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Living with the elephant

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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