Moments of grace

by | Nov 14, 2010

* This week I struggled with the beginning of the junior novel.  On the train I wrote opening lines, scenes, dialogue.  They clunked, or were brittle.  The words didn’t go together.  Nothing worked.

Eventually, demoralised by my scrappy notes, I stopped struggling.  And then, as you might guess, it came.  A beginning.  Maybe not the beginning, but a beginning I can work with.  For me, having a workable beginning is like a composer deciding on a key signature.  If you pick the wrong one, it’s never going to sound right.  Like using a minor scale to write a happy song.

*  I did two whole-day workshops this week with the Youth Literature Days run by the fabulous Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre.  I love doing these workshops, although somehow discussion of the battles of writing doesn’t come about – maybe because for most of these kids, they’re so full of words, images and snap, crackle and pop that struggle is a way off.  But the students did great work, concentrated work.  I so wish they’d had programs like this when I was 14, 15. 16 – the luxury of guided writing, the value of hearing what your peers have done, knowing there are others like you out there.

*  At the end of the last Youth Literature Day, a girl came up to me.  She told me about her friend, who had had a terrible home life, had really struggled with some serious, serious problems.  ‘Your book Skating the Edge was the only thing that stopped her from killing herself,’ she said.  ‘My friend just wanted you to know.’

*  My old touring buddy Bill Condon was one of the winners of the Premier’s Literary Awards (on which subject, you really must read this).  Really and honestly, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer bloke.  Bill is one of those people who has just been getting on with writing gritty, real, funny books for teenagers without fanfare.  Excellent stuff all round.

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