Careers in creative writing never follow any one path, and the road to publication can be challenging.
Murdoch University alumni, Bindy Pritchard (BA 1989) and Emily Paull (BA Hons 2013), joined Senior Lecturer Theatre and Drama, Dr David Moody at their book launch this month to discuss the writing process and their careers as creatives post-Murdoch.
Held in Murdoch University’s Launchpad, the event was an opportunity to introduce the pair’s debut collections of stories.
Bindy Pritchard’s collection, Fabulous Lives, explores the frailties and strengths, failures and hopes that make us all human, and brings her characters to critical moments of revelation and re-evaluation.
Pritchard says the key to writing a good short story is to keep emotion at its core.
“For something to be a story there has to be some kind of heartfelt response,” she said.
“You can see something and write about it but if there’s no heart, then it’s just an anecdote. One of Kurt Vonnegut’s rules for writing is to think of your audience as one person.
“If you think about too many people, and what’s interesting to them, you start to lose the sense of purpose and direction in the story. So, for me it’s my twin sister, I want to make her laugh, cry, shock her and that really helps me focus my writing.”
For Perth local Emily Paull, the urge to create has always been compelling.
“Finding the motivation to keep writing was never the problem for me, though I’ve frequently had the mini meltdown where I wonder why I didn’t do something practical like accounting,” Paull said.
“Then I remember that I hate maths. I’ve quit more times than I can count, but writing is one of those things that you can’t ever stop for long. It’s maybe only been a couple of months that I’ve gone without writing and then an idea will come to me while I’m doing the dishes, or in the shower, or driving along Mounts Bay Road looking at that statue that’s always got clothes on. Then you get home and write a story and remember why you loved writing in the first place.”
Although the road to publication was long, both authors are thankful for the journey.
“I graduated from university in the late ‘80s so I’ve had to do a lot of other things, but I think as a writer you shouldn’t discount those experiences. They’re the start of great stories, and really if we never struggle, if we never work retail, or in bowling alleys, or as a cleaner then we’ll never get the stories,” Pritchard said.
For Paull, even the selection of her book’s title was a story in itself.
“Originally my collection was titled ‘Tales from the Crescent,’” she said.
“The stories were inspired by things I’d seen when I was working as a bookseller on a street called Claremont Crescent. Two of those stories have survived and are in the collection. The new title comes from a quote by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich; 'Well behaved women seldom make history.'
“I began to realise as I was putting the collection together that what united them all was they were all either about strong women or they were about men’s interactions with the women in their lives. So, I thought great, this is a perfect time to steal that quote that I like to stick on everything else and stick it on a book and make it mine."