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Posts tagged ‘communication’


First Monday August 2019 – how can writers “strive to be happy?”

There’s a lot of unhappiness out there in Writelandia. As I blogged last month, many writers feel overwhelmed with tasks from turning around edits in ever-faster times, to promoting on social media, giving library talks, answering readers’ questions; dealing with our use of diverse characters, even accusations of cultural appropriation. If you’re indie publishing you add in hiring cover designers, professional editors and other help.

All while incomes seemingly dwindle before our eyes.

As I flagged last blog, next weekend my agent and I are presenting a session at the annual conference of Romance Writers of Australia. Our topic – getting back the joy of writing. Because yes, despite all of the above, writing should be creatively rewarding. This doesn’t mean you have to skip to the keyboard singing. But it shouldn’t feel like drudge work, as I’m hearing it does for too many writers

Like any profession, writing has challenges. They keep the work interesting. But writing should give you joy at least some of the time. Anything else is a recipe for burnout.

Among my favourite mood lifters are inspirational books and posters. One in particular has inspired me throughout my long writing career. You may have heard of The Desiderata. For many years it was believed found in an old Baltimore church and dated 1692. We now know it was written by American poet, Max Ehrman.

I’ve written this version to inspire writers. The italic lines are from the original poem. The interpretations are mine.

Go placidly amid the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in silence.

How else can writers listen to their inner voices and tune out the hurley-burley of modern life? By avoiding “loud and aggressive persons” you avoid the vexations of the spirit which are so bad for your creative work.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Comparisons are everywhere. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others are filled with them, making you wonder how your own writing journey compares. The answer is, it doesn’t, nor should it. Aim only to exceed your own highest standards.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Celebrate your small milestones as well as your major successes. Content yourself with sharing your stories, even if the prizes elude you for the time being.

Exercise caution in your business affairs for the world is full of trickery.

Any writer looking at a publishing contract knows this only too well. Indies have many pitfalls they need to avoid.

Let this not blind you to what virtue there is: many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

A fortunate truth, providing writers with much to write about.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is perennial as the grass.

A cynic cannot write convincingly about love or any other human emotion. Only genuine emotion felt by the writer can move readers to laughter, tears and other vicarious experiences.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Age confers many blessings on writers, among them available time to follow your craft and a wealth of lived experiences from which you can draw.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Two occupational hazards of writing, and nowhere is strength of spirit more needed than when faced with a rejection.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here.

Even if no-one else understands the drive to express yourself in words, you owe it to yourself to respect, nurture and explore your gift as fully as you can.

…whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul.

All writers share a common aspiration – to communicate. By sharing your stories you not only keep peace with your soul, you contribute to the pool of human understanding.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

Do these words speak to you? Is there a point that touches you the most? Share your thoughts in the comments below. It’s moderated to avoid spam but your comment can appear right away if you click on “sign me up” at right. I don’t share your details with anyone.

Happy writing,


@valerieparv on Twitter and Facebook

Saturday Oct 12 in Canberra for ACT Writers Centre

My new workshop, Making Your Book Work, details-

Why we need a National Year of Reading more than a Year of Writing

“Nearly half the population struggles without the literacy skills to meet the most basic demands of everyday life and work. There are 46% of Australians who can’t read newspapers; follow a recipe; make sense of timetables, or understand the instructions on a medicine bottle.”

This sobering quote comes from the website devoted to the 2012 National Year of Reading officially launched on February 14. The website is here

I am proud to be a Friend of the National Year of Reading and will do as much as I can to promote all forms of reading for everybody including promoting the cause of reading at workshops, during my tenure as Established Writer in Residence at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writing Centre in Perth, and in regional NSW through our library network and local writing groups.

But why a Year of Reading? Why not a Year of Writing?

Unless we have readers, writers have no one to write for. I believe writing – like all communication – needs a sender and a receiver. Until the writing (the message) is received/read by a reader, the transaction isn’t complete. The reader doesn’t have to receive the message exactly as the writer sends it. They are free to add their own interpretation to the words. For me, that makes the process much richer. But to have the words disappearing into the ether like a shout echoing down an empty valley, would feel like my job is only half done.

Among the goals which the National Year of Reading has identified are three key ones:

  • For all Australians to understand the benefits of reading as a life skill and a catalyst for well-being;
  • To promote a reading culture in every home; and
  • To establish an aspirational goal for families, of parents and caregivers sharing books with their children every day

I was lucky enough to grow up in a family where reading was taken for granted. Reading was never seen as idle or wasted time. It was our entertainment. It was also education but we didn’t know that then. Reading was just fun.  Among my earliest memories are my father reading to my older sister and me in our cots, his inventive voices bringing the stories to life. Later when we moved to Australia, to a town without television (I know, shock! horror!) he read aloud the story of Sam Small, the Flying Yorkshireman, in the dialect of his youth. Unless you’re born to it, Yorkshire dialect is almost incomprehensible on paper. Read aloud it made perfect sense. Many years later in an astonishing coincidence my writer friend, Susan Sackett, told me that her boss, Gene Roddenberry, creator of the Star Trek universe, was adapting The Flying Yorkshireman as a film script. I wish I’d kept Susan’s letters from that time because this detail is never mentioned in his official biographies.

Reading has many different appeals.

So we grew up with a reading culture and learned a life skill that added to our well-being. Two of the boxes ticked. If I can help to pass that joy along to families and caregivers who haven’t grown up with reading as an everyday activity, I’ll help tick the third box, and be a true friend of the National Year of Reading.

Did you grow up in a reading culture? What can you do to share that pleasure among your circle? How can you help spread the message of the National Year of Reading 2012?


on Twitter @valerieparv

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