It was six o’clock in the evening when she finally passed the wind turbines. There, at last, stood Lake George, where long-woolled sheep grazed the field and to the west the Brindabella mountain range was coloured grey and pink by the setting sun. On she drove along an ink-black strip of road where, on either side, tall green-grey eucalypts had formed a welcoming archway. The way flattened out then curved into a narrow empty road. Not one person did she see, not one building, just a handful of brown-bellied cows and later a group of kangaroos standing formidable and still in the headlights. The turn for Watson wasn’t clearly sign-posted but she felt confident in turning east along the row of liquid ambers in autumn bloom that took her to the cabins. Continue reading
This is an old one, but a good one. What does it mean exactly? It means don’t tell us about loneliness (or any of those complex words like dishonesty, secrecy, jealousy, obsession, regret, death, injustice, etc) show us what loneliness is. We will read what you’ve written and feel the bite of loneliness. Don’t tell us what to feel. Show us the situation, and that feeling will be triggered in us.
When you take your child to school on their first day you may find yourself teary and relieved at the same time. Put into words what you see: the child’s face, the wave at the gate, the other mothers saying their goodbyes, another child coming up to take your son by the hand. We will get what you’re trying to say without you telling us directly.
The how-to-write books tell us to use our senses when we write stories: sight, sound, smell, touch. Writing from the senses is a good way to penetrate your story and make friends with it. Don’t tell us about something, drop deep, enter the story and take us with you.
What about you? Do you consciously bring the senses into your creative writing?
Although she loved her nieces and nephews, it was when she turned thirty-nine that driving young children around in her car seemed to make her nervous—a tightening in the stomach. “Aunty Helen, would you like to take Naomi to see The Muppets? Are you free?” Always these requests from one of her sisters looking tired and desperate—one of her younger siblings, they used to be so close—and Helen would force herself to make the effort to be the good aunty. The responsibility of passengers in her car always made her anxious. She was anxious about one thing or the other most of the time, but wanted to appear selfless and generous-spirited. Her availability, or non-availability, was noted, itemised, either in her favour, or against her. She didn’t want to be labelled self-obsessed. She had entered an era when the nicest thing a person could say to her was, “You’re a fabulous aunty. The kids love you.” Continue reading