on the writing & reading trail

Posts tagged ‘Médecins Sans Frontières’

Editing, critiquing and research

Days 79-87 (Jul 3-August 8)  

Edit diary: Editing time has been patchy and feels unsatisfactory.Recent days have been full of distractions; catching up with friends, cooking to stock up the freezer, hobbling round with painful muscles after overdoing some exercise, overdue housework to make our home presentable for visitors.

Critiquing:  Our Writers Group meeting last Friday (see photos of wonderful colleagues) was excellent with welcome feedback for all who submitted material even though it left some of us with puzzles about conflicting views and suggestions about tackling some plot or character issues. Whilst the perennial suggestions for how to ‘show’ instead of ‘tell’ are a constant at our meetings, there were some stunning examples of ‘showing’ in some passages. And we learn from each other.

Treasured colleagues

More of us

Short story:  In a separate entry, I have great pleasure in introducing a short story Miss Understood  by Writers Group colleague and friend, Nene Davies.  

Reading:  Has been disjointed because of constant reference to research resources as I edit my second story Present tense while I have relevant books from the library; to recheck and / or to flesh out information regarding war correspondents and the challenges for aid volunteers in Africa in the late 1990s. Sadly in South Sudan current upheavals seem like a re-run from that time. Even though the political structure has changed, the underlying disputes around resources, ethnic differences, and national and local disagreements persist.

Research:  Because it is such a joy to read one of the books, Emma’s War, by Deborah Scroggins in a large print library edition I’ve been finding it difficult to set it aside even when I’ve found the reference(s) I need. So good not being distracted and slowed down by struggles with the small lettering in my personal copy. Thankfully most of the other books are easier on the eye.

Although the Scroggins timeframe is a little before my story, her book provides a wonderful panorama of the political and aid environments leading up to the later famine years and the increasing unrest that claimed so many lives through violence, malnutrition, starvation and ill health.

Médecins Sans Frontières websites claim me for hours at a time, reading of the work of the volunteers and the experiences of the survivors of the turmoil as they seek help in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees. The amazing MSF videos should be compulsory viewing by the whole world.

Why aren’t these people (and others like them in many countries) the ones we welcome to Australia? They have no money to help them move between countries and then buy places on leaky boats. Of course the issues are complex for all asylum seekers and many, many have unmet needs. In my novel the volunteers often have to make diabolical choices about who receives priority for medical care because resources are finite. Same with asylum seekers. We can’t take everyone. My preference is for governments to focus on those people in the most dire circumstances with the fewest or no choices.

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