I’m back! And what a wonderful retreat it was. Above is a photo of the beautiful beach where I wandered and thought about my characters, and other things, every morning and evening. Ah, it was heavenly!
So – here’s a rundown:
1 cabin in the woods by the sea
2 tubs of zinc cream
40 000 new freckles
I special kangaroo friend
I Wanda the Wonga pigeon
100s of other beautiful birds
5 new human friends
1 fully completed screenplay manuscript!!!
Yes, I worked hard and got it done. 125 pages – hopefully not all crap!
It’s now being read by my fabulous mentor Stephen Lance.
Thank you Screen QLD!!
It all equals one very happy writer 🙂
Wishing you all 2 weeks retreat of your own.
Lots of love, Ed xx
Happy New Year!
And so we start all over again , a new year, new plans, new dreams.
I’m filled with enthusiasm for the year ahead as I move into doing the full rewrite of my screenplay – Dear Madman. It has changed so dramatically working with my mentor, Stephen Lance, that it bears little resemblance to the novel manuscript I wrote based on the true story of a tragedy in my family history. So much so, even saying the screenplay is “inspired by true events” is a bit of a stretch.
Yet, it’s something I’m wildly excited and inspired by. Suddenly writing has become a whole lot of fun again. YAY! Thank you Screen Queensland! Thank you Stephen!
And thank you to all of you who’ve been here with me through this whole long lonely writer’s journey. Your support has been invaluable.
Wishing you all a wonderful year where your writing dreams – and other dreams too – all come to fruition. Most of all I wish you the joy of creation without fear or pressure – just because it’s fun to do 🙂
There’s magic in the air. Anything can happen!
The horse that threw me
I’ve been writing a long time now. In 2002 when my children were small, I first dedicated time each day to a creative writing practice and used to spend naptime typing in a fury to complete a novel.
Since then my beautiful babies have grown into young adults and I’ve written another five full length manuscripts, one of which has been published.
Not for want of trying.
Much as I try to convince myself that rejections hurt less over time, it’s a lie and I know it.
The elephant hide I’ve tried so hard to develop has worn as thin as an old cotton sheet in places, tearing at the slightest tug. I’ve tried to chuck it all in, get a normal job like other people. But that hasn’t exactly gone to plan either.
I want to write. I still want to write. It’s how I make sense of the world. How my brain works best, what I enjoy most, get most satisfaction from, what I’m best at.
And so today, I’m dragging out the last half-baked rewrite of “Dear Madman” and seeing what I can salvage. If I can figure out how to give it the voice and form it longs for.
I’m scared of that horse, it’s big and fiery-eyed and stomping its hoofs. But I’m getting back on, goddamn it! I’m going to cling to its mane as it bucks and twists; it won’t throw me again. I’m going to ride it, as fast as I can, as far as I can, wind in my hair
Here’s a great blog post on Jane Friedman’s site by US writer, Benjamin Vogt about digging deep to find the richness of your family stories.
In it he talks about how recent research is discovering how the emotional lives of our ancestors, the life events that shaped them and their psychological traits, can be passed on from generation to generation.
This is exactly the reason I am writing “Dear Madman”, a story that springs from the tragic murder of my grandmother’s sister as a child in rural South East Queensland. I researched not only my own family history, but also that of the man who killed her, discovering that there are indeed many sides to every story and most importantly – that if we wish to protect our children from the imprint of such trauma we need to understand and forgive the perpetrators of crimes, not for their sake but for ours.
Laidley Corn Day
I learned that, more than the horrific crime itself, it was my family’s inability to forgive the madman and God for allowing such a thing to happen, that had the most impact on future generations. On me. When I learned that my Great Aunt had never again entered a church after the death of her sister, I understood that feeling deep in my being. However, I’ve learned enough now to know that distrust and anger at Life only hurts ourselves. The madman found his own way to forgiveness and a kind of peace, my ancestors unforgiveness imprisoned them forever.
And so, back to work on it!
Warwick early days
When my Madman was fifteen he came to work for a farmer called Armstrong in Warwick when homesteads looked much like this. It was workers like my Madman who did all the hard work of clearing and fencing, earning only enough to keep them in food, tobacco and booze to ease their aching muscles.
Young boys of nine were put to work alongside the grown men, sleeping in the barns beside the animals.
When I was doing the research for this book I was astounded by how many men were in prison for sexual offenses against animals. It was easy to imagine the fate that befell the boys who fell in their paths. Boys that kept their secrets and took them to the grave.
A few months ago I sold the film rights to Thrill Seekers. I was thrilled, as I’ve always envisioned my stories one day being made into films. Once I was sent the screenplay and read it over, I realised that writing the scripts was probably something I could learn to do myself. It didn’t look so scary after all. Then I went to see Gone Girl at the movies and learned that Gillian Flynn had written the screenplay herself based on her novel of the same name. Not only that, she’d made it onto Forbes list of top-earning authors. That’s one list I’d like to be on, one day.
So, after searching the internet for information and scouring the books on script writing I’ve collected over the years, I sat down to make a start on my own screenplay for Dear Madman. Hmm, it wasn’t quite as simple as I first thought.
Much trickier in fact – a whole new art form for me to explore and play with!
Fortuitously, the QLD Writers Centre was offering a Feature Film Writing Clinic with Duncan Thompson, one of Australia’s foremost screenplay editors and teachers of the craft, and I didn’t even need to be an experienced screen writer to join. I did, however, have to submit the first five pages of my screenplay! With a lot of help from my friends I got that together and I’m in! The course starts in ten days and I’m super excited.
I’m fascinated by this new way of looking at story and enjoying every minute I’m working on my screenplay in progress. I’m back at that absolute beginner stage I remember from when I first started writing fiction over 12 years ago. It feels like PLAY and I’m having a ball. Maybe that’s why they call them screenPLAYS?
It’s also keeping me busy, so I’m not compulsively checking emails to see if the publisher has read Dear Madman yet!
South Brisbane Cemetery
I have spent many hours walking through this cemetery by the river near my home. It is filled with beautiful old fig, fir and gum trees, and birds. But mostly it is filled with stories. Every gravestone tells a tale, not only of woe, but of the life that was led. Little Tommy who was killed on his way home from school. Poor Jane who died giving birth to her thirteenth baby. The family who lost child after child before they reached their first birthdays. Men lost at sea. Grandmothers remembered for their love.
And then there is the grave of alleged bush ranger, Patrick Kenniff, whose execution invigorated the movement to abolish the death penalty.
This movement grew in strength, and in 1922 Queensland became the first state in the British Empire to abolish the death penalty. A few years ago, a plaque commemorating the men and one woman who lost their lives to the gallows in nearby Boggo Rd. Gaol was erected.
Grave of Executed Prisoners
Recently, as I wrote Dear Madman, this plaque began to bother me. I have always been fiercely against the death penalty, but writing this book lead me to question that belief. The issue is not as simple as I once thought. Perhaps sometimes the death penalty is a relief, not only for the family of the victims, but for the perpetrators themselves. In Belgium this year, a convicted serial rapist successfully fought to have the right to end his life through euthanasia.
What bothers me most though, is that the executed have a plaque commemorating them, often with flowers placed upon it, while the graves of their victims are gone. They are not remembered with a shiny new plaque, but have disappeared into history, forgotten.