Our session ended with a sparkly hat, shaped like a star fish, an octopus – jingling and ringing, smelling like damp felt, and began with an information session about the newly planned Mission Beach Arts centre. A lively discussion followed Peter Faulkner’s (From Conus Business Consultancy Services) point presentation concerning the background to how the centre came about, what is planned and how we can be involved. We felt that there was potential for collaborations across art forms, including writers, multimedia artists, and artists to create new works at such a centre, providing it is set up in a way that allows that to happen. One of our members felt that the Arts Centre would need enormous support from the whole community to be really viable and was not convinced that would happen. But overall the response of our group was that we would like to be involved in future planning meetings to ensure that writers are a part of the local art’s centre vision.
After a brief discussion of our plans for the year, which are many, and we will soon announce, we were treated to a talk and creative writing session with David Conley, a retired journalist. David happened to be in the area visiting Sally Moroney and Adrian Walker and offered to pop in and visit us, a chance we jumped at as it’s interesting to have visitors with a different take on writing.
David was born in the USA and completed his initial studies in journalism there prior to traveling to Australia and PNG in the early 1970’s, He was given work by Alan Hudson, then editor of the Cairns Post to continue a brilliant career in newspapers which was to include many awards and working for numerous Queensland media outlets. He returned to the Cairns Post as Chief of Staff in 1994 before taking up a position as lecturer in journalism at the University of Queensland in 1995. Here he completed his PhD on the topic of journalists who became notable authors and how this transition had taken place. During his time at UQ David co-authored with fellow journalist Steven Lamble, a widely read textbook entitled The Daily Miracle, designed as an introductory volume for journalism students and one which has not been out of print since its initial publication.
David has also written extensively within the fiction genre with his popular novel The Gibbles being his best known work. Today, he enjoys a semi-retired lifestyle whilst dabbling in travel writing and continuing to develop his fictional concepts with a view to a further novel.
The session with David was productive and fun. After we all introduced ourselves, and David spoke to us about his take on creativity and background into writing -we were encouraged to work towards doing away with clichés, with an engaging exercise involving compressed conflicts. Working with the machine, chainsaw and the animal, snake we matched descriptors and our sense of being the snake and chainsaw to form sentences where things that looked like they should not go together were deliberately matched. Smells growled, itches were smooth, and sentences like this were created by participants – I invisibly undulate towards my favourite meal – fresh frog. With an extravagant gesture she checked the time on her irritatingly expensive watch – and so on.
We enjoyed reading out our ‘creative sentences.’ David commented that it was a great afternoon meeting our delightful group of writers and we ended with some food and a group photograph.
The group meets once a month alternating between Tully and Mission Beach and may even visit Cardwell later this year. We also sometimes visit WINQ.
Picture 4: David Conley with some of the Licuala Writers.
Report by June Perkins