website: www.australiacouncil.gov.au
Ask the Publisher: Essay
with Overland magazine and the Monthly, hosted by Fran Madigan Series: Writers Victoria, in conjunction with the Society of Editors Victoria, presents publishing panel sessions across the year with guest publishers specialising in fiction and non-fiction areas. Find out the process of submission, the editorial relationship and the best publishing avenue for you. This month features two guest editors who specialise in essay and literary writing.
Jeff Sparrow is editor of Overland, a magazine committed to engaging with important literary, cultural and political issues in contemporary Australia. Chris Feik is associate editor of the Monthly, an independent magazine of
Australian politics, society, culture and media. Rating: All When: Monday 7–8pm, 19 Mar Cost: $15, Members $12/$10 Group bookings (8+) $10
TUESDAY TUTORIALS Series: Over the year guest authors will impart their expertise of the writing craft in an intimate, relaxed and interactive environment. Each month will alternate between fiction and non-fiction, and topics will address the step-by-step processes of successful writing.
The Right Voice and the Right Details with Steven Amsterdam
What does your narrator know? Through whose eyes will your story be seen? How will the story be told? These decisions are every bit as important as the story itself, but are often overlooked. In this two-hour workshop, we will explore many ways of telling. Participants will bring their own story ideas, imagination and sharp pencils. Through discussion and exercises we will expand on these ideas and try to find the right voice to move the story forward.
Steven Amsterdam is a writer living in Melbourne. His debut, Things We Didn’t See Coming (Sleepers), won The Age Book of the Year and is currently on the VCE English reading list. His second book, What the Family Needed (Sleepers) has been called “exhilarating” (The Australian), “wonderful” (Sydney Morning Herald) and “Strange and marvellous territory” (The Monthly). Rating: Early and emerging. When: Tuesday 6.30–8.30pm, 27 Mar Cost: $40, Members $30/$25 per session Places are limited. Early birds receive 10% discount. Offer closes 14 March.
The Law of the Written Word with Robyn Ayres and special guests
Arts Law Centre of Australia Executive Director, Robyn Ayres, hosts a panel of guest practitioners discussing a broad range of topical Arts Law issues affecting writers.
The Arts Law Centre of Australia (Arts Law) is the national community legal centre for the arts. Arts Law provides legal advice and information on a wide range of arts related legal and business matters including contracts, copyright, business structures, defamation, insurance, employment and taxation to artists and arts organisations across all art forms. For more information, keep an eye on our website. Rating: All When: Monday 23 Apr, 6.30–8pm Cost: FREE
The Victorian Writer
Month of Workshopping
Month of Writing
Remembering the facts of silver and gold
Much of the past month has been taken up with editing my next young adult novel for Penguin Books. After multiple drafts and several key rethinks about plot and character development, I was at a stage where I could be fairly brutal about what I’d keep and what would be ejected from the manuscript.
by Archimede Fusillo
by Carmel Bird
Among the 15 people in my memoir writing group at Writers Victoria in January there were two sisters. I set the group a writing exercise where they would recall a significant clock or watch from their early lives, and write about it for ten minutes. After this I invited people to read out what they had written. Both sisters, without consulting each other, wrote about their grandfather’s fob watch. As we all listened to the second sister’s account, we could recognise the grandfather, but the funny thing was that one sister recalled a lovely golden chain, while the other remembered a silver one. Since the chain is now lost, we will probably never know whether it was silver or gold.
My challenge has been that, like many writers, I was attached to much of what I’d written, so trying to actually cut material out was hard. Luckily, I had guidance from a very patient and insightful editor who walked me through the process and I managed to get down to the task.
The joy of writing for me is in the journey of discovering what characters will and won’t do, and then to polish and refine the narrative in which all this happens. Often it’s a challenge to sit and hear them and then there’s the frustration of having to muddle about until the story line feels right, feels true to what you want the story to be about. Hours and hours of writing sometimes elapse before that magic moment when something shines through and you realise this is what you’d been searching for. And that’s how it’s been for me in narrowing the focus of this latest novel; a journey of searching to find the right outlet for the story. I can only hope that I’ve got it right.
Workshops are often enlivened by moments not unlike this one, but I thought this textbook example of the behaviour of memory was worth noting. If these sisters can’t agree on the nature of the chain, which they observed in the relatively recent past, just how much can ever be believed? And how much does this matter? When you are writing memoir you are in one sense fabricating a new past from the materials your memory offers you; you are constructing something like a piece of fiction, in some ways, while trying (I suppose) to stick to the truth. The truth as you know it.
The process of writing this new novel has been one of shifting focus, both in terms of the character’s predicament and the outcomes of his reactions. I’ve had to find the balance between intimidation and the outright violence that this story demands. This means I’ve had to do multiple rewrites until the action of the novel wasn’t simply reaction to situation, but rather a considered response to the condition of the various colliding players. I demand that my characters have some psychological depth and reality and are not mere shadows whimpering in the semi-dark of a halfformed idea.
Also worth noting is the fact that the group, as groups frequently do, decided to keep in touch with each other by email after the workshop. I have been astonished by the energy and commitment of this particular group. They continue to write and to share their work with each other, and to offer clear-eyed yet always encouraging criticism of the writing. I think most of them will persevere and write various kinds of memoir, some for general publication, some for family and friends. And I know they will all remember, in one way or another, the lovely lesson of the gold and silver chains.
Archimede Fusillo is the award-winning author of YA novels and children’s books, including the Aussie Bites series Let it Rip, Bragging Reggie, Game Or Not and The Great Switcheroo (Penguin). His Writers Victoria course, Year of Children’s and Young Adult Writing, begins this month.
Carmel Bird’s book Writing the Story of Your Life has given many writers the inspiration, techniques and templates to discover and express their personal memoirs. Carmel is a highly experienced and popular workshop leader. www.carmelbird.com
The Victorian Writer
PEN report, March
by Arnold Zable, President of Melbourne Pen The work of PEN continued as usual during our summer break. In January PEN Melbourne received several moving responses to messages sent at our annual card-writing session in late November 2011. Writing from the high security special crimes prison near Ankara, Turkish writer Ragip Zarakolu acknowledged the cards sent to him by Melbourne PEN. He is now an honorary member of our centre. Ragip’s response was read out on 19 January at an event commemorating the fifth anniversary of the assassination of Turkish-Armenian writer, editor and human rights advocate Hrant Dink. The evening was organised by the Friends of Hrant Dink and Melbourne’s Armenian community. Jackie Mansourian and I were invited to speak on behalf of PEN Melbourne and to reaffirm our close links to his cause. The audience also heard speeches by members of Melbourne’s Armenian, Anatolian and Turkish communities, and viewed an inspiring video about Hrant Dink’s life and work. Hrant Dink’s murder illustrates the dangers faced by writers who expose human rights abuses. The Hrant Dink Foundation was founded within weeks of his death to continue his work and honour his vision. In late January, a ten-member delegation of PEN International, led by president John Ralston Saul, journeyed to Mexico to protest the murder by criminal organisations of 67 Mexicans over the past decade. In recent months, these groups have killed 15 journalists, “disappeared” three and attacked the facilities of 19 newspapers and media outlets with firearms and explosives. The five-day mission concluded its high level talks with a declaration of solidarity. As Jennifer Clement, president of PEN Mexico pointed out, “It’s the first time journalists and writers from Mexico and around the world have stood together to lift their voices against the violence in Mexico and the danger this holds for freedom and Mexico’s emerging democracy.” www.melbournepen.com.au
Tweet of the month
@paulhassing Paul Hassing If I could write words of water, you would drown when I said ‘I love you’. –Spike Milligan 10:28am via TweetDeck
The Victorian Writer
The Tribute Between the cracks of a nightmare, ANDEE JONES wrote her grief into a memoir. This edited extract traces her search for firmer ground beyond a sea of sadness.
Photograph by Vinoth Chandar
ou have 20 minutes to write about ‘How to talk to ...’ your motherin-law, boss, ex-boyfriend, anyone you like.”
Recently retired from academia, I’d enrolled in my first ever creative writing class. I’d been scribbling my little ex-academic heart out, despite the February humidity and my cotton dress having welded itself to the burnt-orange PVC. We read our bloodied missives aloud to the group. “How to talk to your psychiatrist,” I began. Silence. “I sat here for 20 minutes,” I said, “and couldn’t say anything.” “Someday,” said the teacher, “you must write about him.” Five years later, searching for subject matter, I took her advice. At 60 pages I was uneasy. I asked a few friends. “OMIGOD,” they said, “LIKE, WHO IS THIS SHRINK?” The piece had potential, but something was missing. “There’s not enough of you in it,” said a writer friend. I’d written next to nothing about my life outside therapy. It was all too complicated. But the story wasn’t saying why it was being told. It was a body that couldn’t breathe, a body without lungs, without heart. There was next to nothing about Joel.
Joel died in 2007, on the other side of the world and just short of his 40th birthday. Nine months later, I still didn’t know how to go on. Being alive and awake was the stomach sinking, palpitating experience of sitting in a hospital 13
cubicle waiting for test results. “Don’t get dressed yet dear; we might need to get you straight into theatre.” On the local register of psychologists, I read Viv’s bio and saw that her rooms were close by. I called to make a time. I liked the sound of her voice; kind, calm, savvy. I didn’t know where I’d start. After Joel died, I was referred to a psychiatrist for medication. I saw one therapist after another and warmed to none.
Write when experience is too big to hold, when you’re speechless with pain and rage and dread, when you want to convey hard stuff about love.
“So write!” said the teacher in my head. “Write when experience is too big to hold, when you’re speechless with pain and rage and dread, when you want to convey hard stuff about love.” Long before I went to school, I wanted to do whatever Dad was doing. In an after-dinner fug of bangers, buttered mash and minted peas, he’d be sitting at the kitchen table next to the wood stove, paper everywhere. A Herald open, some scribbled-in exercise books, unpaid bills skewered into a spike stack. “What are you doing Dad?” “Writing,” he said. “Show me.”
Dad taught me to do running writing. The loopy letters ran forever, tilting into the wind. Later, the teachers said we had to write in italics. Italics aren’t allowed to run; they do a slow march or stand to attention, not touching their neighbours. I’d skip beside Dad as we walked the neighbourhood before teatime, playing word games and sniffing the cold air laced with smoke from briquette heaters and open fires of Mallee root and Red Gum. A wood carter by winter, Dad knew smoke. Iceman by summer, he knew ice, too, and how to split a cubic-foot block of it when required. I’d be as high as a kite on the thrill of spelling the big words correctly: b u t t e r f l y, f l u t t e r b y, c o c k a t i e l. I hadn’t started school but I remembered the grade two girl next door telling me about “Dicken Jane” and “Runspot Run”. I wanted to write poems about butterflies and cockatiels. We had a cockatiel called Georgie, who would live forever just to keep dancing on Dad’s head to Satchmo’s “St Louis Blues”.
The Victorian Writer After tea,while mum finished the chores, Dad and I read The Herald in bed. We’d do the puzzles together and Dad would read me the Funnies. The next year I went to kinder and then to school. I remember thinking that Dick and Jane didn’t do anything and the teacher didn’t want to know about butterflies or cockatiels. Dad stopped reading The Herald with me. “Now you’re at school,” he said, “I can’t teach you anymore”. I’d grown up wanting neither husband nor babies, but at 17 I fell pregnant to my boyfriend Don. Don and I had taken to circling each other during school electronics pracs. Don knew about Maxwell’s Laws of Electromagnetism, if not of the animal kind. He knew what capacitors and valves did, if not of the human heart. He knew about resistance and alternating currents, if not of love. Switches, sine waves, voltage, batteries. I knew nothing of electronics or of love, but I liked experimenting. Increasingly anxious and depressed during adolescence, I’d been hanging by my fingernails from the crumbling edge of a black hole. With the pregnancy, I lost my grip completely. I wanted to be loved, but I neither knew how to love, nor knew I didn’t know. I imagined a child would love me, but I neither knew what children needed, nor knew I didn’t know. What I soon did know was what must be done. There were several advisors but only one question: “Will he marry you?” Thus did two troubled teens, still wet behind the ears, become reluctant spouses and parents. In the grip of depression and a rampant eating disorder, I gained more than 20 kilos during my pregnancy and starved afterwards. Forcing myself to eat resulted in gut-wrenching sickness. In the black hole I could not bond with my son Joel. Whenever I’d hang the nappies out, the deluge would come. The reason for the outpouring, the eruption of sobbing, had no name bar, “This is my life. How did it come to this?” On my way to Viv’s I detoured through the Botanic Gardens. I passed Joel’s memorial seat inscribed with our message of love and loss. The gardeners maintain the memorial seats and keep them within their “home” areas, but visitors seeking sun, shade, the long view, or shelter under the weeping pine can move the seats from “room” to “room”.Sometimes Joel’s seat is on the hill facing the view, sometimes he’s sheltering in the dip. Sometimes I don’t have time to look for him. He gets around. Viv showed me into her room overlooking the Gardens. The room had a warmth and airy serenity I’d been missing. Viv had thick, jet hair, cut very short, sparkling green eyes and understated taste in clothing; New Zealand labels in subtle grey-green hues. 15
The Victorian Writer The artworks on her walls were in dialogue. Abstracts in siennas, soft greens and complex whites echoed each other’s shapes and tones. During the preliminaries, Viv asked what I was looking for in therapy. I breathed easy for the first time in months. What I was looking for in therapy was a therapist who’d ask me what I was looking for in therapy. After Joel died, my daily question had been,“How do I go about my life when I have no desire to live?” A month before I saw Viv, having no answer, no idea, no therapist and no way out, I’d updated my question: “If ... if I did feel my life was worth living, what would I do with my time?”
After Joel died, my daily question had been,“How do I go about my life when I have no desire to live?”
Within a few days, the neural cluster holding my question pushed my legs out of bed, dragged me after them, forced my hand to pick up the phone, called my nearest art school and begged enrolment. On another day, the same neural cluster, tinier than a pin-prick, told my feet to put one in front of the other until I arrived as a volunteer at my local hospital.
I attended a mindfulness seminar. “Take a cushion,” said the leader, “put your grief into it and hold it while you meditate.” How could I answer that? My grief is an ocean; my only choice is the way I float on it – face up or face down. I was in no fit state to return to my work as a psychologist. That would require having hope – for my clients and for me – and I had none. I was trying to strengthen the neural pin-prick that on occasion goaded my legs out of bed and made me follow. Were it not for the dog demanding a walk, I’d have stayed wrapped in my stone-grey cocoon all day. I lived off meagre savings, caring naught for the future. Life-drawing classes and therapy got me up on Mondays, yoga and painting classes on Wednesdays, volunteer work on Thursdays. On other days the dog and I walked late. Every minute of this mind-body activity took a year. Every neural firing was as much fun as a funeral. At art school I drew from life and painted my grief. In between the cracks of the nightmare, I wrote.
The Victorian Writer I’d often thought about, but couldn’t yet face, writing Joel’s story as a tribute to him and to his courage. It was then I’d recalled the writing teacher’s advice about my first shrink. “Someday,” my teacher had said, “you must write about him”. But the writing, like dry bones in a tin, had rattled on, lifeless. There had been next to nothing about Joel. But Joel was the reason I went to therapy. Joel was why I had this story. Without knowing Joel, I’d have known nothing of myself. One of Joel’s gifts to me was to show me, mirrored in his pain, an image of my own. He was why I was alive, in every sense of the word. This was when it got hard. It was the story I couldn’t write, the one I’d tricked myself into starting. What to do? Put it aside until I could cope? That same writing teacher had said we must write into the dark, write without knowing where it will take us. I returned to the narrative, to when I first learnt I was pregnant. From there I wrote into the dark toward the year Joel died. At times the gravitational pull was too strong and I couldn’t go on. Time after time, I asked myself, “Why am I doing this? How will I ever be able to write into the eternal blackness of that year?” But as I crawled around in the gloom, everything about the lie of the land felt true – the textures, striations and depressions, the taste of earth and the smell of sap. Something was taking shape. Andee Jones is a retired psychologist and academic. Her most recent book is Barking Mad: Too Much Therapy is Never Enough. Jones’ writing is published in mainstream, literary and professional magazines, and her 2010 memoir Kissing Frogs was adapted for the stage as the onewoman show RU4Me starring AFI award-winner Annie Byron.
Words and Music poetry and readings. 98.1FM. 10.30–11am.
Melbourne Writers Meet-up Group. 6pm in the city. Inspired, emerging and established writers welcome. Social not critique group. (@MelbCityWriters or email@example.com)
Aural Text on RRR (102.7FM), 12–2pm.
Published ... or not. 3CR (855AM), 11.30–12noon.
ONE WED PER MONTH
Spoken Word poetry. 3CR (855AM), 9–9.30am.
La Mama Poetica. Every 2nd month. 8pm, LaMama, 205 Faraday St, Carlton. $7/5. www.lamama.com.au Phoenix Park Writers. Meet weekly on a Monday and Saturday afternoon. East Malvern. (9530 4397) Scribes Writing Group. 9.30am –12pm, (school terms). South Barwon Community Centre, 33 Mount Pleasant Rd, Belmont. (Vivienne Worthington, 5241 9491) FORTNIGHTLY
Book Chat. 11am–12noon, Doveton Library. Share opinions and great reads with book lovers. Find new authors and new friends. Free. Chalk and Cheese. 3WBC (94.1FM), 4–5pm. Arts news, interviews and readings. The Spinning Room poetry & spoken word. 8.30pm, ET’s (Edwards Tavern), cnr High & Clifton Sts, Prahran. (9510 9896)
Reservoir wRiters and Reciters. 1–3.30pm, Reservoir Library. (0403 FORTNIGHTLY 708 759/ruthvenstorygarden@ Docklands Writers. yahoo.com.au) The Hub, Docklands. EnthuMARCH 05 siastic and supportive writing group. (For information: rose@ Passionate Tongues Poetry. grahammercer.com.au) 8.30pm, Noise Bar, Brunswick. (9328 8080) Mordialloc Writers’ Group. 8pm, MARCH 19 Mordialloc Neighbourhood House. (9587 firstname.lastname@example.org) Passionate Tongues Poetry. 8.30pm, Noise Bar, BrunsWordweavers Writers’ Group. wick. (9328 8080) 9.45am–12pm, Waverley Community Learning Centre, 5 Fleet St, Mt Waverley. (9807 6011)
Roarhouse music & poetry. 7–10pm, Esplanade Basement Bar, St Kilda. Free. (To perform: email@example.com) MARCH 07
Write Now. (88.3FM), 7–8pm. Discussion and talkback. ONE THURS PER MONTH
Roarhouse music & poetry. Coast Lines Poetry Group. 7–10pm, 303 Bar, Northcote. 10.30am, Brighton Library, Wilson (firstname.lastname@example.org) St. (Cecilia Morris, 0412 021 154) MARCH 28
Wednesday’s Child Writers’ Group. 6.30pm, Bartiste Lounge, Ross Smith Lane, Frankston. (email@example.com)
Williamstown Writers. 8pm, Williamstown. $2. (willi firstname.lastname@example.org)
Australian Society of Technical Communicators (VIC) meeting, 6.30–8.30pm, VTR Consulting, Roseneath Pl, South Melbourne. Brunswick Poets’ & Writers’ Workshop ©. 7pm, Community Room, Campbell Turnbull Library, rear 220 Melville Rd, Brunswick West. (9384 1277) Darebin Writers’ Group. 7.30pm, SPAN Community House, 298 Victoria Rd, Thornbury. (9480 1364, email@example.com) Caulfield Writers Group. 7.30pm, Godfrey St. Community House, 9 Godfrey St, Bentleigh. (firstname.lastname@example.org) MARCH 15
The Courthouse Readings. 8pm, 728 Main Rd, Eltham. $5. (9439 9732) Baw Baw Writers’ Network. 6.30pm, Drouin Public Library. (email@example.com) Caulfield Writers Group. Details as above. MARCH 29
Caulfield Writers Group. Details as above.
Andrew Thompson on 3WBC (94.1FM), 12.30–1pm. Short stories, poems, music.
Poetica. 3.05pm, ABC Radio National.
FAW Peninsula Branch. 1.45 for 2pm, Community House, Albert St, Mornington
Poetry Sessions. 2pm, Dan O’Connell Hotel, 225 Canning St, Carlton. (9387 2086/0412 224 655) Poems on Main. Book club run by Jordie Albiston. 3–4.30pm, poetry@fedsquare. 2–4pm, Eltham Bookshop. (9439 8700) Feb–Nov. In the Atrium. Westword. 5–7.30pm, (www.fedsquare.com) Dancing Dog Café, Phoenix Park Writers. Meet 42A Albert St, Footscray. MARCH 30 weekly on a Monday and $2.50. (kethry1@hotmail / Melbourne Poets Union meeting. Saturday afternoon. East 0425 704 394) 7.30pm, various locations. $7/$5. Malvern. (9530 4397) MARCH 25 (home.vicnet.net.au/~mpuinc) MARCH 03 Readings by the Bay. Society of Women Writers 2–5pm, Mordialloc Word Tree. 3pm, VIC meeting. 10.30am, meeting Neighbourhood House. Burrinja Cafe, 351 Glenfern room, 4th floor, Wheeler Centre, (firstname.lastname@example.org/ Rd, Upwey. (9754 1789) City. $5. (www.swwvic.net.au) 9587 8757)
Mornington Community Writers Group. 10am and 7.30pm, Mornington Community House, Albert St, Mornington. (5975 4772/www. morningtoncci.com.au)
Wordsmiths Poetry Group. 2–5pm, 8 Woodhouse Rd, Doncaster. $25 yr/$3 session. (9890 email@example.com) MARCH 17
Henry Lawson Society. 1.30–4.30pm, St. Francis Church, Lonsdale St, City. (9785 7079) Stopping All Stations spoken word. 2–5pm, Station Street Cafe, 26 Station St, Nunawading. $5. (0408 741316/www.stop pingallstationsexcepteast richmond.blogspot.com)
Westword. 5–7.30pm, Dancing Dog Café, 42A Albert St, Footscray. $2.50. (kethry1@hotmail / 0425 704 394)
HIGHLIGHTS 03–08 MARCH Adelaide Writers’ Week. www.adelaidefestival.com. au/2012/writers_week
MONDAY 05 MARCH Chris Flynn’s novel A Tiger in Eden, to be launched by Morag Fraser at Bella Union. www.facebook.com/ events/293130834078920
THURSDAY 08 MARCH Is Women’s Writing Different From Men’s? Panel discussion. 6.30pm, Readings Carlton. www.readings.com.au/event
FRIDAY 23 MARCH The launch of The Centre for Modern Australian Writing. 12.30pm, Ballarat Mechanics’ Institute, 117 Sturt Street, Ballarat. ballaratmi.com.au/wp
30–31 MARCH The Business of Freelancing Conference. freelance.alliance.org.au
The Victorian Writer
Getting your blood up Francesca Rendle-Short’s strict religious childhood was the source material for her novel, Bite Your Tongue. She discusses the challenges of transforming a difficult story into “necessary fiction”.
onathan Safran Foer once said about his own writing: I write about things I am afraid of. At the time he had just published his second novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. When I first started writing my second novel Bite Your Tongue, I was afraid too. I didn’t want to admit to what I was doing. I wrote covertly, not telling a soul, in little notebooks and pretending to myself that I was merely “jotting down notes”. I certainly didn’t tell my mother, who was still alive in the beginning, about what it was I was doing; my mother, about whom I was writing, a morals crusader and book burner. Growing up with shame about who you are, what you might become, where you have come from, to whom you are related, who your mother is and what she got up to, eats away at your confidence. You become expert at side-stepping questions, hiding facts, pretending you hadn’t heard properly, changing your name, even lying to escape scrutiny. You become clever at construing a new sense of self, one free of a past. I was writing out of shame. I was writing because I was ashamed.
Shame had colonised my imagination, rendered me mute.
I wonder what I was more afraid of: my mother rising up from her grave near the Big Pineapple to chastise me and condemn me to hell? (She died half way through writing Bite Your Tongue.) What my siblings would have to say? Or being outed as someone who grew up in a fundamentalist religious family? Was I afraid of not being able to do this story justice or convey the peculiar mix of being part of a big, energetic family, while slave to a mother who wanted us to see it her way? Was I worried about mixing 21
The Victorian Writer forms, what my readers might think? Write dangerously, I told myself. Write so your heart beats faster; write to put your neck on the line. In Brian Castro’s essay “Dangerous Dancing”, written between the publication of his novels Stepper and Shanghai Dancing, the latter a fictional biography loosely based on his family’s life in China and Hong Kong, Castro puts his finger on the pulse, on what it means to write the self – true stories, real events, family secrets. “As I write,” he says, “I am already being disinherited … I am being disinherited because I write.” The writer has to shuck off loyalty and responsibility, he says, especially when writing memoir. The worst of it is that you have to disconnect with other people’s anger at being misrepresented.
“I am getting my blood up,” as Virginia Woolf would say. “It is this writing that gives me my proportions.”
What will my family think? How much do I care? My heart races. It helped to start off with a good title: Bite Your Tongue. Its already tonguein-cheek humour has multiple meanings. It’s transgressive, a command. It helped me cross a line, to “un-bite” my tongue through writing, find a voice, to do what I was most scared of doing. It was also very physical, reminding me to stick with the body. It gave me permission to write the body, another notable transgression for someone brought up in a fundamentalist home.
In the beginning I did try very hard to write in first person, in an attempt to embody the small Francesca I once was, to recall and reconstruct the world this little girl once inhabited. I wanted to embellish the remembered facts with stories of her memories – “true” memories. It didn’t work. This 12-year-old came across as false and inhibited, constipated. Her voice was flat, the writing wooden. There was no poetry, no softness, only anger. Shame had colonised my imagination, rendered me mute. So I invented a narrator to tell the story on my behalf. Glory Soldier became what I call my “imagined interlocutor”. She is feisty and bold, quick on her feet. Everything is happening to her. She’s present. For me, it was liberating. The story took off as novel. I was able to say all sorts of things and render the truth of the world I was creating in the telling. I was able to cross over into story and composition, and transform experience, making it up for the page; I could turn facts into something real and alive. I wrote about being bullied and persecuted at school, about burning books in a bonfire, about finding words to shape very difficult feelings for 22
The Victorian Writer a mother. I wrote about reading good books for the first time. As a framing device to this novel, Francesca (in first person) narrates the “genesis” story and story of her archival search to find her real mother, Angel Rendle-Short. It frames Glory’s story and her experiences of her mother, Mother Joy. These two stories, Glory’s and Francesca’s, memoir and novel, are plaited together, shaped contrapuntally into a fugue-like structure. Writing memoir as novel gives the story perspective and scale, and puts the overarching Francesca story into some sort of order too. “I am getting my blood up,” as Virginia Woolf would say. “It is this writing that gives me my proportions.” Glory experiences the world of her book-burning mother through her body, through touch, smell and taste. She helps the writing-me to loosen my tongue as writer. What starts out as shame-writing and fear-writing becomes a necessary fiction, turning into a wish story, so that we, like Glory and Francesca, end up swinging in the breeze. As Glory says: “Reading can tickle and turn you upside down … Show us how to love … love perhaps where we’ve never loved before.” Francesca Rendle-Short is the author of the fiction/memoir Bite Your Tongue (Spinifex Press, 2011) the novel Imago (awarded the ACT book of the year in 1997) and the novella Big Sister. Her short fiction, photo-essays, exhibition text and poetry have been published in literary journals and magazines, online and in exhibitions. She has a Doctor of Creative Arts from the University of Wollongong and is the Program Director of Creative Writing at RMIT University.
The Victorian Writer
Another Year Paul Bateman explains why we should devote ourselves to failing better this year.
he holidays are a distant memory. You have returned from the beach or your site in the mountains – from your seat at the bar, from your towel by the pool, from the depths of your summer dreaming – to a land of demands and obligations, to a time of no time at all. Another year is underway. You have your plans. A long list of writing tasks. A creative map and new ideas. You make that list every year and every year it defeats you. Your work is strangely hit and miss, and then the year is gone. “No matter,” wrote Samuel Beckett. “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” How good is that? Failure is inevitable, but not inconsequential: whoever fails better succeeds a little more. So keep on keeping on. Beckett did. Long before the Irish poet, playwright and novelist won the 1969 Nobel Prize for Literature, he was a solemn and solitary young man with “little talent for happiness” (his words). In his early 20s he secured an academic post at Trinity College, Dublin, but his career lasted less than two years. His study of Marcel Proust – the French novelist responsible for the truly novel and monumental work, In Search of Lost Time – convinced Beckett that his own time was finite and likely to be lost in the formal habits and settled routine of the academe. So Beckett took to the road: wandering Europe, working when he had to, writing when he could. His first novel was rejected by countless publishers. His most famous work, Waiting for Godot (1953), took five years from page to stage; it was a critical success in Paris, but opened in London to mainly negative reviews. He invited failure, too. Despite being a native English speaker, Beckett wrote much of his work in French. Can you imagine a natural right25
The Victorian Writer hander electing to play his tennis left-handed? Beckett, it seems, sought in his writing the clarity and economy of expression that his second language necessarily imposed. Armed with less, and unburdened by excessive literary style or cultural baggage, Beckett had more. You see it when – as in the case of Waiting for Godot – Beckett translates his work from French back into English:
ESTRAGON: Why don’t we hang ourselves?
VLADIMIR: With what?
ESTRAGON: You haven’t got a bit of rope?
ESTRAGON: Then we can’t.
“Compact” is one word that critics use to describe Beckett’s later works; “refined” might be another. Towards the end, Beckett wasted nothing. He wrote in small ways about big things – boredom, despair, confusion, sadness, irony, time and memory – and this, in part, is what gives his writing its greatness, its universality and its enduring appeal. Beckett’s characters live in a perpetual Groundhog Day: they stand stranded, dazed, lonely and alone in a fog that never lifts. They are bewildered, battered, bored and overwhelmed. Absurd? Or life as we know it? Few make it through: eternally marooned, baffled and confused, it is no wonder they go in search of ropes. But not Beckett. He worked. He wrote. He lived. And no amount of existential theory negates the fact that he showed up every day and put his pen to paper. And you? To what, this year, will you bring your energy, time and imagination? Surely the lesson of Beckett is that if nothing amounts to nothing then something amounts to something. So make your plans. Write your lists. Set your goals and get to work. And fail again. Fail better. Paul Bateman is a Melbourne writer who has, for over a decade, been published in a variety of newspapers, magazines, specialist publications and websites – including The Age and the ABC. 26
The Victorian Writer
Inking The Bridge Neil Grant’s young adult writing might be closer to non-fiction than he’d care to admit.
eginning a new novel is like setting out on an inky sea at midnight without a compass and a map fabricated from half-remembered dreams. It is exciting and daunting in equal measure. I remember starting The Ink Bridge with the taste of the Tampa and the “children overboard” affair on my tongue. I prepared myself for a lesson to be delivered to young people on the ethics of locking people up for the crime of seeking asylum. I built my soapbox well and teetered on it with my laptop and condescending tone. I wrote a lengthy diatribe full of strained metaphors and saintly refugees. I so badly misjudged my market. Young adults are clever and discerning readers. They are not adults in training (despite the tag) and their literature should never be merely a diluted form of adult writing. What it should try to be is engaging and pacy. It should have strong character arcs and plots where something actually happens. Luckily for me, my publisher and an incisive reader’s report saved me from foundering badly on the rocks with my poorly conceived first draft lashed to my chest. For the second and third drafts (or voyages) I took on a less didactic approach and trusted that my audience would read in the gaps between the words to the heart of the story. It was a good lesson and the novel I finished is better for it. It is pared back, a story of two young men and a friendship that lasts. But it is also a story about what I remember of being 15. And what I never knew when I was 15: about Afghanistan and St Kilda and Dandenong, of losing and finding hope, of bridges and their symbolism. I can’t pretend to be an expert in what young people want to read. Their tastes are varied and eclectic and complex. I write what interests me and hope that it interests my readers. But I will never misjudge them again. 27
The Victorian Writer Anyone who has stood in front of year nine students knows how keen their senses are, how finely tuned their “bullshit meters” can be and how harshly fraud can be dealt with. They appreciate honesty. I appreciate that. I do think YA authors have a certain responsibility to give their audience material that will make them think, and laugh, and cry. I expect what young adults want from a book is what I want – to be entertained, to be emotionally connected to a story and to be taken on a journey.
Kids in Gardez, photograph by Toby Gibson
My journey, on what came to be known as The Ink Bridge, reached a point in 2009 where I needed to go to Afghanistan. I needed to see beyond the headlines and catch something of what the “real” Afghanistan was. Because it was surely more than suicide bombings and burqas. In my case, authenticity comes from experience. I am a method writer. Perhaps my writing is closer to non-fiction than I care to admit. I travelled to Indonesia when researching my second novel, Indo Dreaming, and climbed the volcanoes, surfed the waves and sailed on the traditional whaleboat that eventually made it into my novel. Most of what I experienced there never made it to the page but it made me understand the world I was writing about. This is the “iceberg” approach – knowing the two-thirds of a story that is never seen but supports the upper, exposed, third. On my third day in Afghanistan, I found myself in the KaFaroshi bird market near the dusty banks of the Kabul River. There, past the waspriddled sheep carcasses and languid book vendors, I crept back in time to a childhood dream. The Alley of the Straw-sellers towered on each side with cages. Men with long beards haggled for sweet-voiced larks in wicker baskets. The fighting partridges, kowk, I had seen in competition on Friday in Shar-e Nau Park were considered by men who held them close to check the brightness of their eyes and glossiness of their beaks. As I turned to go, a young boy threw a kaftar (the dove used in competitive flying) into the air. Its wings unfolded as I took a photo. I have that picture in front of me as I write and it reminds me of that day and of what a quick flash of wing means in a dusty Kabul market. I finished the final chapters of The Ink Bridge in a small Tibetan refugee village in northern India while all those feelings, those smells and colours were still inside me. I hope it has carried the flavour of Afghanistan so that young adults, who may never go there, can know it as I did. I hope I have written it with enough honesty and authenticity to do justice to my reader. I hope I never forget that my readers, even though they may be young, are often more intelligent and perceptive than I am. Neil Grant is the author of Rhino Chasers and Indo Dreaming. His third novel is The Ink Bridge (Allen & Unwin, 2012). www.neilgrant.com.au 29
The Victorian Writer
OP PORT UNI T I ES Poetrix issue 38
edition considers what we can learn from our own travels or flights of fancy and from those who reach our shores from other lands. griffithreview.com/future-editions
Closing date: 15 March For women poets around Australia.Accepting up to six poems, any theme or topic. Don’t forget your SASE. Further information on the magazine (now in its 19th year of publication) can be found at www.sherrylclark.com/poetrix.htm. Submissions to PO Box 532, Altona North VIC 3025.
Little Raven Publishing Little Raven Publishing is calling for submissions for an erotic fiction anthology and a future ebook. www.littleravenpublishing.com Dark Prints Press call for submissions
The ABR Copyright Agency Fellowship
Dark Prints Press is seeking short stories, novellas and novels in the genres of dark fiction: crime, thriller, horror, dark fantasy and dark comedy. Submissions are now open for novellas 15,000 to 40,000 words. Publication will initially be as ebooks, with print to follow. Submissions remain open unless stated otherwise. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or see www.darkprintspress.com.au
Closing date: 20 March The Australian Book Review is seeking a substantial non-fiction article with an Asian focus – either a profile of a major Asian literary/cultural figure or a discursive essay with Asian literary/cultural themes. The Fellowship is worth $5000. Any Australian writer with a significant publication record (books, creative writing, essays or journalism) is eligible to apply. www.australianbookreview.com.au/programs/copyright-agency-fellowship
Pan MacMillan’s Manuscript Monday
Currently accepting electronic submissions between 10am and 4pm on Mondays. If they like your work, they will get back to you within one month. Submission guidelines www.panmacmillan.com.au/manuscript_monday.asp
Global blogger search Closing date: 30 March Women in Focus is looking for two amazing bloggers to launch a personal blog at womeninfocus.com.au. First prize winner blogs from New York or Mt Kilimanjaro (prize valued at $20,000) and second prize is valued at $10,000. www.womeninfocus.com.au/docs/DOC-1450
Call for Emerging Writers Festival panelists
Each and every event at the Emerging Writers’ Festival features a writer in their first-ever festival appearance – and one more who is well advanced in their career. The main requirement for writers taking part in the festival is passion and commitment. The EWF is looking for writers who are opinionated, informed, informative and inspiring … not to mention happy to speak in front of a large (but friendly!) audience. If you’d like to be a considered as a festival guest in 2012, email email@example.com with a simple explanation of what you write and why you write it.
2012/13 City of Port Phillip Cultural Development Fund Closing date: 30 March Funded activities must be based in the City of Port Phillip and must include applicants/participants living or working in the City of Port Phillip. Info session: 6.30pm Monday 5 March, The Gallery – Ground Floor, St Kilda Town Hall, 99a Carlisle Street St Kilda (enter opposite St Kilda Library). www.portphillip. vic.gov.au/cultural_development_fund.htm
YABBA call-out Young Australian Best Book Awards is seeking the assistance of people who are interested in the question of how to engage with children and how we can work collaboratively to nurture young readers. YABBA aims to increase awareness of its program, designed to encourage Prep to Year 9 students to discover, read and voice their opinions about Australian books. It increases their knowledge of “who’s who” in books and develops confidence when discussing books. For more information about how to get involved, contact Graham Davey at firstname.lastname@example.org
Can you picture 1000 words? Closing date: 31 March Photographer Cam Cope is offering writers a chance to have their work exhibited in a new photo-literary collaboration for the 2012 Emerging Writers’ Festival. The concept: pen exactly 1000 creative words inspired by one of these enigmatic images and if selected share in sales. Places are limited so get in early. camcope.wordpress. com/2011/12/15/calling-all-writers-to-picture-1000-words
Best Music Writing call for submissions
Griffith REVIEW 37: Small World
The New York-based and newly independent Best Music Writing book series is calling for submissions for its 2012 volume. Music writers can submit reviews, think pieces, interviews, creative non-fiction and music-related fiction, published in print or online during 2011. Helmed by longtime series editor Daphne Carr, the editorial board includes The New Yorker’s Alex Ross and former LA Times critic Ann Powers. http://funboring.com/2012BMWballot
Closing date: 13 April Small World will explore the way we travel now – whether it’s exploring wild, dangerous or weird places, or travelling not as passive tourists but by engaging. This edition will also consider how technology – from planes and television to social media and international banking – has changed our sense of the world. This
The Victorian Writer
COMP E T I T I ONS George Fairfax New Theatre Award
Charlotte Duncan Award for Children’s Writing
Closing date: 6 March The Castlemaine State Festival has announced a new award for Victorian-based playwrights and theatre makers, individuals, collectives and companies. The Award consists of up to a total of $15,000 over two years of development and production. www.castlemainefestival.com.au
Closing date: 30 March Celapene Press invites entries for the Charlotte Duncan Award for a short story for young readers aged 9-12 years. This award has been established in the memory of Charlotte Duncan to raise funds for the neo-natal unit at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital. First prize, $75; second prize, $50; third prize, $25. Winning and commended entries will be published on the Celapene Press website. $9.90 per story. www.celapenepress.com.au
The City of Rockingham Castaways Poetry Prize Closing date: 13 March All poems must be inspired by images in the Castaways Web gallery (http://ow.ly/9aeE4). Send a maximum of three poems, attached to an email to castaways@ rockingham.wa.gov.au with “Poetry submission: your title” as the subject line. Include your name, address, number, email, title and line counts of your poems. Poems must be no longer than 24 lines, original, unpublished and not have received an award or be under consideration elsewhere. For more info contact Lee Battersby on 08 9528 0386 or at email@example.com
The Bragg UNSW Press Prize for Science Writing 2012 Closing date: 30 March First prize for the piece of non-fiction writing that best communicates science to a general audience will, in 2012, be $7000. Two runners up will each receive a prize of $1,500. Winning entries will be included in NewSouth’s anthology, The Best Australian Science Writing 2012. newsouthpublishing.com/scienceprize
Voiceless Writing Prize
8th Kathleen Julia Bates Memorial Writing for Children Competition
Closing date: 16 March The Voiceless Writing Prize is one of the most lucrative short story and non-fiction competitions in Australia, awarding a total prize pool of over $20,000. Open to Australian citizens 18 and over, the Prize invites fiction and non-fiction pieces of 5-10,000 words, published or unpublished. Entries must focus on animals produced for food or found in the Australian environment. www.voiceless.org.au
Closing date: 31 March Open only to Australian writers, this competition is for the first chapter (to 2000 words) of a chapter book suitable for readers up to the age of 10 years. Subject matter is open. Include a title page with the story title, word count and writer’s name and full contact details, including email address. No limit on number of entries. First prize, $150; two runners-up receive $50. All entrants will receive results, provided they send a stamped, self-addressed envelope with entry/ies. Entry fee is $10 per manuscript: cash, money order or cheque (payable to Di Bates). Payment can be made online (apply to dibates@pacific. net.au for details). Send manuscript/s, payment and SSAE to Di Bates, PO Box 2116, Woonona East NSW 2517.
The Bundaberg Writers’ Club Short Story Competition Closing date: 17 March 1st prize $300, 2nd prize $100. Entry fee $5 or $20 for five entries. Open theme. Max 2500 words. bundywriters.com/short-story-competition
The Disposable Fiction Prize for Contributory Literature
Fish Poetry Prize
Closing date: 31 March This is a great opportunity for new and emerging Australian authors to showcase their work and nudge their way into the market. The prize is $500 and a written commendation. All short-listed entries will be published and the authors of those entries will be invited to submit a brief bio to accompany their work. disposablefiction.com.au/submissions
Closing date: 17 March The ten best poems will be published in the 2012 Fish Anthology. First prize, €1,000. Second prize, a week at Anam Cara Writers and Artists Retreat in West Cork’s Beara Peninsula. Word limit 200. www.fishpublishing.com The RE Ross Trust Playwrights’ Script Development Awards 2012 Closing date: 23 March The Awards are open to Victorian-based playwrights and deliver a total of $30,000 to support the development of plays as works-in-progress. Applicants are eligible to apply for a minimum of $3000 and maximum of $10,000 in prize money, which may be used to fund workshops or support further work with a director, dramaturg, script editor and/or actors. The plays should not have been previously developed or produced. www.slv.vic.gov.au/ross
Cancer Council Arts Awards 2012 Closing date: 6 April The awards are open to people of all ages from anywhere in the world. The theme for 2012 is “strength”. It takes strength to face a diagnosis of cancer. Whether directly affected or by supporting a loved one, many will draw on their inner strength to help them through such a difficult time. www.artsawards.com.au/default.asp
The Victorian Writer
CLASSI FI EDS Writer’s Retreat, Hepburn Springs Charming self-contained bungalow in peaceful setting; close to Bathhouse, cafes and bush walks. Non-holiday Mon–Thurs $50 per night otherwise $75. Email elizian@ bigpond.com or contact Elizabeth on 0425 723 502.
May 5, 10am – 4pm. $250. Contact for details: carmel@ carmelbird.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. See www. carmelbird.com and www.carmel-bird.blogspot.com New journal Southpaw, featuring Tony Birch and Ouyang Yu
Writers Retreat,“The Blue Room” in the Dandenongs “The Blue Room” in the Dandenongs is available for short or longer stays. Comfy space with own bathroom set in tranquil garden. Rates by negotiation. Contact Erica on 0423 615 662.
Southpaw, a literary left hook from the global South, is a new literary/cultural journal. It features fiction, creative non-fiction, essays, poetry, reviews, a radio play transcript and images. Southpaw issue one is about displacement and features writing from Angola, Indigenous Australia, China, Colombia, the Horn of Africa and New Zealand. Writers such as Kevin Murray, Kendall Trudgen, Martin Plowman, Tony Birch and Ouyang Yu feature in this first issue. To purchase a copy, email email@example.com
Write in Provence Medieval village house in central Provence. Sleeps two. Internet. Direct TGV rail access Paris-Nice. Discounts for long lets. www.thehouseinprovence.com
Out of the Well Read a raw account of school bullying, mental illness and details of high profile court case of Lisa Eskinazi vs. Victorian Education Department. Signed copies of Out of the Well autobiography available. $12 including postage. Contact author Lisa Eskinazi by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Published by Melbourne Books.
Think you’re turning Japanese? View Japan through the eyes of a customer. Peter Hanami invites you to visit and look around. www.japanesecustomer.com Melbourne Writers Theatre
Melbourne Writers Theatre is dedicated to script development for the stage. We meet monthly where rehearsed readings are followed by constructive feedback. MWT is actively seeking new members. Benefits include submission privileges for the 2012 season of Melborn. For more information go to www.melbwriters. org.au or email email@example.com
One day manuscript assessment and consultation at historic Girrawheen, Maldon Authors Glenda Millard and Carmel Bird will read your fiction, young adult, picture book, non-fiction, memoir manuscripts at any stage of development. Saturday
MI LESTONES KAYE BAILLIE received a highly commended award for her story “Grey Water Gruesomeness” in the adult section of the Scary Stories Competition run by Writing Classes for Kids & Adults.
HELEN COX’s book, Sound into Silence, co-authored with Peter Roberts,was picked up by the Michelle Anderson Publishing Co. HILAIRE had a short story published in Duality issue 6 (UK), and a poem included in the Fabelist online journal.
TONY BERRY has published From Paupers To iPads, a memoir blending fact and fiction, and his second Richmond-based crime novel, Washed Up, was released as an ebook in February.
JANET HOWIE had three haiku published in the Third Australian Haiku Anthology 2011, and won second prize for poetry in Society of Women Writers Victoria end of year competition.
AVRIL BRADLEY was awarded 2nd prize for her poem “Memory on Water” in the December 2011 Australian Tango Poetry Competition, and was published in Tango Australis.
LEE KOFMAN’s short memoir was published in the latest Griffith REVIEW, issue 35, 2012 and a poem was published in Windmills, issue 8 (Deakin University).
JACINTA BUTTERWORTH won the 21D Short Story Competition.
IAN TREVASKIS’s latest picture story book, Edge of the World, was released.
The Victorian Writer
Split Infinitives Thanks to Declan Fay – who goes by the Twitter handle @declanf – for drawing our attention to this gorgeous snippet of a letter from Raymond Chandler to the Atlantic Monthly, on the issue of splitting infinitives:
MEMBERS’ DISCO UNTS 5% discount Deans Art 188 Gertrude St, Fitzroy; 369 Lonsdale St, Melbourne; and 341 Clarendon St, Sth Melbourne 10% discount Ballarat Books 15 Armstrong St, Ballarat (only on general books) Brunswick Street Bookstore 305 Brunswick St, Fitzroy Ben’s Books 437 Centre Rd, Bentleigh
“Would you convey my compliments to the purist who reads your proofs and tell him or her that I write in a sort of broken-down patois which is something like the way a Swiss waiter talks, and that when I split an infinitive, God damn it, I split it so it will stay split.”
Collected Works Bookshop Lvl 1, 37 Swanston St, Melbourne (5% for credit) Continental Bookshop 439 Bourke Rd, Glen Iris Create a Kid’s Book Assessment/Workshops ph 9578 5689 Dymocks Booksellers 1–3 Mitchell St, Bendigo (7% on full-price books); Plaza 5, Market Square Shopping Centre, Geelong; Eastland, 171 Maroondah Hwy, Ringwood (5% for credit/eftpos)
–Raymond Chandler, letter to Edward Weeks, 18 January 1947.
Hares & Hyenas Bookshop 63 Johnston St, Fitzroy New International Bookshop 54 Victoria St, Carlton Paperback Bookshop 60 Bourke St, Melbourne TRICIA VEALE had two poems published in Tamba magazine and two poems in Free XpresSion. In the National Water Week 2011 River Yarns Writing Competition, she was Highly Commended for the poem “Reflections”. Tricia’s review of the new UK textbook Essentials of Veterinary Parasitology was published in the Australian Veterinary Journal volume 89, no 11. An article on “Barbers Pole Worms”appeared in the Weekly Times. She also had a poem commended in the Society of Women Writers Victoria Christmas Competition.
Soundbooks 439 Bourke Rd, Glen Iris (cash and eftpos only) Syber’s Books 38 Chapel St, Windsor; 668 Glenhuntly Rd, Caulfield 15% discount
Angleton’s Office Supplies 187 Smith St, Fitzroy (except copy paper, cartridges)
Punt Hill Apartment Hotels & Serviced Apartments Ph 1300 731 299. Government rates and the option of best available rate.
The Victorian Writer
Chris Womersley workshop
Five quick questions
by Robyne Young My resolution for 2012 was to invest more time in my fiction writing. Serendipitously, the Writers Victoria Summer School program arrived. First cab off the rank was a full-day short story writing workshop with Chris Womersley. I booked and paid my fare. I’m a huge fan of Chris’s tragic, gothic and entrancing novel Bereft that cast a spell over me and which I read almost in a single sitting. Sometime later I read his first novel The Low Road, which showed that even when a book has not so likable characters and unpleasant events, exceptional writing carries you through. Chris opened the workshop asking us to introduce ourselves, why we were there and to name our favourite writers. My reason for being there was simple: I needed a kick-start to keep my resolution. We moved through a number of exercises covering character, setting, dialogue and description. These included what we’d done before the workshop (we could create a character for this); a description of ourselves from our own point of view and then from the point of view of our worst enemy, prompts of “when I was 11” and a photo we had chosen. Chris added “what if ?”s along the way to help us enrich our stories. The person next to us suggested a further scenario. Mine was, “What if you ran over a dog that turned out to be the neighbour’s pet and you have been warring with the neighbours because the dog bit your child.” Ah, a variation of The Slap. I let my dark side come through with this piece of writing. I learnt about “slivers of ice” we need to have in our hearts, muscular verbs, writing characters who “enchant” our readers, and how to experiment and find our own voice. I also discovered that when you write for 75 per cent of a workshop, you get a very sore hand! Was the workshop the catalyst I hoped it would be? Definitely. On returning to Albury I finished a first draft of a story that had been languishing in the story file, sent it to some of my trusted readers, worked on it some more and entered it into a major writing competition.
for Sue Roberts
In five quick questions, we get to know Sue Roberts, new Victorian State Librarian and CEO of the State Library of Victoria. 1. The best book I read in 2011 was … –Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, which I re-read 25 years after reading it as a teenager. Reading it as an adult, yet remembering how I had responded as a teenager, meant it made an impact on many levels. 2. The most interesting thing I have stumbled upon on a library shelf is … –my husband. Well, not on the shelf but in the shelves. He was an academic at the first library I worked in and we met literally amongst the library shelves. He stills proves to be interesting.
3. New challenges facing libraries today are … –both timeless and unique to the digital age we live in. Libraries have always helped us – as individuals and as a society – to understand where we have come from, who we are now, and who we can become. The local, national and global challenges that we face mean that this role in a blended environment (both “real” and virtual) is even more critical.
4. At the State Library we’ll face these challenges by … –valuing, preserving and making accessible our past while transforming our present through digital connections and collections. We will be where Victorians need us to be.
5. A little known fact about the State Library’s history is … –that when news was received on 23 January 1901 that Queen Victoria had died, the Library closed and the columns of the entrance were draped in black and purple.
Robyne Young writes fiction, a regular column for Albury’s The Border Mail and blogs at robynewithane. wordpress.com She is the marketing manager for the Flying Fruit Fly Circus, lectures in marketing at Charles Sturt University and teaches an English subject at Albury TAFE.
Writers VICTORIA Inc ABN 18 268 487 576 Level 3, the Wheeler Centre 176 Little Lonsdale Street Melbourne Vic 3000 T> 03 9094 7855 F> 03 9650 8010 E> firstname.lastname@example.org W> writersvictoria.org.au Office Hours> 10am â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 5pm weekdays Director Roderick Poole | Administration & Finance Manager Jacquelin Low Program Manager Mary Napier | Editor Anna Kelsey-Sugg | Marketing & Membership Coordinator Elise Hearst | Librarian Marilyn Newby Competitions Sue Penhall | Editorial Assistant Allee Richards Editorial Volunteer Elsie Coffey Office Volunteers Angela Murnane, Marco Daniel El-Hajj, Barbara Erskine Events Volunteers Allee Richards, Brendan Pahowski, Delia Sinni, Marco Daniel El-Hajj, Susie Chong Patron Noel Turnbull Committee Members Bronwyn Blaiklock, Eddie Creaney, Maria Katsonis, Isolde Lueckenhausen, Simone Lunny, Annie Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Hanlon, Ben Starick Honorary Life Members Kevin Brophy, Barbara Giles (dec.), Kris Hemensley, Joyce Lee (dec.), Iola Mathews, Christine McKenzie, Sue Penhall, Bev Roberts, Judith Rodriguez, Joan Sellar, Chris Thompson, Chris Wallace-Crabbe For advertising queries contact email@example.com or see writersvictoria.org.au/media/advertise-with-writers-victoria The Victorian Writer is published ten times a year with a readership of more than 4000, distributed to 3000 Writers Victoria members and more than 300 literary and arts organisations throughout Australia, to Victorian public library services, and community and regional arts officers. While information is printed in good faith, Writers Victoria can take no responsibility for its accuracy or integrity. Inclusion of advertising material does not imply endorsement by Writers Victoria. Views expressed in articles are not necessarily those of the Committee of Management or Writers Victoria staff. The Victorian Writer is printed on 100% recycled paper by Southern Colour: www.southerncolour.com.au Design by transmig.com
THE VICTORIAN WRITER
Archimede Fusillo Carmel Bird Andee Jones Paul Bateman Francesca Rendle-Short Neil Grant Robyne Young