Archive for April, 2008

Being a professional writer

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” Richard Bach.

The big difference between an amateur and a professional writer can be summed up in one word: persistence.

There are several other words I could have used, words like perseverance and patience.

Writing is a long-term activity; very few – if any – successful writers are overnight success stories. Even the so-called overnight success stories are, in reality, the end result of many months and years or even decades of never quitting.

So good writing – and be persistent, persevere and patient – and never quit.

What I am reading: “Zenna Dare”

Last week I read the novel called “Zenna Dare” written by Rosanne Hawke. (Rosanne happens to be one of my lecturers at present.)

“Zenna Dare” is suitable for young adults and above. It is a story of mystery, family secrets and the importance of relationships.

I found the story to be fascinating; I could not put it down. The author has done an incredible amount of research and brings this dedication alive on the pages. The main character Jenefer finds a mysterious photograph. This leads her on an intriguing quest to find out about her family history. She discovers that some members of her family have had rocky relationships and great hardships to deal with, while at the same time trying to deal with her own developing relationship with a fellow student and the prejudices still at large in the community.

What is most pleasing about this story is the impetus it has given to my thinking about a novel I am planning to write. Actually, I am being very optimistic about the idea; it could well turn into a trilogy. It would be a fictionalised account of my own family’s struggle to emigrate from Prussia (now part of Poland) to South Australia in the 1840s to escape from religious persecution. It is a story of triumph over extreme hardships, and an unshakable faith in God.

I’ll keep you posted – when I get around to writing the novels.

Meanwhile – good writing and reading.

Haiku #40: Ringneck Parrots

Ringneck Parrots clink
Their echoing flight through
Crisp dry mallee scrub.

(C) 2008 Trevor W. Hampel

All rights reserved.

Mallee Ringneck Parrot

Mallee Ringneck Parrot


Happy Birthday William Shakespeare

Today we celebrate William Shakespeare’s birthday.

It is 444 years since he was born. Imagine the cake and ALL those candles! I’m sure the fire brigade would have to be on standby. It could have been a very dramatic moment. (Just a thought: the candles would have to be rather large, because by the time you’d lit the last one, the first one would probably have burnt away. How long does it take to light 444 candles?)

I must admit that I haven’t read much written by Shakespeare over recent years, nor have I seen many of his plays for quite some time. I am the poorer for this lapse. A few weeks ago I did revisit Othello which was required reading for one of the units I’m studying at present. It was a very pleasing experience; I had forgotten what an evil, manipulating and thoroughly nasty character Iago was in that play. I also dipped into some of his sonnets as reading for the lecture on Shakespeare; they also need more visits in the coming months.

Writing Poetry

One of the units I am currently studying for my Master of Arts course in Creative Writing includes writing poetry.

Since my teenage years I have often written poetry. Over the years I have written many hundreds of poems, many of dubious quality. Some of the better ones have been published in magazines. One was even a runner up in a poetry competition. (The prize was an extra copy of that issue.) So you could say I’ve always had a keen interest in writing poetry.

It was with eager anticipation then that I commenced the unit of study on writing poetry. This study has taught me several things.

  • Some my earlier poems need a great deal of rewriting; they are truly appalling, especially those written in my teen years.
  • The second thing I learned was that any poem, no matter how good, can probably do with at least some reworking, rewriting, editing, tightening or general improvement of some sort.
  • The third thing I have learned is that I cannot afford to be too precious about my writing. Each poem we wrote was work-shopped in a tutorial group. This included reading the poem aloud and then getting constructive feedback from the group. It was so confronting yet very stimulating and helpful. At times I realised that I had not entirely grasped the exercise requirements. I learned quickly.

Having learned what I have about poetry this last term, I hesitate to make a link to the poetry pages on this blog, but if you are game you might want to read some of my poetry here.