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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Thank you Samuel Clemens

Over the past two years I have been beavering away at a creative writing thesis. It will be handed in next week and I will be free at last! One of the benefits of doing the course, with ECU Mount Lawley, has been to focus on different areas that can help develop my understanding and utilisation of devices within the craft of writing. Deadlines are both a curse and a blessing. The curse part is obvious, but the advantage has been to push me along and make me take serious note of some other writers in the field. Also, I have managed to make time to do regular writing, without which, my second book would never see the light of day. Right now I have completed 10,000 words towards book two, and I've seen how a number of writers I admire have used different techniques that may help my work as well. The best part of the entire course, however, has been that I have been introduced to the wit, talent and eviscerating tongue of one Samuel Clemens (AKA Mark Twain). Not only does he approach revered European sights with irreverence (such as becoming bored with yet another Michelangelo work proclaimed by his guide), his humour has a wonderful way of masking the fact that he manages to include a great deal of detailed description. Everyone should go out and get a copy of The Innocents Abroad and start reading it immediately! Another aspect I enjoyed was the introduction, when his big break is described. Sweating away on a typewriter to write a commissioned book about his European cruise, juggling potential litigation from the paper he originally wrote articles for (and which had paid for his berth), a visitor to his apartment described it as the depths of disorder and disarray. As I've been working on an essay that doesn't want to quit, I can relate to the household disorder that joins an intensive writing period. Somehow knowing that was how he operated has helped me get to the final stages of my own assignments. Next week it will be handed in, my house will no longer resemble an episode of Hoarders, but I will still have my memories of 'meeting' Mark Twain. Thank you Samuel Clemens, thank you.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Beaufort Street Books - Talk by Jon Doust

I really love the boutique bookstores that have sprung up in Perth over the last few years, defying the worldwide trend. Similarly to our emerging classy small bar scene, Perth is doing well in this regard. Beaufort Street Books has kept its clientele happy with monthly talks by authors, married with a talk on wine to get the evening started. There is wine to taste too, an essential ingredient, and then the guest author is interviewed. The crowd is intimate and the bookstore is exclusively open for the event and confirmed attendees. Contact Beaufort Street Books to get on their mailing list so you don't miss out. One of the best parts of being in a small group is that when the author is interviewed it feels like it is a conversation with each of us. Sometimes attendees forget that this is not the case, and unwittingly hijack the interviewer's role with questions of their own, before the main talk is done. Everyone gets a turn to ask a question at the end if they wish, and last night Jon Doust proved to be a consistently amenable and interesting storyteller. I was interested in his approach to the writing process. He recommended fresh fruit, exercise, goal setting (such as 30,000 words in 3 weeks), and intensity. For his recent book he worked in three sets of two hour blocks a day, interspersed with physical activity. For his first book, Boy on a Wire, he wrote sitting on a fitball. It was also good to see other local authors in the room, supporting a fellow WA author. I asked Amanda Curtin for hints about her process, and she referred me to Woolf's book about the psychology of writing. I think there's something in it - I never seem to have as clean a house as I do when I have an impending deadline! However the time spent procrastinating (and dusting) can be well spent if it allows your conscious mind to catch up with what has been permeating underneath. And now, having said that, I have an end of August deadline to work towards.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Festival of Perth

I've been looking forward to the Writers' Festival part of the Festival of Perth for ages and this weekend it's all happening. From workshops on developing character, how to translate memoirs, travel writing and linking up with readers online, it's jam packed. It's so much fun talking about writing, Jerome K Jerome would approve, I'm sure. Now I just have to remember not to sleep in...

Shannon Meadows

PS Details of the program are available at:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Quote of the week

At last, an inspiring quote from a writer whose attitude is one I admire:

“I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.”
― Jerome K. Jerome (Author of "Three Men in a Boat").

His most famous book "Three Men in a Boat" (about a fictional trip up the Thames) was released in the late nineteenth century yet is accessible and readable today - the language is fresh (though it was slated by the establishment at the time for being lowbrow), the humour is biting and the observations about the human nature show that some things don't change. Highly recommended!

More information is at - worth a visit.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Special offer for NZ readers

I'm in New Zealand for a couple of days and while I'm here you can order a copy of Road Wench and get free postage (within NZ). Go to to order or email me on roadwench (at) hotmail (dot) com. Limited number of books available. Kia ora!