Archive for July, 2006

A lifetime of journal writing

I am beginning to discover that there are a few other strange people out there a bit like me.

Quite a few in fact.

Strange, because they, too, are compulsive journal writers.

It seems that once bitten most people are journal writers for life. I have written in my journal off and on for 16 years. I just checked – seems longer. Originally I wrote in lovely hard cover books. In more recent years I have used my laptop exclusively. One day I might even print it all out.

Some people, it seems, write daily. They must be very disciplined, and have lots of time. I’m still working on both discipline and the use of time. I recently came across an essay written by someone who examines the philosophy behind journal writing.

The essay is called Meditations on 25 Years of Journal Writing written by Kimble James Greenwood. This particular journal writer has the bug quite seriously, writing in a multitude of forms.

As I grew older and the process continued, the journals themselves split off and diversified, specialized—so that my main journal, the “personal journal”, was now accompanied by adjuncts: poetry journals, dream journals, fiction journals, quote journals, journals to list memories in, to list books read, movies seen, vocabulary lists, curious gleanings from newspapers and magazines, etc.

I must admit that my journal was a ‘one size fits all’ type. It was at first a record of events. Soon it developed into reflections on life, experiences, comments on events, poetry, snippets of life, cuttings, quotes from books, poems, sermons, scripture and friends. It was like life itself: unplanned, random and meandering.

Literary Hoax

An interesting – and rather disturbing – literary hoax has come to light recently here in Australia. It involves the writing of our only Nobel Prize for Literature winner, novelist Patrick White.

There has been much talk in the blogosphere about The Weekend Australian‘s sting (or stunt, depending on your point of view), whereby the paper sent 12 publishers chapter three of Patrick White‘s Nobel prize-winning novel The Eye of the Storm, changing names, the title and giving White the pseudonym ‘Wraith Picket’.

Ten rejected the submission (some suggesting Wraith join a writers’ group or buy a how-to book!) and two didn’t bother replying.

I am not sure what to think of this stunt. At first I was amused, but on reflection I was rather incensed. It is hard enough to get published as it is without one of our major newspapers carrying out such a pointless stunt. One could come to the conclusion that today’s raft of publishers do not really recognise great writing when they read it. I’m not an expert on the writings of Patrick White so can’t comment on the acclaim accorded his work.

On a more worrying note the current debate here in Australia – and probably elsewhere too – is that publishers no longer publish works of literature for the sake of publishing great writing. Most publishers work only on the “bottom line,” that is – will it make money? Market driven publishing and great literature seem to be mutually exclusive. I guess that one cannot blame the publishers for always seeking to make a profit.

Where to for writers of literary novels in an increasingly small market like Australia? The harsh reality is that writers like White probably would not get published today. Work like his just does not sell in sufficient numbers to be economically viable.

And what about the hundreds of struggling Australian writers trying to break into the published world? It must be discouraging to think that the writing of even one of the “greats” of Australian literature was rejected out of hand by today’s publishers. In my opinion, this hoax has done nothing to develop the Australian literary scene. It has possibly sent it even closer its seemingly inevitable demise.

To read more click here.

Idiom #1

As I wrote last week I am fascinated by idioms. I’m not sure about other English speaking countries, but here in Australia the idiom is ‘alive and kicking.’ I guess that you are waiting with bated breath for me to spill the beans. The truth is, I am one who can boast that I’ve actually had a story bristling with idioms published in a magazine; naturally I was on cloud nine when that happened.

This week’s idiom

‘alive and kicking’

This one seems obvious as to its meaning; if something or someone is ‘alive and kicking’ it means that they are lively, well, healthy and very active. One writer has suggested that its origin is as a fishmonger’s term. If his fish are ‘alive and kicking’ they are so fresh that they are still flapping about.

Another possible explanation has a medical origin. It refers to the last months of pregnancy when a mother is often aware of her baby’s movements in the womb. If the baby is ‘alive and kicking’ all is well.

Related Article:

Short Fiction #5 The Noise

The Noise

Irene hesitated.

She held her breath.

The noise came again.

“I hope it isn’t what I think,” she whispered.

She tiptoed forward, stopping at the door.

As her eyes adjusted to the dim light her suspicions were confirmed.

“So you’ve had your kittens, Fluff?

But why did you have to use the ironing basket?”

All rights reserved.

Copyright 2006 Trevor W. Hampel

Read more of my short fiction here.

Haiku #9 Rain


Sun silvering rain

Scurrying through cord-branches

And smoking the road.

All rights reserved.

Copyright 2006 Trevor W. Hampel.

Read more of my poetry here and short fiction here.