Home & Away: Life & Travel Writing 3. Edited by Kathryn Lee & Jack Ross. ISBN 978-0-473-13539-3. Massey University: School of Social and Cultural Studies, 2008. ii + 156 pp.
Preface: Writer's Block
Rules and Taboos
Nothing but Silence
You Were There
Tiny Black Curls
“Beautiful Little Dolls,” the Policeman said …
Gardening with Granny
24 June 1977
Travelling in the Footsteps of Janet White …
A Bus Full of Pirates
Getting Lost in Costa Rica
Culture Shock 101: Day One in Hsin Chu
Trouble in Tirau
My German Grandfather
Rules and Taboos
Into the Mist: Searching for the Lost Huia
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The blank page looms in front of me; it taunts me and laughs at my inability to do what I have done so many times before…
Sound familiar? Surely anyone who has ever had the intention to sit down and write something has experienced this and knows the horror and panic that can ensue. “I’m no good at this; I’ll never be a writer!” At this point too many people give up, and perhaps I would have too, had I not had the opportunity to take the Life Writing paper here at Massey University. Of all of the wonderful things I learned in this paper, one thing has had the most impact on my writing. The moment of epiphany came when someone said:
“If you want to be a writer, just start writing!”
I think too many of us are frozen by what we see as our creative shortcomings, our lack of anything original to say and a thousand other neuroses that, if we let them, can lead to the page remaining blank.
The lesson that I learned from this class was a very simple one but one that needed to be learned. Stop worrying and start writing. I may never achieve the dizzying heights of the writers which I have read and remain in awe of, but one thing is for certain: I’ll never be a writer until that pen touches the paper. Knowing this has given me that much needed vote of confidence to get on with doing what I love the most.
I hope that you enjoy reading the pieces of our contributors who have happily overcome the dreaded writer’s block and have opened up new experiences, new landscapes and new possibilities to you, our readers.
Reviews & Comments:
- Jennifer Little. "New books reveal bold approach to writing life.” Massey News. [6/6/08]
A former police officer’s sorrows about dealing with the deaths of children on the job is one of the most striking contributions in the latest anthology of student creative writing from Massey’s School of Social and Cultural Studies in Auckland.
Titled Home and Away, to reflect the inclusion of work from students of travel writing and life writing papers, the book was one of two launched this week by special guest and two-time Katherine Mansfield Short Story Prize-winning author Tracey Slaughter.
Poems, essays and memoir showcase the diverse voices and subject matter from students’ writing assignments, with travel diary impressions of Costa Rica and Taiwan alongside reflections on childhood, the perils of family life, fraught love and a tale of a search for the extinct native bird, the huia.
In a story titled “Beautiful Little Dolls,” the Policeman said..,, former police officer Bruce Craig writes of attending the death of a baby, and discusses his own misgivings about the workings of police culture from an insider’s viewpoint.
Contributor and co-editor Kathryn Lee says the publication is a testament to the courage of students who overcame fear and the inclination to procrastinate when faced with the blank page.
“The lesson that I learned from this class [life writing] was a very simple one but one that needed to be learned. Stop worrying and start writing,” Ms Lee says in her preface.
Home and Away co-editor, writer and English lecturer Dr Jack Ross says the diverse backgrounds of the contributors produced a huge variety of “amazing” stories.
“Showcasing and polishing these pieces for others to read and learn from has been a great pleasure for me.”