Living in Fitzroy amongst other things.

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I'm housesitting in Fitzroy for just over a month. It's so interesting to live in someone else's house, be amongst someone else's things and stuff. The location is amazing (just near Smith and Gertrude - come visit!) and I like living alone. It's a novelty after living with my family for so long. Also, it's an apartment and it's nestled up against other apartments. I've never really lived so close to other people before.

I've made an October resolution, which is like a New Year's resolution, only made in October. It's to take more photos. So here are some photos of Fitzroy.

Last night I went to the launch of The Reader which is an anthology published by the Emerging Writers' Festival. Estelle gives a good run down on the contents here. The launch was fun and filled with interesting people, and the book is filled with stuff an 'emerging' writer should read. Although Aden Rolfe read some of his piece from the book about what 'emerging' really is. Am I emerging? I don't feel like it, I've only ever had one piece published, maybe one day soon I'll start emerging. Maybe.

Tomorrow is another of the Creative Writing Workshops at the City Library. They are still really fun and you should still come. Especially if you haven't before, if you feel stuck or stale or if your writing needs a boost. Come and play.

And afterwards come to the launch of Neon Pilgrim by the awesome (she really does inspire awe in me) Lisa Dempster. Her book is about the pilgrimage she made through Japan, it's honest and so funny. It's the kind of book that makes me laugh out loud and want to turn to strangers on the tram and read them bits to make them laugh too. The launch is tomorrow at Readings. See you there?

17 blog posts in 1.

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What a crazy couple of weeks. I feel like I should be writing about 17 blog posts, but instead I'm smooshing it all into one.

Went to Newcastle for This is Not Art. The festival is an umbrella festival for 5 smaller festivals, the main one I got excited about was the National Young Writers' Festival. It was intense and exciting, at times really overwhelming and it rained a lot of the time. Thank goodness for my new umbrella. I think the festival is really important for young writers' to feel a sense of community and to learn and be excited about the possibilities. That said, I've attended the festival three times now and still find it overwhelming and sometimes a bit cliquey. I think you have to go with determination to get involved in things and start conversations with the person next to you and go to launches and parties and that's how you have a really exciting NYWF.

Anyway, today on Textual Fantasies we are talking about online writing and blogging and all such stuff. It's stuff I don't really know a lot about, so tune in and listen to me learning stuff! That's today on your radio, SYN 90.7fm.

About a month ago I applied for a post on the Editorial Committee of Voiceworks magazine and I found out last week that I got it! I had my first editorial meeting on Tuesday and felt equal parts terrified and thrilled. I've never edited anything, though I have selected work for an anthology before. I've loved Voiceworks ever since I first heard of it back at uni, and for those of you who don't know (but should), it's a magazine for writers and artists who are under 25 years of age. It makes me love being 22. I went to the launch of the new issue Fluid on Thursday night and felt more and more excited. Especially because I won the raffle!

Something to be addicted to for a while is here at 12Words. And you could win a writing mentorship!

Textual Fantasies!

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I received a call last night from Dom, the radio manager at SYN telling me that Textual Fantasies will be! That means we'll be on air, Saturdays 1pm-2pm, every week until around the end of the year. How exciting!

If you have any suggestions for themes, content or guests let me know.

Ignorant Children and Billowy Beds

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Dearest sticksandstones, since naming you how I have neglected you!

There is one last Textual Fantasies show left! Which makes me very sad. Radio has been so invigorating and inspiring to do. Hopefully we'll be back on air in some form soon. We've talked to amazing people, just last week the kids from stop drop and roll and Harvest magazines. They are such down to earth people and they make me think that I can get somewhere with this writing stuff. Maybe. With lots of hard work.

I've been attending a Short Fiction course at the CAE for three weeks now. And so we have two weeks left. It's run by poet and author Claire Gaskin. Before the first class I was so nervous. In my head I'm really good at tackling new experiences and place and people but then my body reminds me that I do get scared. I workshopped in the second class and felt good but again, didn't realise how nervous I was until afterwards when I looked in the bathroom mirror and saw that my neck and chest had gone flaming red. But I got good comments and feedback, and more importantly I wrote something! Something that resembles a whole story and I quite like it so far. With a little more work it could be ready for submission.

Today I haven't felt like writing much, so instead I've been playing with words. There's an exercise I wanted to try for a while, which is really simple, just putting random nouns with random adjectives. Here's what I got:

Billowy Silence
Dusty Children
Eager Fighting
Ignorant Legs
Lopsided Bed
Obscene Failure
Tacky Honesty
Whispering Thrills

Some of which I quite like. Ignorant legs in particular. Changing them around I can make:

Ignorant Bed
Lopsided Children
Tacky Silence
Billowy Legs
Eager Honesty
Obscene Fighting
Whispering Failure
Dusty Thrills

Out of these I like Lopsided children and dusty thrills. Thrills that have been shut up in a cupboard for years.

There is a Writing Workshop this Wednesday at the City Library, 6pm - 7.30pm. Free and fun and informal and you should come.

sticks and stones will break my bones

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Not to name drop or anything, but last week while I was lunching with Cardigan Comics' Bernard Caleo and Express Media's George Dunford, I was asked what my blog's name was. And I floundered around a bit and finally said it didn't have one. Not really. And I went home, full of avocado and hot chocolate, and thought about what I wanted this blog for and why and what I should name it.

I came up with sticksandstones for lots of reasons. I like the alliteration and the way it sounds in my mouth. I like the image it brings to my mind when I look at the words. I like the association with the rhyme sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me because I've been thinking a lot about being tough and strong in a writerly world. Being ready and willing to be rejected and trying again. And mostly tough against my own inner critic. 

In other news, Textual Fantasies is powering along, this week we talk to Tom Cho and Callum Scott. It's hard when work is so busy and sometimes all-consuming to keep my head in the literary world and I'm so thankful and excited to have this blog and the radio show to help me.

Snippets

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Snippets from my journals:

We sit at the restaurant, our elbows touching, our plates pushed up against each other, wine glasses find precarious positions between them, and we wait for pauses in the conversation to talk. 

There’s a small scab on my arm and I want to pick it. I picked it once already and made it bleed but I’m itching to do it again

This is my rough copy. I’ll write it in greylead. But you might be able to see mistakes that I make. Rubbers never really rub everything out properly no matter how hard you rub.  

Snippets from my life:

Estelle and I had our first  Textual Fantasies show last week, and it went swimmingly. Amazing generous lovely guests, scriptwriters Lally Katz and Dan Giovannoni. Look them up. Tomorrow we have Ryan Paine and Jess Crouch to talk about editing. Radio is so fun. Listen in and text us to let us know if you do. 

I'm trying to work things up to submit, but the process is so scary and I end up reading and hating everything I write. How do you get past this? Mostly I just end up submitting and never thinking about the piece again until I hear. 

I want to start posting photos on this blog. Maybe I'll need to invest in a camera.



Bali and Radio!

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I got off a plane this morning at 8 o'clock. When I left Denpasar Airport in Bali last night it was around 34 degrees. This morning stepping into Melbourne, it was 3 degrees. But the sunrise was amazing. Bright rich orange lining the horizon, all stemming from the red rising sun in the middle. So that's the reason for the lack of blogs this last week or so, I've been sunning myself in Bali. Now I'm back and full of things to say!

First, impressions of Bali. It's so hot there. If Bali was a novel, the heat would be a character. Omnipresent, you wake and step out of the airconditioning to the heat. Sometimes the air cools, a breeze goes through and you feel like it's just that bit easier to breathe. But often the breeze goes, especially at night when you expect it to get cooler, it gets hotter because the wind has died.

Buildings in Bali are either tiny and crushed up against each other or oversized and enourmous standing next to open rice paddies. Kuta (the most touristy region and the site of the Bali Bombs) is crowded and full of people, hotels, hostels, dresses, souvenirs, t-shirts, stubby-holders, menus, signs, motorbikes, taxis, men, women. Everything pushes up against you, the heat, the people, the crush of words and signs and shops. I didn't like Kuta that much.

Driving to Ubud, further inland, away from the hyper-tourist scene of Kuta, it felt more like the Bali I wanted to explore. There were still plenty of tourist spots to visit, including the Monkey Forest (so cool!) but there was so much more space. Just driving felt so good, being able to watch Bali go by.

I had lots of ideas for stories while I was in Bali - we'll see what happens.

In other really exciting news, Estelle and I have been successful in our application to have a radio show on SYN! We'll be on your airways Saturdays from 1pm til 2pm, talking about all things bookish and literary. First show is on Saturday the 18th. Please let me know what you would like to hear about, who you would like to hear about - any and all suggestions will be entertained!

My favourite poem

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When I first read this poem, I had to go straight back and read it again. And then I burst into tears. And I'm not really sure why. I'm not sure I can articulate it properly. I think it's because it's about looking at yourself and seeing yourself and the words really get to me in a physical way. The 'violently ashamed' and 'bashed that beautiful window' grab me in the chest. I think it's about taking a hold of life. This is the writing that makes me write.

Locking Yourself Out, Then Trying to Get Back In

You simply go out and shut the door
without thinking. And when you look back
at what you’ve done
it’s too late. If this sounds
like the story of a life, okay.

It was raining. The neighbors who had
a key were away. I tried and tried
the lower windows. Stared
inside at the sofa, plants, the table
and chairs, the stereo set-up.
My coffee cup and ashtray waited for me
on the glass-topped table, and my heart
went out to them. I said, Hello, friends,
or something like that. After all,
this wasn’t so bad.
Worse things had happened. This
was even a little funny. I found the ladder.

Took that and leaned it against the house.
Then climbed in the rain to the deck,
swung myself over the railing
and tried the door. Which was locked,
of course. But I looked in just the same
at my desk, some papers, and my chair.
This was the window on the other side
of the desk where I’d raise my eyes
and stare out when I sat at that desk.
This is not like downstairs, I thought.
This is something else.

And it was something to look in like that, unseen,
from the deck. To be there, inside, and not be there.
I don’t even think I can talk about it.
I brought my face close to the glass
and imagined myself inside,
sitting at the desk. Looking up
from my work now and again.
Thinking about some other place
and some other time.The people I had loved then.
I stood there for a minute in the rain.
Considering myself to be the luckiest of men.
Even though a wave of grief passed through me.
Even though I felt violently ashamed
of the injury I’d done back then.
I bashed that beautiful window.
And stepped back in.

—Raymond Carver, 1985

Blogs and Courses

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So there's a new blog out there for writers and I'm interested to see how it will develop. I'll be watching closely Wordsmith Lane! It sounds really exciting.

'Wordsmith Lane will be launching this July, so stay tuned for some interviews with great writers, lessons on getting into the writing game, and all the latest news concerning the written word.'

I started this blog because I want to have greater contact with other writers and learn more about my own writing. So Wordsmith Lane sounds great.

Also I'm thinking about enrolling in a course at the CAE, the short story course. It's a fair whack of money though. I just work so much better with deadlines and other writers to inspire me. What do you think?

if he is just waking

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A fragment which may become a longer story. What do you think?

She wakes and feels the fog around her already.

Her thighs smack together loudly as she walks out to get the clothes off the line. She wears only a towel. It blows around in the wind. Her wet hair drips water down her back. She goes inside and dresses herself.

The train lumbers through the just-lit neighbourhoods and she wonders if he is just waking. She tries to hold onto the metal bars of the train but her hands are sweaty and they slip. She hates the quiet of a crowded train, so many people but so little noise.

The house is still there when she gets home. No lights are on. She walks around it and turns the lights and heaters and radios on. Her fingers itch for buttons and switches. For light and heat and noise. Her bed is made and she sits on it for a while looking at the mirror and watching the mobile spin. He isn't there.

Creative Writing Workshop Tomorrow!

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I organise a creative writing workshop at the City Library, which is 253 Flinders Lane. It runs every second Wednesday from 6 to 7.30pm in the Group Study room which is upstairs to the right when you walk in. But the lovely library staff will be able to help if you get lost. The next one is tomorrow, June 10th.

The workshops are free and are designed to be non-hierarchical. By which I mean that it isn't about one writer giving a workshop to others, but about a group of writers writing together. We don't do any workshopping of creative work, rather we do creative writing exercises designed to provoke and stimulate ideas. It's a way of continuing the creative process for people who don't feel they have much time or ideas. It's also open to any level of writer and we try and make sure it is a safe space. You never have to share any work you write so there isn't any chance of feeling anxious about that.

So come! We are always looking for new people. Contact me (maddie.crofts@gmail.com) if you have any questions. But it's so much fun you must come!

A couple of fragments and something poem shaped.

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So I think I've been putting off posting anything creative on here, but that is why I created this blog. So here goes. I welcome any comments.

This is a couple of fragments that have been circling in my brain for a few weeks now.

In the middle of the road the dog pulls hard on the leash and a sharp bark escapes from between his teeth. The owner is yanked forward before pulling back just as hard and the dog's front legs are lifted into the air. The owner smiles, embarrassed. The lollipop lady nods her head. I wait at the lights for the next crossing.

I watch her smoke on the train station platform. She brings the cigarette to her mouth, inhales and then exhales through her mouth and nose. The smoke is quickly stolen by the wind, away from her and away from me. she turns her head to look at me and I look away. she raises the cigarette to her mouth. I want to snatch her cigarette and throw it onto the tracks.

When I get home I close the bathroom door. I turn the shower on and let the room fill with steam. The figure in the mirror becomes foggy and indistinct that way. Nothing more than a vague outline of a body.

___

I did an exercise tonight where I focused on an object found in my house. It was my friend's tobacco pouch. This is the poem I wrote in the ten minutes after focusing on the object. (Disclaimer: I don't smoke!)


You left your tobacco here,
you call just to let me know.
But I'd noticed already.

The yellow packet stands out
on my kitchen table.
Soft and pillow shaped.

I feel like a cigarette
but you didn't leave any filters.
I was never any good at rolling anyway.

I lean against the back step
leaving the door open wide.
Touch your tobacco with cold fingers.

Then I did a cut-up exercise where I took the original poem and moved the lines around, trying to make it random and seeing what I got. I think I need to do this more to loosen up my writing.
This was the result.

but you didn't leave any filters.
you call just to let me know.
I lean against the back step
The yellow pack stands out
You left your tobacco here
I feel like a cigarette
But I'd noticed already.
on my kitchen table.
leaving the door open wide
Soft and pillow shaped.
Touch your tobacco with cold fingers.
I was never that good at rolling anyway.



Birthdays, Books and Birds.

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Yesterday was my birthday! I turned 22 and to celebrate I received 23 books. That's right. 23. Mostly from my parents. Amazing!

Lots of these books are about writing and books. For example:

The Complete Plain Words by Sir Ernest Gowers

The Memoir Book by Patti Miller

The Fiction Writers' Handbook by Nancy Smith

Bibliotopia compiled by Steven Gilbar

The new edition of Torpedo

Style Manual sixth edition

And the one I'm reading now bird by bird by Anne Lamott. The title comes from a story she tells to her creative writing students about her brother.

...thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he'd has three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said, "Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird."

Which perfectly describes my feelings of anxiety and being overwhelmed when I sit down to write lately. So I'm trying to write small passages as much as I can. And concentrate on the sentences and constructing good sentences.

What books about writing have you read? Have they been any help?

Blogging Tips?

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So being new to this whole blogging thing (except for a few failed times in the years past) I thought I should ask for any advice or tips that you've got?

I've also just started using Twitter, so any advice on that as well?

Let me know blogosphere!

First Post

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First post. I'm Madeleine Crofts and I'm a writer from Coburg in Melbourne, Victoria. I recently completed a Bachelor of Arts (French and Creative Writing) at Melbourne University. I have a boyfriend of 6 years, 3 sisters and lovely friends. I work full-time as a teacher's assistant.

I run a creative writing workshop at the City Library every second Wednesday from 6pm - 7.30pm. It is an exercise based workshop, informally run and designed to be non-hierachical. All welcome.

I've made this blog in response to the weekend I just spent at the Emerging Writers' Festival in which almost every speaker referred to the importance of having an online presence generally and a blog more specifically.

I've had one story published in Voiceworks magazine and hope to have more published this year. I mostly write fiction, literary non-fiction and hope to start writing some poetry as well.

I'm looking for a writers' group to join, preferably free and preferably close to home. I think I need to attend a more workshopping based workshop as well as the exercise based one I run. If you know of any please let me know!

I will post writing that I'm currently working on, responses to creative writing exercises and ideas about writing.