I've no idea where I'll be next Wednesday, 10th December 2014. Probably somewhere in the south western corner of Western Australia, but I can't be more precise than that. A traveler I knew once told me that when he gets close to leaving a place, he leaves emotionally long before he walks out the door. I'm feeling that now, as though I've sent a part of me on ahead to be a forward scout. It hasn't reported back yet though, so I still have little idea what to expect.

However, there are some goodbyes still to be said.

When I first arrived in Perth just over a year ago I knew no-one, so I joined Meetup and enrolled in various groups - movies, eating out, live music and, of course, writing. To my everlasting delight I discovered The Victoria Park Writers' Group. (In my innocence I thought that, being a big city, every suburb had its writers' group! No, I just happened to live in the right suburb.)

My first meetings were held in the local Arts Centre, in a back room which also hosted the coffee machine. We had a (very noisy) acting group on one side, and a sculpting class on the other. As the actors' demands on the coffee machine increased, we moved out to a veranda connecting two buildings, and offended the sculpting teacher highly one evening when we accidentally turned off all the lights in her classroom.  ...continue reading "The Last Post – from Perth, that is!"

Where do stories come from?

A story once landed in my head while I was peeling potatoes, like a plane hitting a runway, and with almost as much impact.

Although it was twenty years ago I remember the incident well. One moment I was thinking about nothing much in particular. The next the story was there, complete with characters, setting, dialogue, beginning and ending. Like a movie played instantaneously.

How does this happen?

Last week I wrote about the why of stories - stories are an essential part of human existence, and have probably existed for millennia.

But this still doesn't explain where they come from.

The scientists out there will tell me they're derived from random connections between synapses in my brain. The psychologists will say they are the result of childhood experiences, or perhaps racial memories. In fact, every variety of professional will arrive at a different explanation.

I have my own theory.  ...continue reading "What goes on in a writer’s head?"

Where do stories come from?

One of the most interesting aspects of writing is the sheer joy of creating something entirely new: a particular configuration of words and ideas that, as far as I know, has never existed before.

In this post I use the terms "writer" and "storyteller" interchangeably, although I am aware that there are many different ways of telling a story. For example, on Friday evening I attended a viewing of students' work from ECU's School of Film & Video. The School teaches screenwriting as well as other technical and creative aspects of film making. (I must mention that the standard of the work was extremely high.) One of many fascinating aspects of the evening was two, very different, short films made using the same script.

Every fortnight the writers' group I attend sets "homework". We can choose whether or not to write a story using a shared concept. I'm always amazed how around a dozen people can produce such an immense array of quality work, ostensibly based on the same idea.

New writers often worry about plagiarism of their work. After seeing these two films, and hearing the many wonderful stories produced by the writers' group,  I'm not convinced this is even possible. I propose that there would be as many different stories based on a common theme as there are writers. I doubt that it is even possible for two writers to come up with the same story, or even the same writer to come up with the same story at different times in his or her life.

How many writers are there? ...continue reading "On the Origin of the Story"