Fortnightly Story: Towards the End

colourful cafe scene

He leaned back on the chrome chair, stretched his legs out under the square black table and placed his mobile phone in front of him. He looked over to the counter at the back of the cafe at the cakes and muffins on display and the Italian biscuits in jars. He turned back to the glass windows and wondered if he had the guts to tell her today. He wanted to. By Christ he wanted to. He straightened up, his elbows on the table, his hands clasped together in front of his face. There’d been some good times, that’s for sure. But what the heck. A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.

The sliding glass door clanked open and Anny walked in. He looked over at her, first from the rear as she closed the door and then as she approached, her face flushed, her dark hair flying back from her shoulders. Not bad looking. A bit on the heavy side but not a bad looker all the same. Yes, there’d been some good times. Especially in the sack.

Continue reading

Book cover reveal

'The Crystal Ballroom' book cover

The book cover at last! My second novel, ‘The Crystal Ballroom’ will be published by Ginninderra Press in May this year. Pre-launch copies available next month. A very exciting time for me.

Here are a couple of reviews from the back cover:

‘Libby Sommer lays bare the foibles of human nature in her finely observed stories of love and loss in the singles dance scene. Brilliantly drawn with wit, compassion and poignancy, the characters you meet in The Crystal Ballroom are sure to remind you of someone—maybe even yourself.’ – Jan Cornall, Writer’s Journey.

 ‘Libby Sommer exposes the secret lives of the single men and women who dance at The Crystal Ballroom. Authentic and powerful, this unique book will be loved by the dancers and readers.’ Frida Kotlyar, Ballroom, Latin and Argentine Tango dancer.

What do you think of the cover design? I love it 🙂

Writing Tip: Obsessions

quote about obsessions

Every once in a while, when I’m scratching around for something new to write, I make a list of the things I obsess about.  Thankfully, some of them change over time, but there are always new ones to fill the gap.

It’s true that writers write about what they think about most of the time.  Things they can’t let go: things that plague them; stories they carry around in their heads waiting to be heard.

I used to get my creative writing groups to make a list of the topics they obsess about so they could see what occupied their thoughts during their waking hours.  After you write them down, you can use them for spontaneous writing before crafting them into stories.  They have much power.  This is where the juice is for writing.  They are probably driving your life, whether you realise it or not, so you may as well use them rather than waste your energy trying to push them away.  And you can come back to them repeatedly.

One of the things I’m always obsessing about is relationships:  relationships in families, relationships with friends, relationships with lovers.  That’s what I tend to write about.  I think to myself, Why not?  Rather than repress my obsessions, I explore them, go with the flow.  And life is always changing, so new material keeps presenting  itself.

We are driven by our passions.  Am I the only one who thinks this?  For me these compulsions contain the life force energy.  We can exploit that energy.  The same with writing itself.  I’m always thinking and worrying about my writing, even when I’m on holidays.  I’m driven.

But not all compulsions are a bad thing.  Get involved with your passions, read about them, talk to other people about them and then they will naturally become ‘grist for the mill’.

obsession quote in black writing on white card

What about you?  Do you find yourself writing about the same situations over and over again?

 

Fortnightly Story: Around the World in Fifty Steps

a man and a woman with backpacks looking at Leaning Tower of Pisa

‘Around the World In Fifty Steps’ was my first published short story. It was 2001 and I’d just graduated with an MA in Professional Writing from the University of Technology Sydney. A heady time to see my name in a prestigious literary journal like Overland, progressive culture since 1954. I’d written the story originally as a synopsis for a book. Although the book never did find a publisher, I was very happy that the synopsis was published as a short story. Not bad for a high school dropout. Continue reading

Writing Tip: Start writing

fountain pen on page of writing

When I used to teach classes to beginning writers, it was good.  It forced me to think back to the beginning to when I first put pen to paper.  The thing is, every time we sit down and face the blank page, it’s the same.  Every time we start a new piece of writing, we doubt that we can do it again.  A new journey with no map – like setting off towards the horizon alone in a boat and the only thing another person can do to help is to wave from the shore.

So when I used to teach a creative writing class, I had to tell them the story all over again and remember that this is the first time my students are hearing it.  I had to start at the very beginning.

First up, there’s the pen on the page.  You need this intimate relationship between the pen and the paper to get the flow of words happening.  A fountain pen is best because the ink flows quickly.  We think faster than we can write.  It needs to be a “fat” pen to avoid RSI.

Consider, too, your notebook.  It is important.  The pen and paper are your basic tools, your equipment, and they need to be with you at all times.  Choose a notebook that allows you plenty of space to write big and loose.  A plain cheap thick spiral notepad is good.

After that comes the typing up on the computer and printing out a hard copy.  It’s a right and left brain thing.  You engage the right side of the brain, the creative side when you put pen to paper, then bring in the left side, the analytic side, when you edit the print out as you settle back comfortably with a drink (a cup of tea, even) and read what you’ve written.

Patrick White said that writing is really like shitting; and then, reading the letters of Pushkin a little later, he found Pushkin said exactly the same thing.  Writing is something you have to get out of you.

typing writing on a pink background

Whether writing a story or writing a blog, start writing, no matter what.

A Poem: That’s all you can do

fire in the bush

The news reports:

at watch and act today  total fire ban

smoke haze  poor air quality  asthma sufferers

and other respiratory problems stay indoors.

 

Hot north westerly winds

west and southwest of Sydney

properties cleared and prepared

an anxious night    distant sirens  confusion

to leave or to go?

Springwood, Yarramundi.

 

Residents report:

rescue our animals  and get out of here

a new fire break

it’s always your family  that’s more important

pack up your photos  that’s all you can do

temporary accommodation

photos are what you’ve seen and experienced.

 

On amber watch today

200 houses destroyed so far

hoping and praying for the best

containment lines  will they hold?

 

Exhausted fire fighters

people’s lives are the most important

fire crews keep back-burning

what else can you do?

 

Despite ember attacks on homes

Rural Fire Service to link up bushfires as winds drop.

 

Today has started off cool.

 

First published in First Refuge Poems on social justice

Ginninderra Press 2016

Copyright © Libby Sommer

Header Image:  Creative Commons

Update: The Crystal Ballroom

the legs of a man and a woman dancing tango

I’ve posted the corrected first proofs of ‘The Crystal Ballroom’ back to Adelaide publisher, Ginninderra Press. Final proofs next step in the publication process. In the meantime, we are putting together reviews for the back cover.

 

I love this one received recently from Jan Cornall, Writer’s Journey:

“Libby Sommer lays bare the foibles of human nature in her finely observed stories of love and loss in the singles dance scene. Brilliantly drawn with wit, compassion and poignancy, the characters you meet in the Crystal Ballroom are sure to remind you of someone -maybe even yourself.”

Jan’s quote gives a good description of the contents of the book. Such a hard thing to do in just a couple of sentences.

Would you, or someone you know, be interested in reading a book about this topic? 

p.s. this picture is not the book cover.

Header image: Creative Commons