Archive for November, 2008

Opinion: about money and elections

One would have had to be in a coma, blind, deaf or in total isolation not to be aware that something momentous happened in the United States today. Elections are fascinating and boring all at the same time. I can’t help wonder, though, that in the present economic and political climate on a global scale, that the real winner today was someone who didn’t become the new president elect. We all know what a difficult time there is ahead for Obama and his colleagues. I don’t envy his job at all.

But that wasn’t why I wanted to write this piece.

Something snapped in my head on Sunday. Someone at church outlined the terrible state that exists in the poor African country of Zimbabwe. Our church has been an active participant in providing drinking water wells there. I immediately thought of the hundreds of millions of dollars – or was it over a billion dollars – that the candidates spent collectively on the right to become the next president.

I think that is obscene.

Even half of that money, if spent on food alone, could save tens of thousands of people from starving to death in Zimbabwe. This story could be repeated a thousand times over around the globe. What about the enormous amounts of American money being poured into the war effort in Iraq?

I’d say that we’ve really stuffed up our priorities. Where is compassion? Where has common sense gone? What are we doing for the billions of people who merely exist from day to day?Think about it: most people in Australia, the United States and Europe spend more each day on a pet than many families of the world have to live on for a week.

What I am writing: a writing journal

Over the last few days I have been focusing on expanding a journal I am writing for one of the units in my Master of Arts in Creative Writing Course.

This journal is for the Creative Writing: Prose unit. In this unit we have a set text book called Writing Fiction by Australian writer Garry Disher. Most weeks we have a chapter to read which links to the topic of the lecture. We also have a unit reader consisting of short stories gathered together by our lecturer Rosanne Hawke. We are expected to read one or two of the stories each week. We then discuss the techniques used by the writers of the stories. In our journals we are expected to  respond to the text book and the stories, commenting on how useful we found each one.

Each week we also have writing activities in the workshop part of the lecture time. This is a very valuable exercise because we have to write on a set topic or theme or a set activity and it is under the pressure of time, usually no more than ten minutes. We are then expected to share these short pieces in a workshop situation. The feedback from the lecturer and fellow students is often very valuable. We are expected to include some of these writings in our journal, commenting upon the activity and including any second drafts if done.

While this journal may not appear to be actually writing fiction as the unit title suggests, it is still a very valuable assignment. It has forced me to consider each element of the lecture and the writing activities, and analyse how useful each one has been. One of the interesting things about some of the writing exercises is that I now have a resource of more than a dozen (I haven’t bothered to count them)  short stories which can be developed from 100 – 150 words into longer stories of 2000 words or more. They are great short story starters.  All I need now is the time to do that! With seven essays and assignments due in the next 25 days it will be heads down getting everything finished and submitted.

Good writing.

Another small piece of writing success

Yesterday I wrote about an article  I had published in a magazine recently. I forgot to tell you about another piece of writing success I had a few weeks ago.

As regular readers would know, I am currently in the middle of my Master of Arts in Creative Writing course. One of the units I am doing this semester is called Creative Writing: Prose Fiction. In the unit we are required to write three pieces of fiction, totalling 7000 words in all.

The first piece I wrote came from a workshop writing activity. It was about 150 words long. I then expanded this story into a 2000 word story. Along the way I received valuable feedback from the lecturer and fellow students. Thanks Rosanne, Rod, Caz, Tricia and Sally – your insights were great and very useful.

I called the story ‘Shifting Sands.’ I achieved a distinction for the assignment.

Sadly, I can’t print it here for my readers to enjoy. That’s because I will be sending it off to a magazine soon.

Good writing.

Suggestion: Why not share some of your recent writing successes in the comments below.