Chaos and Catharsis – My Writing Process

My writing process has always been pretty chaotic and unruly. Ideas for stories have been written on tram tickets, serviettes and gas bills. Ideas can come to me at the most inconvenient times, usually when I walk away from the page! They sometimes come through dreams – which I write down every morning. They’ve come from snatches of conversation – ‘Did ya hear about the bloke who shot his missus on the train,’ was all I heard one day running towards Flinders St station. I had a story deadline pressing, so that became the title of my story, as well as the opening line.

A lot of my stories are been based on my own experiences, sometimes challenging ones. I’ve found humour to be a great tool to help me write about certain things. I grew up watching the great female comics – Joan Rivers, Phyllis Diller, Carol Burnett. They were strong women who seemed to be able to broach any topic, even taboo subjects and make it all funny. I like the quote ‘if they’re laughing, they’re listening.’ There’s power in that idea for me. I’ve found it a very cathartic and validating experience writing about things from the past and having people laugh and clap. It didn’t matter in the end that it began as a sad story, what mattered was that I found a way to tell it.

One of the hardest struggles I’ve experienced as a writer is sitting down to the page. Suddenly there’ll be a sponge in my hand or a load of washing that must be put on. I had a writer’s studio for a while at Linden Gallery and spent most of my hours there decorating it then filling it with writer’s meetings! But luckily, I’m a sucker for a deadline.  As such, I set aside whole weekends to work on specific writing projects – story competitions, magazine submissions etc. I wake up, grab the laptop and work through the hours from my bed. If you knocked on my door at midnight, that’s where you’d find me – unshowered, still in my dressing gown asking you in for breakfast…and I’ll be smiling.

 

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