Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Romance Writers of New Zealand Conference/ Chris Vogler and the ancient tradition of storytelling.

I have just returned from the 20th Anniversary conference of RWNZ and my mind is still buzzing on overload.
What a fantastic weekend!
The workshops on writing craft were superb. Talk about spoiled for choice. My one complaint is that I actually had to choose. I would have liked to be able to attend every one of the workshops.
It was a tough choice to attend either Vanessa Johnson's "How Not to Loose the Plot" or the demonstration with "Swords". I sincerely hope the Swords return next year as I will be a definite starter.

I loved Vanessa's workshop and went home to read her book "Lush".

It was a great read and I have to confess not my usual type of book but from the first page I was hooked. Her characterisation was superb and I immediately found myself rooting for the protagonist and her struggle to overcome her propensity for over indulging in alcohol. It was also very timely. This book should be a compulsory read in all schools.

The message is clear but not at all preachy.

It depicts the reality of the struggle many young women are facing with alcohol and written in a language the young will understand and empathise with. Good on you Vanessa. I hope your book is read widely.

The other highlight of the weekend for me was the Friday workshop with Chris Vogler.
What a treasure! A script writer for film and television, his insight into the modern heros and how they are drawn from heros in antiquity was a light bulb moment from me.

But best of all, for me, was hearing him affirm that we are all first and foremost story tellers and entertainers.
In the daily grind of writing it is very easy to overlook  this simple fact. And as a story teller we follow an ancient and honorable tradition. In every civilization, as far back as pre-historic times, story tellers have underpinned values and chartered the course of mankind's journey.

An ancient and honourable tradition indeed.
And one I am humble and proud  to belong to. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


The upside of finaling in The Clendon award is being asked to do a profile for RWNZ Heart to Heart magazine.

The questions posed made me stop and think about my writing and why I do it.

For me it's the love of the written word that keeps me slugging away at my computer. So am I unique in this compulsion? By no means.

A regular customer in our antique shop is an old guy who used to write TV scripts in the early days of TV in New Zealand. He was a script writer for the series Pounamu. He's still plugging away on his old Remington typewriter slaving over a manuscript which he readily confesses may never see the light of day.

When I asked him why he still writes he gave me a wonderful luminous smile and said, 'There' s plenty of time to stop writing when I stop breathing.'

How well said. To me writing is my pleasure, my passion and my great escape. I can honestly say I do not know the meaning of boredom.

I’ve contemplated giving up writing but I have these annoying voices in my head that won’t allow me any peace.

They are like a lot of unruly children clamouring “Pick me. Pick me.”

Which is how my present Work in Progress  has come about.

I’ve had a fascination with Sailor’s Grave just north of Tairua on the Coromandel Peninsular for years. Now that place, and its ghosts, is coming to life.

If I get published well and good.

If not, I get great pleasure from playing with my imaginary people. I’m never lonely or bored that’s for sure

Monday, August 2, 2010

Spring Fever. Countdown to conference.

Spring is starting to make its presence felt. The early magnolias an Rhodos are bursting their buds. Vulcan that gorgeous magenta magnolia has its huge chalice style flowers right open. In another week it will be in full bloom.
It's warmer at night and the birds are starting their spring chorus. I lay in bed listening to the birds this morning. They've begun singing in greater numbers everyday which means spring and the mating season is truly on the horizon,

I am so delighted to hear bellbirds visiting my town garden. when we lived in the country near tracts of bush they were a common visitor. I've had a pair visiting my Banksia "Golden Candles" every day for the past week. Although much smaller that the tuis they put up a creditable fight against the bigger and far more aggressive birds.

I plant my garden to attract the birds and when the rare ones visit it gives me such a thrill. Over the winter we've also had a pair of Keruru, our native wood pigeon, visiting the Idesia podocarpa tree and feasting on the berries.

We've also been putting out sugar water and cutting up windfall oranges for the smaller birds and we have waxeyes visiting in huge numbers. For their size they are very aggressive little critters. There are also large numbers of other birds, yesterday I saw greenfinches, chaffinches, ringneck doves, and the much shyer lace neck doves and of course the ubiquitous sparrows are back inegions. They seem to have shrugged of whatever virus was killing them in great numbers a few years back. This winter we haven't had the yellowhammers visiting. Last year we has several regulars.

As I was working in the garden yesterday blackbirds and thrushes were barely a spade's length away waiting hopefully for me to uncover a juicy worm for them. One bird a blackbird has been a regular for years now.

It's the 2nd of August so that means 17 days to Conference. Can't wait! The only worry is negotiating down town Auckland to find Rydges Hotel. Oh well I'll google a map!