Six months ago, a fellow student in my Masters program at Melbourne University took advantage of my offer of my spare bedroom for interstate students needing accommodation for our two day intensive sessions on campus.
When on Day 1 he asked me if I was a writer, I knew what he was talking about. I have at least three books on writing on the shelves in the spare bedroom, and possibly others elsewhere. Despite having bought them at various times in the past, I have never read them. From time to time I’d dabbled in writing and then given up when it got too hard, or I didn’t have enough time. I’d also journalled frantically in times of crisis, but I’d never made any sort of commitment to serious, ongoing writing.
Catherine Deveny describes her classes as “creative enemas”. It’s a great description. Dev forces you to write for one minute, for five, ten or fifteen minutes, using totally disconnected prompts. There are no excuses.
I learned so much over two days of classes (Masterclass + Advanced): my writing doesn’t have to be perfect, and yes, the writing process is hard. You don’t have to commit to sitting down and writing for hours at a time. You don’t have to confine yourself to one writing project or even one genre at a time. If you’re writing a story, you don’t have to know the ending before you begin.
I came home from La Luna today (incidentally, totally amazing food!) and read the first fifty pages of Stephen King’s “On Writing”. I can’t wait to read Kate Grenville’s “The Writing Book” and Pamela Lloyd’s “How Writers Write”. I am no longer fearful of putting words on paper.
According to Dev, there is no such thing as inspiration. I think she is wrong. She is an amazing, generous, and, dare I say it, inspirational teacher. Thank you, Catherine, for two days of warmth, fun, encouragement and guidance. And thanks to my fellow class members, who over two days have shared their writing, their fears and their experiences with the rest of us.