A question of websites: Barry answers

Thanks for inviting me to answer your website questions, Elwood Writers. Here are my responses.


What was your original intention when setting up your website?

It was a while ago, but if I cast my mind back, one of the main things was having some kind of online presence, in line with advice I was hearing at literary events. I spent ages debating the pros and cons, on paper and with Elwood Writers. The details are swirling in the mists of time, but I concluded that it’d be a good idea to start a blog. I began with wild and ambitious ideas for its direction. It would be different to anything that had ever gone before (!), an experimental fictional adventure. I would write a brand new post every day. Or more! These were early ramblings, and useful to have had because now I needn’t wander there ever again. It’s been invaluable throughout to discuss aspects of building an online presence with the group. In a sense, we all came to the brave new online literary world together, so it’s been very much a shared experience.

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About ‘Just Martin’, by Barry Lee Thompson

The woman brought him a bar of chocolate. He didn’t usually eat chocolate, but she’d loosened the wrapper for him and he didn’t want to hurt her feelings. He placed an oblong in his mouth and allowed it to melt into claggy sweetness upon his tongue. He ate the entire bar, piece by piece, and when he’d finished he folded the wrapper carefully and put it in his anorak pocket and fastened the flap.

From ‘Just Martin’

I wrote the short story ‘Just Martin’ some years ago, and have tried to place it in a variety of journals and competitions. I’m thrilled that it has found a home in the pages of Every Second Tuesday. I was discussing the story’s journey with another member of Elwood Writers recently. They suggested, and I’m paraphrasing, that perhaps for some readers a difficult aspect might be that they are not sure by the end if Martin is or will be okay. The story represents only a couple of hours at most in the young boy’s life; even if he is okay for now, there might be many such episodes ahead. Perhaps to some extent we are left troubled, wondering whether he has the resources to survive well in a difficult world. I feel that the moment where he places the folded chocolate-bar wrapper into his anorak pocket is important; that it tells us something significant about him and about the way he is in the world. I’d like to think he’s going to be just fine.

And the 2020 Booker winner is….

Another ‘good on you’ to Jennifer: her favourite from this year’s Booker shortlist, Douglas Stuart’s debut novel Shuggie Bain, has been announced as the winner.

littlesmackerel

Back in September I said of Douglas Stuart’s Shuggie Bain: ‘This is a debut novel and it’s made it onto the Booker long list — and of the three books from that list that I’ve read so far, it is by far the best.’ Well — last night, London time, Douglas Stuart was announced as the winner of the prestigious Booker Prize. https://thebookerprizes.com/fiction/2020

Congratulations — what an achievement!

Maybe Douglas Stuart will now give up his work as a fashion designer? I am pleased to hear that he is working on a second novel, set in Glasgow in the 1990s.. I look forward to reading it. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/nov/19/douglas-stuart-wins-booker-prize-for-debut-shuggie-bain

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EW Meetings

It’s hard to believe that only a few weeks ago we were among throngs of people at Adelaide Writers’ Week, attending sessions in the gardens, meeting in cafes, having dinner in bustling eateries – activities that would be unthinkable now. As the world adjusts to its new realities, so too does Elwood Writers. We’re continuing to meet as we have for over ten years, every second Tuesday, but for the foreseeable future our workshops will take place not in the seaside suburb from which we take our name, but via telecon. Audio only, so we don’t have to worry about coordinating our outfits or fixing our hair. We had our first run at this last Tuesday and it went really well. I’m sure we’ll thrive under the new conditions. But I’m already missing the biscuits and cake.

The Writing Group

“Before each meeting my body tightens in anticipation of the group’s critical response to my work. But the result is always worth the self-inflicted pain. Knowing an audience awaits, makes me sharpen my work.”
On some of the benefits of membership of a writing group, from Margaret’s blog.
margaretmccaffrey.net

WRITINGS AND MUSINGS OF MARGARET MCCAFFREY

It is said that you can’t teach writing. Maybe not. But writers, I believe, can sure help themselves.

Since 2008 I’ve been lucky enough to be a member of Elwood Writers (EW), a group that meets fortnightly in Melbourne’s inner city. I read on one member’s blog that our group is one of the most important assets to her writing.

This goes for me too.

Each EW member is allocated a 30-minute time slot to do with as he/she chooses. There’s an extra half hour for general discussion and rants. We circulate our work – a maximum of 1500 words – by email prior to the meeting. Mostly we devote our segment to the piece we have pre-sent.

Before each meeting my body tightens in anticipation of the groups’ critical response to my work. But the result is always worth the self-inflicted pain. Knowing an audience awaits, makes me sharpen…

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TONGUE | from Roomers #62

Here’s a short story from Barry that was originally published in Roomers magazine #62 earlier this year. It’s called “Tongue”.

Barry Lee Thompson

1978, a birthday party. One of those once in a blue moon family dos where a local hall gets hired, there’s catering, a DJ. The adults end up drunk and misty. Someone overdoes it, creates a spectacle. There’s a fight. No blood’s spilled, but there’s harsh words, someone gets upset, there’s tears and the gin gets blamed. And so on. That kind of a night.

I spent most of it watching Tommy and trying to pretend otherwise. I’d always thought of me and him as the same age, nearly, but since the last time he’d become old enough to drink and smoke and that was ages away for me. He danced a lot towards the end. Swaying, tie loose, long legs. The combination was unbearable.

Then the goodbyes. My eyes stinging from the late hour and the cigarette smoke. Nancy came over for a hug. Dad’s sister, so Aunty I…

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The Power of the Mic

“The idea of reading in rowdy bars in small-town America was nerve-wracking to me as a student there. But once on stage I adopted a persona, and one that I quite liked.”
On the transformative powers of the microphone, from Elwood Writer Margaret McCaffrey’s blog:

WRITINGS AND MUSINGS OF MARGARET MCCAFFREY

In September Elwood Writers recorded our Fathers’ Day stories for Vision Radio Australia (VAR).

I accompanied Barry to the studio for his reading of ‘Phase’, a story about a young man whose relationship with his father deepens and evolves as he explores his sexuality.

While Barry read, presenter, Tim McQueen, edited on the other side of the soundproof glass panel. Barry has a mellifluous voice and it was thrilling to hear his coming of age tale lift of the page and take on a new life. (‘Phase’ is humorous in parts and I had to keep from laughing.)

Singers– whether on stage or in the studio – know the power of the microphone. The amplification of voice carries their music to a wider audience – freeing them to become the song.

The same goes for the spoken word.  The Open Mic forum lets you focus on the true…

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Fathers Day Broadcast

On Friday 1st and Sunday 3rd September, Vision Australia Radio presented a special Fathers Day edition of its Cover To Cover literary program, featuring the work of Elwood Writers. If you missed the program, there’s now an opportunity to hear the podcast at your leisure here.

We hope you enjoy the stories. We welcome feedback, so if you have any thoughts you’d like to share, please voice them in the comments field below.

Happy listening! from Elwood  Writers.

In case you missed it …

Next Friday, the work of Elwood Writers will feature on a special Fathers Day edition of Cover To Cover on Vision Australia Radio. In the meantime, here’s another opportunity to listen to last year’s Mothers Day edition of the program, also featuring the work of Elwood Writers:

Elwood Writers

We’re thrilled to share the podcast of the special Mother’s Day edition of Cover To Cover from Vision Australia Radio. The entire program featured work from the Elwood Writers. And thanks to Tim McQueen and Vision Australia Radio, we were given the exciting opportunity to read our own work on the air.

Here’s the podcast link:

https://www.podbean.com/media/player/zc2fq-5f2e5d

We’d love to hear what you think of the program. Let us know in the comments section below. Happy listening!

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