Posted by: Diane Curran | April 19, 2009

Apparently it’s all about me…and a winner or 2

And the winners are:

Winner of Loathing Lola is Vanessa Barneveld

Winner of “It’s only a Blank Page” tile is Lesley.

Please email me your addresses to  chickollage @ gmail dot com.

This is the week that we tell you about ourselves as writers.

I’m not fabulous at blowing my own trumpet. Co-workers tell  me that because I’m a writer, I should be good at writing job applications, but I would much rather be making things up, then putting together an application addressing  selection criteria ie. blowing my own trumpet. Ugh! “Selection Criteria”  make me shudder. Enough about work. The day job can stay in the background.

I started writing stories in primary school – though I did have real friends, I always enjoyed the company of my own imagination, and loved to inhabit the worlds created by other writers. I read voraciously and I know the school librarians didn’t believe that I was actually getting through the very thick books I borrowed on a regular basis.

In high school, I joined a local theatre group and started acting. Suddenly, I had this double life. I was the quiet, studious fly-under-the-radar type at school, while at the theatre I was confident and outgoing.

Encouraged by my drama teachers, I started writing plays which were performed at the theatre group. And I loved it, being in the audience, hearing them laugh at lines I’d written. There was no better high. Then I thought I’d try my hand at a novel. Friends at school eagerly awaited each chapter (wow, I had beta readers then) and I finished the novel. It was trashy, a kind of mash-up of high school drama and Charlie’s Angels, but it proved that I could finish a project.

I attended the National Young Playwrights Weekend at Shopfront Theatre and a group of professional actors did a rehearsed reading of my play The Robots, and a few months later, Shopfront Theatre  put on a production of the same play. More excitement – more of that blissful high feeling. I was asked to write a play for Interplay (the International Festival of young playwrights) but after writing it, I was told that it wasn’t as good as The Robots.  Ouch! I had hit second play syndrome.

Next I went to University to study English and Theatre Studies, and everything came to a halt. My creativity was stifled by the course requirements: read a novel a week, write an essay every second week, and the long hours I spent commuting. Then I added a part time job to the mix. And instead of writing, I collected experiences to write about at a later time.

I didn’t return fully to writing until I was about 29, and I’d say it was part of my Saturn return (Between 28 and 30 Saturn returns to the same place in your astro chart as it was when you were born, and then you have to grow up!). Since leaving uni, I’d only read self-help books, and spent most of my spare time at the theatre (worked for theatre companies and loved those free tickets). Then I moved to Adelaide to do a Professional Writing Course. Adelaide didn’t work out, but the writing course set me on the path I’m on now. I discovered my writing voice when chick lit exploded on the scene. Suddenly there was a genre of fiction that I could relate to: real women handling real problems with guts and humour.

A while ago, I started writing a short story about a woman in her twenties who could create anything she wanted by writing it in her diary. I didn’t get very far with the story. It wasn’t working with that character as the protagonist. So I shelved the idea. Into a file on my computer.

Years later, I was about  to participate in Nanowrimo for the third time, and I needed a story idea. I found the beginnings of that story. I started writing the story again, but this time I made the protagonist a sixteen year old girl. Throwing in a much younger character who was less inclined to consider the consequences of her diary entries  made the story work.  I finished the first draft in a month. My first young adult manuscript. It was fun, fast and furious. And that year, Lulu.com offered a free copy of the novel  to Nanowrimo winners.

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So now I have the extremely limited edition Diary of the Future. This is taking creative visualisation another step. I don’t have to visualise it, because I hold ‘my book’ in my hand. And it’s funny how many people at work believe I’m a writer now because I have tangible evidence.

Next step is more editing and submitting. And then one day, you may also be able to hold a copy of Diary of the Future in your hand.

So if you had a diary that could create the future, what would you write?

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Responses

  1. How awesome for you. ^^ I remember that offer, and I wish I’d gotten my NaNo all the way to completion, but not this year. (For the first time ever, I might add >.<)

    Keep writing! And if I may, http://www.critiquecircle.com is a great place to get editing help.

  2. Oh a diary that writes the future, well first things first I’d write the cellulite on the thighs disappearing overnight, the invention of sleep in a can – you drink the can and feel like you’ve just woken up from an 8 hour nap, my books being published around the world (yeah had to sneak that one in), and the continuation of David Tennant as Doctor Who (not asking for much am I?).

  3. Hooray for theatre geeks!
    I’ve never heard of this Saturn return thing. Does that mean I will have to grow up eventually? I think I missed that boat…
    It’s so great that you got to hold your novel in your hands. Talk about motivation!
    And one day, that severely limited first edition will be worth a gajillion. You should sign it. Dedicate it to your future author self.

  4. Oh, wow, I won Loathing Lola?!!! Thanks so much, Diane and William!

    Diane, isn’t it fantastic when a story takes on a life of its own? Writing your YA in a month must’ve been exhilarating. Does the acting experience prove useful when it comes to writing books?

    So a diary that could create the future, hmm… I want a future where my house is finally finished (3 years of renovation and still counting) and a career as a multipubbed author with film options galore. I’m not asking too much of the universe, am I?

    Good luck with the editing and submitting!

  5. Uninvoked, thanks for dropping by and the critiquecircle tip, I will check it out.

    Nat, sleep in a can – I could really do with that one. Let me know when it’s out.
    And if I was creating actors I had a crush on fantasies, I think I’d be writing a bit more than keeping them in their TV show, but then I”m naughty that way.

    Kiki, the Saturn return thing might be about maturity rather than becoming a full grown up. Usually something major happens around that time forcing you to reassess your life direction. I met my partner during that period, and lost my mother. Pluto (which is no longer a planet apparently) was also conjuncting my sun at the time – another major period of change. So have a look at the changes you made around 28 – 29. And if you didn’t make the changes you were supposed to that time, you’ll get a double whammy at around 58.

    Vanessa, I often write talking head scenes. Lots of dialogue, with no ‘stage business’. And I guess that’s a hangover from the theatre. I was always bad at working out what to do on stage when I was in character. So now after I’ve written that scene, I have to close my eyes and visualise the action during the scene.

    And I don’t think you’re asking too much of the universe. I have what I would write in the diary on my cover letter! Hint, hint, publisher – now to edit the ms.

    And my theory is never throw away an idea – you never know how long it needs to percolate until it finds the right medium, situation or character.

  6. As a person born on a cusp I find the – saturn rising, mercury skimming, uranus blowing – thing all weird. I never could work out if I was a Capricorn or Aquarian, so I just didn’t take much note. I wonder though at certain times of the year I’m much more productive than others, but that could be due to school holidays and/or nothing good on tv.

  7. Oh cool! I won a motivational tile! Thank you ever so much Diane!

    It’s always interesting to hear an author’s story. And I’ve always admired people who can write a first draft in a busy month like November! Maybe I’ll get organized and try this year?

    Lesley


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