Slow Writing

Wiradjuri writer, Tara June Winch, gave this advice to entrants for Australia’s SBS Emerging Writers’ Competition in which she is a judge:When you read your story aloud, when you edit and read it again and again, your work becomes the fire pit reflected in your eyes.‘ To read more about the competition, View here.

The winner of last year’s competition said this: ‘Leave enough time to have your story read aloud by at least one other person before you submit it.’ Make sure that person is someone you trust, and even think about putting the story away for a period of time. To let it rest.

Such suggestions might seem a bit extreme, but it was music to my ears. Like a freshly-made cheese or new bottle of wine that needs maturing, a story can be transformed when allowed time and patience. I must admit to leaving some of my pieces ‘in the drawer’ for years, telling myself they’re awaiting their moment in the sun. Sometimes it’s true.

W H Auden apparently was still editing his poems up until the day of publication. He’d even pencil changes into the actual book before handing it over to some lucky reader, who would then became the unwitting inheritor of literary history. Slow writer that I am, I find this story about the great master himself to be immensely cheering.

Fast. Slow. Everyone has their methods. Tara June Winch (bless her heart) reminds us that whichever-way we choose to write, it’s alright. Leaving a story to marinate overnight – metaphorically speaking – allows the flavours and ideas we’ve created to permeate, making the story even better the next day.

Writing in this way is not for everyone, but if it is, then let’s embrace it. It’s comforting to know it’s alright.

5 thoughts on “Slow Writing

  1. I love the idea of leaving the work to marinate overnight Margaret. I’m with you in the slow writing camp and often revisit work from years before, to add more flavour to the mix.


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