Tuesday 7th April 2020

This week, the Covid elephant has been more accommodating. He has allowed me some writing space. I have created a poem for the Grieve Project, an annual competition run by the Hunter Writers Centre which closes towards the end of May. I decided I wanted the 14 line form with three sets of four line stanzas and a couplet, but none of it rhyming. Thus I structured before I started. I found it surprisingly soothing to concentrate on this tiny task in hand. Working within the limits I’d set myself, left no room for me to hear the elephant’s heavy breathing. I even managed to put away the finished poem and two days later, revisited and revised it. I still have time to rest it, polish it, and repeat the cycle a few times before I need to send it off.

Secondly I took part in the Furious Fiction competition run over the weekend. That is run by the Australian Writers’ Centre on the first weekend of the month. This entails writing a story in 500 words or fewer within very specific parameters. Contestants are only given 55 hours. The constraints and limits became immensely attractive. Having only two and a bit days, having to shape my work within so many boundaries forced me to concentrate in a narrow funnel—no whizzing off down paths that lead nowhere. There was no time to feed the elephant, then. My story had to be tight, continually hammered and nailed to the point till it was done. And I did finish it with a few hours to spare. Of course it is not polished, but it is complete and I pressed the send button within the allotted time frame.

The third good thing to come out of this week is that, inspired by theatre companies, ballet, opera companies and museums giving away free video content, the writing group Wyong Writers decided to put the Community & Belonging book up on the website as a free PDF for the duration of this strange time, for those who would like to read it. Anyone who wants to read it on their tablet or phone and needs it as a mobi or epub, can email me and I will them send one. It is available from

Finally, our Scribblers group is still functioning and we have successfully engaged in electronic critiquing for the third week. I thank those Scribblers who are still participating.

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Tuesday 31st March 2020 The elephant in the room—in my writing room—is taking up almost all my space. He is growing daily and sucking up my writing oxygen.

If I am quiet the elephant won’t notice me. I can creep into a corner and write for just a few minutes. If I don’t breathe too deeply, don’t even think of the languishing second draft of my novel, I can find tiny crumbs of creativity hidden away in corners of the room between the floor and the skirting board. If I am motionless he will not notice me. If I am still, I will manage to produce something.

Our small Scribblers critiquing group has now had two weeks of electronic critiquing. I have enjoyed keeping up with other people’s work but have struggled to provide the next section of mine. It has felt good to concentrate on a few pages of someone else’s work, to think hard and constructively but somehow the ability to do so for my own work, eludes me.

The electronic timed writing prompt used by Wyong Writers on Saturday created a sense of familiarity and routine. Participants appreciated having just 10 minutes of normality in their day. My response is above. For me, that 10 minutes was the most creative I have been able to be. None of us wrote anything wonderful, but for 10 minutes the Covid elephant shrunk and we wrote.

Tuesday 24th March

By now everybody’s life has been turned upside down, and we are feeling our way through the new normality.

We had one cancellation: a talk to the National Seniors of Wyong—due to have been today, a date which has been in the diary for about 6 months.

The good news: I have two different community writing activities in which we have managed a small measure of “life goes on”.

* Our Scribblers group which usually meets on a weekly basis to critique one another’s work, switched to electronic critiquing. Those of us who were able to, emailed each other what we would have brought and although we missed the company, reading and critiquing one another’s work gave us a sense of normality.

* The second move towards creating a bit of normality concerns our monthly meeting (on Saturday coming up) . Now, although Skype would not work for most of our members, they do all use email. One of the many activities we do at the monthly meeting is to have a writing prompt drawn out of a jar. We then write for 10 minutes and share our writing if we wish. On Saturday morning I will email a prompt and any members who wish to can set a timer for 10 minutes. Further along the line we can share by email if we wish and if enough people are happy with their short piece I will post it on the Wyong Writers website.

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