FINDING THE HEART OF YOUR STORY – GO DEEPER

What is your story about?

What is it really about?

These are the important questions, writer and teacher of writing, Robin Hemley  gets writers of memoir and non-fiction to ask themselves. Seven times. Each.

So, what is your story about? What is it really about? Write your way down to find the hidden depths and themes of your work. It’s not just for non-fiction writers either, fiction writers benefit from exactly the same process. If you ever get the editorial comment, “Go deeper”, you need to ask yourself these questions and delve into the emotional and spiritual heart of your story.

Dig deep!

You can try doing this before you’ve written a first draft but for me it always works best once that crappy first draft is on the page. 

Amanda Lohrey, esteemed Australian author, who I was lucky enough to have as an advisor for my Masters Degree in Creative Writing at the University of Queensland, calls this initial stage of writing, that shitty but all important first draft, EXCAVATING. And that’s just what we’re doing, digging around, digging deeper and wider, throwing everything in until somewhere along the line, maybe two or three drafts later, we strike gold. But we can’t find that gold until we do the messy work of delving deep.

It’s messy work!

For me this process works best if I sit and focus first, clear my mind and send that troublesome inner-critic from the room. See my guided meditation on how to do this.

Once you’re centred and settled, tune into your body and the emotions that are stirring and wanting to be expressed in your story. Sit with that story or scene or section, FEEL it, then plunge into a big free write around it. Throw in everything that floats to the top of your consciousness. Anything. Everything. Write fast and furiously until you have exhausted the topic.

Keep digging!

Usually I’m a big believer in less is more, but in this case more and more and more is better. Sometimes there’s a whole mountain of scrap metal, rocks and dirt that has to be cleared away before you strike that shining vein of gold. 

Find your vein of gold

Write your way deeper and deeper, right around it and through it and you’ll eventually find your gems. Then you extract your precious jewels from all the detritus and insert only the very best, polished stones into your story. 

Don’t worry about all those wasted words. I keep files of offcuts, just to soothe my anxious self, and though most of the time all that trash stays in the trash, sometimes I fossick out another hidden gem to use in a different story.

Are you shying away from the emotional heart of your story? Don’t. Dig deep. Mine your body and life for feelings and meaning and allow them space in your writing. 

Find your gold and jewels then go and celebrate with your writing buddies 🙂

After all, what are we writing for? I don’t know about you, but I write to move people. To make them feel something. To give them a chance to walk in someone else’s shoes. As writers we have the greatest tool for spreading compassion at our fingertips. Through story we get as close as is possible to the world experience, life, and heart of another human.

That is a great gift.

Don’t be afraid to write your heart onto the page. It is what creates connection. And in these challenging times, we need connection more than ever.

So, what is your story about? What is it really about?

Have a go and let me know what you come up with!

Our Inside Voices launches this weekend!

In other news, we’re launching Our Inside Voices, this Sunday 23 August 2020 10:30 – 12 at Orleigh Park West End, opposite the entrance to Montague Rd. Come along and say hi. I’ll be doing a reading along with a few of my fellow contributors.

Take care and keep smiling through all this madness. The world is still a beautiful place full of joy and wonder.

Nasturtiums and Hibiscus

Lots of love

Edwina xxx

OUR INSIDE VOICES!

I’m thrilled to announce the recent release of Our Inside Voices – Reflections on COVID-19 – a rapid creative response to the strange and scary times we now find ourselves in.

Earlier this year Matthew Wengert – publisher at AndAlso Books who published Bjelke Blues last year – approached me about co-editing a collection of stories about the COVID crisis. So, along with Caroline Gardam, Louise Martin-Chew and Nathan Shepherdson, I put up my hand to help out. This collection of over 50 short stories, essays, poems and memoir pieces reflecting Australia’s early experiences with the pandemic, is the result.

It’s a wonderful collection featuring great Queensland writers like Nick Earls, Jess White, Samuel Wagan-Watson, Angelina Hurley, Amanda Niehaus, Warren Ward, Andrea Baldwin plus artists, Patt Hoffie, Michael Cook and Stephen Hart who bring a really interesting perspective. My favourites are Sam and Angelina’s pieces reflecting the Indigenous experience, Sarah Klenbort‘s beautiful memoir piece on how children have been impacted, and Karenlee Thompson‘s short fiction “Meg and the Margarets” which brings some much-needed quirky humour to the book. Proud to have had my own story “The Gentleman Caller” about a lonely woman’s misadventures with a nuisance caller also included.

You can get a copy now at all good Brisbane independent bookstores or buy online direct from the publisher at AndAlso Books.

Michael Cook – Living the Dream

This fabulous image by Michael Cook was a hot contender for the cover. You can check out Michael’s latest exhibition here.

Great to have this book out in the world! My only hope is that we don’t need a sequel!

Stay safe everyone and keep smiling.

Lots of love

Edwina xx