The mermaid in the forest

April 19, 2012 at 5:24 pm (Uncategorized) ()

I will trade words for cheese

The first and only time I took a writing class, we had to bring in a 1000 word story to workshop with the other students. I deliberated for some time, and finally brought in ten copies of a short story, Lit in the same places, the edges damp from my clammy hands.

It’s such an interesting process, watching people read your words, and reach for their red pen. Note I said interesting, not necessarily enjoyable.

I didn’t quite know how to feel when the teacher frowned, and said ‘Rijn, I just don’t think this would happen…it’s a bit too far-fetched.’ And with my head down, I confessed that it was autobiographical and had, in fact, happened to me. I was expecting my words to be critiqued; I didn’t think my life would be too.

It took me a while to venture into another workshop again.

Yes, I know – so sensitive! How irritating, right? But I’ve seen people emphatically defend the use of second person with glasses held aloft, seen pretzels stabbing the air over the use of a semi-colon, and seen shiraz stained mouths debate one word in a title.

Ah. I see my mistake. Maybe a teetotal workshop is in order…

But what fun would that be? That would rule out the fabulously indulgent and rewarding workshop I just enjoyed in the forest nestled at the base of the Dandenong mountain range, in Melbourne’s outer east.

I packed five copies of my story, The crooked mermaid of Kaartinkaupunki, a handful of pens, and a straight spine. And lord, was it enjoyable. I came away with lungs full of fresh air, many quotes in my little red notebook, and a much tighter story.

I feel your yellow is poking its tongue out at me

Can I just have a cup of air?

Has an Alsatian named Toto

On a timber deck overlooking lush greenery, we dipped into a lavish array of plump figs smeared with blue cheese, sucked the brine off olives, and poured spiced rum into cut glass goblets as we shook ink from our pens.

A little bit special, that.

I think I’m ready for more.

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4 Comments

  1. Michael said,

    I do feel that pretzel fencing is the only true way to argue a writing style.

  2. inkymouth said,

    Damn semi-colons…always causing trouble!

  3. msdebbie said,

    Wow, came to this blog for the irresistible word “inkymouth” and what do I find but tales of a Dandenong writers retreat I would’ve loved to have been at! (Even if I lean to prepositions at end of sentences … occasionally!) How quickly I plan to get through the archive xxx

    • inkymouth said,

      Thanks so much for coming and reading my work…lovely to see you! And there’s always room at our workshops…will save some blue cheese for you next time…x x

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