Exercising the Writing Muscle

I love my friend Jackie!  I really, really do!  I know Jackie through my writing group at Kensington Neighbourhood House and all of the people there are great, but Jackie has been a great writing exercise buddy.

I met Jackie ages ago through the child care group at the local Neighbourhood House then met again at the Creative Writing group with Emilie at the Kensington Neighbourhood House a number of years ago.  Emilie has worked with us on a monthly basis giving us exercises to do.  Over the years we have gone from occasional writers to begin to see ourselves as writers.  As the years have gone by, the sessions are becoming a little more serious.

A few months ago Jackie and I decided that we needed a little more.  We needed to see each other more than once a month, so we started our own weekly sessions.   As time has gone by these sessions have taken on their own form.  We write, critically (and supportively) feedback and encourage each other in what we are doing in the coming week.  We encourage each other toward our writing goals.   We talk about daily writing goals, editing and the writing process.

The most amazing thing has been happening.  The writing muscle has begun to work and tone up!  We have more finely tuned goals.  We help pull each other out of the slumps.   It really helps to have a writing buddy, someone who also believes in your writing, someone who will read it and give you some good honest feedback.

Book Review - Bad Hair Days by Pamela Bone

Well, this is one of those books that I was recommended when I was talking with a friend about books women have written when they are dying.

Pamela had myeloma and gives the reader a great understanding of what someone may go through when they (if they) are unfortunate enough to get this illness.  She doesn't spare the reader any detail.  Pamela's writing is very factual, even when talking about her own fear as she was going through the worst of the chemotherapy.

Pamela Bone is the columnist who became well known for declaring her support in the Iraq war. She spends a great deal of her book bouncing back and forth between illness and the current affairs - drawn to her passion, into the columnist style of writing.  She writes to correct or compel the reader into understanding the issues about the war, famine in Africa, and then as she progresses in her illness, into the issues surrounding euthanasia. She is a very knowledgeable woman who, it seems, has a desire to get the most important issues out in this book.  She knows that this will be the last chance that she has as the cancer is terminal.

This is not a pithy read of woman dying of cancer, but a woman who has been through a great deal, seen famine in Africa, war in Iraq, and slow death in public hospitals.  She takes the chance that she can to make her voice heard when she no longer has her position as leader in The Age.

Worth a read.

A simple thank you

All it took was thanks.

We wrote a letter to say thanks for the cling wrap that we used when travelled around Australia. It was a really well travelled box. I really wish I had a picture to show you but we sent it to them to show them how well travelled it was. It had lasted us 18 months all in all. The cling wrap outlasted the box (something to do with the way we travelled).

When we travelled in our truck and trailer we didn't have a great deal of 'stuff' so we were thankful for the things that worked well. We were thankful for moments and meetings with people.

It is worth remembering to thank people.

Sometimes you surprise people and make their day. Very occasionally you may get something back like this - just don't expect it!

Thank you x Meg

Autumn Laing by Alex Miller

Fantastic. Alex Miller is now one of my new favourite authors. This is the first of Alex's books I have read and I am truly grateful to him for his brilliant story telling. Thank you Alex for throwing me into the depth of Autumn Laing and Pat Donlan's lives. This is a story loosely based on Sydney Nolan and Sunday Reed and those involved in the art scene at the time when Sydney was about to come onto the scene in Australia. It is a clever and wonderful piece of writing.  It is a story of love and betrayal, grief and acceptance, art and poetry, and memory.

I really love the way this story is told by an old woman remembering as she writes. We learn so much of this woman, Autumn Laing, as Alex gives us her in her adult years that it is hard not to feel the pain and guilt she carried with her near to her death bed.

This is a slow novel, to be consumed the way that food should be consumed. Each word, phrase, and paragraph needs to be read, felt and understood. It is clear that Alex is a thoughtful writer, he understands, lives his characters deeply. He gave us the beautiful unconditional love of Arthur, Autumn's husband and a wonderful understanding of each of the group of artists who would collect at the Old Farm. A truly outstanding novel.