the faithful writer

A friend of mine suggests, each time he tries to arrange a weekend catch-up, that perhaps my talk of slowing down is merely rhetoric. Indeed, you could be forgiven for thinking that there are no upcoming projects that require a giant time commitment, based on my schedule.

This weekend past, I left work a little early to take care of some errands, then spent Friday evening alternately doing some much needed painting around the house, catching up with my friend Michelle, and then Kel and I went with Michelle to a restaurant in Cronulla – Sombreros. Granted, arriving at a restaurant at around 8:30pm on a Friday night without a reservation means you expect a bit of a wait. What we didn’t expect was that the heavy winds around Cronulla would lead to a blackout in between entree and main course. We chose to sit and wait for the lights to come back on – some of the other diners took the opportunity to order tequila.

The next morning was the Faithful Writer conference where Little Red Writing Book author, Mark Tredennick (strong flat white or macchiato, no sugar, and occasionally partial to decaf) gave a keynote speech loosely around Luke 5, explaining the importance of “mending your nets” – working on sentences. The chief thing I’ll take away from his talk, though, is to avoid cliches in my writing: “Shakespeare used cliches, but he coined them”.

During the writing time I wandered down to Meeks cafe (review forthcoming… I was too busy writing to pay too much attention), grabbed a couple of easyway drinks, and headed back to hand in my piece.

I found the extended writing time quite useful – I was actually able to work through a half-dozen drafts of the one idea, and tried it a number of different ways: the mere process of doing that was well worth the price of admission.

I spent the lunch queueing time catching up with George, bumped into another old friend as well, and then it was on to the seminar on the art of the essay. While in reality more monologue than seminar in structure, Tony Payne has the kind of voice, and structure of thinking that makes him worth listening to. The information was really top-notch, and I spent much of today’s train ride reading the handout essays that were provided, including A piece of chalk by G.K. Chesterton. We learned that an essay is a writing form that goes beyond that component of a university course that requires strict adherence to formula, and can be quite a useful thing to master.

From there, it was afternoon tea time (there’s a lot of sugary food to be had at these conferences) and then we heard some readings of different pieces. Greg Clarke read some unpublished works that perfectly summed up the experience of taking a car to the service centre at the dealership, and a couple of crisp, clever pieces of poetry for children. Bec read her excellent Pineapple Tart short story, and then Mark Tredennick read a number of his poems. It’s so rare that I listen to poetry, it was well worth it. He is certainly worthy of the acclaim that he enjoys.

That was the end of the conference: next was to drive over the bridge for another friend’s birthday party: it was fiction-themed fancy dress, and I went as Denny Crane. Not sure how convincing that was: perhaps it was more like myself in a suit, but with the various props that Kel provided (including a nerf gun that fired nerf darts), I think I carried it off.

The next morning was Sunday School: we read through all of Ephesians (no small feat for year 7’s, 8’s and 9’s), and then it was home again, to finish off the various tasks around the house that have been piling up. Having put Michelle back on a plane towards the end of the day, we went home to rest up for the week ahead.

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