Hunt Like a Writer

Writer's Weapons

Load it with your ammunition: imagination, creativity, grammatical fluency, strong work ethic.

Choose your target: notebook page, word document, serviette, back of a receipt, phone, typewriter.

Take aim: poise pen or fingers above keyboard, let reality slip away, invest your mind in the world of your creation.

FIRE!

An Insatiable Appetite

Does this describe any of you?

Just for some shamelessly nerdy fun, rate yourself on a scale of one to ten: one meaning you shudder just imagining the taste of literature, of words, of grammar twists and plot turns; ten meaning you literally cannot shove the words down fast enough, that your appetite roars for an incessant stream of fiction and articles and poetry, that you’ve possible even considered addiction counselling to release yourself from the constant desire to read and write.

Perhaps you’re a two, you hate reading and you’ll be clicking out of this internet window as swiftly as possible. Or, perhaps you’re a five, you like a dose of bedtime reading every now and again. A seven maybe…you could spend at least an hour among the shelves of a bookstore.

One to Ten…?
Book Quote

Writers Converge!

Brisbane Writers Festival 2012Attention all Brisbanites and inhabitants of surrounding suburbs! Brisbane (the wonderful capital city of Queensland, Australia for those of you outside of the Land Down Under) is getting ready and very excited for the Brisbane Writers Festival in September! Tens of thousands of readers and writers will converge on the Cultural Centre and Brisbane Powerhouse for five solid days of  literary immersion. The festival is a melting pot of respected authors, budding writers, bookworms, students, emerging authors and playwrights and those who’ve simply succumb to their curiosity. With a program of workshops and masterclasses that really does offer something for everyone, with courses on everything from ‘The Unpredictable Plotter’ to ‘The Art and Craft of Travel Writing’, it’s the writers’ event that simply cannot be missed!

I, one of the fortunate few who live within a reasonable distance of this excellent event, will most certainly be attending and have already begun choosing the workshops and seminars that I’d like to partake in. Oh and I’ll most definitely be keeping an eye out for participating writers Wesley Enough (Artistic Director of Queensland Theatre Company), John Lanchester (regular contributor to The New Yorker magazine) and….(DRUM ROLL, PLEASE)…Joanne Harris (author of Chocolat – a book made into a film starring Johnny Depp. ‘Nough said.)

Will I see you there?

The Number 1 Literary Law

Forgive me, Book God, for I have committed the literary lover’s cardinal sin: I left home this morning without a book.

Yes, yes, I know that I should have known better. I know that there is no excuse, no occasion, no circumstance under which it could be deemed acceptable to be so shamefully unequipped as a self-proclaimed bookworm. But it happened and I’m sorry and I can honestly say that I have been thoroughly and completely punished.

Today began just like any other Wednesday. I awake at 8am, check my emails, breakfast, watch a little TV and finally dress for work. Before stepping out the door, I check my handbag to ensure I have the necessary phone, wallet and bottle of water. The Nanny Diaries lies on my bedside table. I look at it. Do I take it, do I leave it? I’m going straight to work and straight home afterwards without a lunch break in between so… my ride to work arrives and I’m out the door. The Nanny Diaries lies dejectedly on my table and the literary stars align to serve up one steaming platter of retribution…

I’m not exactly sure what they say about making assumptions but I think it’s along the lines of: DON’T DO IT. Nevertheless, I make my day’s plans assuming that I’ll be catching a ride home with one of the girls I work with. Two o’clock arrives and suddenly I’m smacked in the face by the realization that she’s working until closing time while I’m rostered to finish at four. Oh no. Oh no, no, no. I call Dad and beg to be picked up but I’m unpleasantly informed that I will have to wait at the tennis courts until six, when my brother finishes training. That is two hours. Two whole hours at a sporting ground (to which I’m quite obviously allergic)…without a book.

Two long and painful and boring and cold and hungry and lonely hours. I twiddle my thumbs, I pull at the frayed bits of my jumper, I tap my leg, I sigh and I wait. I pine for my divine little paperback world of entertainment that I so callously brushed aside this morning. I dream of its warm, dry pages and the hours of blissful distraction it could provide from the unpleasantries of sport. Fact of life: two bookless hours of boredom equate to approximately seven years of regular time.

On the one day of the year that I leave home without a book safely stored in my bag, I am struck by the unbelievably bad luck of having to waste time in a sporting ground on a cold, winter evening. Is this, or is this not a very pointed message from the literary gods?

The Number 1 Literary Law: Never, under any circumstance, leave home without a book.

Commonly Banned Books

To Kill a Mockingbird 1984

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Lolita

The Catcher in the Rye Brave New World

Breakfast of Champions Lord of the Flies

Ulysses

“The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame.”

Oscar Wilde

Of this list of books, I’ve read To Kill a Mockingbird, The Catcher in the Rye, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and 1984. Which have you read?

What do you think of these books and what do you think of their being commonly banned?

Do you find it peculiar that these commonly banned books are also commonly listed as required reading for high school students?

What do these books say about the world? And what does their being banned say?

A Poet’s Playtime

For Mother’s Day a few weeks ago, I decided to employ my inner poet and get my creative juices flowing. Because really, how many pairs of slippers can you buy your mum? I put my pen to the page (or more accurately, my fingers to the keyboard) and wrote a short, imperfect poem for my mum, the best friend I could ask for.

There are too many syllables in some lines and too few in others and if you want it to flow, you have to read it with exactly the right intonation. But I thought I would share it with you nonetheless!

 

There once was a girl named Lel

A brother and two sisters she had.

Her siblings and parents so loved her,

Because she was never bad.

 

The youngest of four, she was special,

But ‘special’ in more than one way.

She wasn’t quite like the others,

She was different from the first day.

 

By nine, they knew she was weird,

She actually did well at school

Books, the others all hated,

But Lel thought that they were cool.

 

She studied and studied and studied

Getting cleverer all the while

Her siblings did not understand her

But that was simply her style.

 

By adulthood she was brilliant,

The best accountant yet

All of her clients loved her

She was a woman they wouldn’t forget

 

But accounting wasn’t her passion

She didn’t like it at all

Boring and dull she did find it

Like hitting her head on a wall

 

 All of a sudden she stopped

She knew that she’d had enough

No more could she be an accountant

No more could she handle this stuff

 

Inside her there bubbled a feeling

A combination of things

Words, and ideas and longings

Plucking at her heart strings

 

She put her pen to the page

She let her mind open wide

For the very first time in her life

She let out what was deep inside

 

A waterfall poured from her

Of inspiration and joy

She let her inner self guide her

She played with life like a toy

 

Although she’d never before known

What her heart was trying to say

She knew now to trust in herself

And she would never be led astray

 

From that day forward, Lel lived life

Each day was truly outstanding

Her dreams and her love and her visions

Always and forever expanding

Rescue us from Research

Academic writing…boring or brilliant? I suppose it depends on your interests, your style and the content of whatever it is that you’re writing or reading. For me personally, I connect academic writing with a long, painful and tiresome research process. High school Ancient History assignments scarred me for life. But in spite of it being the bane of my academic existence, I can acknowledge that research really is quite necessary to the production of a quality report, essay or thesis. This importance therefore, has prompted me to consider how best to go about researching for an academic piece of writing and what it is that has us all so often frustrated.

I’m contemplating writing a little ‘How to’ manual for academic research but I really would like to directly address the major concerns, questions, frustrations and desires of those who research. And who better to ask than my clever cohort of bloggers?

Tell me:

  • What are your best tips for how to research?
  • What are your biggest frustrations when researching?
  • Are there any aspects of the research process that confuse you?
  • If you were to have a ‘How to Effectively Research?’ manual, what questions would you like it to answer?

Who are you literary lovers?

For me personally, winter is an excuse to don thick socks, drink copious amounts of delicious, hot liquids and curl up in bed with a bookish best friend. It’s only May, what is supposed to be an Autumn month, and yet my little Australian city feels as if it’s aspiring to be Antarctica when it grows up. I am chilled to the core. But although I devote an excessive chunk of energy to complaining about the icy weather, it really does have its perks and I will be the first to confess that as soon as the temperature drops below my comfort threshold, I leap into bed with a book and shamelessly ignore the rest of the universe.

Snuggling with books. Who needs friends and family and boyfriends and girlfriends and peers and colleagues when you can set up camp in front of the heater with a literary lover whom you know will never leave? When my fingers and toes are at risk of turning purple and my mind is too distracted by the prospect of hot tea to be at all productive, I guiltily pluck one of the old favourites from my shelf. If it’s not Harry Potter (which, let’s face it, it most often is), then it’s Alice in Wonderland or Tomorrow, When the War Began or Life of Pi.  And for hours upon hours, I wildly party with my most cherished characters…my bookish best friends!

Books and Coffee

My question on this cold Australian day is this: am I a complete and total freak, utterly alone in my love for cuddling books? Or, do you too confess to indulging in this guilty winter pleasure every once in a while?

Who are your literary lovers? Who are your bookish best friends?

The New York Dream

Let me begin by offering a huge thank you to everyone offering their support, wisdom, advice and encouragement with regard to my dream of raising enough to attend New York University! You are all legends and I cannot adequately express how appreciative I am!

One blogger in particular, Messenger555, suggested I set up a personal donation page on the wesbite GoFundMe. So I did! It can’t hurt, right?

This is the link to what I hope to be the miracle dream-enabler website:

http://www.gofundme.com/newyorkdream

If you would like, I would be insanely, incredibly, impossibly appreciative if you would share this link on your own blog, on Facebook or on Twitter! Spread the word! The challenge has begun!

Once again, a big thank you to everyone!

New York University

Because bloggers can brainstorm.

It cannot be denied that those built for blogging possess superior powers of creative juice brewing and brainstorming. The formation of ideas and opinions for the purpose of entertaining the online masses is a skill to be cherished and celebrated and…shared! As loyal and valued (notice the sucking up?) members of my blogospherical circle, I am well aware that you are all cunningly clever, insanely imaginative and spectacularly supportive. And so, with that in mind, I have a teensy weensy little favour to ask…

As I’ve mentioned once before, I was so very lucky to be accepted into New York University’s undergraduate college. As a Zimbabwean girl having lived in a small Australian town since I was seven, the opportunity to live, breath and study in a city as abundant with art, writing and theatre as New York takes my breath away. Never before have I wanted something quite as much as I want the opportunity to…to grasp this opportunity. I would study literature, creative writing, philosophy, theatre, film. I would be exposed to a plethora of like-minded people, of chances to develop my skills and write professionally, of theatre and film experiences and of opportunities to grow, explore and discover as both an artist and as a person.

It would be the greatest adventure of my nineteen year old life and it would be the beginning of everything that I want to do, feel and become. If you’ll excuse the corny nature of what I’m about to say, I’ll let myself be honest with you: I feel it my heart and in my bones that I could be something great, something extraordinary. That I could do and create incredible things to share with the world. And again, in my heart I feel that New York University is the window.

However, with every great opportunity there is a great obstacle and here is mine: I do not have $60,000 to pay for NYU. As an international student, I am ineligible for financial aid. And as a nineteen year old with no collateral, students loans are borderline impossible. But I have to somehow find a way and here is where I ask you to join me for a blogospherical brainstorming party!

The challenge: Three months. Sixty thousand dollars.

As the best and the brightest (undeniably) of the universe, us bloggers now have a challenge. Can we do it? (Notice my use of the word ‘we’ instead of ‘I’?) Can we creatively finance this otherworldly endeavour? Can we come up with an idea, a plan, a way?

I promise, when I’m one day writing for the New York Times or am accepting my first Oscar, you will all be first on my list of people to thank.