Friday, September 16, 2011

Inspiration is a Smoky Thing


I’ll take inspiration wherever I can get it.  I’m not fussy.  You will find once you start writing regularly that there are stories everywhere.  Sometimes, two or three seemingly unrelated incidents can come together and, bingo, you know you have something there.

The book, ‘Collaboration’, on which I am now working through the second draft, was born from a late night laying-in-bed discussion with my husband, Franco.  Reminiscing about the old office equipment I used in the seventies and eighties, I happened upon a memory of the Electric Golf Ball typewriter.  I always seemed to be using a green one wherever I worked, although, they came in several colours.  It’s such a strange concept these days to type and have the words printed immediately on a page.  You never looked directly at the printed type—at least I didn’t—but looked at whatever transcript from which you were typing.  Sometimes, I really felt like I was in a daze and typing automatically.
Then, somehow, my mind jumped to the idea of what would happen if you typed something on a golfball typewriter but it typed something completely different.  You didn’t realise because you weren’t really looking at the words, like you do with a computer.  And then, what if—it’s always about the what if—the typewriter was connected to a child kidnapper/murderer and was typing about the murder scenes and the abductees, unbeknown to the murderer.  Then, my protagonist, realises due to his connection, he is the only one who can find the most recent missing child before the kidnapper kills her.
I really had another book plot in mind, but this story and the main character started to evolve in my head, and gather momentum.  Over a few days, I was starting to wonder how it would all end up and who these people were and why had the typewriter connected to him.  And there I was, off and racing to meet my characters and discover the truth of the matter. 
Now, that all came from a five minute, midnight discussion.

Which brings me to a short story I wrote yesterday called ‘Mitigating Circumstances’.  I was really angry with the Deputy Principal at my eight year olds school.  In my opinion—and it’s always in your opinion—she did not handle well a bullying issue involving my son and a couple of his friends.  And to top it off, I didn’t like the way she spoke to me.  Some other crappy things happened around the same time, and I was mad with the world—just normal mad, I write psychopaths but I’m not one.
I said to my husband, ‘I’m going to write a short story and she is going to die a nasty death.  And there will be blood.’   And that’s exactly what I did.  I poured all my emotion into 4,000 words that told the story of a Deputy Principal in a meeting room with a parent, who, unfortunately for the DP, has a damaged psyche thanks to abuse by her long dead Mother.  The results are not pretty but due to my dark sense of humour, the last line had me in fits for hours.  I’m chuckling now even as I think about it.
The funny thing was I ran into the DP today and she was ever so friendly and chatty.  It was surreal as I looked at her and kept thinking, ‘Didn’t I kill you yesterday?’  Due to my emotive state the writing was powerful and quick and, somehow very real.  So, I couldn’t look at her because I had this freaky feeling she may have known what I had done.

Well it all ended well.  I worked through my feelings and ended up with damn good story.  This brings me to the idea of inspiration.   Yesterday, the minute I said, I’m going to kill her, my writer’s mind was alerted.  Immediately, questions flooded my mind.
How would I do it?  Why?  What kind of person would just snap?  What baggage did they carry? 
And with these questions I was off and writing.
So, keep your writing mind open to inspiration.  It’s an ethereal smoky thing that can easily fly by without the realisation you have missed something grand.  But, I guarantee if you are not writing regularly, then you won’t see it.  It only alights on the most worthy who are diligently doing the miles.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

There is a great story in me


This writing stuff is a tricky thing.  If we've made it through High School then there is a good chance we can string a few words together.   Every time I tell someone I am a writer, the conversation goes something like this.

"I am a writer."  I say.

"Oh, and what do you write?" 

After I tell them.  They then say,  "I've always believed I can write.  There is a great story I want to tell."

Then they will tell me all the reasons why they haven't got to the great story. 

Well, I was just like them two years ago. 

Up until age twenty-five, there was no doubt I would end up as a writer.  I'd studied creative writing for a year in 1984 at the Institute of Fine Art in Brisbane when I was in my early twenties.  Then when I moved to Perth, I undertook various workshops, even studying "Writing for Film & Television".   The tutor of that course, a director from Barron Films, even offered to mentor me after being very impressed with a synopsis I'd turned in for an assignment.

Well, what happened, you ask?  A business opportunity.  I remember knocking on the Director's door and telling him, I had this great opportunity.  So, for now, I would sell my soul to the devil and buy it back later when I had made loads of money.  'I don't think it works like that,' he said.  You may not be able to buy it back.'

He was right and he was wrong. 

I did retrieve my soul but it took another twenty-five years.   So, at the age of fifty, with an enormous amount of trepidation I began my life as a writer.  There are many reasons why it took me so long to get back to my real love, writing.  But you don't want to hear about me, do you?  You want to know what it is like to be a writer and how you can turn your yourself into one.

If you follow this blog, you will learn a few things and you will follow my journey to publication.  Along the way, I would love to hear about you and your passion for writing. 

Until tomorrow.

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