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  • Cate

A Little Bird Told Me...

Back to School Life after my last post on the Write Life means that my focus has been on making sure everything is going smoothly in the classroom.

Oh, and on report writing – not my favourite kind of writing, especially when I find myself staring at the tick boxes and arguing with myself as to which box the tick belongs in (for most students this is really clear, you have the evidence, you have the vision, for others the water is murky for one reason or another).

Luckily for me, the writerly life goes on, if only in small pockets (this is me not trying to employ a pun, realising I have, and hoping you will forgive me – see below).

One of my writing things is to get up early every morning to spend some quality time with my computer, enjoying the peace and quiet and the sporadic clattering of the keyboard.

I listen for the kookaburras and the magpies, who are usually the first birds awake, knowing that once they are up and moving, it’s almost time for me to stop. Then, once it is light, the little blue wrens are usually about, tapping at the window as they chase tiny spiders and other bugs to let me know the day is about to start.

If I don’t allow myself to get distracted by facebook or emails, I can type up a couple of pages before they arrive and I have to get interested in the day proper – you know, waking the other members of the household, cups of tea, breakfast, showers, heading off to school.

Lately, I have been working on a number of different projects so it has all been a bit disconnected, with me jumping from Pocket of Time (which is suffering from identity crisis and has had the first chapter rewritten in so many different ways now that I was beginning to feel that it might be time to walk away for a while) to Shadows (why is it that every time I try to cut the word count I end up, yes, cutting stuff, but, yes, adding more in, too?) to a couple of short projects.

I even found the story I have been looking for, for an idea I had ages ago, but I’m scared to start as I suspect it might be a bit of an emotional roller coaster to write, even though I’m planning it as light humour.

Ah, well.

Fortunately for Pocket, one of the little writing things I tried my hand at was a Twitter pitch party hosted by the NSW Writers Centre.


Lots of.

Got nowhere except for receiving a couple of great tweets back. But. BUT. Big learning experience.

First, you need to understand, I’m hopeless at Twitter – I take too long to catch on to things and by the time I’ve worked it all out the conversation has moved on, plus I use too many words as a matter of course. 140 characters? I’m only just beginning.

Lesson Number One, therefore, was distilling thoughts into a small but powerful pitch. Obviously, this is something I will still need to work on, but I certainly learned to distil! I had my eyes on the prize and was willing to take the risk.

Lesson Number Two was all about thinking more deeply about what I wanted to achieve, what my story was really about, and who it was for, in order to create the powerful part of the pitch.

Thank you Twitter.

Thank you #NSWWCPitch.

Suddenly, I knew what I was trying to do with Pocket and what I had to focus on, thanks to that 140 character limit (which included two hash-tags, by the way). Now, believe me, I’ve worked on pitches before, but this really made me cut to the essence of the story, and regardless of the fact that I didn’t get anywhere near the prize, the learning I took away from the exercise has been of more value than I could possible have guessed.

Pocket has new direction.

So, too, has Shadows, although I wasn’t feeling quite so confused with that work (ever) in progress. Shadows is more a case of getting over being indulgent and getting to the point a bit more quickly.

Getting to the point being my new writing goal, I now have a redefined purpose for my – ahem – small pockets of writing time.

Okay, I never said I was good at puns.


...I don’t do Twitter very often. I read other people’s tweets, and occasionally like or retweet (?) if I’m feeling brave, and, once in a while, close my eyes and leap into the traffic with a tweet of my own, usually emerging feeling a bit bruised and battered and wondering why I do it.

Not this time, though.

Whoever would have thought? The things you can learn from a little bird.

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