Writing – fiction
I write high fantasy fiction with a historical basis. Not for the money – it’s not well-paid in any case. The average fiction writer in Australia earns less than the dole! I write because stories have come to live with me. But ‘writing fiction’ seemed to slot in nicely to balance the three previous sections, so here we are. And since we’re here, let me tell you how I came to start writing fantasy fiction.
I was already well-published in non-fiction when I went overseas in 1995, but I hadn’t written any fiction since I was in primary school. The story of my three-and-half years of travel and work in other lands is a whole nother yarn to spin, but suffice it to say here that as part of my brief to Get to Know my Country of Birth, I took a job as housekeeper in a hotel in North Devon, England. It was hard work, but not terribly mentally challenging, and I would finish each day with sore feet and a sore back, ready to veg out in front of the TV.
But one day, just as I was about to turn on Coronation St (or was it East Enders? Those two are forever inextricably linked in my mind) a sentence popped into my head. ‘To be left a widow at the age of twenty-one may sound like a tragedy,’ it ran, ‘but to be honest, I felt liberated by Reyel’s death.’
I knew it was the start of an SF novel. Not one I’d already read, but a new one! My very own book! I grabbed paper and pen and began to write. I missed my TV shows that night, and the next day I bought an excercise book and a new pen. Night after night I would rush home, plonk myself on the bed and continue the adventures of a girl named Kryshli who was sold into slavery and travelled around the world – her world – as a result.
It took me seven years to write that book, on and off, and of course it was not very good. First novels seldom are, and let’s face it, second third and fourth ones are often not very good either. But I had a lot of fun writing it, and I learnt a lot. When I returned to Australia three years later, I joined writers groups and started going to workshops and conventions to meet like-minded people, for writing is a lonely craft, one that non-writers cannot usually comprehend. To remind ourselves that what we are doing is a perfectly good way to live, we need the support of people who can not only understand our passion but also help us improve. A lot of writers, far better at the craft than I, gave me encouragement and support, so now I am eager to help other writers to better their skill. You will, therefore, read a lot about SF reading, writing and editing on my blog.