Through last Friday, Saturday and Sunday I participated in workshops and attended discussion sessions presented by individual and groups of local, national and international writers. Three wonderful days. The venue was perfect, the scheduling of sessions was well timed, the selection of guest speakers provided a rich cross-section of approaches and ideas, and the administration each day by the staff and volunteers associated with the Tasmanian Writers Centre was seamless and seemingly trouble-free.
In particular, I was alert for approaches by which I might turn my walk from the mouth to the source of the Derwent River into a fictional account once the walk is over. Throughout the weekend, I was reminded that the clichés of real life have no place on the page of a novel, that I must stop emphasizing the factual and place emphasis on the underlying emotional and troubling aspects of the story, and that links between the events of the walks could be made on the basis of association rather than chronology. Overall, it seems I should write to bind a reader to the experience not the facts, and that it is best to do so by following a chain of emotional connections. Easier said than done, however these ideas give me a basis on which to start thinking about how the story might unfold.
Memorable sentences from the Festival include:
- Stand back from your real/true story and view it as a reproduction; as a photo or video made by someone else.
- What is in memory is not necessarily real.
- By assigning characters to aspects of the bush / the landscape we shape our own characters and beliefs.
- Where you stand influences what you see.
- Real experience is not necessarily a personal experience.
- The unexpected makes the invisible visible.
- Use secondary characters to make main character more plausible.
- If you have a lot of backstory then you have started too late in the story.
- It is better to write about something you are apprehensive about.
In one session, internationally renowned author Robert Dessaix remarked that he ‘liked himself in India’ and Paris but not in Rome. I liked myself at the Festival venue Hadleys Orient Hotel Hobart for the duration of the Festival. I believe I will like myself even more in the vicinity of the Derwent River when I walk the edge during the coming days, on the first stage since April. Spring has arrived!