Archive for April, 2010

Lest we forget

Lest we forget.

Today is ANZAC Day,  a very special day on the calendar in both Australia and New Zealand.  On this day we remember our war heroes, those who served – and continue to serve – our country on the battlefields of the world.

I wrote a special tribute to the ANZACs a few years ago. It can be read here: Poem: Anzac Cove.

The words of this poem have been set to music by New Zealand composer Andrew Baldwin and the song is being performed as a part of the ANZAC Day celebrations in Ypres, Belgium.

We will remember them.

Mt Macedon War Memorial

Mt Macedon War Memorial

Book review: Himalayan Adventures



My supervising lecturer recently gave me this book to read. She thought it could be of some use in the writing of my children’s novel which is also set in Nepal. Himalayan Adventures written by Penny Reeve is a charming little book (of only 96 pages) which deals with various aspects of life in Nepal. Each chapter is a self contained story about an animal, bird or some commonplace aspect of village life. There is little connection between each chapter.

The stories are short and written in a narrative style with minimal dialogue. Each is an object lesson in living the Christian life as seen by the author who served as a health professional with a mission organisation in Nepal. While each story is charming in its own way, I would like to have seen some connection between each chapter, such as the same children appearing in each story. This would have allowed more use of dialogue which would also have improved the book.

This book has not been of much value in writing my own children’s book about Nepal because it is so different from what I am trying to do with my story.


  • Reeve, Penny 2005, Himalayan Adventures, Christian Focus Publications, Ross-shire, Great Britain.

Do, or do not.

Today’s quote:

“Do, or do not. There is no try.”

Yoda in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.

Fact: Many people would like to write a book.

Fact: Few people actually start writing a book.

Fact: Very few people actually finish writing a book.

Fact: Of those that finish writing a book, very few get published.

Like Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, people have a go. They try to write a book, not realising the long journey on which they have embarked. When the going gets tough, they give up. So many give up so easily.

You cannot “try” to write a book. You must do it, or not. If you don’t have the persistence, don’t even start.

Harsh words, yes, but that is the reality.

Good writing.

Further reading:

Welcome to the dark side

Today’s quote:

“Everyone is a moon and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.”

Mark Twain

Mark Twain has touched on the very essence of what it is to be human. Yes, we do all have a ‘dark side’ – that part of our nature that rarely, if ever, sees the light of day. We may well be acutely aware of this flaw but most of us are clever actors able to hide this face from public view. Jesus, in his criticism of the religious leaders of his day, called them hypocrites because they appeared as white-washed tombs which look okay on outside, but are actually full of dead men’s bones on the inside.

As writers we can tap into this deep well of darkness. We can let the protagonist have a flaw which other characters know nothing about. This dark side can be either a motivator stirring his resolve, or it can be  a burden, an obstacle preventing success.

This character flaw can be shown in various ways: through actions, through internal thoughts, through uncharacteristic responses to other characters,  through subtle hints which other characters do not understand and so on.

Possibly one of the best known example is that of Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars stories. All the way through the last three movies he battles his fear. On many occasions he is urged to give in to the dark side, to allow his fears to breed hatred.

It is certainly worth digging deep within this rich vein of conflict within the nature of your main character, exploring it and then exploiting it for all its worth.

Good writing.

Book review: “Bird by bird” by Anne Lamott



I bought this book some time ago but only recently finished reading it. I had read about it in many other books about writing. Everyone raved about how wonderful the book was and so I thought I’d treat myself.

I must say that, as a book about writing, it disappointed me at first. I guess I was looking for another guide book about writing, giving step by step instructions on how to write a novel, or a short story or whatever. This book is not like that. It is not something one can read from cover to cover and come away knowing everything there is about writing.

Instead, it is the kind of book that creeps in  under your guard, sneaking into your pores and inhabiting your inner writer. The sub-title is very revealing: “Some instructions for writing and life.” Ah, so it’s about more than merely being a writer. Anne Lamott uses a broad brush and paints a wonderful, yet challenging, picture of the writer’s life and how life experiences can and must impact the writing.

I enjoyed reading this entertaining book, but it left me with a suspicious mind. I suspect I’ll get far more out of it on a second and subsequent readings.


  • Lamott, Anne 1995, Bird by bird: some instructions on writing and life. Random House, Anchor Books, New York.