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Thursday, 26 April 2018
Author’s Inspiration ~ Kerry A Waight #amwriting @Storiesofthen
The Value of Community
Writing is often a solitary task, be it for either pleasure or occupation. And, if you are like me, you don’t want to turn up for regular writing groups, where you sit around drinking coffee and discussing your work. Not that there is anything wrong with that—it just isn’t for me. But when I first retired and realised that I could finally start to write, I found that I needed some type of focus, support and direction.
So, I did what everyone does these days—I hit Facebook. Luckily for me, the first group I found was Authors’ Tale. This group has, without doubt, been the making of me as a published author. Let me explain.
During a phase when I wanted to be a professional genealogist (which I did do for a while), I undertook a couple of courses with the Society of Australian Genealogists. As part of the Diploma in Family Historical Studies, I was required to undertake a 32,000-word thesis. I chose one of my ancestral families as my subject. During my research, I uncovered some twists and turns that I thought would make good fodder for a fiction—the idea for my first novel was born.
Upon retirement, I found that now that I had the time, I could get started. And I started. But how did I know it was any good? Was my grammar okay? What about my tense? And, if I managed to finish it—what next? Hence my search and discovery.
Now Authors’ Tale has an activity every Wednesday called ‘Writing Prompt Wednesday’, where the group is given a prompt and whoever wants to can write something and submit it on the page. Took me a long time to gain the courage to do that. So much time that I didn’t have the confidence to submit anything to their first anthology Once Upon a Wednesday that was published in March 2017. I was determined, however, that I was going to submit for the next one.
I still didn’t have the courage to submit anything to the Facebook page except some comments on the posts of others, ask a few questions, and of course the mandatory ‘like’ and ‘love’ emoji. And I quietly worked away on my novel, but not very methodically. Then the date for submission came out for the second anthology, which would be entitled Heart of a Child. It was time. I found the list of past prompts and found one that would interest historical fiction me. The prompt was ‘a father having trouble telling his children a bedtime story’. It took me a while to work out how I was going to do that and then it hit me—it’s pretty hard to tell a bedtime story when you are dying of plague! One of my favourite topics so I knew I would be happy to do the research involved. That story is entitled ‘Tell us a story, Pa.”
Once that was done, I still had time. Okay I thought. Write another one. Luckily for me, there was a prompt where we had to write a story with a song as inspiration. I had already started one of those, so I dragged it back out. The song I was using was The Parting Glass, which evidence suggests had its beginnings in 1600. It has been attributed to the Scottish Thomas Armstrong, written in a letter before his execution for the murder of Sir John Carmichael. But the letter has morphed since then, with differing versions of it being sung today. It has also become very dear to the Irish. Being of Irish Catholic heritage (like many Australians), I decided to find a period in time where the version I wanted to write would make sense. Hours of research later, I discovered the Eleven Years War, which ran from 1641 to 1653 in Ireland. Perfect timing for a rewrite of the original from Thomas Armstrong! And that story became ‘Goodnight—and God be with you all.”
Before I had time to change my mind, I submitted both. I had gone from no-one reading my work to it going into a workshop where eight people would be critiquing it, followed by a judgement process by a panel. My heart was in my mouth. The workshop started, with varying degrees of suggestions and feedback coming. Even the ones with lots and lots of issues with my stories said that they were great stories. So, I made changes where I saw fit—although sometimes I decided that I would stick with what I had. But, interestingly, I found myself gaining confidence in my own work and judgement. Long story short—both stories made it into the anthology. I was so overwhelmed I cried. I could write, and I was going to be published.
Heart of a Child was published on 24th March 2018 and is available on Amazon. All profits from the sale will be going to a charity called Children of the Nations. Not only are my two stories in it, but eighteen other wonderful stories from some wonderful authors. We all supported each other. Importantly, we were honest with each other. Not everyone got stories in who submitted. But the feedback was constructive and valuable, and the final product maintained its integrity, which is important for every author involved.
I now have the confidence to proceed with my novel. I’m nearly finished (I think) and have begun editing. But it will be read by others in Authors’ Tale before it even goes for professional editing. I trust these guys. And, were it not for them, my novel would probably still be in the thought process phase.
A lover of history and genealogy, my intention to bring the story of people from the past to life through my writing. History is more than just dates and places. It is a web of the lives of the people from those dates and places, the consequences of decisions made and events that occur around them. I have a Bachelor of Arts, with History as my major subject, closely followed by Sociology/Anthropology. This was backed up with a Graduate Diploma in Secondary Education (Human Society in its Environment), plus a Certificate in Genealogical Research and a Diploma in Family Historical Studies.
Having decided to retire early, I am involved with an animal rescue group called Peggy’s Promise: Helping Fur Kids with the Basics, as well as singing in a choir and writing. Married with two grown sons and a dog called Bindi, I find myself so busy now I don’t know how I managed to fit work in!
Heart of a Child
Whether you want to take a trip through time, go on an adventure in your backyard, or feel a burst of excitement only to return to an adult reality, each story has something for every reader who wants to feel like a child or be part of a life many children have led before.
Take a trip down memory lane or pull your child into your lap and see the world through their eyes. In this second anthology written by members of Authors’ Tale, both light and heavy themes bring out the child in almost every genre.
This year’s anthology features many stories about young hearts and for young-at-hearts. These tales will make any reader feel nostalgic or even open their eyes to something they never considered—something that will challenge their view of what childhood can really be like.