In the last few years I’ve had the opportunity to not only write 4 books, but have also been lucky enough to bring 2 of them (so far) to publication. In that time I have also read. A lot. Not just for fun, although that is the best kind of reading, but also many text books as part of the Bachelor of Writing I have been studying forever! (That’s a slight exaggeration, but it feels like forever!)
From women’s fiction, chicklit, and historical romance, to instructional guides, text books about editing and how-to’s, there have been only 2 books that have had a real impact on me and now have pride of place on my desk, within arms reach so that they can devoured again and again.
My writing career began at the April 2014 Fiona McIntosh Masterclass in Adelaide. I’ve mentioned this in countless blog posts and interviews, but that is for very good reason. I remember that moment of walking into the room filled with other excited and anxiety filled aspiring authors and thinking, I’m not sure I have what it takes to do this. I spent 5 days with that group discovering what I was good at and also what I wasn’t so good at and honing my skills to produce the best work that I was capable of. I was determined to get every last drop of wisdom out of those 5 days and make every change necessary to get my writing and my discipline up to scratch.
When I went home I banged away relentlessly at my keyboard for 3 months until I finally typed ‘the end’ – and the rest is history. When that book, ‘Confetti Confidential: They Do, I Don’t’ hit the big wide world, I started straight onto the second and that too was released 6 months later.
I continued writing, but soon the complex world of marketing and sales began to take up all of my waking hours. A lot of the wonderful things I had learned in the masterclass and the discipline I had stuck to religiously after, began to fall away and I found myself back to somewhat of a choppy mess of writing bits and pieces here and there. Then something wonderful happened. You cannot imagine my excitement when I found out that Fiona would be releasing a condensed form of that Masterclass - that inspired and got my butt into gear - in print form.
I waited eagerly and 'How To Write Your Blockbuster’ was released in 2015. I grabbed my copy straight away and, inspired by the reminders I so desperately needed, got myself back into the routine and structure that had brought me so much success after the Masterclass. I go back to it often for guidance and to spur me on when I’m feeling a lull. Covering everything from 'Getting Started' to 'Digging Deep' and 'The Business End', if you want to be an author and you don’t have this book – GET IT!
That book single-handedly changed me, and my writing. The Little Red Writing Book is not just a 'how to' or your typical, do this do that. It is a beautiful example of how to write well, how to capture moments naturally and in their entirety. When I read the first chapter, 'Stepping Out - A short walk in a southern wood', I was utterly mesmerised and I couldn't wait to devour the rest (which I did and have numerous times since then).
My favourite passage from this chapter, the one that had me completely hooked and overcome with a desire to write, and walk, is this:
'It got down to freezing last night, and I was cold in here. But the morning is warm and still and clear. There are black peppermints standing up in it, and black currawongs crying their their guttural cry in it; and filling it out, there's a light as clean and a sky as blue as you're ever going to know. I've come here to write a book. So I walk out into the morning to find it.
And it's on the gravel track to Fergy's Paddock at the edge of the lake that my book comes to me.'
Tredinnick's advice on sentence structure and ways of saying the same thing well are done in such a way that it becomes almost poetic and beautiful. I know, it sounds strange to describe a text on writing in such a way, but honestly, he is a master at finding the most exquisite way to make the most mundane, completely captivating.
Tredinnick's ideas on making the complex simple and sorting out 'unhappy sentences' gave me an understanding about the craft of writing that no other explanation ever had. As you can tell, I love this book!
If you're like me and have made the decision to pursue a career in writing (no matter what the mental or physical cost!) then do yourself a favour and make sure that you check out both of these books.