Archive for the 'The Writer’s Life' Category

Happy Christmas

White-browed Woodswallow

White-browed Woodswallow

 

HAPPY CHRISTMAS

to all of my readers.

I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas.

This year our Christmas has been very low key. Just my daughter home for a holiday, and my wife and I. Speaking of my daughter – she surprised us when she came home on Wednesday with a lovely set of three presents for us. In consultation with our son she bought us a new set of three bird baths. Many of the photos which appear on my other site Trevor’s Birding are taken of birds having a drink or a bath, including the photo above taken of a White-browed Woodswallow having a drink. This photo shows the old bird bath. It was taken on a very hot day last week.

Last night I went to the 11:30pm service at our church. This was a very moving service and a great way to see in Christmas Day. This morning we all ventured out again to our church service. Later we cooked up a storm for lunch: roast pork and vegetables on our barbecue. Despite the heat this went well. Today was the hottest Christmas Day we have had in South Australia since 1945. Thankfully our air conditioner coped well.

After our main course my wife served up the Christmas fruit pudding she made yesterday. Together with home made custard it was delicious. While none of us over-indulged, we all tried to read our books during the afternoon but sleepiness got the better of us. We all had a snooze. Thankfully, no noisy children or noisy toys in this household this Christmas. That will change next week when our son and family arrive from Sydney for three weeks.

Dinner was a repeat of lunch with a enough leftovers to go around. It was just as enjoyable as lunch.

Happy Christmas, everyone.

Trevor

Have a great big creative life

“Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen. Repent just means to change direction — and NOT to be said by someone who is waggling their forefinger at you. Repentance is a blessing. Pick a new direction, one you wouldn’t mind ending up at, and aim for that. Shoot the moon.”

Anne Lamott

Reading this quote yesterday brought me up with something of a jolt. Do the words of Anne Lamott refer to me and my creative life? Have I procrastinated about being a writer far too much? Will I squirm on my death bed with far too many regrets about not having written?

I hope not.

In fact, I know I won’t.

Me – the writer

All of my life – even when I was on a side track teaching for 35 years – I considered myself a writer. In fact, I have independent proof that most of my students regarded me as a writer too because I often shared my stories and poems with them. People in my church regard me as a writer, as do some of my family and many of my friends.

Into retirement

As I neared a certain age I began writing more and now eleven years into retirement I write almost full time. It has been a steep learning curve and an intensive few years. Included in those eleven years was time set aside to complete a Masters degree in creative writing which has helped me tremendously. Also in those 11 years I have written hundreds of poems, dozens of short stories and articles and thousands of blog posts here and on my other sites Trevor’s Birding and Trevor’s Travels.

No regrets? Maybe some

So while I will have no regrets about reaching 75 years of age – and I’m getting there far too quickly – there are still some areas of concern. It is true that I have had significant portions of my writing published over the years. On the downside, however, is the vast amount of my writing still left unpublished in any form. It languishes unloved and unread on my hard drive. I wrote about the issues surrounding this on a recent post called My life is a work in progress.

A big juicy creative life

So , while I have written vast numbers of words, and tasted the rewards of limited publication success, I feel that there is so much more to enjoy in this “big juicy creative life”. I press on. I keep writing. I keep submitting. And I keep hoping.

I just do not want to experience a broken heart at the end of my life.

What about my readers? I would love to hear from you, either in the comments via in the contact form.

Good writing.

Trevor

Writing prompt: How’s the serenity?

Laratinga wetlands, Mt Barker, South Australia

Laratinga wetlands, Mt Barker, South Australia

Earlier this week I visited the Laratinga Wetlands on the outskirts of Mt Barker in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia. These wetlands are frequently visited by birders like myself because the ponds often teem with birds. I write about my birding experiences and show photos of Australian birds on my site called Trevor’s Birding.

Many people visit the wetlands every day, including walkers, joggers, runners, cyclists and picnickers.

On this occasion it was early on a frosty morning and the water was still quite smooth. The photo above shows this well. This scene – or another similar which you have experienced – could well be an interesting prompt for your writing.

Here are some writing suggestions:

  • Describe the scene in the photo.
  • Imagine yourself in the scene shown in the photo. Why are you there?
  • Write a short story about a very serene place you have visited.
  • Write a poem inspired by the photo.
  • Imagine you are a bird – for example, a duck – living in the pond shown in the photo. Describe a day in your life

Good writing.

Trevor

 

Writing rules and secrets

I have read many books, magazines, blog posts and articles about writing rules and secrets to successful writing. A few years ago I completed my Master of Arts Creative Writing where some of the lecturers gave hints and clues to good writing and “how to” suggestions. All this advice can get a little overwhelming.

Then one comes across classic quotes about writing. I love the one from W. Somerset Maugham:

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately no one knows what they are.”

Then there are  numerous lists of “secrets” of success as a writer. I tried doing an internet search on the topic “writing secrets” and the results returned ABOUT 10.4 million references. That is one huge mountain of reading to dig through to find the occasional nugget. It would take a lifetime to read them all. (Actually, about 98 years reading one article every 5 minutes and never sleeping – or doing anything else.)

And when I post this, I imagine that the search engines will record 10,400,001 articles… well, maybe not.

On a brighter note, there is something to be gained from reading a few quotes from well-established, universally successful and respected writers. That is why I continue to read books and articles about writing. The cumulative effect of all that tuition has to help.

Today I came across the following article: 25 Writing Secrets of Famous Authors.

I particularly like the first one which is from Stephen King:

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”

That is very encouraging, because I have done a great deal of both reading and writing over the years.

Good reading – and Good Writing.

Trevor

How to submit your writing to literary journals

Over the last three decades or so I have submitted hundreds of pieces of my writing to a variety of publications and competitions. A reasonably healthy percentage of these have been published or performed. My list of writings have included:

  • poems
  • short stories
  • articles
  • plays
  • songs – well, one song!
  • comedy routines
  • picture books
  • novels
  • teaching materials
  • devotional material

Writing published on my blog sites

In addition to the above figures I have self-published over the last 10 years more than 4000 articles combined here on this writing site, and on my other sites, Trevor’s Birding and Trevor’s Travels and on our church website where I am the webmaster.

That’s a heap of words. And I have many, many more waiting to be sent off to various publications, and heaps more ideas for more stories, novels, poems and articles. Finding a balance between creating new writing and submitting one’s writing is always a fine line to walk.

I must admit that I err too much on the side of not sending out my writing to places where it stands a good chance of being published.

In the light of that last statement I find that it is good to come across an article which outlines some basic reminders of what to look for when preparing a manuscript for submission to a magazine or a literary journal. I recently came across an article titled “7 questions to ask yourself before submitting to literary journals.

It is worth taking a look at; while you are gone I think I will prepare a few submissions of my own. After all, I’ve had a list of them ready for a week now.

Good writing. Good submitting.

Trevor