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.
Margaret talks about writing mentorship in The Good Mentor, the latest blog post on her website. “That person, who for one part of our journey at least, is right for us.”
It’s said that writing can’t be taught. But why not? Tobias Wolff taught George Saunders at Syracuse University, and look where that got George. All the way to the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2017.
Saunders speaks admiringly of Tobias, who once warned him not to lose “the magic.” Early in his career, George’s fiction did wander off track. But Wolff and other mentors brought him back.
People study law, accountancy or medicine. So why not writing? We all need at least one mentor in our lives. My friend Barry found his mentor as he sought to submit his manuscript for publication. It was just right for him.
In 201I, I applied for a memoir-writing workshop at the Norman Mailer Center, Provincetown, PA. It happened that my teacher was the daughter of an ex-serviceman, as was I. Unlike my father, hers was a well-known war novelist who tutored his…
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“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.
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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Here’s a short story from Barry that was originally published in Roomers magazine #62 earlier this year. It’s called “Tongue”.
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 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:
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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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.
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:
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:
We’d love to hear what you think of the program. Let us know in the comments section below. Happy listening!
Elwood Writers are going to be on the radio again! This time it’s for Fathers Day 2017: Jenny, Barry, Margaret, and Helen will be shining a light onto many facets of fatherhood through a selection of their literary work, including pieces of poetry, fiction and memoir. Their stories will be broadcast on the Cover To Cover program, Vision Australia Radio on Friday 1st September at 8:00 p.m., and repeated on Sunday 3rd September at 1:30 p.m.
There’s a handy frequency-finder here and the program can be live streamed around the world here. VAR broadcasts in Perth too. Details here. For Melbourne listeners, the Vision Australia digital radio service is on your radio under ‘VAR Digital’. Or if you’ve got an old school wireless you can listen in at 1179AM.
Margaret is pleased to be a contributor to the anthology ‘Jewels of San Fedele’, which comprises the work of 14 women who attended a writing retreat in Italy, 2016. The ‘experiential’ classes were designed to have students deepen their work. Margaret’s two stories are excerpts from a memoir in progress.
‘Jewels of San Fedele’ is edited by D Ferrara and Patricia Florio, and is available from Amazon at the following link:
A piece of microfiction from Barry’s site:
He stopped swimming, and floated in the middle of the pool. I watched him closely, the long thin line of body broken by the blue of his swimming trunks. Then I imagined the trunks gone. It was easy, really, but almost unbearable. He started to swim again, towards me, then tumbled over at the end, and started up the other way. And he kept on, lap after lap. It was good to watch. Mesmerising. But that’s all it was. Over and over. I became a little bored. Maybe not bored, but it wasn’t going anywhere, so I went inside to break it up, and I bought a coffee and a sandwich from the vending machines. I took them back out to the pool, to where I’d been sitting. But it had all changed. The water was flat and still. The pool, empty. He was gone, the swimmer. He would have…
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