It was a real privilege to have author Karen Foxlee speak to our group last Saturday on 27th of June. We are all greatly encouraged when a Queensland based author publishes beautiful books.
Karen graciously spoke about her writing and the process she has been through. She gave us some real pearls of wisdom to hold on to.
One of things that all the members related to is that the stories you write are personal and that you just have to write them.
'Write something that means something to you. Write what moves you and you need to understand the heart of your story.'
Karen expressed the need to, 'Write one sentence at a time. Eventually the story will come out.'
Karen free-writes and comes back and edits later. She finds you need to have a whole story written first before you can go back and fix any problems. It is no good if you keep rewriting the same sections again and again, but haven’t gotten any further in your story. Karen also noted that you need to enjoy just writing the story.
'Don’t edit in the beginning. Just write and write to get the story out. Trust the story will lead you somewhere.'
She expressed the need to turn up each day to your writing.
Originally Karen wrote two adult books, before embarking on her first children’s book. Karen wrote The Anatomy of Wings and entered it in 2006 Queensland Literary Awards, where she won the emerging author section and the story was published through University of Queensland Press.
But Karen struggled with her second book titled The Midnight Dress. She had signed a two book deal with her publisher while having a very young baby at home. The first version of The Midnight Dress she sent off, the publisher deemed unsalvageable and there were issues with voice. However, Karen knew its potential. She just needed time to fix it and let it work.
She went on to write her third book, Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy while the deadline of The Midnight Dress kept creeping closer. At the time she didn’t realise Ophelia was a children’s book. Karen advised us, 'Don’t be afraid to be different and to trust in yourself.'
Ophelia was a new genre for her to write. While writing Ophelia, she discovered her love of writing again and it helped her solve the issues she had with The Midnight Dress. She even felt a little ‘naughty’ writing a children’s book.
Karen went back to rewrite and publish The Midnight Dress over a period of three years.
She described writing as, “…hard work. Write messy, horrible words to get a few beautiful sentences.”
Karen encouraged us to keep learning about writing and also to meet other writers. For all writers you need to, “…find a balance between self criticism and perfectionism. Take advice [from others] even if it does hurt. Look at [your work] objectively.” Karen spoke of going through this process with her editors.
Karen summed it up. “Write the best book that you possibly can.”
We’d love to have you visit our group again Karen.
Tips from Karen: