From the 'lost & found'

Alison Lloyd's newsletter #3

Scroll down for:

  • a poem that turned up in my papers

  • another pin-up girl for Parliament

  • more counter-intuitive writing tips

  • a beautiful description of the sea from author Lucy Treloar

Thank you to everyone who told me they enjoyed my fairytale last newsletter. The link to the story is in here if you missed it. How did I go with the next round in the story competition? Yes, I got another short story in - a romance! No feedback yet as to whether I made the third round. I’ll share the story with you later. Since I entered it in another competition too, I’ll keep it back for now.

Lost and Found

I seem to have misplaced a lot of stuff recently. Not just socks but also thoughts and notes. I actually found this scribbled poem of mine while looking for something else, which you’ll see is kind of ironic.

An Author Misses her Inspiration

I thought I’d lost my creativity -
She missed appointments
Got squashed under the washing
Fell from the shopping trolley
Was mired in email
And wandered in the abyss
Twixt fingers and keys.
She winged her way out
And see - here she is!
Accident-prone and
Full of surprises.

(c) Alison Lloyd 2021


Parliamentary Portrait #2

Cultural advice: this story contains the image of a deceased indigenous person

Last month, I wrote that Caroline Chisholm deserved a spot with the worthies on the walls of Parliament House. Another woman whose life is largely buried in the archives was Tasmanian Mary Ann Arthur. Unfortunately, the only picture I can find is one of those unsmiling Victorian poses.

Mary Ann was thought to be the daughter of an Aboriginal woman abducted by a white sealer. She worked as a maid in Tasmania, until she was taken to Flinders Island with around 180 indigenous Tasmanians, supposedly to protect them. She taught in the island’s school - she might have taught her soon-to-be-husband Walter George Arthur.

In 1846 she helped organise a petition to Queen Victoria, protesting that the Queen’s ‘free children’ were badly treated by the Superintendent who ruled their daily lives. Mary Anne and her husband followed up the petition with a series of letters to Governor.

I thank my Father the Gov that he has told us black people that we might write him… The Superintendent talks plenty about putting us into jail and that he will hang us for helping to write the petition to the Queen from our country people. We do not like to be his slaves nor wish our poor country to be treated badly. I remain, Sir, Your humble Aboriginal Child, Mary Ann Arthur.

I admire her courage and persistence in the face of the Superintendent’s opposition. Her letter shows the power of literacy, in that Mary Ann and her community succeeded in getting transferred off Flinders Island. But conditions in the new settlement near Hobart weren’t much better - after eight years, only 15 of 47 residents survived. Mary Ann was one of them. She eventually died in hospital of ‘paralysis’ in 1871. A tough life, but portrait-worthy - an indigenous Australian who used the political weapons of her day to stand up for her community.

A Contemplative Landscape

Here’s a link to a lovely pic of the Wybalenna chapel on Flinders Island, where Mary Ann Arthur would have gone to church. I’ve turned it into an online jigsaw, as a kind of memorial:

Click here for Flinders landscape

Writing Tips your Teacher didn’t tell you #3

Here’s another writing tip that might seem counter-intuitive:

Don’t worry about the beginning until you’ve written to the end.

I know beginnings are important - first impressions and all that. So we can get stuck on them. We rewrite the start over and over, trying to get it right before we get on to the rest of the essay or job application or whatever.

My suggestion is put some words down but DON’T revise them. Not until AFTER you write the main things you have to say, and your conclusion. When you’ve got that sorted, let it shape the beginning.

You might find you can delete most of your original first sentences. A lot of the time the first lines I write are kind of feeling the way, warming up, clearing my throat. (Whichever metaphor you prefer!) If you’re waffling around, cut it out.

If you’re a student, obviously you can’t revise in a handwritten exam. But you can practise in advance, and you can plan on the spot. Then you’ll know your answer structure before you write. Lay that out in your opening paragraph and you can’t go far wrong. To give a rather generic example: ‘The theme of X drives author Y’s book on multiple levels. This essay will discuss the main character’s dilemma, and how this is reflected in the narrative structure and style…’

From my reading shelf

Lucy Treloar’s Salt Creek is a historical novel set on the salt-and-sun-drenched Koorong. The Wolfe Island of her second book is off the US coast, disappearing under future rising sea levels. Dystopias aren’t my favourite reading, but Treloar has a way of making her characters deeply lovable. And she has a thing for the sea:

We are moving through the salted ossuary of ancient docks: here a ribcage, there a raised arm, and at the ends of each dock the old oyster shanties, which somewhat resemble skulls with their sunken rust-weeping eyes and raddled paint. Lines of silvered posts strike out to sea … if I were impossibly agile I would leap from one to the next across the water and at the last one turn and see this lost world anew: a low stretch of grasses standing and falling like the pelt of a living thing on the ocean’s surface… 1

Can’t you just see it, and feel the sadness of impending loss? Gorgeous.

Love to know what you think, about any of the above.

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And please do share this newsletter with anyone who might enjoy it.

Blessings and best wishes,

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Treloar, Lucy. Wolfe Island, Pan Macmillan, 2019, p 6.