Bringing Back the Past

May 27, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Posted in Australia, Making History, Publishing, Writing, Writing and Life | 12 Comments
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  I have been writing a personal journal on and off for a long time – probably about forty years.

When I was a girl, I had one of those little diaries with a clasp and a key, a special gift I received one birthday when my parents had a little extra money. But you can’t write much in a few small lines, and we couldn’t afford more exercise books than we had to get for school. So, during my teens, I didn’t write much at all.

I wrote a little during my twenties and thirties, but my latest stint of journal writing has been a constant for the last ten years or so. It has been a great help in keeping me sane and in helping me sort out what my life is about. Now, it also helps me work out my writing problems.

I had always wanted to do more than write diary/journal entries. I was great at writing essays, reports, analyses, but I lacked the confidence to try writing stories or poetry.

Then, in 2005 when in my mid-fifties and with my husband’s encouragement, I undertook a short creative writing course. That course opened a door for me that had been stuck since my childhood.

Short stories flowed from my pen. I tried writing poetry to improve my imagery and to cut down the word count in my stories – it worked. I even did well in competitions. I wrote more short stories. Then I did what I had never believed myself capable of – I wrote a novel. It was good – my writing group said so, and so did others who read the drafts.

I am sure it could be improved, but I cannot afford to employ a professional editor. There is also no chance of a writer like me getting either an agent or a publisher. The only way I could get it ‘out there’ was to self-publish it. Thankfully, self-publishing has become more acceptable today, though there is still a taint of amateurishness and vanity publishing to it.

My novel was originally written for middle grades and young adults. The main character is thirteen-year-old Ben who, with his friend Joe, tries to find out who killed Ben’s father. One of the main reasons I wrote it was to show today’s younger generation what life was like in an Australian farming community back in the 1950s.

However, nostalgia has become a strong drawcard for my generation. So much has changed since we were young that it has been difficult at times to come to terms with this new world. Many of us hanker for the more simple and innocent times we knew as children and teenagers. As a result, Ben’s Challenge has found its main readership among the Baby Boomer generation.

I am working on a follow-up, using the same main characters, but with a different theme to the story. I still would like youngsters to read it and compare their way of life with that of kids like Ben and Joe who grew up in the 1950s. But if the Baby Boomers take to it, then that’s all right with me. Anyway, it is the writing itself  that is really the most important to me.

© Linda Visman

27th may 2012

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