‘What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.’
It was another lively session at Elwood Writers, especially with world events as they are. We discussed the group goals for 2017, including our planned soiree in August where we will read from our own work. As the group prepares to attend Adelaide Writers’ Week in March, we looked at the possibility of designing individual business cards that reflect our status as members of Elwood Writers.
In the past fortnight, Margaret attended Lee Kofman’s Introduction to Memoir: Telling the Emotional Truth. Lee reminded the class that memoir is always about memory, it is always told from your point of view, and is not so much about what happens to you as it is about ‘what you make of it’. She emphasized that the narrator must always be specific in their writing, that is give details. When asked about the importance of telling the emotional truth in memoir, she said, to paraphrase Samuel Johnson: ‘Books that don’t do any harm don’t give any pleasure.’
In the workshopping sessions, Margaret read a piece from her memoir that is currently ‘placeless’ (as Lee would say) in her narrative, but important to it. Jennifer is preparing her first contribution to a short-story writing online class that she has enrolled in. Her story is most topical and we await the class feedback. Barry read a piece of fiction he intends submitting to a literary journal. Helen presented a new poem written ‘off the cuff’ in a poetry class she attended. We look forward to hearing more about this at our next session.
Elwood Writers meets every fortnight. The week before a meeting we circulate any material we’d like to discuss. Meetings typically begin with general business, mostly discussions about writing issues or what we’ve been reading. We use this time to discuss activities and plans for the group in the year ahead. Margaret is our time-keeper. After the general discussion we divide up the remaining time equally between the four of us. This usually leaves about half an hour for each member to have the floor to discuss their circulated piece or anything else they nominate.
At the 17th January meeting, much of the general discussion focussed on the use of social media for writers. Jennifer had just been to Patrick Lenton’s Creating an Author Platform seminar at Writers Victoria. She came away from that with the view that if you don’t already use Twitter it’s not especially important for a writer to start doing so. She said that the seminar reinforced the importance of maintaining some kind of online presence, and highlighted the benefits of Facebook author/writer pages.
We agreed to have a fuller discussion of future online strategies for the group when we meet at the Adelaide Writers’ Festival in March. There was also mention of the next Cover to Cover radio program we’ve been commissioned to develop for Vision Australia Radio for Fathers Day later this year.
Helen read the latest draft of a new poem she has been working on. Jennifer read a re-working of the opening of her novel-length story. Barry read a new short story he’s developing from a piece written a few years ago. Margaret outlined a section from her work-in-progress that she will circulate for discussion at the next meeting.
Elwood Writers had its fortnightly meeting at a café on Carlisle St in Elwood last week. We’re a politically engaged group and so the early part of the session was inevitably spent talking about the then upcoming federal election. Decisions, decisions.
Before looking at the pieces of work we’d submitted for review, we talked shop. We discussed the literary industry, and visited the recurring issue of how to make ends meet as a writer, and how to balance financial pressures with the demands of a creative practice.
What happens to a piece of writing when it’s out of our hands, and to what extent should we be concerned with how our work is interpreted by an audience? It was interesting to consider the possibility of misinterpretation by readers and whether this matters. Maybe there is no such thing as misinterpretation. Once a piece of work is released and shared, it ceases to be controllable. Readers bring themselves and the sum of their experiences to the writing, and they place themselves inside or alongside the work, and so all interpretations and responses have a claim to be valid. There’s the reader and there’s the writer and there’s the work, and they all exist in a fluctuating relationship. An author’s biographical notes, a writer speaking at a festival, an artist’s stated political position: these are experiences which can affect the way we read and respond to a piece of writing.
After critiquing each other’s submitted pieces over a couple of coffees, we dispersed into the busy afternoon. And now the federal election has come and gone, and at the time of writing the outcome remains unknown. There’s a possibility that the outcome will still be unclear by the time of our next meeting.
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!
It’s all about mothers on Friday evening at 8:00 p.m. as Cover To Cover on Vision Australia Radio features writing from the Elwood Writers for a special Mother’s Day edition of the program. What better way is there to spend an autumn evening? So turn on and tune in, then settle back and lose yourself in an hour of storytelling. We’re especially thrilled that for this program some of us will be reading our own pieces on the air.
There’s a handy frequency-finder drop-down menu here, and the program can be live streamed here. Don’t forget that VAR now broadcasts in Perth too. Details here.
For Melbourne listeners, the Vision Australia digital radio service is on your digital radio under ‘VAR Digital’. Or you can listen in at 1179AM.
The program will be repeated on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. Or, you can listen to the podcast as soon as it’s available on the Vision Australia Radio home page, here. If you’re listening in Adelaide, Cover To Cover airs once-weekly at 7:30 p.m. on Sundays.
We hope you can join us.
Thank you for listening.
Very excited that the Elwood Writers have been invited to provide the material for this year’s Mother’s Day edition of Vision Australia Radio’s Cover To Cover literary program. Tune in on Friday 6 May at 8:00 p.m. or listen to the re-broadcast on Mother’s Day on Sunday 8 May at 1:30 p.m.
Cover To Cover is heard in Melbourne, Albury/Wodonga, Bendigo, Geelong, Mildura, Shepparton, Warragul, Warrnambool, Adelaide and Perth. Follow this link to find the frequency of Vision Australia Radio in your area:
In January 2015, the Elwood Writers provided the material for a Cover To Cover program themed around Starting Over; that program was featured in a Best Of series later the same year. We’re thrilled at this opportunity to continue our involvement with Vision Australia Radio and to support the important work it does in the community.
Podcasts of Vision Australia Radio programs are available to Vision Australia library members via the i-access online catalogue. Information about joining the library is available at:
We’ll be posting more information about the program in the next few weeks.