on the writing & reading trail

Posts tagged ‘war correspondent’

Edit diary and other things

October 22

Editing: Reduced time available over weekend. The today – real life intruded early – personal issues to attend to – and then penetrating and worrying talk in the library interfered with concentration. In spite of all some work was managed for several chapters but will need to be revisited.

Reading: Completed reading Denise Leith’s searing story, What remains: an incredible fiction based on detailed research about the work of war reporters and photojournalists. The blurb says, Sometimes only a work of fiction can reveal the truth… The debut novel by Denise Leith . . . an epic story of love, war and friendship that will stay with you forever. Visit her website at http://deniseleith.com/

It is my good luck that Denise’s book includes a fair chunk of material relevant to the timeframe and place for my character.  Gives me confidence to develop fictional incidents and responses for Present tense and Future hope.

Anthology: By chance members of our Writers Group have been given a wonderful opportunity to talk about our experience in developing our Ten Minute Tales Anthology as a curtain-raiser for an author talk by a well-known writer. The anthology can be found by Googling Ten Minute Tales anthology. It is free. Such fun we had getting this modest little production together and what a lot we learned along the way.

Book launch: The book launch of my author friend Pat Noad was a great success. I include two photographs – one of the author herself, and one of her trusty helpers Kym and Jaymie Tilbury at the book table on the night, where all five of Pat’s Annie Bryce mysteries were available, singly or as a package. Thanks for permission to print pictures. Details of Pat’s books can be found on her website at http://www.bypatnoad.com.au.Happy reading.

Pat with her book

Kym and Jaymie

Special thoughts: Very best wishes and loving thoughts to friends and relatives with health issues both here in Australia and in the UK. Stay strong. Be well.

Edit diary and friend’s book launch

October 18

Editing: Work in the last two days has felt productive – I’ve been flying through the chapters and today reached Chapter 30, the half-way point for Past imperfect, the first of the three books so far drafted (the fourth is incubating). Quite a few changes made – mainly to sentences that were easily compacted (unnecessary phrases), and turning sentences or paragraphs around (so often the meaning is clearer if the last becomes first). I sometimes wonder what that means about my thinking process. Today I finished at a juncture where the future expectations of Freya the protagonist are in jeopardy. It will be a long time before she learns why (and she will never know the whole story, but the readers will know more of it.)

Reading: What remains by Denise Leith has captured me, and what is surprising is that a chunk of that story provides fodder for my minor fictional war correspondent character who reported around the action in Sarajevo and beyond. Thank you Denise – you made it terrifyingly real.

Book launch: As always my friend Pat Noad’s book launches are a treat. I hadn’t realised the count is up to twelve – this includes seven anthologies produced by Crime Writers Queensland as well as her own five, the latest launched tonight, entitled Unearthed. The tantalising snippets about the world-famous dinosaur digs in outback Queensland promise an interesting read. See the cover picture and a pre-launch group enjoying some networking. Details of Pat’s books can be found on her website at http://www.bypatnoad.com.au

Pat, Sara and Joyce

Fossils, secrets and nightmares

Edit diary and other things

October 16

Editing: Over recent days I’ve been working on two fronts – finishing those last paragraphs of Present tense and what I hope is the final sweep for Past imperfect. I’ve put Present tense aside for several weeks so that I can see it with fresh eyes.

It’s been slow so far with Past imperfect. I’m one quarter throughand feeling satisfied that the changes are enlivening the narrative. Hopefully my writing was improved for the later chapters and I wonder if an end of the month target for completion is too optimistic. I’ll stay with that meantime.

Writing: Writing Group members who contributed to the anthology, Ten Minute Tales, that we recently e-published for free now feel we have learned how to manage the process well enough to embark on a more serious effort at quality writing. Last week we agreed our focus – to produce a collection of short stories with a ‘twisted’ orientation. We’ve set a completion date for the end of November and a maximum 1,500 word-count.

One member is off to a flying start with a story completed already. I’m struggling with the ‘twist’ emphasis and grappling to find something that works – meantime all that surfaces is as lightweight as a spiral of licorice.

I guess I’m thinking maybe we need to aim for more than one story each or perhaps to find several themes or even something open, as well. Is that an escape hatch for lack of inspiration / application? Or a legitimate thought for something solid enough to publish?

NB – One of our members, Nene, has a story on the ABC website. Congratulations. Find Nene’s story here – https://open.abc.net.au/projects/500-words-caught-out-28dn4ay/contributions/santa-s-helper-helps-herself-78du0ff

Reading: A few real books and several e-books on the go. Continuing with Caleb’s Crossing, the Redlitzer Anthology 2012, Where war lives: A journey into the heart of war, and another war correspondent journey, What remains by Denise Leith – a devastating story of different kinds of horror – at the moment I’m with her in Rwanda after a spell inSarajevo. These readings balance each other out in different ways and with topics in current editing where the story is personally disappointing for the protagonist but underneath is a happy situation even though that is at risk.

I’m taking advantage of The Australian (newspaper) offering of free e-books for readers. The Marmalade Files by journalists Steve Lewis and Chris Uhlmann was a straight-through riveting read – brought back so many memories of eight years working in the Commonwealth bureaucracy in Canberra – thin cover for contemporary happenings in the national capital. It really is like that. Reminds me of the TV programs, Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister, so popular in the UK many years ago.

General: During a weekend walk we met this wonderful fluffy creature. About to capture a front-on shot, a cyclist hurtling over the bridge sent the bird off in fright. Another day perhaps but it will be a big bird then.

Fluffy friend

The library was quiet today. Students are back at school. The sun is shining again. An earlier dry spell and recent winds have reduced the blossom from our beautiful jacaranda trees. We’re left with carpets of mauve. I hope there are some late bloomers left. They are among my favourite trees.

Jacarandas in bloom

Edit diary and reading

Day 137 (September 25)

An early start to the day attending to personal and business arrangements, so I didn’t get to the Library till later to start editing.

Editing: Scrolled through last twelve chapters of Book Two (Present tense) and attended to most highlight areas except in those two pest chapters that still need a fair bit of attention. However, I’ve tracked down the relevant research material and will be able to check details for re confirmation or necessary changes in coming days.

I was diverted from that task to check for potential date changes that could affect issues for Book Three (working title meantime is Future hope) so I dropped into the second part of the story to check. Once there, the need for a few changes jumped out – nothing major – and I found myself enjoying the new timeframe but it is clear there is a question significant to the ending date for Future hope to be considered. Today I tapped into the story where Freya is ending her furlough which included time in Scotland, Europe and Australia, with a holiday at a ranger’s home in Kruger National Park prior to commencing her next mission which will take her back to South Sudan.

Following a number of startling experiences in Scotland and Denmark Freya’s personal confidence about her place in family and life in general has been enhanced. Little does she realise there are more surprises and twists in store. I am looking forward to starting the edit of Future hope from the beginning, starting on October 1.

Below is a short excerpt from where I started reading today, when Freya and her former nursing boss in Australia (Louise) and Louise’s erstwhile Dutch colleague (Hanne) spend time with Sandy, wife of the park ranger Bill who has not returned home as expected, possibly because he is shadowing a poacher.

Louise and Hanne smiled at each other. They’d caught up on essentials in the last few hours, and the years of separation had faded away. During the ten days here, followed by four weeks travelling on their own, they’d fill in the fine details at leisure, how and when they wanted. In tandem their gazes swept the room, and rested on Freya, sharing a sense of delight at her total relaxation. It seemed the bush was her place.

Although Sandy sat as if at peace, there was an aura of restlessness about her. Ten minutes on, she said, ‘If Bill doesn’t come soon, I won’t put off asking all about you any longer Hanne. I reckon I’ve been patient enough. Bill will just have to put up with my second-hand story to save you repeating it. I told him about the fun we had when you stayed with us in Cape Town so long ago. You were on your way to Australia then.’

‘That’s where I met Louise. She took pity on me late one night in Rockhampton when I’d missed my Greyhound bus booking for Brisbane. I never did get to spend time there because Lou persuaded me to go with her to Cairns and use her place as a base to explore north Queensland. She said Brisbane was just another city but the north was something else.’ Hanne turned to smile at Louise, ‘She was right. It was a magic place that year. Cairns was laid-back, the tableland communities were interesting and it was a privilege to see the tropical rainforests and travel as far as you could go, to Bamaga on the tip of Cape York. I always meant to go back to Oz to see southern parts of Australia, but never made it. And we lost touch.’ Hanne reached over to pat Louise’s arm. ‘How did we let that happen?’

‘Life gets in the way I guess. I moved a lot around that time, taking casual jobs. And then I got into serious work and for a few years it took over. Steep learning curves getting into management. . . . And you got famous and busy with all that writing and projects.’

‘Thanks to Freya’s volunteering you tracked me down.’

Reading: My shelf of books on loan from the library is looking very different from recent months. Instead of flaunting a predominant mix of fiction with around 30% humanitarian aid volumes, it is now 100% with books for the move to editing work on Future hope. Suddenly (and I’m sure very temporarily) I feel a compulsion to work solely on material that will help to flesh out my writing. The book of recent days is by Paul Watson, Where war lives: A journey into the heart of war. So far it is a stark and sobering read, but will be helpful to bring more authenticity to one of my middle-range characters. Freya was drawn to Leka when they met during her flight to Africa in Present tense. He turns up again in Future hope.

The following paragraphs are taken from a review of Watson’s book by Levon Sevunts, himself a journalist, writer, producer and translator at http://sevunts.com/?p=35:

“The writing is edgy, sometimes chaotic and raw. It feels like you’ve jumped in for a bumpy ride with a war correspondent: You get the passenger-side view of the madness around you and the inside view of how journalists work and survive in humanity’s hellholes.

Along the way, Watson shares his mental anguish, his feelings of guilt and his struggle with depression and the onset of post-traumatic stress syndrome. Yet he manages to avoid the “tortured soul reveals all” stereotype. Where War Lives is an emotional but also intelligent book. It takes the reader behind the headlines. Watson “unspins” lies and propaganda, shows the reader the connection between fighting in the streets of Mogadishu and the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.

The book also shows the power – sometimes unintended – of the media.”

Anthology celebration: I’m including a photo of our group from the anthology celebration, along with one of the group unable to attend due to his work commitments.

Our absent writer

Celebrating our anthology

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