Alison Lloyd's newsletter #4
Sadly my romance story, mentioned in the last newsletter, didn’t make it to the next round of the competition :( (Though I got feedback from the judges to fix it up.)
But… I am still riding dauntless into the fray! Scroll down to:
help me out with a quick opinion
read a micro adventure story
discover the woman behind the ‘Drover’s Wife’
Help me out - your opinion please!
I’m working on the true life story of a friend, to be self-published later this year. We’re figuring out a cover design, and I’d love your opinion.
Which option do you like best? Which might entice you to read the book? Flick me a quick 1, 2 or 3 by return email or hit the comment button. If you’ve got time, tell me why — what does or doesn’t appeal to you?
Your feedback is much appreciated.
Hold up! Take a short adventure
This month I also wrote a new story for a ‘microfiction’ competition. In only 100 words, my assignment was to tell an adventure story, including characters eating cake and the word ‘distance’. Thought you might enjoy what I came up with:
Leaving the Goldfields
The coach jolted to a stop, in dust-speckled forest mid-nowhere. A musket’s black nostril thrust through the window. Ginny clutched her son’s hand, her shawl and the square bundle.
The masked man pointed. ‘What’s that?’
She unwrapped the tea-cloth, offered the burnt block. ‘Fruitcake.’
‘I can’t afford to waste,’ she said.
He waved it aside, then made her turn out her skinny purse.
Hours later, in the distance, she saw the roofs of town – bank, government, barracks.
Ginny sighed. ‘Now for cake.’
She broke away the black crust. The boy’s wide eyes reflected her secret ingredient, gleaming.
Parliamentary Portrait #3
You may have read the classic Australian story ‘The Drover’s Wife’, by Henry Lawson, in high school. I did. But we weren’t taught anything about the woman it was quite likely based on, despite her achievements.
Louisa Lawson — Henry’s mother — grew up in outback NSW in the Gold Rush years of the 1850s. She was forced to leave school at 13 to look after her 11 siblings. She married at 18, moving into a tent for her first home. Like ‘The Drover’s Wife’, Louisa’s husband was often absent, and ‘sometimes forgot that he was married’. In 1883 she left him and brought three of her children to Sydney. Son Henry joined her shortly after.
In Sydney, the tall, energetic Louisa Lawson earned her own living by sewing, washing, and running a boarding house. In 1888 she wrote and published Australia’s first magazine for women, on her own printing press. The Dawn declared itself to be ‘the printing ink champion of mankind’s better half’. It aimed to ‘fight women’s battles’ on issues like divorce, childcare and suffrage. The magazine was also happy to share poetry and household tips, such as how to clean wallpaper. (Iron it, if you were wondering).
The Dawn was a commercial success. However in 1900, Louisa was thrown from a tram, and never fully recovered from the accident. She was forced to close the magazine in 1905. After women were given the vote in NSW in 1902, Louisa Lawson was publicly recognised as the originator of the suffrage campaign. Unlike her writer son Henry, she was not given a state funeral when she died in 1920. She left only a modest estate of £629. But I think she’s worthy of a portrait in Parliamen, for the substantial heritage she bequeathed, creating a public voice for Australian women.
From the bookshelf
I thought we’d revisit ‘The Drover’s Wife’, in honour of Louisa Lawson and rural women. And because it’s great writing. How’s this for a sparse, evocative setting, the monotony reinforced by the rhythm of repeated words:
Bush all around — bush with no horizon, for the country is flat. No ranges in the distance. The bush consists of stunted, rotten native apple trees. No undergrowth. Nothing to relieve the eye save the darker green of a few sheoaks which are sighing above the narrow, almost waterless creek…
Four ragged, dried-up-looking children are playing about the house. Suddenly one of them yells: ‘Snake! Mother, here’s a snake!’
The gaunt, sun-browned bushwoman dashes from the kitchen, snatches her baby from the ground, holds it on her left hip, and reaches for a stick.
She ends up guarding her children in an all-night vigil, thinking about her life:
Tears spring to her eyes as she sits down again by the table. She takes up a handkerchief to wipe the tears away, but pokes her eyes with her bare fingers instead. The handkerchief is full of holes, and she finds that she has put her thumb through one, and her forefinger through another. This makes her laugh, to the surprise of the dog. 1
You can read the whole story in the Bulletin magazine of 1892 on the National Library’s Trove website.
Thank you for reading my random writer thoughts! I’m very happy when you enjoy my writing, and when you like it enough to share with someone else.
The Penguin Henry Lawson Short Stories, 2009, p25.