The article below is a copy of a talk given by me to the OMNI Liaison Officers’ meeting at COTA on 27th March this year. I was asked to talk on how I learnt to write stories and articles. I did this, but also took the opportunity to publicise our blog in the hope of encouraging more men to put pen to paper.
Bruce McCorkill March 2017
From an early age, I have always loved reading. At primary school I had special rights to borrow more books than the other kids. At home after tea we would sit around the kitchen table reading.
In school my skills were in writing in subjects such as English, but I was hopeless in subjects like maths.
I spent three decades in the public service, much spent in writing reports. While supposedly factual, many of these were fantastic creative works of fiction.
So when I retired I took up writing.
I started in 2012 in Living and Learning Centre writing classes. This was an eye opener, because I had thought that authors just sat down and wrote. But no, writing can be hard work. You need to think of a good topic, will the story be character or plot driven, will it be past or present tense, told in first or second person. Then you have to make the story come alive and interesting, so people will enjoy reading it.
For example, a simple two page piece can sometimes take me ten hours of hard work to finish, by the time I think of a story line, draft it, find the right words, type it, change it, read it to my wife, then start again.
Some authors claim that writing is an art. I would argue that writing is just as much a craft or a trade, which you can learn. Building a house needs careful planning, use of the right materials, sound construction and attractive finishing. So with a story. A writer uses words as the building blocks of writing, and carefully places the right words in the right order to make the story stay upright. A good story should make the reader want to come inside and follow the author on a guided tour.
When I write, I like allowing the creative side of my brain to get loose and develop unusual tales with characters getting into strange situations. I enjoy developing plots having unexpected endings. I particularly enjoy creating good strong decent characters, but who are flawed, yet are still likeable. I have also started writing poetry, which is a whole new challenge.
Since 2014 I have belonged to the Eltham U3A creative writing group. In the group I’m interacting with like minded people, who enjoy writing and understand my feelings about writing. Sometimes you mention to people that you are a writer, and they look at you in a very strange way. But in the group, you feel like you belong, similar to being in an OMNI group; everyone is on your side.
In my group, led by a very competent published author, we write on a variety of topics, fiction, nonfiction, prose and poetry. Tim belongs to the same group. We give each other feedback, and this makes me a better writer. Like an OMNI group, I come home with a smile on my face, thinking about the stories I have listened to that day.
Which leads me to our blog. WWW. OMNIDiamondCreek. Along with a few here, Daryl, Tim, Ron, Ken, I regularly post stories on the blog. The blog shows the history of the group over the last six years, and contains travel stories, Xmas party pictures and short stories and poems. This is a great chance to get your work out into the wider world. 99% of writers will never be formally published, but the blog lets us get our work out there into the public domain. For example I have written a short 20, 000 word novel, and it’s on the blog.
On a serious note, posting on the blog enables you to publish something about which you may have really deep feelings, which you want to share with many people. For example, my first serious poem in 2012, was about sexual abuse by priests, and this poem is still relevant now. Then again, some of my poems are more in an amusing style, such as the one about the dog on the tucker box which John passed out. So the blog gives us a chance to let the world know how we are feeling.
So this is a summary of my feelings about my writing. I would encourage other people to give writing a go.
I will finish by quoting a passage a friend gave me when I started writing.
The Joy Of Writing.
Only a writer knows the intense joy one can get from painting their life’s picture in words.
Our stories are just that – “our stories’ – they are us, they are our passion, our hopes, our disappointments and our opportunities.
Our words are merely the fabric we choose to describe out being.