One of the writing assignments I had to complete recently for my Master of Arts in Creative Writing course involved doing an interview. I then had to write an article suitable for a magazine, giving it a creative angle to show the personality of the person being interviewed. All that in only 500 words.
I don’t enjoy being that restricted but I rose to the challenge. I had to be very ruthless with my word count, cutting back to the bare bones of the story. On this occasion it was my lecturer imposing the restrictions and I would have been marked down if I’d gone over the word count. Editors of magazines are just as demanding. Often they only have space for 150 or 200 words, or less. If you don’t cut the extra words, they will. Then you might find important facts missing from the final article.
Anyway, I was reasonably pleased with the end result. I managed to keep within the word count too. The lecturer gave me a distinction, so she was pleased with it as well.
It always amazes me how many people read this stuff that I write here on this blog. When I look at my statistics I am astonished that so many people are interested in reading what have to say. So I think I’ll keep on saying it.
I also get great encouragement from the many people who have bothered to linger long enough to leave a comment or two. You are appreciated – thank you.
This morning, however, I had two rather abusive and quite crude comments about something I had written. The person’s name was Clara, but that is probably a pseudonym. Please understand that all comments are moderated by me – otherwise I’d have thousands of spam comments on this blog – no, make that over 50,000 (and counting). In the past I have allowed comments that disagree with me because I believe that it is only fair that voices of disagreement be heard. It opens the debate in a healthy way. A writer must never be above constructive criticism.
What I will not allow are comments that are crude, abusive, filthy or in bad taste. I encourage my readers to continue commenting, and if that is in the form constructive criticism, I will both allow and welcome it. If you like what I write, agree with my ideas or disagree for some reason, please leave a comment and enter into the debate.
But if you can’t say it nicely in a civilised way, I will gently show your comment out the door.
‘Hiam’, a novel by South Australian writer Eva Sallis, is an unusual novel.
My immediate reaction is that it is more lyrical than prosaic. The poetic devices used by Sallis dominate the narrative. Many passage could be quoted to back up this opinion. The story telling elements near the end of the novel are pure poetry, particularly the gazelle story.
I was in awe as I read the many beautiful passages in the writing. Sentences like this one are most memorable: The Aunties are all creeping on tiptoe around their hearts. Other images are simply haunting. The road was the protagonist’s straitjacket, the car her prison, or her skull; herself the thread of life.
Initially I felt great anticipation as I read of the place names in the early pages. They were all recognisable places here in South Australia giving me an instant identification with the story. Not too far on, however, the novelist took me as the reader into a strange and very unfamiliar world. The psychotic world of a very confused and hurting main character is very disturbing. I couldn’t put my finger on the cause of this disturbance in my reaction until late in the novel when the main character Hiam plainly states that her husband had killed himself. All the evidence was there from the beginning, of course – I had merely not fully understood.
Hiam’s sense of isolation in Australia is clearly drawn by the author throughout the novel. This was her first encounter with rural and inland Australia. Everything seemed strange to her and she encounters many things which are alien to her from her cultural understandings. There are some constant elements in Hiam’s journey of discovery. Thoughts, memories and dreams of her husband, her daughter and her religion help her through her desolation.
- Hiam by Eva Sallis, published by Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1998. It was the winner of the Australian/Vogel Literary Award.