Kelly Joseph’s Online Journal

Te Papa Tupu Journal Entry 1 – Saturday 11 August, 2012

Firstly, I’d like to say a big thank you to the Maori Literature Trust, Huia Publishers, Te Puni Kokiri, and Creative NZ. Our first Te Papa Tupu hui a few weeks ago was a warm and inclusive experience. I think many of us were quite nervous heading into it, but we were soon put at ease. It was great to listen to excerpts from the other writers on the programme and hear the wide range of voices, styles, genres etc. It was also interesting to hear from Mark Sweet and Jacquie McRae about how the writing journey has evolved for them since they began the programme a couple of years ago.

Last week I met with my mentor Alia for our first meeting. It’s convenient that she lives just around the corner from me. Not that I’m going to be stalking her down at the village shops or knocking on her bedroom window in the middle of the night to ask her opinion. It’s just nice to know I won’t have to go very far to find support if I need it. Over a cuppa Alia and I went through each story of the collection written so far and talked about the weaknesses and strengths of each one. We agreed for the most part about which pieces we thought should make it into the final collection, which ones were in the not sure pile, and which ones we should probably chuck out. We also talked about whether I wanted to create a themed collection versus a random one. I think I’ll wait to see what happens after I write a couple of new stories—maybe see if there are any obvious threads there.

After the meeting with Alia I emailed Brian at Huia and asked how many words he thought a collection of short stories should be. He said between 60,000 to 70,000 words. Crikey! I thought I had a fair amount of material but there is still heaps of work to do. I’ve tried to figure out a rough writing schedule but things will have to remain pretty loosey-goosey because I have a baby. So far I’ve found most of my time has been spent thinking about characters, settings and plots etc while I change, feed and burp my pēpe. At our first hui Jacquie McRae recommended a few books including Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird.” I’ve just begun reading it and think Lamott’s chapter called “Short Assignments” will be particularly helpful in the upcoming months. Tackling a story bit-by-bit, paragraph-by-paragraph when I can snatch a moment to write (when my wee boss allows it that is), sounds like the best approach for now.

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