An early attempt at fiction …

I wrote this piece for a recent assignment. I passed – not quite as well as I would have liked to. Oh well … It was based on research from the newspaper on the date of my birth.

2 NOVEMBER 1954
My sanity is slipping away. It wounds my pride, but I call Mum on Sunday, 31 October 1954 and beg her to pick Peter and me up from the farm the next day. My Mum is thrilled I have come to my senses.

Jack breaks down when I tell him I am leaving him. He is devastated. He says, ‘My life is nothing without you and Peter.’ He slowly turns away and Peter follows him to the kitchen. I think Peter is with Grandma Irene but Peter trails a few metres behind Jack. Irene is preparing for the Melbourne Cup BBQ on Tuesday and sees them both heading for the scrub, and smiles.

Jack returns alone around 11.00am.

‘Jack, what have you done with him?’ I screamed, as I pounded his chest. ‘How could you even think I would do anything to hurt Peter? You and Peter are my life,’ he replied. ‘He is only a baby – two and half years old, for God’s sake! Where is he?’ I shrieked hysterically.

Jack and I met on New Year’s Eve 1950. He was twenty-seven and I was nineteen. He is 5’8’’, slim build, fair curly hair, and deep brown eyes. His sister, Hazel, and I were nursing at Princess Margaret Hospital and she was a matchmaker. Jack was in Perth to enlist in the Army to fight the communists in Korea. It was the start of an incredible, magical romance.

My parents disapproved of Jack and said, ‘He is an uneducated, farm labourer and not good enough for a Claremont girl.’ I turned my back on them and married him in June 1951 in the Anglican Church in Boyup Brook. Jack worked on their small sheep farm just out of Boyup Brook, population around five hundred. We stayed with his parents.

His parents supported his decision to fight Communism and he would earn about £12/6 a week. His first posting was with the 3RAR, based in Japan. He left us on 1 October 1951 knowing we were having a baby. I was distraught. I was not ready for this! Especially with Jack away and living with his parents. Regardless, Peter was born, healthy, on 17 June 1952.

A telegram arrived not long after with the disturbing news of Jack’s capture by the North Koreans. He remained a POW until the war ended on 27 July 1953. When Jack came home in August ’53, he was a broken man – just skin and bone, sullen, and withdrawn. He took solace in drinking each day until he passed out.

If I keep loving and caring for him he would get well surely? I would find a quiet place and sob my heart out. I missed my friends and family in Perth. They wrote infrequently about their dances and trips to the theatre.
***
News spreads that Peter is missing. Jack’s father calls the police and asks the neighbours to help search in the thick scrub beyond the farmhouse. By midday there are around one hundred people scouring the nearby scrub. Peter is wearing summer shorts and singlet. It is around 69 degrees with a chance of rain. I stay at the house while the men search the scrub, I pray, ‘Oh my God, find him please!’

Hours pass and the searchers return with no news. It is nearing 6.00pm when they see Peter running through the bush towards them. Jack and I quickly race towards him and we both hold him and each other, sobbing with relief.
Just at that moment, my parents arrived in their BMW …

The Writing Process

The unit I am studying this semester is about being an author and getting published. Our first task is to read an essay by Lucy Neave about the different processes used by two writers: Sonya Harnett and Helen Garner. Their processes are very different from each other and I won’t go into that here, however, it made me think about what processes, if any, I use to write.

I haven’t written short stories or novels and not sure that I ever will. I have written about 700 blog articles though. I figure that must count for something. I wonder if I can make the move from blogger to writer! This unit of study may help me bridge the gap. The reading list below may be of interest to some … sorry the print is a bit small.

Readings list

So, how does a blog idea materialize? Some of my best ideas come when I am mindlessly doing household tasks like ironing or making beds. When I get the core of an idea, I write a few notes down near the computer so that I won’t forget. Once I have the core idea I start writing, knowing that it is a draft and if it doesn’t shape up, I can delete it.

Sometimes I find I need to do a little research to give a bit more substance to the idea. I will save a draft and look for relevant information or images that I can add to my blog. This process may happen a few times with the one blog. I don’t spend much time thinking about the grammar or punctuation but I do check to see if it sounds alright to me. I might make some amendments.

If I was to write a short story or novel I imagine I would need to develop the process further. Fortunately, the practice of blogging regularly means I don’t sit staring at a blank screen waiting for inspiration. I just write! Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Of course, I am not being marked for my blogging so there is not the same degree of pressure here.

So, please share if you have any processes that you use to help shape your writing. I would love to hear them 🙂

PS Not grumpy anymore!

My love/hate relationship with studying

In the second half of last year I did a unit of study titled Production, Editing and Design. At the conclusion of the unit (I passed comfortably) I stated to many friends and family that I am NOT going to do any more studying. I admit that the editing part really did my head in. Also my tutor was not very helpful. The feedback she provided was inadequate – she would just say ‘that is wrong’ but not give me any clues about HOW it was wrong!

I thought I could edit pretty well but I discovered it is very difficult. One thing I still haven’t mastered is the use of dashes and hyphens.

Do you know that there are:

  • en dashes (the width of the letter n)
  • em dashes (the width of the letter m)
  • double en dashes
  • double em dashes
  • em/en dashes with spaces

Keep in mind that hyphens are another class again! Do you get the picture?

So … I have one more unit to complete to achieve my Graduate Certificate. I was scheduled to do Communication Practices in the second half of this year. I rang the uni to check its scheduling and they asked if I would like to substitute that unit and do a different one this semester. So … I put in an application and it was approved yesterday. I start studying again in two weeks time. I wonder if I will regret this decision!

This unit will be different as it is a creative writing unit (Authorship and Publication) and hopefully there will be a different tutor!

In my back yard …

I am a little obsessed with my ‘garden’ at present. The weather is warming up and I need to keep it well watered. I am enjoying being outside more, however, my blogging has suffered.

This evening I found two frogs who willingly agreed to take part in this blog so I can  have something to write about!

I couldn’t resist taking another photo of my colourful new pots and their bright flowers.

PS For those who follow my blog regularly I am pleased to report I comfortably passed my unit of study in Professional Writing. I only have one more unit to complete to attain the qualification. I am not sure it is worth the stress, but it is good to keep the brain active 🙂

Cheers

Lorraine

Weekly photo challenge: Unusual point of view (POV)

It is only two weeks until my first assignment is due. I had planned to work out a time-table today. I got the books out on the table this morning along with a planner to schedule my work so that I can get it in before the due date. But inspiration and inclination are lacking. As I sat looking at the bundle of paperwork I thought of today’s photo challenge.

So at least there was some outcome from my plans for the day. It might be because it is Election Day and I am finding it difficult to focus. Is that a good enough excuse?

The Style Manual is actually a great book. I bought it about four years ago and only opened its covers recently as it is the text for the unit I am studying. When I worked for the West Australian State Government, the Style Guide was the rule book for all written communications. It can be confusing due to English being used differently in various parts of the world (primarily the UK, America and Australia). It is something I am aware of when I am blogging  – that there ARE variations in the way we spell and pronounce different words. It makes life interesting!

I will get some work done tomorrow 🙂

cheers

Lorraine

So you want to publish, do you?

IMG_0302

I just read an article by Cheryl Woodard as part of my current studies. It makes a lot of sense. Have a read below at the link from the website if you would like to know more!

Five Deadly Magazine, Website and Newsletter Publishing Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

The five points she refers to include:

  1. Ignoring what your audience needs – this is something so obvious but so difficult! I only want to write about certain topics and I write because I enjoy doing it. Fancy having to consider the market!!!
  2. Underestimating your competition – she encourages us to distinguish how our publications can be different from our competitors. What if you just want to write and don’t fancy doing market research? No income 😦
  3. Trying to do it all by yourself – she suggests that we don’t want others to challenge our opinions. Could this be true?
  4. Thinking only about the next issue, not your future
  5. Taking money from the wrong people – she suggests we could become dependent on financiers at the cost of our editorial integrity.

The website I refer to is http://www.PublishingBiz.com

cheers

Lorraine

 

About writing

 

Writing

Writing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

In the first half of 2012 I commenced university study in a professional writing course. I did two units and I passed both but felt I didn’t want to do any more. It is not cheap and it is a lot of work and pressure.

Mid year break came along and I had some time off to reflect. I decided I WILL do the last two units this semester (which starts today). I am studying online and it requires some discipline to keep at it.

 

Last semester one of the activities was about grammar. I did a lot of research and thought I had it sorted but I only got 4.5 out of 10 marks! No doubt there is some debate in writing circles about what is right and wrong in grammar. I reviewed my work and I could see the mistakes I made but I still don’t feel confident in it.

 

I decided that I need to take this more seriously. I NEED TO LEARN! I can see that writing is like any other creative pursuit where skill is developed over time. If I want to be a professional in this field then I will have to put in the effort to lift my standard in writing. Can I keep up the motivation? I hope so – it is up to me.

 

cheers

 

Lorraine