What a disrupted month April has been, with its multitude of public holidays, three in one month. Finally, though, things are back to normal, the holiday makers have mostly departed and our writing class is back to meeting once again. Great to see the familiar faces once more as we settle back into routine and work on the given homework to read in class. I’m a great believer in writers being part of a group; there is something about being given a topic to write with a set word count that makes the brain work that little bit harder. Without our wonderful tutor, Jenny, who always seems to find something to challenge us I doubt if we would stretch our capabilities quite as much.
Like going for an annual check-up with a physician, any book needs the same kind of treatment so My Sunshine Coast is presently with the publisher for a professional review to make sure the prose and photographs are of a standard that will result in a quality book. It will be two weeks before I hear back. What a long two weeks that will be but it will give me time to reflect on what I have done and whether I have done justice to the extraordinary part of the world that is the Sunshine Coast. With school holidays in full flow along with Easter, Anzac Day and the Aussie National Surf Titles here on the coast, the crowds were at capacity but still it was possible to find quiet spots on the beach or in the bush where one could find solitude to just enjoy being a part of this wonderful world.
My reading has been a bit hotchpotch this month. I’ve begun a couple of books that I abandoned because, once begun, they didn’t live up to my expectations – isn’t it disappointing when that happens? The book we had for book group was Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. Written in 1874 the difference in the style of writing was to be expected but the following paragraphs really brought home to me how many skills have been lost over the years. Consider the lack of formal education that the main character, Gabriel the shepherd, would have had and one might wonder where true education begins.
After placing the little creature with its mother, he stood and carefully examined the sky, to ascertain the time of night from the altitudes of the stars.
The Dog-star and Aldebaran, pointing to the restless Pleiades, were half-way up the Southern sky, and between them hung Orion, which gorgeous constellation never burnt more vividly than now, as it soared forth above the rim of the landscape. Castor and Pollux with their quiet shrine were almost on the meridian: the barren and gloomy Square of Pegasus was creeping round to the north-west; far away through the plantation Vega sparkled like a lamp suspended amid the leafless trees, and Cassiopeia’s chair stood daintily poised on the uppermost bough.
“One o’clock,” said Gabriel
The mantra of many modern writers is ‘show, don’t tell’ and Hardy most certainly does that in spades. Can you not see him, standing in the darkened field, his eyes searching the night sky to seek the location of the different constellations? Doing a quick mental calculation before he determines it is one o’clock? So much more imaginative than ‘He glanced at his watch’ or even ‘He switched on his mobile to check the time.’ To do that, of course, he would need to be in range – and that could well be a problem!
Being without my writing project for a couple of weeks, I browsed the bookshops while we were recently on the Gold Coast and came away with a cookbook and two monthly cooking magazines. Time to get going again! I have been totally uninspired to do any cooking at all during our recent hot summer, but with the promise of cooler weather coming, recipes from these publications have me once again ready to go. All I need now is a touch of autumn and my kitchen will see me once more.
Back next month.