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On Writing 52 Tuesdays

52 Tuesdays is a locally produced feature-film by Adelaide-based collective Closer Productions. It explores the relationship between a mother and daughter over a year, a year in which the mother decides to transition to become a man. 52 Tuesdays was filmed once a week, every Tuesday, for a year – with the scripts for each week constantly evolving, metered out to the performers week by week. Screenwriter Matthew Cormack speaks about the process of writing such a unique film:52Tuesdays_still_cast_promo_-Tilda with moustache biscuit-_TildaCobham-Hervey_CreditbyNatRogers.JPG

The genesis of this project was a simple pitch I wrote at the bottom of a page of many other ideas. It was something like: “Every Tuesday, every week for a year, a man and a woman meet. Shot over a year, every weekon Tuesday, with two actors, it is an exploration of how time and circumstance affects our relationships.” Like a lot of initial script ideas this is different from the final product. However, it’s wonderful to look back to this as it does remind me that the reason I was drawn to making a film this way, as a writer, was how time and circumstance might affect storytelling. I was interested in how chance and disruption might change the experience of telling a story and simultaneously the experience of being told a story.

What initially seemed like an arbitrary set of filmmaking rules became an interesting production model, a meditation on time and compartmentalisation, and eventually became integral to the story itself.

It seemed to me how we made the film, confining our narrative and shoot time to fifty-two consecutive Tuesdays, could inform the very ideas of what the characters were grappling with, especially around the pursuit of authenticity and the promise of change. Is it possible to live an authentic life? As creators, is it possible to create an “authentic” fiction?

I will say little about the actual process of making the film as it’s there to see on screen now. What I will say about it is that from the very start there was an overall story document that was worked and reworked throughout the year, and there was always the plan to script before we shot – in the end, for production logistics, the week’s script always had to be “ready” at least a few Tuesdays ahead of time. So while there was never a lack of intention, vision, and careful planning, due to the nature of the production, there was also never a lack of wonderful disruptions, accidents, and circumstance that significantly affected what I was writing. That was exciting. Ultimately, however, as a writer, it was not about relinquishing control to some kind of chance and circumstance but about the opportunity to embrace the chaos of the unknown in a way that would hopefully show me (and consequently an audience) something about the challenge of constructing a life, a story, an identity, a gender, a sexuality, only with the materials we’re given in our short, limited lives.

52 Tuesdays is screening at the Palace Nova Cinemas now.


The Art of Lyric Writing

By Emily Davis

In general I’m a bit of a communic-a-tard. This is kind of like being a lactard (allergic to milk), but perhaps with slightly more serious connotations and consequences. I can assure you I can write, and read and speak, and I’m not too bad at a boozy dinner party when I’m tasked with spinning a bawdy yarn (*NB as a slight aside I’d like it noted that having just completed a Facebook endorsed ‘Right Brain Left Brain’ test and I’m a confirmed right brain thinker, which apparently means I enjoy creative story telling; I think best when lying down and I’m meant to be good at Geometry. WTF?!


‘…lyric writing is the salve; the litmus test to happiness.’

Ahem… anyway when one boils down the essence of true communication I’ve always struggled to authentically convey things that I’ve seen in my brain (an image, revelation or something that’s moved me) into a succinct, accessible neat little package of words. The frustration I’ve experienced when I realise I’m unable to explain what I really mean has led to me give up on my quest for a sash-and-tiara placement in the art of eloquent conversation pageantry. (See?…What a wanker, I mean ‘conversation pageantry’ says it all)

What the hell does this have to do with the price of eggs?

Lyrics. That’s what. The art of song writing is something that has taken me many years to comprehend, and I’m by no means an overly successful lyricist. Well not by the usual measures. I’m not famous for it, I don’t earn much money from it, and I’ve never had an affair with one of my dancers because of it. I don’t even have dancers. On the upside, my lack of commercial success has allowed me to approach song writing with a highly personal agenda; and writing lyrics seems to be the most glorious part of the process.

When you’re nostalgic, affected, romantic, easily amused; when you dream every night and have forever, in colour; when you like booze, read poetry for FUN and you like music, and you’re a communica-a-tard, lyric writing is the salve; the litmus test to happiness. You become the grand poo-bah of your own inner insecurities and quirks because suddenly you have a tool to freely and deliciously speak your mind. You can, through the course of a single verse, convey an aesthetic, mood, or an entire life story. You can finally connect with others without having to explain at length in conversation, that which made your cogs turn or your head spin, or your heart sing, or your stomach churn.

I can’t tell you how many songs have been love letters; how many verses have been film trailers to dreams I’ve had; how many choruses have been self-help mantras that have gotten me out of an existential pickle; how many opening lines have been eulogies to the ones I’ve loved.

So now you know. Lyric writing gives my thoughts and visions and dreams and feelings a mouthpiece. It lets me nail down those things that govern me, and confuse me, and it lets me place them side by side; a series of neat little vignettes that line the shelves and cavities of my mind and heart. And this is something that I’d like to share with you, because once I learned how to trap the montages of my mind and bed them lyrics, I suddenly found that I needn’t bother with failed conversation; rather I should just open my mouth and let the song say the rest.


Emily Davis; troubadour; conjure woman; ritual maker and story weaver. Emily has performed at WomAdelaide and PeatsRidge Festival and supported Clare Bowditch, The Audreys and Kate Miller-Heidke. Her two solo albums have been played on Triple J, Nova FM, and the ABC. Davis is currently writing her third solo album due for release in Spring.

Emily will be holding a half day workshop called Trapping the Montage on lyric writing at the Centre.



Writing Prompts and Inspiration

Here are some great writing prompt sites to help you bust through any moments of writer’s block (or just keep you in an internet spiral all day long):

 Writing Prompts on Tumblr

Creative Writing Prompts

 Awesome Writing Prompts

Daily prompts sent to your inbox

 200 Fantasy Writing Prompts

 Spec Fic writing prompts  (don’t forget to come to our Members Monthly on Spec Fic this week).

Random Lists of Things

1000 Awesome Things

List of Fictional Things

Pinterest board of pictures to inspire writing

Share yours below!

If I don’t finish that story, I will not be able to pay the mortgage…

By Mark Dapin

I started my writing day at six o’clock this morning, when I printed out and proofed the first chapter of my upcoming military history book. I’m already weeks behind schedule with the book, which has to be in the shops in November. I must complete another chapter before the end of the day, otherwise I simply will not make the deadline. Unfortunately, tomorrow is my deadline for a 2600-word magazine feature story about a Scandinavian author, whom I visited a couple of weeks ago at his home in southern Sweden. If I don’t finish that story, I will not be able to pay the mortgage (perhaps not this month, but in a few months’ time). dapintall

I was supposed to fly to Melbourne tomorrow to interview a philosopher for a newspaper but, thankfully, the job was cancelled when the paper decided it couldn’t afford the flight (it needs its budget to pay the salaries of all the executives who are running the company into the ground). I would’ve had to complete that 1800-word story in 48 hours, which would’ve meant staying up most of tomorrow night. I’m also working on the second draft of my latest novel. It isn’t urgent – I’ve been paid the advance and I don’t need to deliver for months – but it’s the work I love the most and I can’t wait to see it finished, so it’d be fantastic to get an hour or so done today. But if I don’t write at least 2000 fresh words of the military history book this afternoon, I won’t be able to get the first 50,000 words off to publisher on Monday, one moth late.

So what’s my plan? Well, I’m going to finish this blog post, inviting you all to join me at my masterclass on April 5-6, in which I’ll explain to you how I manage to keep sane and keep writing, and then I’m going to the gym…


Mark Dapin’s CV is one of the most diverse in Australia. Mark was nominated for the Miles Franklin Award for his novel Spirit House and won the Ned Kelly Award for his novel King of the Cross. He has done time as the editor-in-chief of men’s magazines, a bestselling travel writer and beloved newspaper columnist in the Adelaide Advertiser and Good Weekend.

Mark will be holding a two day workshop at SAWC 5 and 6 April, 2014.

Connecting the unconnected – ideas, creativity and storytelling at Adelaide Writers’ Week

by Rose Hartley

As I fumble my way through the second draft of my novel, writers’ guides call out to me from every corner of my bookcase, claiming to be able to help me craft a story that someone might want to read. The latest one I’ve picked up is Lisa Cron’s Wired for Story, which uses brain science to try to explain why stories are so necessary to humans, and why we crave to know what happens next.

Of all the Adelaide Writers’ Week sessions, Telling Stories seemed the most likely to open up the craft of storytelling and explore how to develop an idea into a powerful story. Rachel Kushner (The Flamethrowers) and Fiona McFarlane (The Night Guest) did their best to pick their own brains and lay out how they work as storytellers.

Rachel Kushner unravelled the stories within her stories, that is, the way her characters use story in order craft their own identities in front of others. She explained it as similar to being attracted to someone: making yourself hostage to a person in order to hear their self-created story. Even if the story is a lie, you’ll suspend your disbelief if the person is a good storyteller. And that’s what her characters do.

“There’s an essential truth to the way that people lie about themselves,” Rachel said – and sometimes it’s so strong that we dupe ourselves. “For instance, when I’m saying something that I believe is earnest, I experience myself being earnest.”

The moderator asked, “So are our lives shaped by our perceptions?”

Fiona McFarlane’s response was a simple yes, and she used her protagonist as an example. Ruth’s brain, mixed up by the beginnings of dementia, “is telling her a new story, and she must figure out which world is the most likely,” since her sensory perceptions are lying to her. Fiona went on to talk about the “anxious gap” between perception and reality, and how as a writer that gap enabled her to create the character of Frida, who co-opts and manipulates Ruth’s story.

It’s all very well to hone in on the details of how characters experience story, but what about the writer who’s creating a whole, novel-length story with a beginning, a middle and an end? Rachel touched on this when she began talking about her novel’s themes.

“I enjoy putting two things into play that don’t necessarily relate to each other, and seeing how things turn out, without forcing them into some kind of logical continuity,” she said. Sometimes, of course, the unconscious mind connects them naturally. And this, to me, seems the definition of creativity: connecting two things that were previously unconnected.

“My unconscious is smarter and more interesting than I am”

Rachel described herself as an intuitive writer, saying she doesn’t always think about what she’s doing. “My unconscious is smarter and more interesting than I am,” she explained.

It reminded me of something that Isabel Allende wrote in Paula: that she doesn’t write a word of a new novel until she has the first sentence, and then she just writes, almost without thinking, tapping into something that’s lurking in her subconscious, just waiting to put itself onto the page. It’s a good reminder to put the writers’ guides away and just get on with the thing.

Rose Hartley is a writer and copywriter whose first novel is currently shortlisted for the Varuna Publisher Introduction Program. She blogs at and her short fiction will feature in the upcoming Right Now anthology, to be launched on May 29 as part of the Emerging Writers Festival.

Imagination – musings from Adelaide Writers’ Week

By Fleur Kilpatrick

Every now and then you have that moment: the moment when you realise just how foreign the workings of your brain are to the majority of the population. Yes, it turns out that it is you who is the alien.

Don’t be alarmed. Our minds are so complex and individual that every one of us is an alien in our own right. Our isolation is our most unifying factor.

This week I am spending my days under trees, at the Adelaide Writers’ Week. The generosity and wisdom of the writers is making me feel immensely fortunate and rich but it is the audience questions that I am finding just fascinating. They remind me how foreign creativity is to so many minds.

“You named your character this. Why was that?”

Imagination by Lucy Welsh

Imagination by Lucy Welsh

“Did you write a story about a man with a strong grandfather figure because you long for a grandfather?”

These questions seem bizarre and jarring to me. Under the politeness and generosity the writers answer with, I hear a more abrupt answer lurking:

“Because imagination.”

“I imagined it into being and therefore it was that way.”

“I named him that because it sounded good on the tongue tip of my brain.”

This is not the answer that Richard Flanagan or D W Wilson gave. They expanded it because they are polite, generous people and because they understood why they were being asked these questions. Those questions came from people fascinated by that incomprehensible medium within which the authors work: the imagination.

To those of us that work within the realm of imagination, these questions don’t need answering. It is blatantly obvious to us why a character is called this: there was an empty page and we filled it because we had to. Why? Because it is my work, my mission, my compulsion, my autism to get inside another brain; to manipulate a jaw that did not exist until I wrote it into existence and make it form sentences that have never been formed before.

And yes, as Richard Flanagan said on Sunday in the gardens, if you must interrogate and prise apart the folds of the writer’s brain, eventually they will shout “Madame Bovary c’est moi!” Elizabeth Gilbert also admitted that there is an element of this in her craft when she suggested that perhaps we are writers because it is illegal to kidnap people and have them play out our stories for us. It is personal because writing is personal but, on the other hand, sometime it is as simple as because imagination.

It goes both ways. The people who can make numbers sing or those who light up when talking about investments are completely foreign to me. My questions to them would sound idiotically simple. I would use the words ‘why’ and ‘you’ too much and some scruffy kid in the audience would shake their head at the reductionist nature of my thoughts.

“Why do you think like this? Why does your brain twist around this particular kind of logic?”

The expert would answer with all the politeness and generosity of our novelist. They would try to make me understand but beneath their answer would be lurking another, entirely alien to me:

“Because maths.”

“Because finance.”

“Because that’s the way the world works.”

“Because I have stared at those numbers again and again and that’s the way numbers fall into place.”

“Yes. He is named this because I had an empty page and I needed to fill it.”


Fleur is a playwright, theatre director and arts blogger. Her work can be found at and on stages around the country. Her favourite audience question of the festival was asked of Alexander McCall Smith: “You seem to have a great sense of humour. Are you a Gemini?”

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