The Writing Life

Information, inspiration and insights into the writing life

I was driving through Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, alone and killing time. The main road was a stranger to me until it started whispering familiar thoughts, and I saw I was only blocks from my childhood home. One of them, at least. Dad worked in sales – we moved around. 

When my friend Catherine moved back to Norway from England, she missed the squirrels that would run along her back fence in Oxford: wary, trembling and unintentionally hilarious. Though she had grown up in ‘the Bible Belt of Norway’, she realised how much she had forgotten its ways. People tended to shiver, like squirrels, at her ideas and opinions. As she tried to both be her true self and behave like a local, she could feel the incomprehension and judgement directed towards her. It was that silent disapproval that finally led her to act out.

And they reached the back of the house, and the sun was getting a bit higher and the heat was coming up a bit and there was wind and some swirling around of the dust out in the paddocks and the galahs were taking a bit of a feed and he could see all this as they were walking along. The dust came up on to his boots and up on to her shoes too, and it kicked up as they walked, and the country looked dry all around, even up on the top of the hill where there were some sheep. And he saw all this as they walked.

She woke to find him turned away from her, breathing softly. His knees were pulled up tight to his chest, the sheet wrapped snug, up to his chin. The lines around his eyes had retreated, leaving the skin puffy and red. Spooning him, she nuzzled the back of his head and breathed in his soft closeness. Then slowly, so as not to wake him, she slid out of bed to make coffee.

Trophy

Welcome to our monthly brag about our Writers Victoria community members who have won awards, been shortlisted or longlisted for writing prizes or received industry recognition.

The 2019 Inky Awards longlist have been announced. Presented by State Library Victoria (SLV) for works written for young adults. Amongst those longlisted for the Gold Inky Award (for an Australian book) are:

‘The carpet could be pulled up,’ Barry says as he bounces on the carpet. The floorboards underneath make a painful squeak. They must be as arthritic as my knees.

‘Caro, I reckon the boards might be alright.’ His eyes are seriously intense.

I jerk my neck. Caro? Did he call me Caro? Do all real estate agents have this instant familiarity with their clients?

Bazza, the name’s Caroline, I correct him in my mind as I inhale the stale mustiness of the old house. Hmm, Mum used to walk around this house spraying magnolia air freshener. It could do with a spray now.

1. Something familiar: convincing ourselves we are not ‘something’ enough. As writers, before or after we put something to a page we are likely to question whether or not we’re close enough to the subject in order to fully capture it. In writing class, the most common question the class asks our lecturer is: can we write a place we’ve never been to, but know about, or a place we’ve spent minimal time in? Or, can we write a person we don’t fully live inside the shoes of but can empathise with?

I went out looking for one this afternoon,
just after an uninspiring lunch of leftovers.
Sometimes I hear one singing or repeating
a single syllable but other times I catch sight
of a flash of colour or happen upon one
as it’s dozing. I even located one by scent.
You’re unlikely to find one if you wander
about hoping to find one but I do anyway.
Like us, their habitat is anywhere,
so I prowl with my net, my dart, combing
the You Never Know Department.
Rare ones behave like they want to be caught,

Toni approached Writers Victoria with her first manuscript and since then she has published several novels and has been widely published in newspapers and magazines. The international best-seller Addition was longlisted for the Miles Franklin award. Fall Girl was published internationally and has been optioned for film.

The weather may be getting colder, but the Melbourne literary scene is heating up. It is with great pleasure that we introduce our True Grit Mid-Year program, designed to complement the many Victorian festivals and events, and help you to meet your writing goals.