Rather than concentrate too much on the technical side of writing, I spend as much time as I can in feeding my imagination. I look at things, I listen to conversations, I read books, I cook, I find out how to build things, I talk to people, I learn things that I will never use.
There comes a point when I can learn no more about how to write, and that being well versed in the skills of writing doesn't mean anything when I sit at my desk with nothing to say. With no story to tell.
Writing is sometimes quite a thankless business, without the added blow of having nothing to write. It makes it harder to justify the time that I need to take to do it.
That is why I cover my desk in things that are inspiring; things that lead my thoughts somewhere.
More often than not it is those things that lead me to fill up a page; not creative writing lessons.
I know that the mind is such a good tool to work with and that imagination can take over with only the slightest prodding.
I don't need to eavesdrop on the whole conversation; the first line will do. The imagination can make up the rest. And like anything, it gets better at doing something, the more often it does it.
And it doesn’t matter if it is no good. I'm going to go back and read it a hundred times and so eventually the bad bits will get edited out.
Initially, it is not my job to edit what I write, I can do that after lunch. The priority is to get something down to edit.
And in that editing, I more than likely find the next piece of the story.
Something that will inspire me to come back tomorrow and do it again.
On Currawalli Street
This was the second novel I had written so I was able to tell the story better than I had told the first. I went past streets like this on the train as I grew up. I observed the tiny changes that the residents probably didn't notice. I know these types of people; they are all familiar to me.
I like the poetry in the way ordinary people use words and I like the beauty in the way that those ordinary people live.
I was pulling off the palings of a side fence at my home which was built in 1910. I exposed the neighbour's house wall and was surprised to see a man wearing clothes suitable to the early 20th century, standing there, just as surprised to see me. Without a word, he pulled his cigarette from his lips and disappeared around the corner of the house. Shaken, I replaced the palings and then walked inside to tell my partner that I may have just seen a ghost. From the past.
It occurred to me then, that he may have done the same thing; gone around the corner to his partner and told her that he had just seen a ghost. Wearing strange clothes. Maybe from the future.
That's one way the story started.
But most importantly there is a deep story behind every name that we read on those World War One remembrance plinths and those tiny names carved into the stone don't even begin to tell those stories.
Ordinary people who did something extraordinary. Without paying it too much attention.