Letters from the Farm: August

Dear Writers, Readers and Daydreamers,

I am writing this from the back deck of my farm cottage. The dog is hunting for treats I threw into the yard and bees are seeking out the tiny mauve flowers that have sprouted across the lawn since the temperature picked up. I’ve taken the day off from the community centre where I work (for the dole) because I’m absolutely shattered by some energy sapping virus I’ve contracted. In some ways this is a good thing because I have time to catch up on things like grant writing for Wollongong Writers Festival and planning a content calendar for this very blog.

The content calendar and writing this post is important to me because it encourages a good writing habit and connects me with likeminded (totally amazing and awesome) people, a.k.a. you guys.

I would love to spend the whole day writing (or drawing because I want to get back into that) but sometimes other responsibilities take precedence. Luckily I was very good after work last Friday and finally finished the first draft of a short story I started while I was in Brisbane (July). I also reread and edited another short story so I’m feeling ahead.

It’s been hard to find the time lately; 27 hours at the community centre, 6-9 hours babysitting, cooking most meals and spending quality time with Mat who worked 70-80 hours last week (ah, the joys of dairy farming) leaves precious little time for anything else. But I am determined to make it work. Otherwise I’ll become bitter and grey, shrivel to the size of a raisin and then, one day, Mat will find me under the couch and throw me in the bin wondering, whatever happened to that girl who used to cook me dinner?

And so I write. I’m actually enrolled in an online short story clinic at the moment run by Writers Victoria and Steven Amsterdam. Once a month for six months Steven critiques the groups short stories and we can also critique each other’s. The first round went very well, I submitted a rather old story (written mid last year) which I has received several rejections on. There were a few recommendations for changed but I also received some very positive confirmation that the story is pretty much solid which is a great feeling.

Short story clinics are an excellent resource for writers, they’re like structured workshopping groups which we all know are essential if you want to improve as a writer. This is the second one I’ve been involved in. The first (run by Queensland Writers Centre and Angela Slater many moons ago) transformed my writing. Largely because it made me aware of the fact I had no grammar skills whatsoever. It also showed me my strengths (dialogue) and weaknesses (plot) at the time. This gave me specific areas to focus on.

I have practiced a lot since then, completed a Masters and been published (more than once!) I fully recommend trying it out if you have the spare cash (which I thought I did until I got slammed with work for the dole and now have to pay for taxis 4 days a week to get there from the farm. But it’s too late now so I’m going to enjoy it!)

If you have any questions about short story clinics, writing in general, the cost of a taxi in Tatura or just want to say hey, please do. Farm life can be lonely and I’d love to hear from you.

Yours faithfully,

P.S. Enclosed is a picture of our cutie Snoop enjoying the warmth.


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