Thursday, 18 December 2014

Sisters Head East | a journey in objects

When I travel I like to collect something to remind me of the place. I like to collect something to wear + a bookmark + a postcard.

Since we were travelling to a number of different locations, I didn’t want to go overboard, so I decided to get at least one thing from the four major locations and not worry about the three different types of things.

I noticed a had a nice little collection from each place and thought it would be fun to photograph them grouped by location, as a kind of journey in objects.

Mount Gambier // Great Ocean Road // Apollo Bay // Melbourne

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Sisters Head East | Melbourne

While driving into Melbourne was a bit of a nightmare, our time there was awesome.

We were all tired by this point in the trip but we still managed fill our days and make the most of the shopping and eating on offer in the city. Melbourne was our stop to splurge, so we had a couple of fancier meals and stopped for tea & cake more often.

It was Amy’s first trip to Melbourne, but Vickie & I had been before. It was so weird to go to places I’d been to two years ago; they were so familiar, like nothing had changed.

It was a super fun way to end the road trip {well, kind of end it; we had two days driving afterwards!}

// Royal Exhibition Building gardens // picnic at Como // Stables of Como // the city // Fitzroy Gardens Conservatory // Royal Arcade //

4 by Vickie

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Sisters Head East | Apollo Bay/Otway National Park

We stayed in Apollo Bay for a couple of days as a short stop over before Melbourne, but spent most of our time in the Otway National Park.

It was a lot of fun walking around and seeing some stunning waterfalls. But it was also hard work; we were tired everyday and the walks went downhill first and then back up when you’re tired.

Hopetoun Falls was the most picture-esque, Cora Lynn with its slippery mud was the hardest and Triplet Falls was the nicest walk, being a loop walk and eliminating the ‘oh no, we’re going to have to go up this later’ thoughts, it was also just a really lovely walk with a beautiful waterfall at the end.

The walking might have been hard going, but the waterfalls were well worth it.

// Beauchamp Falls walk // Otway Fly // Hopetoun Falls // Phantom Falls // Otway Fly // Apollo Bay beach //

///1&3 by Amy, 5&6 by Vickie ///

Friday, 12 December 2014

SWF | the first page

The First Page // with Jacinta di Mase, Dyan Blacklock, Rose Michael & Eva Mills

When I was at the Salisbury Writers’ Festival way back in August, I attended their famous First Page session. The concept is, basically, a whole bunch of aspiring writers send in their first pages and, depending on time, the panel of publishers and agents review them.

I found it immensely reassuring to hear all four panellists say they always read passed the first page and that cover letters aren’t as important as the actual writing.
In fact, Eva Mills mentioned often one of the first things she did was start the book later than the original manuscript.

The first page does need to make a good first impression, though, by presenting your setting, characters and a good hook. All four panellists agreed they had to personally love a book if they were to represent it. But they also have to think commercially, hence why the hook and having an original twist {which doesn’t have to be big!} is so important.

So, your novel doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to show promise and good practical skills {lazy grammar won’t do you any favours...something I need to work on...}. Above all it needs to be a good book {easier said than done...} and you need the perseverance to find that publisher who love your book.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Sisters Head East | The Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road was, as I’m sure every person who’s ever written about it has said, spectacular. There’s really no other word for it. The ocean was wilder and bluer than I’d ever seen before. Some of the sights, like the 12 Apostles, were a bit surreal to actual see and everything was beautiful.

We saw a number of its attractions on the way to Apollo Bay {as many as we could!} and we drove along what I think of when anyone mentions the Great Ocean Road -the winding, thin, cliff edge road- on the way to Melbourne. Both were awesome.

My favourite spot was probably Gibson Steps, it felt like stepping into a movie and I’d love to revisit it someday.

// 1. The Crags {by Vickie} // 2. The deep blue {by Amy} // 3. The Grotto // 4. Loch Ard Gorge // 5. 12 Apostles {By Vickie} // 6. Gibson Steps //

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Short Stories | Simplify, a lesson under pressure

I was recently editing a Miss Mow story, it was meant to be ready for a competition but I was loving it so much I didn’t want to send it before I’d had a chance to make it all it could be.

But pressure can so wonderful things, after all it makes diamonds. While I was still trying to push hard to get the story ready in time, I came across a big problem: I didn’t think my story was full enough.

Not that I thought it should be longer or more detailed, it just felt thin. The fault behind the problem, I realised, was that my story was too big and complicated for the amount of words I had. Therefore I was skimming way too much, making it feel completely & utterly unexciting.
I cut a character’s role so they were only there when they really needed to be and changed a relationship so it was old not new –therefore requiring less time & words. These changes made me so excited, suddenly it made sense, the story was fuller and more interesting.

I love those moments when things fall into place and your story can be made into something special. This time I also learnt a valuable lesson I’ll take onto my future stories.
A good question to ask is “What do you really need in order to tell this story probably?”
Sometimes you don’t need that frivolous scene or that extra character and, even though you love them, getting rid of them can make your story so much better.

And that is how I learnt simplify {or a simplified version, this was really the realisation of something I’d learnt to do during my Extended Project}.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Extended Project | lessons from MP

Tomorrow marks a year to the day I completed my extended project and, with it, my advanced diploma.
Looking back, my extended project was an incredibly valuable experience and I think I have it to thank for a lot of the exciting realisations and ideas that are now coming together in my mind.

Other than a lovely email I can turn to for encouragement, I came away with a lot of great writing lessons. Michael Pryor, my mentor {who is awesome and was known throughout the project in my house as MP or Pryor Tuck}, was brilliant at telling me what wasn’t working and giving me ideas without ever giving me solutions or telling me what to do.

I still can’t believe my luck that my request came at a time he was able to fit my project in. Working with one of my favourite writers was a dream come true and it was good motivation (and pressure!) to do my very best.
I wanted to share some of the things I consider more “major” learnings than I shared in my previous post, things that have really affected the way I write and consider my stories.

1. Don’t rely on “movie stuff”. During the editing of my novella, MP would always be pointing out things that were too cliché. Now I see this was probably a case of I was writing the draft quickly so I reached for the first things that came to mind, the most obvious things. He pushed me to think passed that and to create something more unique and authentic to my story.

2. Do you really need that? In my original draft there were at least half a dozen more characters and a lot more scenes by the fire and other unnecessary things that cluttered my plot. MP challenged me to really think about whether certain characters actually added to the plot or whether there was a point to some scenes. I ended up cutting a fairly major character because she didn’t actually make sense or aid the plot. He pushed me to simplify and strengthen everything, so there was purpose behind even seemingly purposeless things.

3. Start strong. Beginning are so important, I know as a reader I don’t give books long to entice me. I ended up cutting a good 30 pages to find a good beginning to my novella per MP’s suggestion. I tend to want to show the reader everything, but to start in a moment of action is a much better way to go. It doesn’t mean you have to start during a moment of physical action, just something to pull the reader into the story. You can, as I discovered, always get back story in later.

4. Finding your story. I’ve finally accepted that its true what authors say about finding something original and how your first effort is unlikely to be that something original. My novella was a tribute to my favourite fantasies, unintentionally. MP told me this is often the way for beginning writers’ first efforts. But realising this has given me a sense of freedom, now I can move on from what I’ve loved in others’ work and find my own voice and my own story.

If you ever have the opportunity to work with a mentor, I’d say go for it! I learnt and grew so much from the experience. Doing a big project like this with someone there to point out where I could make my plot stronger and push me to think pass the obvious was such a major thing.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a year, but I’m glad I haven’t til now because when I finished I really didn’t know what I’d learnt. I knew I’d learnt something, I just wasn’t quite sure.
Now, I remember my extended project fondly and reminiscing about it has made me even more eager to get going with a larger project.

I’m so grateful and I can’t thank Michael Pryor and the Adelaide Collage of the Arts (esp. Sue Fleming!) enough.

It was brilliant.