Don’t rubbish that first draft

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mangaweka gorge

South Rangitikei Viaduct

While researching for my last post, I opened a file I had not touched in a while. It contained several drafts and assignments for a travel writing paper I had completed through a New Zealand university. I opened each in turn, quite pleased at the diligent student I had been. But something intrigued me about one assignment in particular.

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Ce n’est pas un mémoire

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Mum 2

Margaret Fowlds (nee O’Brien)

I was scrolling through a number of essays I hadn’t looked at for a while and came across this one, which I wrote after visiting my elderly mother a few years before her death. This is not a series of amusing anecdotes, no embellishments of a personality, or extolling of one’s virtues; just a story of a daughter visiting her mother and the impact of becoming a stranger to the woman who had given her life. Continue reading

How some stories keep on keeping on

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idea cartoon

In an earlier post I talked about how some stories start; namely the ‘fictional memoir’ as I called it then, a novel-length story about my much-loved father. I so wished to keep going with this project, but I was stuck – call it procrastination, writer’s block, or what you want – but I was desperate to keep the promise to my daughter to write about the grandfather she never knew. So how did I break this writing drought? Continue reading

The mysterious case of the Lost Positive

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Sky writingSetting the scene: The staffroom of an English teaching school in Japan. It is morning. A young Scots teacher is fiddling with papers. It is a matter of minutes before our classes  start when an Australian male colleague enters. “You are looking very kempt this morning,” I say, pointing to the tie. This is so far from his usual ruffled appearance, I am shocked – almost to the core.

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