HARDCOPY+tag_CMYK_workingThe flights and accommodation are booked.  Several work meetings and dinner with a colleague are all lined up.  The suitcase is out of the shed and waiting to be filled with too many shoes.  I always pack too many shoes but how can I possibly know in advance which ones I’ll need…?

The HARDCOPY program organisers have asked each participant to bring 5 copies of the first 5 pages of our manuscript.  Hmmmm.

The first 5 pages of my manuscript have been in existence for so long that they have been workshopped to death.  Their last once over was by Helen Garner.  Yes.  THE Helen Garner (in the best masterclass writing workshop I have ever attended).  She seemed pretty happy with what was there, and I’ve made the changes she suggested.

So maybe I’ll take a different 5 pages.  Perhaps the first 5 pages of Chapter Three, which really do need a workout.  Here are the opening lines.

‘I took leave of my friends in London,’ began Elizabeth in her journal, ‘and accompanied by Mr McArthur, hired a Gravesend boat from Billinsgate, which conveyed us to the Neptune.’  It is a quiet beginning to what would become a tumulutuous and harrowing journey… [then I go on a bit – quite a bit – about the size of the Neptune]…As the waterman rattled his boathook and drew alongside the Neptune, the Macarthurs couldn’t help but notice the stench.  Even with only some of the convicts as yet on board, and likely none of the livestock, the ship already housed upwards of a hundred people.  Every day their refuse and bodily wastes tumbled overboard, surrounding the anchored ship until the tides turned.  And once on board (landsmen and ladies were routinely hoisted up the side in a precarious seat known as a bosun’s chair) the smell didn’t get any better.

Oh dear.  Well that should give my group plenty of fodder for criticism, anyway.

The fun begins on Thursday evening with a reception at the Canberra Contemporary Art Space, Gorman Arts Centre.  SBS journalist and author Karen Middleton will be giving a brief presentation on ‘Why write non-fiction?’  Drinks will be provided – yay!  Sadly I have to participate in a teleconference (for work, with some of our international clients) at 11pm that night – boo.  So maybe just one drink for me.  Sigh.

  • I’ve written about Billinsgate before, when I visited London last year.
  • I’ve written about the HARDCOPY program too.