Limericking around

October is turning out to be a hectic month, with our writers club involved in the CRUSH Arts and Cultural Festival. Check out if you want to find out more about the festival. Our little group gathered in the Central Business District pavillion and offered ourselves to the whims and fancies of the passing public. Well, we actually offered our creative talents, but as writing is hardly a spectator event, we had to at least appear interesting enough to catch the attention of passersby so we could offer them a limerick, a poem, or a short prose piece to suit a special occasion.

To our surprise, we were approached by several people who were “writers in secret” and pleased to see that more like them existed.

It’s a funny game, this writing. Unlike an artist or sculptor or photographer who can display their work for dozens if not hundreds of people to see (and critique) at one time, a writer needs to get his or her work published in order to get feedback on it from “the public”. And unlike a painting, a statue or a photograph, a manuscript can’t be wrapped in colourful paper as a present for granny at Christmas. Well, it could, but it might not be greeted with much enthusiasm. You can always donate an unwanted painting to the Sallies, but only the recycle bin will welcome a rejected manuscript.

Writers write for many reasons, but I know why I do it. Because I HAVE to. The characters won’t leave me alone. The story keeps tumbling around in my head, demanding to be written. The thrill when a story flows from my mind, through my fingers, to the computer screen is unparalleled. I feel more alive, and I enter my created world as though I’m part of it. But when the writing doesn’t flow, when each word feels like it’s been pulled from my brain with pliers, I wonder why I give in to this attraction writing has for me. But deep down I know – it is the urge to create … and I can’t deny it because it is a part of me. Such a big part.

Murder has a pebble-in-the-pond effect

When writing about murder, I always consider who it affects. Not just the family, friends and associates of the victim, but those people who find the victim, their families, the police who have to try to catch the killer – all those touched by the ripples created by that terrible act.

So in Murder, Mayhem & Menopause (MM&M), the women’s fiction I am currently writing, it’s interesting to see how Ellie, Cass and Kandy react when they are drawn into the aftermath of a murder. They don’t know the victim, but her death brings changes to their lives in a way they would never have imagined.

Everything from murder, romance and sex to cooking, politics and the environment was covered at the recent Brisbane Writers Festival. I drove there with some writer friends, met more writer friends, caught up with my agent, talked WriteFest with Kate Eltham, CEO of the Queensland Writers Centre, and attended some fantastic sessions with Australian and overseas authors. If you’re a reader or a writer and live within travelling distance to Brisbane, mark September on your calendar and go every year for four fantastic days of literary feasting.

The coral has spawned! I can’t see it from my office window because the ocean is just a blue strip at the end of the paddock, but when I walked down to the beach there it was – metres-wide ribbons of brown cutting lazy curves into the deep blue water for many kilometres. It’s amazing to see, but the smell is putrid, and it leaves a soft, murky sludge on the sand. Stops a lot of swimmers from going in the water, but I think that’s a minor inconvenience when you consider that the fabulous coral of the Great Barrier Reef is regenerating. I’m very lucky – I can walk down to the rock pools not far from here and see some beautiful corals, and I don’t even have to get wet!

Summer is calling, enticing me with its siren song of sea and sand, but I’m resisting, keeping my fingers on the keyboard and gluing my rear to the office chair. Ah, the sacrifices one makes to get a story written …