I was the guest speaker last night at class entitled, "Short Stories That Work." The course is one of many run by the Community Education Centre at Wellington High School. Like "night schools" around the country, it's under threat due to recent funding decisions by the National Government.
Far be it from me to veer into politics on this blog, but suffice to say I think adult and community eduction is hugely important. It's the sort of thing that's really hard to re-establish once you've lost it...
I mean, without the CEC, I wouldn't have learnt basic Italian in 2003 (only to forget it in the four years before actually getting to Italy), and wouldn't have got my first guest speaker gig. Not that I feel much different today. But it was cool to pretend I knew what I was talking about for an hour, and I may just have said some helpful things.
I did harp on (and on) about revision being the key to writing 'short stories that work'. I truly believe that, but right now, I don't have any stories left to revise and I have to stare down the great white page and write.
That's the hard part. Little things like last night, and getting a poem accepted for the next issue of Brief, do help. To write a first draft you need some mixture of inspiration, confidence, a deadline and amnesia (coz it's no way is it gonna be as good as your other polish stories on a first draft).
If the mixture's not right over the next few days, I might also adopt a routine as suggested by Fred last night: looking into the mirror before I start writing and saying to myself: "You're a choice writer, eh? And all the girls love you."