Tuesday, 12 May 2009

My Writing Process

Well it definitely isn’t structured. I don’t have a particular time that I write every day. I know when I don’t sit at the computer; that’s when the sun is out and it is a glorious day. Off I go to the beach or Melissa’s in Altona. Sitting outside with a pot of green tea and a spanacopita gets the creative juices flowing for me. I scribble away in a notebook on my current project. It is also a great place for observing people and getting ideas for characters.

But, alas, I must get down to writing at some point. Rainy days and early evenings are good for me. I suppose I work on plot, story line, character development and increasing tension, but I think a lot of that happens in my head when I let the characters take over. I enjoy a good yarn and hopefully that’s what I write. Writing should be fun and not a chore; so I don’t get too serious about it. There are other things in my life that are more important, like remembering to take my medication and not leaving the house in my pyjamas!

You can find me tapping away at the keyboard when there are dishes to be done, floors to be vacuumed or it is one of those “ We need to talk” times. I get a pained expression on my face and mutter, “Not now, I’m on a roll.”

I hope that helps.

Hugh Deacon

Monday, 11 May 2009

I have a writing process?

I'd like to say that I always write at a particular time of day or I do x amount of planning before strapping myself into the chair and churning out a few thousand words of gold each and every afternoon, but unfortunately, it would all be lies. Horrible, horrible lies!

In reality, I write either just before a deadline or during a sudden surge of creativity, which only seems to come on when I'm supposed to be someplace else.

I do plan a bit, so, when one of these bouts of creativity comes on, I've got an idea of what it is I need to be writing about.

I have lists of things stuck up all over my study, prompting me to start such and such or read this, research that. It's pathetic really, but keeps me aware of what needs to be done.

Personal wellbeing is also a major factor in my writing process. If I've been out doing the whole social thing, I don't even bother sitting at the computer until I can get the cobwebs cleared out. This can be a day, maybe two, three after the really big occasions (birthday bashes, social gatherings, Friday nights, Saturday nights, Sundays afternoons etc.).

All joking aside, I've really put a focus on setting little goals this year. If I put something on a list, I want it to be crossed off by the end of the week. The deadline idea is something that really works for me and the added pressure forces me to get off my duff and actually do something.

I've just realised I have used the words 'I' and 'my' enough times to rival a Dermott Brereton newspaper article, so it is best I put an end to this drivel and sum up.

Make lists. Give yourself deadlines. Ditch your friends and family. Give TV the arse. These are my lesson unto you, use them wisely.

John King

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Williamstown Literary Festival

Writers write stories. But how do we know if our stories are good?

One way of knowing is entering our work in competitions. The Ada Cambridge Prize is run as part of the Willy Lit Fest and the Novel 2 class of VU was asked to help shortlist the short stories. As a reward the volunteers received a free ticket to the festival.

The 6th Willy Lit Fest was held on the 1st to the 3rd of May 2009. It is a fantastic opportunity for writers of all ages to find out if their stories are good.

Some writers like to plan before they begin their story. From Lucia Nardo I learnt a funky and fun way to produce a writing plan in visual form using magazine images.

Then you have to write the story. From Garry Disher I learnt how to start my story. Disher gave many examples of where to get ideas and begin writing. One important thing Disher noted was he believes in writing for yourself and not for publication.

Once your story is written and you think it is pretty good, you might send it out to a publisher. And if they think it is pretty good it gets published. Part of the publishing process is working with an editor. Sarah Brennan and Tess Moloney explained why the editing process is vital and how an editor can help you publish your work.

Once the story is published it's all about promotion. Claire Saxby, Corinne Fenton and Glenda Millard discussed how the book promotion process works and the difference between showing off and promotion.

So I guess, if you have a good idea for a story and finish writing it, it must be good. If the story is published, it must be great. It you promote it, without showing off, and people buy it and read it, it must be excellent. And if you want to know more about writing good stories attend the 7th Willy Lit Fest in 2010.

Rhiannon Lacy

Chris Baty on NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month

50,000 words in 30 days.

Chris impressed me with the manner in which he shared his NaNoWriMo experiences. He was honest and outlined many of the problems writers face, such as procrastination, lack of  self confidence, and  commitment to write daily. Chris suggested we look on writing as an enjoyable thing to do, not as a chore, and it’s okay to write crap with no editing until the end of the manuscript. 

Writing a novel in a month gives you focus.  All you need to do is commit to write nearly 1,700 words every day, during the month of November.  Last year 119,000 people from 90 countries accepted the challenge and 21,000 of these completed a 50,000 word novel. 

A miraculous thing happens to people when they are given a deadline and write daily. You only need to read the last couple of paragraphs from the previous day before starting again. And you do not need to do any editing in the first draft. This can help you get over the idea that novel writing is a scary thing and, knowing that no one will read your completed manuscript, helps relieve the pressure of what you write. 

Everyday people who give themselves permission to write them write novels. Don’t think you can’t write a novel in 30 days. There will be some really good parts, there will be wonderful passages of language, and there will be parts of your novel that you do not remember writing. Your novel will also be crap in parts. It is important to get the first draft down on paper. The second draft is where the novel is born and you start to see it emerge. You can turn a bad first draft into a great novel, but you cannot turn anything from a blank page into a novel.

Lynette Stevens

Friday, 8 May 2009

Next Rotunda is filling fast

And this is just in from Bruno. Make sure you contact him if you're interested! And, students, please do consider going. I know some of you didn't bother last time because you'd heard it was full, but there is always some space reserved for our students!

Professional Writing and Editing (TAFE)
Victoria University
Rotunda in the West: Conversations with Australian Writers
{OPEN TO STUDENTS, FRIENDS, FAMILY,RESIDENTS-Please feel free to spread the word among your colleagues and friends}
cartoonist, poet, essayist
Michael Leunig
in conversation with Paul Bateman (State Library of Victoria) and Bruno Lettieri (VU teacher)
Thursday 4th June,2009
6.30pm for 7pm start-please come early, settle yourself in
Venue:   Toniq Bar (drinks at bar prices)
Building M Level 0
Footscray PARK campus
Victoria University
Ballarat Road
$10 or $5 (concession)
RSVP-Bruno Lettieri
0422 29 86 43
RSVP Essential
Don't delay - wave back and let us know you are receiving our good news
Our Rotunda conversations are proudly sponsored by Office of Industry and Community Engagement and Office of Vocational Education
Enquiries about Creative Writing and Professional Writing and Editing-

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Emerging Writers' Festival looking for volunteers

Teresa Buchanan, one of our students, has passed on the Emerging Writers' Festival newsletter, and the festival committee are looking for volunteers. I've posted the email below (without a few bits like the unsubscribe directions). They have asked for this email to be passed on, so I hope they won't mind my sharing it here. Even if you can't volunteer, you might consider going. You can follow the link to their homepage to have a look at the program. The email link won't work in Blogger, so I've pasted it in.


The Emerging Writers' Festival News

Volunteer for the 2009 Emerging Writers' Festival!
It’s just over two weeks until the Emerging Writers’ Festival kicks off and we're now looking for volunteers to support festival events.

Volunteers are needed to help out with a range of panel events, forums, room hosting, and to staff the information desk during the Melbourne Town Hall program on the weekend of the 30th and 31st of May.

All volunteers will receive passes to Melbourne Town Hall program, an invite to The First Word opening night event on 22nd May, and get to experience working on one of the most important events in the literary arts calendar! You    can    check    out   the   program   for   full  details 
online now

Volunteers will need to commit to at least one day over the weekend, and a briefing session on Tuesday May 19th at 6 pm at Arts House Meat Market in North Melbourne. We’ll also need your help that evening to help us stuff our famous Showbags.

Expressions of interest close Thursday 14th May.

Please email the Volunteer Coordinator Jodie Kinnersley [info@emergingwritersfestival.org.au]  with your name, contact number, and the following details:

  1. Availability for the Volunteer Briefing (Tuesday 19th May)
  2. Availability over the Town Hall weekend (Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st May)
  3. If you have volunteered for the Emerging Writers’ Festival before.

We are also looking for two volunteers to help out with The Page Parlour, our undiscovered press and (maga)zine event at Federation Square on Sunday 31st of May. If you’re interested in this, please let us know.

The 2009 Emerging Writers’ Festival will be held from 22nd to the 31 May at the Melbourne Town Hall, State Library of Victoria, City Library, Federation Square and the Empress Hotel in Fitzroy North.

Our mailing address is:
Emerging Writers' Festival
P.O. Box 21251 Little Lonsdale Street
MelbourneVictoria 8011

Copyright (C) 2009 Emerging Writers' Festival All rights reserved.

More from our poets!

Rob Corbet has forwarded some more poetry from our Poetry 1 students. Once again, sorry about the double spacing, which isn't in the originals...



Little Lunch

Children’s laughter

Big front teeth

Swings and slides, bark flies

Running, confused and happy

Coloured balloons and merry go rounds

Playing kiss chasey, hide and seek

Shivneel, I love you!




Touch hair softly back from your face

Make me feel closer to you

Warm, fuzzy socks, soft blankets and snuggling

By the open fire on winter days

Bright eyes, hot lips, warm hands, trembling



Red heart, red blood, chocolate kisses

Melted by tears and broken glass

Heart bursting


Dark clouds of disbelief

When you and I used to hug

Having felt cold ever since

I turn away from the old couple

Hand in hand

On a park bench




The gold watch my mother gave to me

Roman numerals worn by the passing hand

An empty clock face and spilling sand

The clocks at Flinders Street Station

Needles moving quickly

Waiting, hurry up, hassle, worry

Grasping opportunity before it’s too late

Stressed out, busy streets, deadlines

People wearing black amidst chaos

Rush of life is constant.


It’s never enough. Are you enough?





Cold hands, cold heart, hot tears

He was a good man

A coffin being lowered

Life reduced to dust


A silence surrounds him.


All that’s left now

Final loving words on a gravestone.



A perfect world


White clouds spread across an open sky

Colourful flowers, a dove flying

Soft sunrise, a gentle rain.


From different backgrounds

Children playing, happiness

Friends that love each other



A hiss of steam, then I’m off.

by Tommy, Tarryn, Stephanie, Rhys, Melissa, Meady, Judith, John B, Elyse, Christine, Austin, Antonia, Antonette, Huda, Melita, Sarah C, Tomas V

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Annie on Fiction Elements

Hi. Annie Taylor speaking. 

I started off this year doing Fiction Elements online thinking I was taking the easy option by being able to do it from home. I was enjoying the work but I found I was just managing to keep up with it all as I am doing two other subjects in the classroom. I also have two primary school aged children and a partner with his own business that I do the books for. I haven't studied for almost twenty years and when assignments were due as well my head started to spin badly. We were all feeling the squeeze. 

Maybe I'm too conscientious or my typing is too slow or I'm just too new to all this but I found having to read everyone's writing, on top of all the course work, incredibly time consuming and frustrating. I was determined not to drop out but there were no places left in Robert's Fiction Elements in the classroom in first term. Then, at the start of second term, my new friends at school told me students had dropped out of the class and (hallelujah) Susanna, Tracey and Robert let me transfer. Fortunately for me the two classes were almost perfectly synchronised and I am now taking great delight in participating directly with the class in real-time. 

Sorry for dipping out, gang, but I am so relieved. I know I'm lucky to be in a position to be able to attend classes on campus so I will take full advantage of that from now on. Farewell and good luck to my fellow onliners. 


Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Chris Baty, the Willy Lit festival and student successes

Hugh Deacon, Lucia Nardo and Denise Hughes 
at the after-celebrations of the Williamstown Literary Soiree
(where the Ada Cambridge Awards were announced)

Well, it's been frantically busy in PWE this last week. We had the fantastic Chris Baty, originator of NaNoWriMo -- Mr Motivator, I reckon he should be called -- in to speak to a combined Story Structure and Novel 2 class, and then the Willy Lit Festival. I feel as if I'm coming off the Melbourne Writers' Festival or a good speculative fiction convention -- wanting to sit down and write, write, write. I hope you're all feeling the same!

Watch this space for student reviews of the different events...

Congratulations to our students who did well at the Lit Fest: Lucia Nardo and Hugh Deacon for being shortlisted in the Ada Cambridge, and Lucia for winning a commendation, and Denise Hughes for being shortlisted in the Seagulls Poetry Prize. Hugh, Denise and Marlene Gorman also all gave spirited readings in the People's Choice Awards for Fiction, and Megan Green and Louise Crossley read in the People's Choice Awards for Poetry. (I didn't hear their readings so can't comment on them, but did hear Denise, Marlene and Hugh! Well done, all of you, for participating.) Margaret McCarthy, one of our teachers, actually won the poetry section, so congratulations to her.

I also believe Lucia Nardo led a fantastic session on working out who you are as a writer. Students who attended this workshop were raving about it -- and I know it would've been great because we had Lucia do a session for us PWE teachers earlier this year. Lots of fun and insightful, and we have the colourful result pasted to the office wall (just in case you've wandered through and wondered what that collage is.)

Happy writing, everyone!

Tracey Rolfe

Friday, 1 May 2009

Hello from Heidi

I hope this is going to end up in the right place. This is the first time I have blogged anything (seriously). 

I am thoroughly enjoying the fiction elements online course. I have studied online before, and really enjoy the flexibility. Study would not be an option for me, if I couldn't do it at my own pace and at home. The fiction elements course has a lot more interaction than any previous course that I have done online. I really enjoy the opportunity to read other people's writing, and the comments that people make about each other's writing. It has opened my eyes to a whole new writing world out there. The interaction does increase the workload, but I am happy for that pressure as I learn to make room for writing in my life. I will get help from Tracey or George on how to get a photo uploaded if you really need to see what I look like.

Cheers from Hong Kong.