The Blog & I
I started my blog to explore writing issues that interest me. I hope you enjoy them.
My current project is a meditation of sorts on issues that interest me—values, elements of modern life, and my love of nature. For part of this project, I undertook a two-month stint as resident artist on a tiny, remote island off the coast of Tasmania. No telecommunications, no shops, no traffic. Bliss!
I also write short fiction and work through writing issues via this blog. Past writing has included research articles and a popular book about workplace writing.
I enjoy my role as chair of the Varuna The Writers’ House board of directors. Varuna supports committed writers in Australia through its residencies, mentorships, courses and workshops. It also hosts the wonderful Varuna-Sydney Writers’ Festival, an annual event that showcases local, Australian and international writers.
Born and raised in America’s heartland, I honour my American past while now calling Australia home. My sense of ‘otherness’ that stems from this cultural hybridity enriches my writing.
Most of my career has been in education, a choice that let me fulfil my dream of travelling and living overseas. In the education sphere, I have worked as a manager, writer, editor, researcher, teacher, trainer, and course developer. My professional interests in this sphere have included document design, computer-based learning, workplace writing, and issues of culture, gender and communication.
When I was younger, I held a number of jobs, some that keep resurface years later as possible story ideas. Managing a bookshop killed my romantic view about what the job entailed. For example, books were sellable units and what didn’t sell in nine weeks was returned to the publisher. Some memorable jobs were those at society’s drop-off edge. I founded a storefront school for ‘incorrigible’ expelled teens, tutored near-illiterate young adults, and worked with adults who had long-term stays in mental hospitals. My first paid job, at age 15, was at an amusement park, where I operated rides and made fairy floss (cotton candy). That experience was a good lesson about how education is the key to more work options in life.
Personal interests: Travel, meditation, camping and nature walks, yoga, photography. And reading, always reading, mainly short stories, novels, and creative nonfiction.
Favourite writers: Flannery O’Connor, Tim Winton, Joyce Carol Oates, Geraldine Brooks, Kate Grenville, J.M. Coetzee, and classic writers George Eliot, Jane Austen, Leo Tolstoy, and Henry David Thoreau.
Formal qualifications: BA literature & German, MA literature, Graduate Diploma communication management, PhD text linguistics.
Email: marsha dot s dot durham at gmail dot com