Middle Grade Fiction with Gabrielle Wang

At the recent packed annual SCWIBI Queensland  Professional Development Workshop, I  appreciated Gabrielle Wang sharing her creative process with us. She gave us some inventive and wonderful ideas to improve our work in second drafts and shared her personal story of the importance of perseverance and the value of a mentor and challenge.  Do visit Gabrielle’s site to find out more about her books, and buy or borrow them!  They are fantastic and I can’t wait to read more.
Sheryl Gwyther, SCWIBI coordinator for Queensland,  and Gabrielle are pictured above sharing a concertina book with us. In this book Gabrielle told the story of a treasured object visually.  The true story of the object from real life was created first, but then she invented a story inspired by it, on the flip side. This process produced an idea for a story I am going to begin writing today! Gabrielle said that that you can use this same process to map chapters of a middle grade book and then she showed us one of her books mapped out visually.  The key is to use no words, but just see the story like a movie in your head, and draw your pictures based on that.  You do not have to be an artist for this to be useful. Gabrielle likes working organically so that not everything is pre-planned before she writes, but can be inspired by everyday events.  However, the visual planning ensures that she sees the story unfold in her head and carries it there and can intuitively respond to how the characters unfold.
I love being a member of SCWIBI, and learning from skilled and enthusiastic people about their writing process and their challenges and victories in writing, publishing and life.  The support from this and groups like Write Links has assisted me in developing as a writer and finding like minded people who are passionate about writing and reading literacy for young people and children.

The image above is taken by Danielle Freeland, who kindly took this group photograph with nearly everyone above’s phone for them.  She is a wonderful writer herself.  Thanks Danielle!   It was wonderful to  catch up with writers from the Gold Coast, and Sunshine Coast on the day as well.  A big thank you to Sheryl for organizing this for members and Gabrielle for visiting from Melbourne.  A brilliant day!

Responding to Art with the Written Word

Ray Crooke, Fragment Woman with Blossoms, QAGOMA, Australian Collection

I have made significant progress on a poetry project, writing poems for The Words and Pictures  project at QAGOMA.

Which is just as well as there are just four days left for my final selections and edits.

Some of the works  have  inspired more than one poem.  One even inspired four pieces.

I now have to select which ones will be the most interesting or evocative for the people visiting the gallery.  I might share some of the others that don’t go in, here on my blog.

It is not easy as I am quite happy with each version, but then I have a vision of how all the works fit together and want them to be spaced throughout the gallery which will help guide me to the right ones for the series.

Also one of my goals is to  give the poems and micro stories a broad appeal, such that people of many ages might enjoy reading them, including people familiar with my work on Magic Fish Dreaming.

So now my role is to curate the right balance of my own work, to show that I love writing for children, families, youth and adults.

I look forward to seeing how the public respond to the writing once it is up on the Gallery Walls.

I have a few butterflies of course, but it is quite exciting to share poems alongside art works, and have them interact with each other.

If you visit, feel free to leave a comment on my blog and QAGOMA instagram (will let you know some hashtags) as I would love to know what you think.

I’ll let you know the dates it is up soon.

All art works featured courtesy Queensland Art Gallery, Australian Art Collection

Rosalie Gascoigne,  Lamplit,

 

From Fred Williams's, Fragment from Echucha Landscape
From Fred Williams’s, Fragment from Echucha Landscape

 

 

 

The Poet at Play 2 – ‘Dream’ in many languages

Ripple Poetry

I was writing a poem today, and wanted to name a character.

For inspiration I looked at an old poem of mine, and borrowed its structure, but then the poem soon had a life of its own.  Sorry can’t tell you which one, as it is top secret.

I decided that I wanted the character’s name to be significant to the topic.

Perhaps ‘Dream’ in another language would be appropriate, so I found a website to help me.

It has so many beautiful sounding words for DREAM.

Here are some of the words for dream that also seem to me like wonderful names.

There is something so musical about them.

You can find the language they are from by visiting the link  IN DIFFERENT LANGUAGES

Sanjati
Ala
Sognare
Ruya

The other thing that I find inspires poems are things of beauty I see, like the tree image shared for this…

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The Poet at Play 1


If you don’t like knowing the secrets to conjuring tricks read no further.  But if you like to have an insight into how to do them then you will like this series, the poet at play.

In this series I explore how the poet, and creative writer can make their words more powerfully appear on the page, and their metaphors more astounding.

It’s about ways of pushing beyond the boundaries of a cliche, and the obvious.  It’s based on the belief that EVERYONE can potentially make their words salsa, waltz or tango or do the cultural dance of their origins or liking.

I’ll introduce you to some of the text books I like to work with, and some of the things I have found that work for me through my own personal reading, practice and study.

This week, I am working hard on new poetry for competitions and submissions.

I have two metaphors that have been preoccupying me for a couple of weeks. They simply won’t go away. I even had a vivid dream based on one of them last night!

I have put preliminary words down on paper. Now I am faced with the task of playing with them until they become fully formed poems. As part of this process, I am doing some creative writing exercises from Hazel’s Smith’s  The Writing Experiment.

I spent nearly two hours reworking two ideas, and these may turn into two poems or a suite of poems.

I loved particularly Smith’s exercises on additions and substitutions, which were my main focus of this first experimenting stint.

Whilst I can’t share the new poems, I thought I would demonstrate how some of the techniques from Smith’s book might work on poems I have already shared on this blog. Applying some of the techniques of Smith to past poems, here is what might happen to ‘You strip me back to the bones’   Beyond Prejudice where I substitute a new word for bones.

You strip me back to the bones
You strip me back to raw emotion
You strip me back to my outlines
You strip me back to my thoughts
You strip me back to my music
You strip me back to my soul
You strip me back to me

After I have done one of these experiments I can then do some of my own work and strip away the repetition and rework again. I pull out these words: emotion, bones, outlines, thoughts, music, soul, me.

A short poem emerges.

Emotions bones
Thought outlines
Soul Music
Me

Me
Music
Soul outlines
thought bones

Then these lines emerge as another starting point.

The music of me
In outlines

And looking at  ‘I refuse to see myself through your eyes’ from the same poem – and I continue the process as just outlined to discover new lines.

I refuse to feel myself through your hands
I refuse to hear myself through your music
I refuse to move to your expectations

But I stop because now I can mix the ‘music of me’ with some of the experiments just done, into the beginnings of a new poem,

The music of me
In outlines
you refuse to hear

You think you strip me back to my music
You think you strip me back to my soul
You think you strip me back to me

But I refuse
to feel myself through your hands
to hear myself through your music
to move to your expectations

(c) June Perkins  (This series to be continued)

Reaching the Mountain of My First Draft

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I am looking down the pathway of writing my way to the mountain of my completed first draft.

Using my plan and outline as a map and continuing to read books that inspire me when I become stuck, I have reached my fourth chapter.

I am following the plan, but letting the characters help me construct them as I write them.  I look forward to seeing you at the other end of the first draft.

I was delighted to write two and a half chapters today.

At this point I am trying not to censor each sentence and perfect it but rather get the character and my  plot and scenes down cleanly and then I will work on other aspects in my second draft.

With this draft I am determined to get my structural plot, pacing and introduction of characters very clear.

I have started reading  Molly and Pim and the Millions of Stars.  (2016) It’s so beautifully written and  delightful, you just want to read it from the first paragraph.  This will be the task of my second draft.

All the very best,

June

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