This is a weekly series of guest posts on How Writers Work. Lorraine Marwood, Australian poet and children’s author and winner of the Prime Minister’s Literary Award, gives us an insight into her writing process.
My first book published was a poetry collection- actually a selection into a Five Island Press New Poets scheme under the mentorship of Ron Pretty at Wollongong. I had begun to gather publications in literary poetry and my chap book ‘Skinprint’ came out in 1996. My next book and my first children’s book was in a series called Supa Doopers. ‘Rainbow Toes’- oh how joyously I carolled over that book!
That seemed to mark a shift in my writing because from then on, even my poetry began to be written for children.
I had several more books published in the educational field- in fact a reader with Nelson- still brings in good royalties for me ten years after it was first published.
Then a story I knew I had to write was accepted with Penguin Aussie Nibbles – ‘The girl who Turned into Treacle’ was published in 2007. It marked a turning point in my writing and my desire to push into a wider field. ‘ Ratwhiskers and me’ was picked up by Walker and since then Walker have published two more books including the verse novel which won the Prime Minster’s award in 2010. I love the support Walker gives to children’s poetry.
I’ve always wanted to be a writer- but funny thing, I was a poor student in primary school- a dreamer. I now know that’s the hallmark of an author- well for me it was. High school propelled me to the high marks and a thirst to read and learn.
Eventually I trained to be a primary teacher, then when I still had a brood of kiddies I tackled a Graduate Diploma to really understand the reading and writing process- I love helping kids and adults with literacy and taking the plunge to write.
Writing was a trial and error journey and plenty of rejections- but writing poems and sending those out to many literary journals both here and overseas provided a pathway for acceptance and expected rejection. Poetry is not an easy genre to gain publication but yet so many kids and adults get a thrill when they write and finish a piece in a writing session.
So before books came poems, hundreds if not thousands of them- they were my writing school, my way to keep my dream of being published alive. And to that end I was passionate to read every writing manual, join groups and find out every skerrick of publishing and writing craft information that I could.
My writing routine is as unformatted as a free wheeling poem. No, I really like the freshness of a morning- that’s when the real writing grease happens- afternoons or nights I can answer emails, write and deal with writing related matters. Some times I research for a piece of writing, sometimes I go back to my writing journals for inspiration. Every night I read. To write I need to read.
My main writing space is always cluttered. I’m always working on several projects at once, I like to sew and garden in between writing; it seems to give me thinking space. Often I have to give myself time limits and actual real targets. Once I’m writing, new ideas, new angles seem to be unearthed as well.
I also often like to write outside, or at the kitchen table, or in another room- it doesn’t really matter the point is variation( for me). I type directly onto my laptop for most work, but poetry seems to need more organic creation because nothing beats a pen and a journal.
At the moment I am working towards completing my second poetry collection with Walker scheduled for August this year, researching a novel and writing poetry. I also like writing stories for a younger audience and have a new Aussie Nibbles due out this year called ‘Chantelle’s Cloak’ and that will send me back to the sewing room to make a cloak for use in future children’s workshops!