I haven’t been sharing some of my recent publishing successes here, but this one is a little special to me. Two nights ago I attended the launch of the latest volume in the series “Tales from the Upper Room“, and anthology of stories and poems written by those associated with Tabor Adelaide. This is where I completed my Master of Arts Creative Writing a few years ago.
The anthology is now in its eighth edition since first being published in 2005 by the staff and students who were the first to be involved in the creative writing course at Tabor. A new volume has appeared every year except one. My stories and poems have appeared in all but the first three volumes.
The collection of stories and poems have been submitted by students, staff and alumni and their family and friends. Each edition is an eclectic collection of the deeply moving, the curious, the quirky, the humorous and sometimes surprising. Many are confronting, all are well written and most are worthy of revisiting.
I only had one poem in this edition, but that’s okay with me. It’s great to see many new names attached to the selection; this shows that the creative writing courses are alive, thriving and raising the bar of literary excellence.
A word of explanation about the title “Tales from the Upper Room” is in order. The creative writing courses had as their home in the early days a room on the third floor, affectionately known as The Loft. It conjures up images of the writer’s garret of legend, and it was here that the first meetings of the writers’ group met and where the concept of this anthology was conceived. But the “upper room” also brings to mind the room where Jesus and his disciples met for the last supper before his crucifixion. Tabor Adelaide started as a theological college, and most people associated with it are Christians, adding an interestingly significant appropriateness to the title.
The launch also included the announcement of the winners and runners-up of the inaugural Tabor Writing Competition. It had two sections: poetry and short stories. This was a brave new venture and with 299 entries was immensely successful. Entries came from every state and territory of Australia. I should add here that I decided not to enter this time. I must set my sights high and aim to enter next time around.
My wife and I are currently staying with our son and daughter-in-law in Sydney. We plan to be here for Christmas and look forward to sharing Christmas with our two little grandchildren, ages 5 and 2 and a half.
A few days ago we all chipped in helping to decorate the Christmas tree. Not one of those artificial ones bought in every shopping centre. No, we have a genuine natural tree bought from the local Scout Group who made them available to the local community.
Then the family gathered around the dining room table to make gingerbread houses. My almost two and a half year old granddaughter decided that it was far more interesting to eat her house straight away. Waiting for over a week to eat it is far too long for a little one.
Five year old grandson however, despite being an extremely active young boy, sat for over an hour with great determination to make the house shown above. We were all so proud of him – and I think he was too.
We don’t have too many special traditions at Christmas time, but I know that many families do.
- Write about the special things you do as a family at Christmas.
- Relate a true happening when everything went wrong.
- Imagine a truly wonderful Christmas; make it into a story or poem.
As from late last year I’ve taken on the role of webmaster of our church website. This means writing for three other sites in addition to this one. Sometimes I think I must be a little crazy, but this new one will be shared by several other writers. Any articles with the letters TH at the end were written by me.
For those of you who may be interested in reading some of my writings on spiritual matters, click here to read what I’ve written on the Murray Bridge Church of Christ site. Some of the articles will be current news items, while many others will be devotional thoughts on a range of topics.
You may also be interested in reading my other sites:
Ever since I started my creative writing degree in 2008 I have been a part of two writers’ groups at the university where I studied. One was primarily a prose group. Each meeting the participants are given a writing challenge. The latest challenge was to finish a 1000 word short story with the last few words of a classic novel. The resulting stories were amazing in both the variety and the quality.
During the last four years I have also been a part of a poetry critiquing group. Over the last two years I have helped to organise this group. We also set writing challenges for the participants. It might be a set theme or a set form (eg sonnets) and sometimes both. The discussions are also very stimulating.
On Saturday just gone I joined yet another writers’ group. This group meets only a few times a year, usually in someone’s home. The group has a discussion on a set topic and then there is a sharing of current projects before breaking for a shared lunch – and more informal discussions. This group has a special focus, as it’s title implies: it is a Christian Professional Writers’ Association. All of the participants are either professional writers – or aspiring to be. Everyone in the group has a publishing record, and is striving to have more published. Our focus discussion this time followed on from the last meeting: “What is Christian fiction?”
I find that attendance at such meetings to be very stimulating, always generating new ideas, new writing avenues, networking (I found out about a potential opening at a publisher for my novel), encouragement and just plain good fun. If critiquing of one’s writing is also part of the activities, this is a bonus. Having others reading and commenting on your work is invaluable in the process of becoming a better writer – and more likely to get published.
I’d strongly encourage you to seek out a local group for writers and try it out.