Today, I am thrilled to be bringing you a guest post from fellow Aussie author Nicole Kelly. Nicole shares with us, her thoughts on how this beautiful wide brown land of ours can inspire great story telling.
Nicole Kelly is a teacher and writer from rural Victoria. In 2020 she won the Stringybark Twisted Tales short story competition with her story, Just Alice. Nicole has articles published in Outback Magazine, Teacher and The Victorian Writer. She writes regularly for The Footy Almanac. Her debut novel, Lament, a reimagining of the Ned Kelly story, was published with Hawkeye Books, and was released in October 2020. www.hawkeyebooks.com.au/lament/ . Follow her on Twitter @ruralvicwriter
Rural Australia appears to be enjoying a renaissance in so many ways, not least of all in the literary world. Maybe it’s the forced isolation that we endured in 2020. Particularly for Melburnians, who were kept away from the rest of their state for an unprecedented time, but the country seems to be holding even greater appeal, for both the masses and the individual.
People are leaving the cities in droves to see the parts of the country that are open to them. Some are experiencing the pleasures of our own shores, instead of foreign ones, for the first time in a long time. We seem desperate for fresh air and country vistas.
Rural stories are being welcomed into our consciousness. In 2020 Dr Marg Hickey’s work, Rural Dreams was released—short stories based around the rural experience. Raw, beautiful stories that have gained a strong following since its publication. Black Inc have not long closed their submissions for their latest Growing Up anthology: Growing up in Country Australia. As with their other anthologies, no doubt the chosen stories will bring the authentic country experience to the fore. Covers of recent favourites, such as Kate Grenville’s A Room Made of Leaves and Pip Williams’ Dictionary of Lost Words, flourish with the colours of the country, evoking rural images as you pass them in the book shop.
For writers, established and aspiring, the country can be a welcoming place to work from. At a recent Bendigo Bookclub Breakup Bash event, a bevy of rural writers, including Sally Rippin, Marg Hickey, Katrina Nannestad, Jenny Valentish, and so many other wonderful writers, spoke of what they love about living and working in the country. It was a fabulous conversation and the video can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/bendigowritersfestival. What was so evident from these writers is the sense on collegiality which comes from forging a personal and writing identity in the country.
Having just spent a weekend away in the Grampians region of Victoria, watching the summer rain moving across the majestic mountain range, I was reminded of the striking beauty of nature. My stay was not far from the beautiful hamlet of Dunkeld and there was joy in spending time simply watching the clouds move slowly across the sky. I sat in the late afternoon sun, a mug of hot tea beside me, watching the shadows creeping across the paddocks, searching for the right words to fit my short story.
As always, the words came easier in the quiet, open spaces of the valley. There was room and time for thought, such crucial elements of the writing process. My hand started scribbling. Stringybark Stories (https://www.stringybarkstories.net/) regularly run short story competitions, many with an Australian flair and well-worth having a look at if you’re a short story writer.
So, what can we take from all of this? If you are an aspiring writer living in the country, reach out to those writers around you. More often than not, they will be struggling with the same things you are and may well provide you with a valuable nugget of insight and advice, to help you on your way. And, no matter where you’re from, embrace the beauty of rural Australia to inspire and add colour to your writing; a ready and willing muse. See whether your words come easier too. I hope they do!
The view from Chimney Pots Cottage, Dunkel
Thank you to Nicole for sharing her thoughts with us. It certainly makes me want to leave the rat race in Sydney, for a quieter life. If you would like to check out Nicole's book, click on the link below.