Man in balaclava

How I Use My Childhood Rape in My Writing

When I was eight I was raped. It feels strange to write that here. It’s not something I’m in the habit of sharing although it does come up now and then with the mums I’m close to because as mothers we discuss these issues in relation to our kids. I was lucky that my parents were very practical and straight forward about getting me help to deal with the experience and, after 25 years, it doesn’t have a strong hold over me.

I’m talking about it now because we all have things happen in our lives which are less than awesome. It doesn’t have to be something as violating as being raped. While people often advise us to remember that, ‘there’s always someone worse off’ when something happens to us, no matter what it is, it feels raw and powerful. And it’s these feelings that we harness as writers.

It’s human nature to avoid thinking about the bad stuff but by ‘going there’ as writers we’re able to imbue our work with greater authenticity. We remember what it’s like to be truly scared or hurt or angry and write experiences for our characters that ring true to our readers. When a character in my work is truly scared, I think back to the scariest moments in my life, including that moment, and use it to bring my work to life.

Some moments from your past, particularly difficult moments, will be too fresh or painful to use in your writing. That’s OK. Don’t torture yourself. Most likely in time you’ll be able to reflect on those moments without feeling upset by them, but you need to give yourself that time first.

Don’t dwell on those negative experiences either. Just as one chapter doesn’t make an entire book, one experience doesn’t make an entire life. Use your memories to inform your work and then let them go again. If you can’t, it may be a sign that it’s too raw at the moment or that you need some help to put that experience behind you.

All lives are made of good and bad experiences. To be fully human, and to make our fictional worlds authentic, we need to embrace both the good and the bad and make it work for us.

Note: After writing this post I wanted to put a featured image with it. I looked for a man in a balaclava because the man who raped me wore a balaclava. Interestingly, just looking at the images made me nervous and uncomfortable. Just goes to show what small details can continue to stay with you after the event.

Everyone has an opinion

Why the World is a Dark and Dreary Place (Sometimes)

As a writer you have the opportunity to make the world, any world, and it can be as filled with rainbows or as dark and depressing as you want – so long as your characters see it that way. Scene setting is a big part of writing. Without it your readers can be lost as to where your story (or even just a scene) is taking place and without this context they may find your story difficult to follow. But setting isn’t just influenced by the time and place in which your story takes place but by the emotions of your POV character. Continue reading

KidLitVic1016

Last weekend I had the immense pleasure of attending the first KidLitVic writers’ conference. It was incredible! I have never been to a writers’ conference before and it exceeded all my expectations. For the first time I referred to myself as a ‘writer’ in public. The audacity of it! To actually say to someone that I am a writer!

It was wonderful to meet so many like minded people, all striving for the same thing, in such an encouraging atmosphere. I felt like I really belonged and that I was part of a ‘tribe’. I’m hoping to keep in touch with some of these people and I’m so excited to see how their writing journeys continue.

I feel that my journey has taken a real step forward. I had a meeting with Marisa Pintado for Hardie Grant Egmont and she liked the initial pages of my book and asked to see more. To. See. More. Of my work! Can you believe that. I know it’s just a first step and that she might not be interested in the completed novel but…Oh my God! It really encourages me to keep on going. This isn’t the end of the journey, it’s not even the middle, but it’s a real step in the right direction.

If you’re a writer (confirmed or otherwise) and you have the opportunity to attend a writers conference then I highly recommend it. I had the most wonderful time and I’m sure you will too.

I Must Get Back to Work

Did you know it’s February? February! Already! And I must, must, must get back to work. I’ve got excuses. Of course I do. B1 has just started school, it’s summer and the weather is beautiful, my husband and I are thinking of buying a new house and the real estate sites keep distracting me.

But I MUST get back to work. Right now my main character is stuck in limbo, waiting for me to end is plight. His dad is dead, his little brother is in hospital, his older brother is lost and confused, his mum is heartbroken. He’s discovered that his dad had a secret family and his just discovered half-brother is missing.

And I’m enjoying the sunshine!

So I must get back to work!

Hunting for an Agent

I’m hunting for an agent –

I’ve looked once or twice before –

I’ve read all the guidelines,

I’m sure I know the score.

 

Sure, I’ve known rejection,

I’ve felt it’s acid sting,

But this time might be different.

Who knows what time will bring?

 

God knows that I am patient,

I’ve been tapping away for years.

I’m giving it my all,

And with hardly any tears.

 

So I’m looking for an agent,

I’m on this path again.

Because you can’t appreciate success

Unless you’ve known the pain.