Writing Lessons

Last week I learnt a few things about writing. 


I’m probably tired of talking about the novel.

It’s set in the present but with a backstory from the past.

My major problem is that the backstory is quite intrusive, so intrusive in fact that it cannot be told in flashbacks without spoiling the present day story.

Which left me stuck.

Then I bought a copy of Natasha Lester’s The Paris Seamstress : a novel with a dual narrative : set both in World War 2 and the present day.

I’ve read her previous novels and thought perhaps…

It did. All I needed to see was the table of contents.

Ironically, I already have an outline of the present story and another for the past one. Saturday’s task was focussed on the past narrative which solved some (not all) of my throny priblems in the present day narrative.

Now I have to write it. .


But this wasn’t a week for the aspiring novelist. There was nectar for the striving poet too.

On Thursday 1st November I attended A touch of Poetry with Michelle Cahill.

It was her, an audience and an hour and nothing else. In truth, I could not think of anything more fearful. And I’m a trainer. But it was spell-binding.

Michelle Cahill is an Indian Australian poet, blogger and author who has published several books of poetry.

She talked about her background, her poetry and her struggles.

She briefly dwelt on the difficulties of publishing poetry. I haven’t encountered her struggles (yet?).

More telling for me, Michelle Cahill spoke about not being understood as an author by those closed to you although she didn’t go into details. But that was something I’ve encountered, the reactions ranging from indifference to outright opposition.

She also read her poetry. Lots. Now when a poet reads another poet it’s easier.

When you read your own, it’s nerve wracking. The difficulty occurs when one reads poems that are precious to you and you alone. The ones that touch you deeply. Now that’s difficult as Michelle Cahill gracefully showed.

But what really landed for me was her words on the sheer imperfection that is writing poetry. Michelle Cahill said she took up to six months to write a single poem. That was some comfort to me :a poet with so many scraps scattered all over the place. Maybe they’re all works in progress. Maybe things aren’t so bad after all!

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