littlesmackerel

Writing, concerts, theatre and a little bit of travel

Category: Writing

More metaphors

As a writer, I find it helpful, instructive and intriguing to keep collections of what I (rather loosely sometimes) call metaphors or similes that jump out at me when I’m reading. Here are some that I’ve come across recently.

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All the wretchedness of their shared pasts had been distilled into this one child Kate Atkinson: Big Sky, p. 11
With the remnant of his laughter still trickling from his face Kingsley Amis: Lucky Jim, p.46
Through the tulle of darkness Lee Kofman: The Dangerous Bride, p.75
Prongs of excitement Lee Kofman: The Dangerous Bride, p.92
Its walls seemed to throb with his anger Pat Barker: Life Class, p.5
Corrugated faces Michelle de Kretser: The Life to Come, P.25
Someone’s scraped me out with a spoon Michelle de Kretser: The Life to Come, P.66
The lights along the embankment shuddered in the water Michelle de Kretser: The Life to Come, P.132
A thorny sort of woman Michelle de Kretser: The Life to Come, P.149
Citrus-sharp brain (Diana Mosley) Laura Thompson: The Six: The Lives of the Mitford Sisters p. 238
His glare could have burned through brick Kate Grenville: A Room Made of Leaves p.145
The tangling of two hearts Kate Grenville: A Room Made of Leaves p.232
My smile felt as brittle as porcelain Kate Grenville: A Room Made of Leaves p.233

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Every Second Tuesday

Watch this space, because in the next few months my writing group, Elwood Writers, will be launching an alluring anthology of fiction, memoir and poetry that we have written over the past ten years. Published by Rightword Enterprises, the book will be available in paperback and ebook.

Why is it called Every Second Tuesday? More, anon…

Cover Every Second Tuesday

St Kilda Historical Society Short Story Competition

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I’m involved in setting up an excellent new short story competition to bejudged by local Melbourne writer Lee Kofman https://leekofman.com.au/   The competition celebrates the 50th anniversary of the St Kilda Historical Society, but it isn’t necessary to be a resident of St Kilda to enter and the story doesn’t have to be historical — just some link to St Kilda. There is no entrance fee and there are good prizes: first prize in the open section is $1000 with prizes of $500 and $250 for second and third places. There is also a junior section with a first prize of $500 and $250 and $100 for second and third places. Full information is at https://stkildahistory.org.au/news-and-events/coming-events/item/348-short-story-competition

The competition closes on 7th August.

Adelaide Writers’ Week: another engrossing day

Elwood Writers

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My day started sitting beneath Lombardy poplars, myrtles and holly oaks in the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden, to hear a session entitled ‘Trees for Life’. The trees in the garden are symbolic, as I learned from Wikipedia:

The design of the garden is a simple rectangle with a low decorative brick wall. At the centre of the garden is Cohn’s sculpture of a female figure, raised on a plinth. This is surrounded by green lawns, and four garden beds with ornamental trees and shrubs at the edges. Cornish’s choice of plants was influenced by their symbolic meanings, selecting five Populus nigra “Italica” (Lombardy poplars) to represent the five women of the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Trust; Quercus ilex (holly oak) and Myrtus communis (myrtle) for protection and love; Lonicera (honeysuckle) for love, generosity and devotion; and Syringa vulgaris (lilac) to symbolise memory, protection, youth and tenderness.

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The session on Trees for…

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Adelaide Writers’ Week 2020

Elwood Writers

Elwood Writers, has attended Adelaide Writers’ Week for many years — I’ve lost count how many — maybe for the last six or seven years. This year is the 60th anniversary of the Adelaide Festival, and Adelaide Writers’ Week, which has been a significant part of the Festival since its inception in 1960.

There are many attractive things about this week of listening to authors talk about their work — one of the main being that the main events are free. We sit on the banks of the Torrens River, in the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden, in the summer sunshine, appropriately shaded by blue canvas, with a choice of parallel events on East Stage and West Stage.

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John Boyne had come from Ireland. He has written eleven books for adults (there was discussion about the unnecessary labelling of books as ‘for young people’, ‘for adults’). His most famous book is

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Helen Garner: Yellow Notebook

 

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When I first read that Helen Garner had published her diaries kept from 1978 to 1987, I selfishly thought, oh — if only I’d kept a journal — what a way to publish your autobiography! I do wish that I had kept diaries, as Helen Garner has done, but I doubt they would be as readable as Garner’s. And this is not an autobiography.

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After burning her early journals, Helen Garner decided to start writing in a journal again – around 1978 – and did so in a yellow notebook –  hence the title. When I picked up the published book, I expected to find that the journal had been edited – maybe there would be themes – after all, Garner has been known to say that her first novel, Monkey Grip was just an edited version of her diaries of that time.

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Clearly, the extracts have been selected, but they are presented as a serendipitous collection of musings, quotes, descriptions… Her endeavours to keep friends, lovers, husbands anonymous sometimes make the reading heavy going. As a writer, I found it fascinating to have glimpses of Garner’s daily routine, of how she quite often had to drive herself to write. I was surprised that this writer who, even back in 1978, was ‘successful’, has a  lurking lack of confidence. She is cut to the quick when there are harsh reviews of her work and elevated to blissful delight when the reviews are good.

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Garner has been a hero of mine ever since I read Monkey Grip back in 1978.  In both her fiction and non fiction (and I have heard her discuss that there is not a lot of sense in these distinctions) Garner confronts the reader with the reality of our existence — be it in a rooming house imprisoned by drug addiction or in a courthouse confronted by human frailty. So too in these diaries there were moments when I was entranced by her attention to detail or her encapsulation of a feeling by use of metaphor. We do have to wade through some of Garner’s everyday notes. This is not intended to be a polished novel or essay, but, as Peter Craven has written in The Saturday Paper, ‘worlds of incident and feeling are clipped into a shape of entrancing implication’.https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/culture/books/2019/11/30/yellow-notebook/15726132009005

A few of these descriptions are:

‘doors open in my head like those in a cuckoo clock’ [page 7], on preparing food ‘the brutality of its preparation’ [page 19], ‘her permed brown hair quivering’ [page 30], ‘the music ran, bounced and thickened’ [page 42], ‘500-watt blue eyes’ [page 82], ‘she paraded in, chin high, teeth blazing’ [page 118], ‘a grille clanged down between him and the world’ [page 233], ‘the jaws of my purse straining wide’ [page 245], ‘the monolith of his marriage’ [page 253]

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Discussion of Lily Campbell’s Secret on Community Radio

Here is a podcast of a recent broadcast on the 3CR program Published or Not where we discuss my book, Lily Campbell’s Secrethttps://audio.3cr.org.au/3cr/publishedor-not/2019/10/03/1130/201910031130_publishedor-not_64.mp3

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Up-coming Q & A on Lily Campbell’s Secret

People who live in Melbourne will be able to attend an event on Monday 12th August, 6.30 pm at Readings Bookshop, Acland Street, St Kilda. I will be ‘in conversation’ with Peter Craven, discussing the writing of Lily Campbell’s Secret. Members of my writing group, Elwood Writers elwoodwriters.com  will be there too, to give insights into the way members of a writing group can support each other.

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The Readings Carlton book launch

Elwood Writers meets together every second Tuesday and we have been doing this for over 10 years. Some keys to our success may be that the group is small: just four people — so there is always time to discuss everyone’s work. We work on somewhat different genres: short stories, memoir, poetry, and I focus on longer fiction. Our meetings run for about three hours with a formal agenda that also allows time for a bit of general chat. The formal agenda enables everyone to have some time devoted to their writing, which we usually circulate by email before the meeting. The agenda also ensures that we don’t overlook matters such as planning for events such as soirees or preparing material for our forthcoming anthology.

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The group was invaluable as a support for me while I was writing Lily Campbell’s Secret. Everyone was intimately acquainted with the characters, they knew the general story line. I could try out ideas, always knowing that the advice I received was well informed.

We will discuss some of these things on Monday 12th August — if you live in Melbourne, I do hope you will be able to come.

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My book launch

For me, the most exciting part of publishing my book was to see it there, bound, in a cover — a real book, rather than a word file or a heap of pages spewing all over the floor from my printer.

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But the next most exciting experience was last night, at Readings Bookshop, Carlton, where Toni Jordan launched it. Toni has a huge deadline to meet in a couple of weeks’ time, yet she had spent time thoroughly reading Lily Campbell’s Secret and looking back to her notes, to the time, in 2015, when I took her workshop, Refining Your Novel. I had naively thought that my carefully drafted novel was ready for refining! No way. It went through several iterations, but after the workshop with Toni it gained direction and purpose.

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Toni Jordan launching Lily Campbell’s Secret

Barry Lee Thompson, from my writing group, Elwood Writers Elwoodwriters.com gave a generous talk about the development of my book from the perspective of the writing group. I expected that they might have thought it would never be finished — but he said I had persistence (like the main character, Lily).

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Barry Lee Thompson of Elwood Writers

There was a huge gathering of about fifty people — wonderful to see so many friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen for many years. Tremendous to have that support. Angela Munro took a fine collection of photographs both at the launch and at the dinner afterwards at University Cafe.

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Jennifer Bryce at her book launch

Thanks to everyone who came. And if you still want to buy a copy, if you live in Melbourne, it’s available from Readings Bookstores, Avenue Books, and some independent book shops such as Jeffrey’s in Malvern. Out of town it’s available from New Leaves (Woodend) and Aesop’s Attic (Kyneton) and The Trading Post (Mount Macedon) (the setting for much of the book). Otherwise, it can be obtained from Amazon: Click here to buy from Amazon, Click here to buy from the Amazon Kindle Store, Click here to buy from Apple iBooks. Goodreads  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45275708-lily-campbell-s-secret?ac=1&from_search=true 

or Book Depository  https://www.bookdepository.com/Lily-Campbells-Secret-Jennifer-Bryce/9780994256645?ref=grid-view&qid=1560492949777&sr=1-1.

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Release of The Sky Falls Down: an Anthology of Loss

I have a short story in an anthology, edited by Gina Mercer and Terry Whitebeach. It has just been published by Ginninderra Press. The anthology has been described as a compelling collection in which eighty-nine writers traverse their particular territory of loss and bring back travellers’ tales.

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‘This beautiful collection of writings explores the landscape of loss. It will meet you where you are. You’ll find yourself reaching for particular pieces that somehow articulate how you’re feeling, even before you’ve found the words to express it yourself… May this book become both a friend and a warm companion.’ – Petrea King, Quest for Life Centre.

If you would like to purchase a copy, it is available through Ginninderra Press: https://www.ginninderrapress.com.au/

The editors, Gina Mercer and Terry Whitebeach are trying to raise money so that the contributors can be paid. They are doing this through crowdfunding. To contribute or find out more, please visit: https://australianculturalfund.org.au/projects/anthology-of-loss/.

All writers need to be paid — some of these contributors are particularly in need, having survived horrific experiences such as bushfires, some are asylum seekers and refugees.

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