Finish what you start



 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.


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!





  1. Peter Bishop
    December 21st

    Happy Christmas Jan,

    here’s a little thing I wrote last week.

    Fondest, Peter

    The Flag.
    It is a Union Jack, an old flag of coarse weave, about the size of a bed sheet. It has some brown spots on it, and the hemming on the free edge has split in places, and there are some small holes in its fabric.
    But I have touched it. I helped Angela take it out of the cardboard box where it was kept with another pennant, some blazer shields from an English swimming team, a couple of shoulder patches from a world war two Naval Uniform.
    I helped Angela unfold it, ran my hands over it, inhaled its memories, drank it in with all my senses, refolded it, put it back in the box. I looked at the photos of a tall good looking young man with the body of an athlete, dark haired, strong jawed, who once bore it with honour far beyond ordinary reckoning.
    Reginald James Cushing Sutton.
    Angela’s father.
    Reg Sutton was nineteen when he swam for England in the Amsterdam Olympics of 1928.
    He was twenty three when he swam for England in the Los Angeles Olympics of 1932.
    And he was twenty seven when he played water polo for England at the Berlin Olympics of 1936.
    Hitler’s Olympics. The Nazi Olympic Games.
    All the Jews Not Welcome signs had been removed from Berlin before the visiting athletes arrived.
    The Games were a huge victory for Germany and the Third Reich, the One Thousand Year Reich, with a medal total of 89, against the next closest 56 for the USA.. Hitler, Albert Speer, Goebbels and the entire Nazi Ministry of Propaganda exploited their Olympic triumph.
    But there was at least one fly in the ointment of Aryan Supremacy for Germany.
    Jesse Owens, a black American sprinter, won four gold medals, for the 100 metre sprint, the 200 metre sprint, the Long-jump and the four by 100 metre relay. More gold medals than any other competitor in the world, and he became the popular hero of the Berlin Olympics.
    Hitler neither publicly received Jesse Owens, nor publicly acknowledged either him or any of his stunning performances.
    This failure outraged the British and American Olympic teams, and in particular Reg Sutton, whose duty it was to carry the British Flag, the Union Jack, in the closing ceremony at the end of the Olympic Games.
    Protocol required the flag bearer of each nation to lower their flags as they drew level with the Fuherer. Reg Sutton was just twenty seven years old.
    Before Great Britain in the parade were Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bermuda, Bolivia—each one dipping their flags to Hitler and his cronies standing on the dais as the nations marched past.
    Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Columbia, Costa Rica, Czechoslovakia, Denmark—the flags of all these nations bowed to the Fuherer.
    Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France—each of them.
    And then came Reg Sutton bearing the Union Jack at the head of the team from Great Britain. Reg marched tall and maybe trembling, but resolute past Adolf Hitler and the hierarchy of the Third Reich who had come to bask in the reflected glory of the formal obeisance from so many countries.
    Reg Sutton did not dip the Union Jack to Hitler.
    When they realised what had happened the crowds in the stands erupted with boos and hissing and cat-calls, but Reg and the British team marched on, their flag held high.
    When they reached the area where the teams gathered after the march, Brownshirts surrounded Reg and escorted him from the Olympic Arena, took him straight to the boat-train for Ostend. He was not even allowed to collect his personal belongings.
    Twenty seven years old and he had defied Hitler in the most public possible way in the very heart of Nazi Germany.
    Perhaps Hitler didn’t know why the flag of Great Britain did not bow to him, although Angela thinks he did. But he knew he had been insulted.
    Hitler, at that time arguably the most powerful man in the world, was about to unleash a monumental tide of evil on Europe.
    Reg Sutton saw something in Hitler that the rest of the world willed itself not to see—saw that thing clearly and acted on it with the only weapons he had—his courage and his idealism.
    Reg launched his protest against Hitler from an arena where the only ticket of entry was an Olympic Athlete’s personal valour.
    His protest was all the more powerful for being made from such a place.
    ‘He was essentially a modest man’ said Angela. ‘ He never spoke of this adventure outside the family— and then in a joking way to us as children.’
    Reg married a year after the Berlin Olympic Games. He had another chance to challenge Hitler, serving in Great Britain’s Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve as a Surgeon Lieutenant Commander on North Atlantic Convoys, at Scapa Flow and in the Mediterranean in defence of Malta. Angela thinks at least one of his ships was sunk under him.
    In a newspaper interview Jesse Owens said he was treated better at the Olympic Games in Germany than he was at home, where he was not allowed to stay in the same hotels as whites. He said that maybe Hitler didn’t shake his hand, but neither did Franklin Delano Roosevelt, President of the USA.
    Later, at a reception in his honour at the Waldorf Astoria in New York, Jesse Owens had to use the service elevator because he was black.
    He had to wait nineteen years until President Dwight D. Eisenhower, himself an enthusiastic sportsman, made Jesse Owens International Ambassador for Sports for the United States of America.
    There were other heroes besides Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, but I doubt that any stood taller than Reginald James Cushing Sutton.
    Nowhere can I discover any record of public recognition for the courage of Reg Sutton.
    Instead, he was bundled onto the boat train to Ostend, an embarrassment to all concerned—still holding the flag.
    He kept that flag all his life.
    His family draped it over his coffin fifty eight years later.
    Angela has it now.

    • admin
      December 26th

      Thanks Peter, a wonderful piece!

  2. Heather Tod
    February 12th

    Uncle Reg was my godfather. My parents, Edith and George Tod, knew him in East Africa. I just found your wonderful piece when I Googled his name, remembering the stories my father would tell with admiration about Reg swimming in three different Olympics. I remember his daughter Angela (or maybe it was Rosemary?) in their English home, probably about 1960–1965, when I was at boarding school nearby in Sussex.
    I had never heard this story of Uncle Reg’s brave, defiant act before and I’m thrilled. So glad Angela could share the flag and her memories of her amazing Dad with you. No wonder my father was so proud of his friendship!

    Thank you for sharing this.
    Gratefully —

    • admin
      February 12th

      Thanks Heather, that’s so interesting. I have forwarded your comments on to the author Peter Bishop. He will be thrilled.
      best wishes Jan

  3. Heather Tod
    February 14th

    I’m so pleased you sent on my reply to Peter Bishop. His piece meant a lot to me. I’d be very happy to make contact with him and/or Angela.

    • admin
      February 25th

      He has your email Heather so hopefully he will get in touch..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

captcha_form *