The other day, I received an email from a young man who wanted to write – not a book or novel but ‘perhaps for the screen‘. He believed his future was to write stories and present them in a way people understand just ‘not in paper format‘…
Unfortunately, Mordialloc Writers’ Group is no more but his desire to tell stories and write made him seek guidance from other writers.
His request rekindled memories of why I founded the local writers’ group in 1995 and maybe he and several others who have contacted me will be motivated to establish their own support group.
I remember that ache to be with people who understand the desire to write.
I remember wanting to not feel isolated or alone; needing to be with others who understand the fascination with words.
Sometimes I wonder where that eager, passionate writer has gone.
It’s Easy to Become Jaded
Over the years, through my involvement with the group and my teaching, I’ve managed to keep writing, but not always, writing what I want – and sometimes not from the heart. There have been periods of avoidance or dissatisfaction with whatever I’ve written. Periods of feeling overwhelmed by the expectations of others.
At times it took a conscious effort to remember and appreciate the sheer joy of stringing words together into a meaningful sentence, a memorable metaphor, a funny rhyme, an interesting character or setting…
When there are workshops to organise, deadlines to meet, lessons to plan, and editing of other people’s writing, the passion and pleasure, spark of imagination and fun are often smothered, spontaneity lost.
- I’ve never had ‘making money’ as the main aim or motivation for writing – just as well because few writers ever become wealthy like JK Rowling.
- My ego has never been so demanding that celebrity status or becoming famous kept me motivated to write.
- And unlike George Orwell, I have never been so driven that I could neglect family responsibilities or my friends.
However, I do want to be able to respond proudly and without hesitation, to the questions, ‘What are you?‘ or ‘What do you do?’
I want to respond with, ‘I am a writer.’
I believe I am, and I do – even if not as successful as many others in the field.
- I still want to record my own stories and help others record theirs. Let their voices be heard regardless of whether they have a university degree or dropped out of high school.
- I want to meet anyone who enjoys playing around with and understanding the power of words, whether it be writing ditties, letters to ‘the editor’, romantic and creative cards, bookmarks, popular or literary short stories, healing personal stories, or the ‘one novel everyone has inside them’.
Mordialloc Writers Group produced nine anthologies between 1997-2016 and gave 66 writers a voice and an opportunity to be a published author. Many have gone on to write novels, poetry collections and memoir.
I have a shelf of class anthologies from paid teaching positions at several places, including the Sandybeach Centre 2002.
Writers gather to workshop
Read their prose, poems, and plays
In the Studio
Each week at Sandybeach
Mairi Neil 2002
The anthologies from classes at Mordialloc Neighbourhood House, Godfrey Street Community House and Longbeach Place, remind me to appreciate the privilege of meeting so many different women and men of varying ages and abilities, all with a desire to write.
I have pages of imaginative, poignant, amusing and serious poems and prose from so many different writers.
What a privilege to share their stories, poems, plays, songs – even an opera – as they delighted in being with like-minded people with a passion for words.
Writing groups and classes bring together people from all walks of life writing what they want to write, but also valuing the techniques and tools of the craft.
Some write as part of a healing process, recovering from accident, illness or grief. Exercising their imagination not just therapy but a glorious release of ideas perhaps not revealed before.
Some write with the aim of helping others recover or learn from their journey, or impart knowledge and ideas they care about.
Some write because at long last they have the time or the courage to nurture their desire to write that novel, or book of poems, or rhymes for children, memoir, autobiography, family history or screenplay for Television, Holywood, or the Web!
Digital technology opening up choices not dreamt about when I first started writing creatively.
The young man who wants to tell stories by writing but not on paper an example of the digital revolution and the future. Maybe he’ll find an online group…
What Am I?
Mairi Neil 2004
I’m a writer.
A phrase with connotations galore –
author, biographer, journalist, poet,
columnist, editor, dramatist, copyist,
novelist, playwright, reporter,
essayist, wordsmith, hack ––
Need I name more?
Unless up against the dreaded block.
They author, communicate, compose, pen,
scratch, sign, autograph, indite,
correspond, create, draft, inscribe,
note, pencil, record, scrawl ––
Scribble frantically around the clock!
The literati boast lucubration at escritoire,
manuscripts cause graphospasm,
and corpus oeuvre fill posterity’s chasm,
from palaeography to grammatology,
stenography preparing bibliography ––
Pseudonyms detected by graphology!
Whether freelance or fabulist using
nom de plumes, ghostwriters or epistolary,
thank goodness people of letters
still continue orthography.
Scriveners scribble in scriptoriums
producing poetry and prose to fascinate,
enlighten, entertain and have their say!
Words that uplift, educate –– or challenge,
even offend –– to promote a cause célèbre!
5 Ways to Rediscover or Retain Writing Mojo & Spirit…
Write something for fun or like me vent your frustration. Form poetry is a good place to start – maybe a limerick or two.
Current Affairs But Who Cares?
Barnaby’s no longer Deputy PM
No longer the National’s gem
But tone-deaf Tony
And Bernardi the phoney
Both agree he’s not one of them!
Meanwhile, Malcolm’s losing the polls
Trying to dodge social media trolls
Tony keeps sniping
Ol’ Barnaby’s griping
Mal’s struggling to hold the controls.
Yet, who wants Bill as the boss?
Both the left and the right are cross
Bill tried to be canny
Lying about Adani
Now Labor may face electoral loss.
Aussie politics seems such a joke
Weekly stuff ups by bloke after bloke
Time for the choice
Of a strong female voice
The glass ceiling again must be broke.
Keep a journal or maybe a blog – experiment with poetry, flash fiction, citizen journalism…
Searching for Words and Meaning…
In writing class
we explore language
seek living words
sentencing each other
to work it out
or perhaps not
just listen, absorb and be
explore the language
search for words
taught in childhood
read in books
overheard on the train…
volume doesn’t matter
one sentence or two
from me or you
research for a living
search for meaning
out-search a life
writing in class…
Make the time to read a book or see a film, visit an art gallery or a museum – it may inspire you to write a review.
Haiku Book Review by Mairi Neil
Crime and Punishment
Be creative – sew, knit, garden, paint, take photographs – find pleasure and satisfaction in other projects and free your mind to return to writing.
Dance, listen to music, walk, meditate, enjoy the silence of nature. Nurture your inner self, the words will come when you are ready and your creative energy returns.
Good luck – and wish me luck too!