Tales from the Upper Room
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.
I have graduated
After three challenging and difficult years I have finally graduated.
I now have completed my Master of Arts (Creative Writing) degree.
It has been an interesting journey of discovery. I’ve always regretted not having a higher degree to go with my basic teaching qualifications. I had resigned myself to the fact that such a lofty degree was beyond me. I limited my thinking, putting myself down in the process.
On reflection, I probably thought the same about my writing. I’d never be good enough to get published. I’d never make it as a writer. No one would want to read what I wrote.
Through sheer determination – and the encouragement of family and friends – I’ve proved myself wrong on all counts.
- I have passed my degree – and with a distinction too.
- I have a large and growing readership of my three blogs.
- I have been published in recent years in a range of magazines, journals and anthologies.
The best is still to come.
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.
Writing a novel is a marathon event
I am in the last stages of finishing my work in progress, a novel for children set in Nepal. This 40,000 word novel, and the accompanying 10,000 word exegesis essay, is the final stage of my Master of Arts in Creative Writing.
I’ve been working on the novel for over 18 months and finally it is getting near to ready to submit to examiners in the coming weeks. Then I plan to start it on its journey around the various publishing houses, so fun continues. This novel writing game is not a sprint, and more of a marathon. In fact, sometimes it feels like having to run a marathon every day.
Despite the weariness, I am pleased with the final product and I’ve learned so much along the way. With the help of my critiquing group, friends who are critical readers, and my supervising lecturers, my skills have been honed and my writing has improved way beyond what I had thought possible.
I have learned, above all, not to be precious about my words. I have learned to be ruthless and to cut anything that does not work, anything that is repetitious, redundancies, passive voice, switches in POV and many other stumbling blocks placed in the path of writers everywhere.
Must get back to the finishing touches.
Revising my novel
Over the last week I’ve been revising my novel for children set in Nepal. Normally I don’t enjoy the editing, rewriting and proofreading stages of writing. I love the creative process of writing a new story or novel. The tedious, nit-picking process that follows I often find boring and uncreative. Besides, I often have more ideas for stories than I can physically get written waiting in the wings. I just want to get on and write them.
I am trying hard to refocus my mind on revision, a very important part of the process of writing. A writer cannot hope to be published these days without this important step because the competition is so intense and publishers are so swamped with manuscripts that they quickly reject those which do not measure up. They just do not have the time nor the resources to take on projects where the writer needs help with the basics of punctuation, grammar, story structure, inconsistent points of view, poor characterisation and all of those other elements which are essential in a published book.
My novel is now in its 4th draft. It’s been hard work getting there, always under the pressure of time. I am still hopeful of completing it ready to hand up for assessment for my Master of Arts in Creative Writing by the end of November. I also have to complete a 10,000 word exegesis essay on the process I went through.
I anticipate that the novel will go through several more drafts before I am completely happy with it. Time to stop blathering on here and get back to it.
- Writing a novel – a series of articles I have written during my journey with my novel.