“Sylvia’s rival had been misrepresented. She was a touch too elegant for her own well-being, fundamentally very vulnerable, needed a lot of affection, and could remembe SS boots outside the railway carriage compartment as her family, half Jewish, approached the Swiss border.” – Lucas Myers, ‘Ah, Youth … Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath at Cambridge and After’ (from ‘Bitter Fame’ […]
Our Randwick Writers’ Group has the following simple guidelines: Numbers are limited to five, so that critiqueing is detailed and resiprocal. Most of us are working on a novel or memoir, rather than short stories or poems. We hold fortnightly meetings of two and a half hours, allowing each writer time to give and receive feedbback. One of us is timekeeper, dividing time equally according to how many are present. We rotate venues from house to house as convenient – giving us a private and friendly environment. Word limits of excerpts max 3000 are submitted by the Monday before the meeting, which is held every second Wednesday morning. Submissions can be online, or on hard copy. if desired (and if time) we read aloud one or two pages. We keep feedback constructive, starting with a global review, then a more detailed look atwhat works and what doesn’t, finishing with positive suggestions on how to improve our writing. (See Post on Randwick Writers’ Feedback Guidelines)
Tomorrow our Randwick Writers Group meets for the first time in 2015. This group, which I first convened in 2013, has achieved great results. We have one member accepted for publication, another who completed a YA novel in only 6 months. All of us have seen huge improvements in our writing. The trick is to meet fortnightly, with the regular deadlines keeping us on our toes – or rather, fingertips. We rotate meetings in each others’ homes, and submit up to 3000 words for feedback a few days ahead of each meeting. Of course we allow time for delicious snacks and the latest literary gossip! Currently the group is full with five active members. For updates on RWG watch this space 📚
Au Revoir Darwin 2013 Three more days. I want to embrace this place, to squeeze the last moments of joy from this my second home. Today we’ll visit the markets, for the jostle of colours, the smells of sizzling spicy food and the taste of my favourite mango lime juice, its stringent iciness going straight to my brain. Then to an Open Garden, once again to witness the wonders worked in an oasis of tropical plants and swaying palms. Later we will go to hear the Gyoto Monks from Tibet perform their amazing chants, deep guttural sounds that vibrate in the soul. Tomorrow at 4 o’clock, come and witness the ritual of the mandala, an intricate sand sculpture which has taken the monks ten days to create, being swept away into the sea. Darwin, my Lotus land, has been my second home for close to fifteen years. I will take back the deep warmth that soothes my body, the memory of the clear bright light, and the startling brightness of the stars at night. I leave it this time only on the assurance that I will be back, perhaps sooner than anyone thinks. I leave behind my children and grandchildren to continue their full lives, knowing we are closer after each visit. As well, I leave behind some dear friends, both new and old, not least of who are the members of our Writing Life group. Yesterday four of us met […]
Thoughts on Helen Garner’s latest book I’ve just finished reading ‘This House of Grief’, Garner’s latest non-fiction work. It was almost too painful to read at times, not only because of its ghastly subject matter, but also due to Helen’s signature style: holding nothing back, inviting the reader to share with her the horror of seeing a man accused, wrongly […]
Note: this is part of a chapter from my completed manuscript, ‘Capriccio’, a fictional biography of Assia Gutmann Wevill, the woman who came between the poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath Smell of Burning Tel Aviv 1935 – 1946 You wore the sign of lightning to ward off lightning – Ted Hughes, Smell of Burning Assia’s memories refuse to leave her in peace that night. In her mind, she is a child again, back in Berlin, re-living the time when all her safeties had been stripped away. She remembers how, late one cold night, she and her parents and little sister board a train out of Berlin. Vati is carrying two huge suitcases with their most precious possessions. Assia and Celia each clutch their one permitted plaything: Assia a book of Grimm’s fairy tales, Celia a white fluffy rabbit. There’d been a tantrum when Celia’s first choice, an almost life-size teddy bear, was decreed too large to take with her. Assia feels the fear in the air, and hides under the carriage seat […]
A Link to Ein Gedi Was Hughes personifying his lover, Assia Wevill, as the mythical Leopard? In many of the poems in his sequence, ‘Capriccio’, from which I’ve taken the title of my novel-in-progress, he describes Assia as a predatory animal, yet sometimes he’s tender too.