writing what’s close

A few nights ago I received my copy of The Victorian Writer in the mail and for the first time since high school, a piece of writing made me weep (I can’t actually recall the title of the book that moved me so much back then, I just remember its effects – strange how memory works – but that’s another post). What I was reading was so raw and brutally real that all I could do was cry. Even when all I wanted to do was look away or put the piece down or just forget. That struggling was there. That grappling too. That inner wrestle that the writer was having with herself was all right there on the page in her words and beneath them. For me to read. A fellow writer but, even more simply than that, a fellow comrade in suffering.

The piece I’m referring to is  Andee Jones’ The Tribute; a memoir piece inspired by a 20 minute creative writing exercise to write about ‘How to talk to…’. And it wasn’t so much the content itself of the piece that set me off as it was the relatability of it. Here was a fellow writer, usually extraordinarily articulate – both with the written and spoken word – who had also studied psychology (Jones is a retired psychologist), and yet she was grappling – and obviously so –  with how best to express arguably her most significant life event. “I sat here for 20 minutes,” says Jones of the exercise, “and couldn’t [write] anything.” The experience that she was trying to exorcise from herself and onto the page was just too damn large and difficult and confronting to translate into any kind of even semi communicable form. It was like the task of writing about the experience was more difficult than the experience itself – perhaps the word I’m looking for here is more real. Continue reading

the series that’s slapping some sense into australians

As a fan of Tsiolkas’ book The Slap, I was rather concerned and quite apprehensive about its migration to the small screen. After all, so many adaptations of late have been subpar (think the latest Dorian Grey, Jane Eyre and Eat, Pray, Love).

In my eyes, the intimacy created between reader and character through knowing what each and every character in the book was thinking, was the book’s strongpoint. Its binding matter if you like. So, naturally, I wondered about how the integrity of this was going to be maintained on television. Aside from the use of voice overs, which are rarely employed effectively, I wasn’t sure that this transition could be achieved without sacrificing the book’s subtleties. Also, each page of the book had something simmering under the surface. The book was so much more than the words on its pages (I know, sounds impossible but just think about it). Something altogether mysterious and uncomfortable and, at times, outright upsetting was happening with every turn of the page. That couldn’t possible be conveyed on television. Could it?

image by anslatadams

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