Writing about your childhood

I don’t get home to the farm where I grew up often enough. It’s only about a two hour drive in the country from where I now live, but I find life gets far too busy at times. A few weeks ago, however, I did have an opportunity to visit my brother on a day trip. Sure, it was only a few hours but pleasant all the same. Sadly I didn’t have time to visit the farm where I grew up, and where my nephew now lives.

While visiting my brother he showed me some photos I can’t ever remember seeing. These photos were originally on slides but John had converted them to digital images and could show them to me on his television. Many of the photos were of John’s pride and joy: his tractors. He thinks he has a photo of every tractor he ever owned – except one.

While this was interesting, what really grabbed my attention was that several of the shots showed me aged between eight and fourteen. It triggered in my mind a desire to focus a little more on writing about my childhood days. Here is a largely untapped resource of experiences that I can use in my writing. It is a deep well of interesting and colourful incidents that can only enhance my writing.

A word of caution is needed. Approaching a topic like this in a dry, journalistic way would be of interest to no-one. Except perhaps immediate family. A more creative method is required if you are interest a broader readership. This is not a problem if you are only recording your experiences as part of your family heritage.

If you do desire a wider audience for these stories, why not try rewriting your life experiences as a child (or an adult for that matter) as fiction? Take that incident with the bull when you raided a neighbour’s paddock while picking mushrooms and turn it into an exciting escapade, complete with other characters who may or may not have been a part of the original story. Turning fact into fiction can release those creative juices and you will never know where the story will end up. It will surely be a more interesting read than a dry narrative account of the facts.

You never know: one or more of these stories might end up being the text for a children’s picture book, or included in a magazine or anthology.

Good writing.

My novel is finished

I would like to give a big apology to all of my loyal, regular readers. Both of you!

I’m sorry I haven’t updated this site much in recent months. I have been extremely busy working on finalising my Master of Arts Creative Writing thesis paper. This paper consisted of a 40,000 word novel for children (ages 10-12) and a 10,000 word exegesis essay on the writing of the novel.

Last week I finally finished all the last minute editing and proofreading. I had it professionally printed (3 copies) and bound. With a sense of relief I handed it up to my supervising lecturer who organised to have it sent off to two examiners. Now I have a 6-8 week wait to find out if I’ve passed my degree. I am quietly confident of passing because all three of my supervisors approved the final draft, noting that it had improved vastly from earlier drafts.

I found the rewriting phase both fascinating and frustrating. It was frustrating because right up to the final draft I was making changes. Considering it was the 17th draft that I submitted, that’s an amazing amount of rewriting. On the flip side, however, it was fascinating to observe the effect of all those changes. Towards the end of the process I read the whole manuscript aloud several times. Despite being too close to the story, even I could tell how much it had improved in the final stages. Other readers were very positive in their feedback concerning the changes.

One of the most significant changes I made after the 6th draft was to totally rewrite the whole novel, changing it from the third to the first person. This was more difficult than I first imagined because remnants of the earlier third person persisted for several drafts. Eventually all was ironed out and the story is much stronger for the change. Being inside the head of the protagonist is so much more immediate and intimate, perhaps even confronting at times. His unique voice comes over much stronger now.

Now that I’ve submitted it for marking I am going to give myself a few weeks break before preparing the manuscript for sending off to a publisher. I am mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted at present, so a short break – with lots of reading – should refresh and recharge the batteries.

I might even get to add a few more updates on this site in the meantime.

Good writing.

I have “finished” writing my novel

Late last night, after about 18 months of hard labour, I finally “finished” writing my novel for children set in Nepal.

I have written “finished” in quotes because, in reality, the process is far from complete. Because this novel is my thesis paper for my Master of Arts in Creative Writing, it needs to now go to my supervising lecturers for one last look, mainly proofreading and final checking. It then goes to an independent examiner for marking. After that long process I may graduate. And then starts a whole new ball game: trying to find a publisher. That game could go on for another 18 -24 months or longer. [Sigh]

In its current form the novel is in its 10th draft. Some sections have been through more drafts than that. The final draft was essentially just proofreading on my part; very few words were changed and I found only a handful of punctuation errors – even after all those times reading through it.

The hard work doesn’t end there however. Today I focused back on my exegesis essay which must accompany the novel. In this essay I explain the origins of the story, the problems I had along the journey of writing it, some of the technical questions encountered and how I solved them and the influences on my writing from my research, readingĀ  and studies. And its another 10,000 words, of which I’ve written about 3,500. Time to stop blabbing on here and get back to the essay.

Wish me good writing!

My writing is back on track

It has been quite a few days since my last post here. Sorry – I’ve been distracted by working on my novel for children.

A few minutes ago I finished the 8th draft of the book that has dominated my thinking and writing over the last 18 months. This latest draft is a total rewrite, changing it from the third person to the first person. I think it works, but the real test will come when I read it again – this time I think I’ll read it aloud. This is always a good strategy to find any awkward passages, phrases or sentences that still need a little work and any other glaring errors.

One of the interesting outcomes of this particular rewrite was that my overall word count has risen nearly 500 words and it is now just a few short of 40,000. This is the recommended length for my Masters degree, so I’m right on the money. This increase in words is notable in that I’ve also cut out many hundreds of words, some of them redundant words or phrases. I couldn’t believe how many of these redundancies I had included in earlier drafts. One example: “He felt tears welling in his eyes.” Where else would tears be – dripping from his ears? Or toes? Cut out “in his eyes”.

As I finish off my Masters Degree novel and accompanying exegesis essay in coming weeks and then submit it for assessment, I will be able to get back to more regular postings here.

In the meantime: good writing.

A frustrating week of writing

I just had a very frustrating week of writing.

In fact, much of it has been devoted to non writing activities. First, I’ve had a series of meetings to attend and these always cut into my writing time.

Second, I’ve been busy tidying up the mess in our driveway. We had a massive storm here just over a week ago and a large 40 year old gum tree came down in our driveway. I’ve been busy chain sawing up the wood. I guess we’ll have plenty of firewood in the coming few years.

Third, I was discouraged by my critiquing group at a seminar last week and have hit a brick wall as a result. I was very excited about rewriting my novel in the first person. It seemed to be going so well, yet everyone was so critical and told me that it just wasn’t working.


Discouragement hit me big time. I’ve done no more on it for the last week. I sometimes feel like giving up.

Can any of my readers offer me any encouragement, or clues on how to get going again?

In the meantime – a few photos of the mess in my driveway.

Fallen tree in our driveway

Fallen tree in our driveway

Fallen tree in our driveway

Fallen tree in our driveway