Sunday, February 6, 2011

Thieves and Mad People

Today I attended the 'Writing Dramatic Dialogue' class run by author John Harman through UWA Extension.  It was a fun and enlightening day and yet another mental exercise I can use to limber up my writing muscles.    

John started by telling us:

'You sit in a room by yourself, making up words for people who don't exist.
It's madness.  They can put you away for that.  You either get paid or put away.'

Towards the end of the day he admitted:

'Writers are allowed to steal anything. If it is nailed down, get a crowbar.
There is no copyright on lines of dialogue or ideas.  You can steal anything.'

No wonder no one's Mum wants them to be a writer when they grow up - it's nothing to do with hanging on the fringe of dubious society or the non-existent paycheques.  Writers wind up being thieving mad people.  Personally, I cannot wait.

In that spirit I will share a quote from the young fellow sitting next to me in class.  We were discussing what types of books we liked to read and someone mentioned the classic 'The Lord of the Rings': the epic struggles, imaginative worlds, classic mythology.  He snorted and said 'It's a book about walking'.

In the stunned silence that followed he felt the need to clarify. 'Everyone walks everywhere.  All the time, they just walk from one place to the next'.

So there you go kids, the next time you have a lit assignment on the Lord of the Rings, just say 'it's a book about walking'. 

Furthermore, in the spirit of accentuating the positive I want to share my warm fuzzies (remember them?).  Throughout the class we had the opportunity to read out some of our written exercises, and after lunch I decided to step up and read my work.  The result - spontaneous applause.  The first of the day.  If I had been alone I would have done a little dance.  When John came up to me later and told he that he thought my piece was really good, it was the icing on the cake.  

So on that positive note I bid you all good night.


  1. Congrats Shan! I know that can't have been easy for you to get up in front of everyone and read your own writing, but I hope the response was sufficiently positive that this won't be the last time. You'll have to get used to the limelight soon, if your recent successes are anything to go by ;o)

  2. Oh that's excellent Shan, it's so hard to read out your work, I've still only done it a couple of times and I hate it, so well done, and how worth it when you got such excellent (and I'm sure well-deserved) praise!!

  3. My heart was racing so fast I felt like I was back in school, and that is not an experience I necessarily want to repeat (being back at school that is... wait! I start uni in two weeks. Doh!)


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