The only way to learn to write is to write.
– Peggy Teeters
One of the places many readers and writers go is the Brisbane Writers Festival (BWF). The festival is running from 3rd-7th September and will soon be upon us. And what a line up they have this year! But don’t take my word for it, check it out for yourself here.
Why am I so excited? I’ll tell you – it’s because this year my writers’ group is amongst the line up. That’s right…Vision Writers are holding a free open event for people interested in finding out what happens in a writer’s group critique session. So if you’ve ever wanted to join a writers group but weren’t sure if it was for you, why not come along and check us out. Details are available here.
If you want a taste of the stories by writers from the Vision group, you can get them here
Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.
– Ernest Hemingway
(Picture by Frank Lindecke)
Hmmm…I have a confession to make. I went out for a drink on Friday to catch up with a few mates I’ve known for several years now. It’s one of those things we do every six months or so and I should know better. One drink leads to another and before I know it’s 2.00am and I’m drunk as a skunk. That’s the fun part, but then there is the next morning to face. I don’t know about you, but I don’t pull up as well as I used to after a few drinks.
Anyway, the next morning not only did I feel hung over, I felt really guilty. I spent the whole day sleeping it off, in recovery mode, feeling sorry for myself. I could have spent that time much more productively, writing, editing, or blogging. Yes I enjoyed myself, but that time has slipped away and I did nothing constructive with it.
So to make myself feel better I’m going to mark it down as research. I’m going to remember how I felt, both physically and psychologically. I will remember how much I didn’t do and how much I could have done. I dare say it won’t deter me the next time the boys want to get together for a few drinks, but at least it won’t be a total waste if I can recount the thoughts and feelings of both the night before and the day after. And who knows, maybe, just maybe, I’ll take it a bit easier next time.
Words are the most powerful drug used by mankind.
– Rudyard Kipling
(Picture by Andre Ludtke)
My quest for knowledge and magical writers’ artefacts – the ones that can only be found hidden in the depths of my writers’ group critique sessions – has come to an end for another month. I suited up in my shiniest coat of armour, packed my shield, hoping to deflect the verbal blows I expected to rain down upon me, and rode my white charger into the fray of battle.
I’m not sure whether it was because I was prepared or if it was because my group felt a little sorry for me after reading last nights post, but I came out of the critique session relatively unscathed. Yes, I took a few blows from metaphoric swords and maces, but on the whole I reckon I dodged a hefty war hammer. Why do I do it? well, once again I have come away with hidden treasures that I could not find without facing my fears. The feedback is invaluable and makes me a better writer.
It is no surprise to me that I may get feedback I don’t want to hear. The challenge is to listen with an open mind. Thankfully they are an honest bunch and they’re not afraid to tell me when they think I’m getting it wrong. This creates an opportunity. The opportunity to learn something great. The opportunity to reflect on my writing and to improve. But, there is another lesson I have learned from my group, and that is that they care. They care about my writing, they want me to write well, and they want me to succeed.
And so the adventure will go on.
(Picture by IMG_0859)
Tomorrow is my monthly writers’ group session and I’m a little nervous. Why? because I have submitted a piece with a flashback. For those of you who follow this post, you will probably recall that the last submission I put forward for critique, also had a flashback. What happened? I ruffled a few feathers, getting a bit of a dressing down from those that don’t like flashbacks. What can I say, I’m a glutton for punishment!
My following blog sought feedback from my fellow readers and writers alike, to see what you thought. The general consensus was that there is nothing wrong with flashbacks, as long as you do them right.
Anyway, I will see how it goes down tomorrow. I’m not expecting a great reception, but I’m sure I will get some valuable feedback. Whatever comes of it, I will learn something. Something about writing, something about people, something about me, or something about my story – Whether I agree or not.
I guess for me, it is better to put my work out for criticism to a group of people I know and get feedback – Feedback that I can review and decide whether I agree or not, feedback that may tell me I have missed something, or that I can do something better – rather than not get any feedback at all. At least I get to see what people like and what they don’t like. More importantly I get to find out if it is just an individual preference or a blanket one.
At the end of the day, it is still my choice how I write, but a smart writer will listen to criticism with an open mind and then choose what will work best for them and their readers. So that’s what I will do, wish me luck!
Interview with Christopher Kneipp.
Christopher Kneipp is a mild mannered, talented, Brisbane author who is set to release his new novel “ONE” in December. This is the third book in his Kasdtien Cycle series and promises to be a great addition and powerful conclusion to this fantasy trilogy. So what better time for me to catch up for a chat with the author than in the lead up to the books release.
Allan Walsh: Hi Chris, I heard a rumour that you have been writing this series since you were a wee lad. Is this true? And if so, what has kept you motivated to finish the series over all these years?
Christopher Kneipp: Not a rumour. This story has been rattling around in my head since I was 15. I finished the first draft of book one when I was 21 and then, dissatisfied with the result, burned every copy. It was another 15 years before I returned to it. Some stories just won’t let you walk away. I’ve grown a lot older since then, but my main character, Mark, never really grew up. As for what keeps me going, the characters keep me writing. Sometimes a story will just grab you by the throat and demand to be written.
Allan Walsh: According to your webpage – http://parttimelunatic.wordpress.com, you were born in the Sydney, live in Brisbane and have a passion for the outdoors. Do you think the Australian bush and the cities you have lived in have inspired your writing in any way?
Christopher Kneipp: I think any writer is affected by the places they live or where they have been. Sydney and the Blue Mountains play an important part in the Kasdtien Cycle. The Mountains in particular were the first place I really discovered the magic of the Australian bush.
Allan Walsh: When you’re not writing, I would hazard a guess that you are probably reading. This poses the question – who are your favourite authors and why?
Christopher Kneipp: I have a soft spot for some of the old school fantasy authors, J.R.R Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Michael Moorcock, etc, but it was Stephen Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant Chronicles that first made me think, I need to write. Also Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea books and David Eddings works have had a lasting influence on me. Currently I’m reading Marianne De Pierres, sci fi western Peacemaker.
Allan Walsh: When you started the first book in the Kasdtien Cycle – Parallel, did you already have a plan? Did you know where the story was going and where it would end? Or have you written it by the seat of your pants, getting the words down on paper as they have popped into your head?
Christopher Kneipp: I really tend to do a bit of both. I know exactly where I want a story to start and where I want it to end. Connecting the two is more of a seat of the pants thing. I’m usually a few chapters ahead of what I’m writing, plot wise, and I can see how to connect everything but I like to let the story reveal surprises as it unfolds, even to me.
Allan Walsh: Now that you have wrapped up the series, what is the next project on the horizon for you? Will we see more from the characters, Mark and Angelie? Or do you have something new you are itching to get down on paper?
Christopher Kneipp: When the trilogy is done and dusted, that’s it for the characters. After 35 years, I think I can let them get on with their lives. I’m torn between two projects next. One is a psi noir thriller called Harmony, the other is a dystopian tale that begins with six short stories that interconnect, followed by what happens to the characters when they all meet. Hard choice. For now I’m just focussing on One, getting it finished and ready for a December release.
Allan Walsh: Well Chris, thank you very much for your time, it has been a pleasure. I wish you all the best with the release of your newest novel – One.
For all you avid readers out there, if you are interested in picking Christopher’s story up from where it started, you can grab a copy of Parallel, the 1st ebook in the series, from Amazon for the measly sum of $1.05. And if that isn’t value enough, to promote the release of the third book, Christopher is having a free giveaway of the second ebook in the series– The Immortal Darkness. The free giveaway is available from Amazon today 1st July & tomorrow 2nd July. So make sure grab your copy here, The Kasdtien Cycle Series is well worth the read.