It took me a while, as a total amateur, to realise that I too could enrol for a course in writing without everyone rolling their eyes behind my back in that derisive ‘Oh dream on! You? A writer?’ kind of way. I dipped toes in water with a few one-off sessions at Writers Victoria and a whole new world opened up to me. I couldn’t wait to do more.
My first major commitment was to an 8 month course entitled The Year of the Novel – Extensive with P.D. Martin, back in 2012.
Phillipa was and is a very successful crime writer and I was writing wistful, vaguely melancholy literary fiction featuring, I now realise, way too much description and dreamy introspection. So I wondered at first if I was in the right course. Then we got started and I soon realised I couldn’t have been in a better place. There were 13 of us who met with Phillipa for one whole Sunday each month, for 8 months. It was my first experience with workshopping wherein each of us offered a piece of our own writing for the others to read and comment on, both verbally and in writing. It was a credit to Phillipa that we all felt totally safe and open to give and to receive constructive criticism. And how much we learnt!
I still credit one Steve Vincent with pointing out to me how often I repeated favoured words.
“Look here,’ he might say, ‘silver moon’, ‘silver hair’, silver ripples on water...!”
I’m still ever alert to this and to many other bad habits revealed to me that year and meanwhile Steve has gone on to have his first manuscript published – zap! just like that, and more on the way!!
And P.D. Martin stayed in touch and supportive of us all long after the course had finished. If I hadn’t enrolled at RMIT I’d be snapping up one of the courses she’s offering privately this year. She’s a great professional – successful enough to be totally generous with her knowledge of the industry and what it takes to find your way in. And heaps of fun into the bargain!
Any other folk from that course doing good things, let me know!
Meanwhile I look forward to more workshopping opportunities this year, knowing how effectively my own blunders can hide so well from my own eyes while standing up and shimmying for someone else's.
PS: in a later short course with Andrea Goldsmith I was told not to use so many exclamation marks....