Writers Journey Blog – A Story from Kabul


Indochine Journey, Vietnam.
  Aug 16-30, 2014. Following the footsteps of Marguerite Duras.

Moroccan Caravan, Nov 6 – 19. Ride a desert caravan into the heart of your writin

Birth Your Book in 9 months! an intensive one-on-one mentoring program.

First Page to First Draft Semester Two begins May 29

Draft Swap, April 27, 10am-4pm – annual swap meet in Petersham, Sydney with fellow writers. Bring a finished draft to swap.

Memory Into Memoir, June, NSW Writers Centre. Turning your life stories into powerful writing.

 

When I take groups of writers travelling, where possible I always like to invite local writers to join us. You could say my motivation is purely selfish for I prefer to get to know a country through the stories of its countrymen and women rather than its overcrowded tourist sites. In fact I would say for all the brochures, ads, travel documentaries, to which we are exposed, you cannot possibly say you know a country, until you meet its people. When I met Afghan student, Mujib Abid in Newtown in Feb, after one conversation I had gained more insight and understanding into life in Afghanistan than all the books, articles and docos could ever give. Sensing he had a story to tell I invited him to join our First Page To First Draft Course. The stories he told and read there, are of course powerful and moving. Mujib has a way with words and imagery and can weave historical detail into the simple description of the road a young girl and her grandfather must travel to meet their fate. From the first workshop his novel began to take shape and each week as we we listened to him read we learned from the inside out so much about this country we really know so little about. When you have the opportunity to meet one to one across cultures like this, you realise how small the world is. I hope to be telling you more about Mujib’s book as it progresses.

 

Feedback from our First Page to First Draft writers. Semester 2 begins May 29.

Jan invited me to join the writer’s workshop without any cost, right after I told her about an idea I had for a novel.  Ever since she has been a mentor, a teacher, a friend and an inspiration to try harder and aim bigger. I came to the first session with a vague idea about my story, but now I have a complete image of the structure, narrative style and design of my book All thanks to Jan. I’ll always appreciate her support. Mujib Abid, Afghanistan,Masters student and novelist.

 

When I began writing this book it was a gift for my mother, to fill her in on the details of her family history.I imagined it as a picture book or a family scrap book. Since doing the exercises Jan has set for the course, I realise there are many oter options in the spinning of a yarn. From feeling intimidated by my admiration of great historical novelists, I now feel inspired to emulate them and draw from them.D. Kennedy, novelist.

 

The workshops brought scenes to life through the use of meditation, accessing images I had forgotten in my memoir. The opportunity to read my work with other writers provied feedback to structure tyhe shaping of individual scenes, characters , voice, and identifying when I tended to stray from the narrative plot line. Jan’s workshops also provide sustenance for the times when writing can be an isolated process. Knowing I had the workshop each week kept me focused.Elizabeth Bowden, memoirist.

 

 Photo credit Montecristo Magazine – great articel on Kabul.

Timetabling your time to write

UPCOMING TRIPS

Indochine Journey, Vietnam.  Aug 16-31, 2014. Following the footsteps of Marguerite Duras.

Backstage Bali, Sept 25 – Oct 6. Join a writing retreat on the edge of a volcano before attending the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival.

Moroccan Caravan, Nov 6 – 19. Ride a desert caravan into the heart of your writing.

WORKSHOPS & COURSES CLOSER TO HOME

Birth Your Book in 9 months! an intensive one-on-one mentoring program.

First Page to First Draft Semester One now in session, join you can join anytime online!

Draft Busters - monthly meetings supporting your writing in Petersham, Sydney.

Draft Swap, April 27, 10am-4pm – annual swap meet in Petersham, Sydney with fellow writers. Bring a finished draft to swap.

Memory Into Memoir, June, NSW Writers Centre. Turning your life stories into powerful writing.

 

 

Writers Journey Blog

Those of us who love to write know that having the aspiration is simply not enough.If we are to succeed in writing the book of our dreams, we must get practical; we must make sure we have time to write. This may seem obvious but if you have a day job (that’s most of us) you know that prioritising writing time is not so easy. Writing is an inward looking activity. It requires dreaming and ruminating periods, like time to stand staring out the kitchen window for ten minutes without someone asking you if you are ok. And it’s quite difficult to switch from the hat we need to wear in the big world (that entrepreneurial, go-getter energy) to the hat we need to wear to write.

This is where your skill in timetabling is needed. At the beginning of each month, take out your appointment diary or planner and block in some appointments with yourself to write. A morning, three times a week,  a sunday afternoon, early am sessions before work, one whole day every three days, or a weekend retreat. Try to plan it so that whatever your writing activity on the day, you can really give your full attention to it. Block it all in, in a bright colour that is not easy to erase. Of course if you have to reschedule you must, but never cancel, always find another time in your diary to replace it with.

Not every writing date will make you feel good, sometimes it will be plain hard slog, but you will progress and if you stick to your timetable you might just have a book to show, like Jennifer Smart who launches her first novel Wardrobe Girl this month with Random House. Huge congrats Jennifer, not just on your book, but for sticking to your writing timetable!

Each writing moment

BALI     FIJI    BURMA   MOROCCO   LAOS   VIETNAM

Breakthrough Writing in Fiji. March 8-15, 2014. Eat, Snorkle, Write, in Fiji’s hidden paradise.

 Indochine Journey, Vietnam.  Aug 15-31, 2014. Following the footsteps of Marguerite Duras.

Backstage Bali, Sept 25 – Oct 6. Join a writing retreat on the edge of a volcano before attending the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival.

Moroccan Caravan, Nov 6 – 19. Ride a desert caravan into the heart of your writing.

CLOSER TO HOME

Birth Your Book in 9 months! an intensive one-on-one mentoring program.

First Page to First Draft – Semester 1 -  6 weeks in Newtown, begins Thurs Feb 20.

Draft Busters - monthly meetings in Petersham, Sydney.

Draft Swap, April 27, 10am-4pm – annual swap meet in Petersham, Sydney with fellow writers. Bring a finished draft to swap.

Memory Into Memoir, June, NSW Writers Centre.

 

Writers Journey Blog

At the beginning of another year we have the chance to remember what Zen buddhists call “beginners mind”.  Natalie Goldberg in her classic,  Writing Down The Bones, says  “Beginner’s mind is what we must come back to every time we sit down and write. There is no security, no assurance that because we wrote something good two months ago, we will do it again. Actually, every time we begin, we wonder how we ever did it before. Each time is a new journey with no maps.”

The wisdom of remembering this approach means we can bring a freshness to each writing session; a way of seeing things as if for the first time. For me this sense is encapsulated in the haiku form, which is why I always like to have a haiku anthology nearby when I sit down to write. While we may never master the haiku form in this lifetime, we can use the haiku sensibility to bring ourselves into the present moment before we start to write,  remembering all we have to do to make our writing sing is to capture the simplicity of each breathing moment.

We will be doing this in Fiji in March in our Breakthrough Writing Retreat, always a great way to kickstart your writing year!

 

Writing in the New Year

BALI     FIJI    BURMA   MOROCCO   LAOS   VIETNAM

 Breakthrough Writing in Fiji. March 8-15, 2014. Eat, Snorkle, Write, in Fiji’s hidden paradise.

 Indochine Journey, Vietnam.  Aug 15-31, 2014. Following the footsteps of Marguerite Duras.

Backstage Bali,Oct 3-13. Join a writing retreat on the edge of a volcano before attending the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival.

Moroccan Caravan, Nov 6 – 19. Ride a desert caravan into the heart of your writing.

 

CLOSER TO HOME

The Real Deal - in depth feedback session on your MS.

Three Session Committment - work on your MS with Jan over 3-4 months with clear goals and in depth feedback. Skype or in person.

Memory Into Memoir, June, NSW Writers Centre.

Draft Busters - monthly meetings in Petersham, Sydney.

 

Writer’s Journey Blog

In the New Year we have an opportunity to look back on our past writing year and make a balanced assessment. Did I achieve what I set out to do? Could I have done better? What were the major obstacles in my path and how can I deal with them in the year to come? Deal is the operative word here, for if we can make a deal with the part of us that is against us acheiving our writing goals, then we are well on the way to  success. Success doesn’t have to mean fame and fortune, it can simply be satisfaction with yourself for doing what you said you would.

For the holiday period I made a deal with myself that I would write 500 words a day on my memoir, My Mother, Duras. So far so good. I love the 500-a-day goal for invariably you will always write more and even the busiest person can manage 500 words (ten mins) a day. I’m writing the pieces as blog posts so I have the satisfaction of seeing them in a published form which also gives me a sense of completion. I know they are just drafts and that I will come back to expand, edit, polish, rearrange, and I have the blog on a semi private setting (search engines disabled) so it’s not really out there.

These are some of the tricks I have to use. If you are a big avoidance addict sign up for our free Avoidance Buster Manual on the right of this page. I know it will help.  And as the clock ticks over into 2014 and beyond, try thinking of your writing as a gift you bring into the new year; firstly, as a gift to yourself and then to the world. I guarantee you will be surprised by the response.

Give yourself the best New Year’s gift and make your plans now to join us this August for Indochine Journey in Vietnam as we follow the footsteps of the renowned French writer Marguerite Duras (The Lover), who spent the first years of her life there.  All info here. Read more re Duras and Jan’s involvement with her work here.

Finish what you start

 

BALI     FIJI    BURMA   MOROCCO   LAOS   VIETNAM

 Moroccan Caravan. Jan 9-22, 2014 – Fez, Tissardmine, Erg Chebbi, Marrakech – a 12 day desert journey.

Temple Writing In Burma Feb 11-23 – 2014  inc. Irrawaddy Literary Festival.

 Breakthrough Writing in Fiji March 8-15, 2014 – Eat, Snorkle, Write, in Fiji’s hidden paradise.

 Indochine Journey, Vietnam  Aug 15-31, 2014– following the footsteps of Marguerite Duras.

IN SYDNEY

Summer Writers Lab, Nov 24 – Jan 27, Petersham, Sydney or Online.

Mapping The Memoir, Dec 7 -8, NSW Writers Centre.

Talking About WritingMeet Ups in Newtown. Next – Dec 5, 6.30-8.30 pm.

 

Writers Journey Blog

The Silly Season is upon us and summer is a comin’ in, and it seems more than ever there is just no time to write. The holiday period (especially here in the southern hemisphere) can be the best time of year to finish what you started earlier in the year.

You may be thinking you just want a break from everything, to lie on a beach and read for a week or two, but while you are reading, spare a thought for the writer who spent at least part of every day, putting those words on the page.

For that’s what it takes – no holidays for writers I’m afraid – however you don’t have to get yourself in a tiz , you don’t have to deny yourself a holiday, just use some of your holiday for your own writing.

Set yourself an exercise each day based on your holiday reading. Write down three things you notice about your holiday author’s voice, three paragraphs you love, three types of descriptive detail, three things about the structure, characters, plot points, underlying themes. Apply the same tasks to your own work. Each day in your hour or more of holiday writing time bring one of those things into your writing. More importantly set some goals for the end of summer. Make a pact to finish something – a story, a chapter, a clutch of poems or songs, halfa  a script, a draft.

We will be doing the same at Summer Writers Lab, just so you know you won’t be alone. Or get in touch with me to set up your Summer Mentoring Program right now!