Category Archives: Uncategorized

Course dates for Term 3

There’s still time (just!) to book into one of my Term 3 courses …

MONDAYS
Established Writers Workshop — Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre
Times: Mondays 1.30 – 3.30pm
Term 3 dates: 15 July – 16 September

TUESDAYS
Fiction Writing — Span Community House
Times: Tuesday 9.30 – 11.30am
Term 3 dates: 16 July – 17 September

WEDNESDAYS
Thornbury Writers Workshop — Span Community House
Times: Wednesday 9.30 – 11.30am
Term 3 dates: 17 July – 18 September

Creative Writing — Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre
Times: Wednesday 5 – 7pm
Term 3 dates: 17 July – 18 September

Writing a novel is like rock climbing

“” by smile_kerry is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Writing a novel is like rock climbing (and not the indoor kind with those pretty-coloured bumps and grooves to hold onto). Everyday. For years. And years. At the start it’s a new and fun adventure. About halfway up the cliff you might realise that you’ve gone the wrong way or are climbing the wrong mountain altogether, but you’ve come too far to go back. There will be sacrifices, there will tears, there will be pain, there will be days when you can’t face the climb at all; you might even fall off the mountain a few times. You will feel jealous of climbers who are climbing faster, the ones who have the right equipment and seem to know what they’re doing, the ones who get all the help and support. Keep going. Don’t compare yourself to others — everybody’s climb is different.

When you’re just about to finally reach the top, you will be pushed back to the bottom — by self-doubt, early reader feedback, rejection, or some other obstacle. You’ll have to start the climb over again. And again. And again. You must want this so badly, more than anything. If you do, you’ll get there — in the end you’ll claw yourself, by your bleeding fingernails (and pig-headedness), over the precipice. And then you can start working on the second draft!

At night the headlights of the trucks out on the highway cast moving shadows on the wall

One of my favourite musicians, Melbourne Blues legend Chris Wilson, has lost his battle with cancer.

A handful of my memories of Chris:

‘Live at the Continental’ was one of the albums that changed my life — played to me for the first time in a grungy share house in Fitzroy by the man would become my partner, the father of my children.

We saw Chris perform at Apollo Bay Music Festival the night before rushing to hospital for the emergency caesarean birth of our first baby.

‘Spiderman’ was the soundtrack to my long lonely days at home caring for a sick, premature baby.

Some of the best afternoons/evenings of music I can recall were Fridays at Yah Yah’s in Smith Street Fitzroy, when Chris had a residency there. I remember the night he announced to the audience the upcoming publication of my first novel!

I think I kind of, maybe, stole a little bit of a line from ‘Money Go Round’ for my second novel — about the streets looking silver, but it was just the rain.

Thank you, Chris Wilson, for the music.

 
Yah Yah’s 2015

*The post title is a line from ‘Wolves’ by Chris Wilson

Ep: 97 Tania Chandler – Please Don’t Leave Me Here

The Book Podcast

Is Brigitte a loving wife and mother, or a cold-blooded killer?

Nobody knows why she was in the east of the city so early on the morning she was left for dead by a hit-and-run driver.  It was the Friday before Christmas 1994 – the same day police discovered the body of a man beaten to death in her apartment.

Fourteen years later, Brigitte is married to the detective who investigated the murder, which she claims to have lost her memory of in the car accident.  They have young twins, and seem to be a happy family.  Until the reopening of the cold case.

Please Don’t Leave Me Here is about loss, love, and lies.  It is about pain, fear and memory and above all it is about letting go.

Read more about Tania here

Six word synopsis:  Murder, memory loss, truth or lies

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Writers workshop

There are a couple of places available in my ESTABLISHED WRITERS WORKSHOP at Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre.

Explore creative writing through practice and discussion.

Suitable for writers confident in their genre but open to development. Your fiction or non-fiction welcome for discussion/feedback. Articles on writing skills, examples from some of the best poets and writers as well as writing prompts provided.

Times: Mondays 1.30pm – 3.30pm
Tutor: Tania Chandler

Further details: www.cnlc.org.au

Writing retreat

Because I am tortured by the compulsion to not only write stories, but also document every little thing I see and do, here is a blog post about my recent writing retreat experience (condensed version!).

DAY 1
So, I’m off now to my writing retreat (read: isolated cabin out in the bush with no wi-fi or washing machine, but affordable). I’m going to work on my manuscript that terrifies me. Don’t worry, I’ll be OK …

 

 

I picture part of my novel set in a place where I lived in my youth. I should have realised that coming back here — where I haven’t been for years, except for funerals — would be confronting. A strange, hopeful yet empty feeling gripped me as I drove the flat, dusty roads. Like returning ‘home’, but knowing that no family or friends are waiting anymore. Every road, every turn, holds a memory: there’s the parking bay where we had to stop when my daughter was little and she got car sick; there’s the spot where I blew up my Camira because I didn’t put water in the radiator; that’s the turn-off to the house where we used to live …

Enough nostalgia! Crying to Ed Sheeran’s ‘Castle on the Hill’ is ridiculous!

Writing retreat not so hellish after all.

Through the window of my little cottage:
6pm
Treated-wood porch — boards of clay-yellow and dust-grey. The screws in pairs look like eyes, the scratches below them like mouths. A fly is dying, kicking, spinning, spinning. A green-and-brown ceramic duck leans over the edge of the porch, into the dry air as if it were water. Above, from the awning, a gum leaf twists, dangling from a thread of spider’s web.
7pm
Long shadows are becoming one, covering the earth. Light filters through trees; breeze ruffles leaves gently. The landscape is almost colourless — Tom Roberts faded greens and yellows. Clumps of dry grass grow out of clay. Cracks in the earth. A stony, bitumen driveway leads to the road. The fences are in need of repair. The white letterbox leans sideways towards the give-way sign. Trucks gear down and rumble past on the main road. Sunlight glints off chrome.

Across the road, the cow-milking shed is more rust than tin. The tank behind the shed resembles a space-ship or a giant silver breast with a nipple on top. Cattle graze in the long grass of the paddock. They look like brown rocks in a sea of wheat-coloured foam.

The light takes on a golden hue. The distant sky is white. At the horizon, dark trees stand still, cow-coloured, tinged with blue.

Birds call.

7.30
Hints of pink. The cows are coming home. Headlights are flicking on. A kookaburra laughs.
8pm
The solar lights rimming the porch of my little cottage are lighting up. The trees are dark silhouettes against the sky. The clock on the wall ticks. Trucks zoom along the main road, lit up like Christmas trees — white, orange and red.

DAY 2
I am sharing my writing retreat with mice. In the dead of the night, in a cabin out in the bush, it’s hard to tell the difference between the sound of mice and that guy from Wolf Creek.

Luckily I bought some cheery reading for when I can’t sleep.

Routine:
5–6 Get up (no alarm set)
Write
9 Walk around property ½ hour
9.30 Breakfast
10–2 Write
2 Lunch
2.30–5.30 Write
5.30 Walk around property ½ hour
6 Wine and music time
? Write
? Dinner
? Write
10–11 Bed, reading

Wine and potato chips for dinner?
Why not?
No shower since Monday morning?
Oh well, maybe tomoz.

 
 
Cottage, olive groves, weird wool-less sheep

DAY 3
Mice were quieter last night, but I woke with a sore, throbbing right arm and pins and needles in my hand.

Me: I can’t feel my fingers!
Brain: I’m not surprised — after sitting and writing for so long at a very un-ergonomic table and chair. You need to adjust your posture, take regular breaks and do some stretches.
Me: I think it’s a stroke!
Brain: Can you poke out your tongue straight? Somebody told me that’s how to tell if it’s a stroke.
Me: [Rushing to bathroom, poking out tongue in mirror] Heart attack?
Brain: It’s not a heart attack.
Me: Some other illness …
Brain: Stop being silly.
Me: I think I can drive to the town, make it to a doctor in time.
Brain: No. We’re not leaving until we have a first draft.
Me: Maybe just to a chemist. Get some aspirin to thin the blood. And some bandages, just in case.
Brain: Sit down and get back to work.
Me: I can’t. I can’t breathe.
Brain: Breathe. If you’re good, we might go for a drive to the river later.
Me: You mean leave the cabin? [deep breathing into hands]

One of the weird wool-less ewes had a lamb this morning.

DAY 4
It wasn’t mice, but flies that kept me away last night. I’m not one to take fly-spray lightly, but the buzzing bastards annoyed me so much that I got up and sprayed them. And then stressed about the dangers of inhaling the chemicals from the spray in the air.

Hand is better, but now shoulders are aching and throat is sore (what could they be symptoms of?).

Through the window of my little cottage:
7am.
The warm night has melted into a cooler morning. The light, of indistinguishable colour — white / blue / grey — brushes over the darkness. The gum trees are silhouettes. A rooster crows. Birds chirp, warble and twitter. The constant traffic hum from the main road becomes heavier.

Oh, wow, look! A rubbish truck! It’s emptying the bin on the roadside. So interesting.

Time to leave the cabin for a bit?

I am leaving the cabin today. Didn’t yesterday. But, yes, today I am leaving the cabin! Going for a drive to the river. Although I’m worried that I won’t be able to find my way back here (maybe take my laptop with me, just in case).

Leaving cabin.

Here I go …

(Later) Left the cabin. Tried to find my childhood home, but couldn’t. Found the river.

The river
Dead leaves, dry grass and strips of bark crackle-crunch under foot. At the edge of the embankment, willows hang next to dying gum trees, half-uprooted, leaning, reaching towards the brown water. An almost vertical drop of pale-yellow clay leads the way down to the river. It meanders around slimy rocks, and fallen trees, bark-shed, grey, their snarly roots exposed. Blue sky and woolly grey clouds shimmer on the surface. Birds call, insects flitter and the breeze annoys the long wheat-coloured grass. It feels like somebody is watching. Just the trees — watching and whispering to each other. I don’t like it down here.
 

DAY 5
It wasn’t mice or flies or dead hands or trees that kept me awake last night. It was a prick of a mosquito — buzz, buzz, buzz in my ear all night long.

I hear it’s raining in Melbourne. Don’t think it ever rains here. Looks like another warm one today.
 

Spoke too soon — it’s raining here now. The drought has broken; the dust is being stirred up anyway.

Ten minutes later … Rain’s stopped now. Back to work.

Later (night, dark) … OMFG — a storm. A big storm! Lightning, thunder, wind, rain. I’m in a Stephen King novel. Help! Mummy!!!
 

DAY 6
Despite mice, flies, hypochondria, mosquitos and wild storms, I finished my first draft.

My little cottage in the wilderness was the perfect place to work on this stage of my novel. I think Sidney (my protagonist) would be pleased with how I have used the surroundings to build her world.

Time to go back to the real world now. It might take me a while to adjust, having not spoken to anybody, aside from my sheep friends, in six days.