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Who’s Marsha?

Welcome to WritingCompanion. I started this blog to share material about writing with others who enjoy the creativity of writing. 

Writing can be done nearly anywhere, at any time, and at any skill level. George Harrison carried a ukulele when travelling so he could play music no matter where he was. How much easier for us as writers, needing only paper and pen or an electronic device to capture our thoughts, explore our world, and let our imagination take us to somewhere new.

I’ve been involved in writing and reading for most of my life, and have studied and taught writing, literature and communication. I am currently working on a creative nonfiction project and writing short fiction.

My current writing project  started when I examined a famous book by a 19th-century philosopher. I then combined that with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to drop out at the edge of the world. Henry David Thoreau’s famous 1854 book, Walden, or Life in the Woods, is one I’ve hung onto through various moves and changes in my life. Some of its themes—nature, the good life, individuality, simplicity—are still important in our lives today.

As his experiment in living, Thoreau built and lived in a cabin in Walden Wood, Massachusetts. As a similar experiment, I temporarily dropped out of my usual life and lived on a tiny island off the south coast of Tasmania. I had no Internet connectivity, no mobile phone coverage,  no grocery stores or other shops, no medical or other basic services, no vehicles or highways, and no TV or radio. The the local population included four humans, two seal colonies, and a half-million noisy mutton-birds raising their chicks.

Besides this project, I enjoy writing short fiction because of the challenges it presents. A  short story is like walking a tightrope while pretending you’re simply strolling down the street. It looks effortless, but it offers readers something deeper.  I enjoy writing fiction, after a career where my writing focused on research and education. I have a published book on workplace writing.

And more . . . 

Background.  I was born and raised in America’s heartland, but Australia has long been my home. The two cultures—sometimes so similar, sometimes so very different—shape my life, my values, and my writing.

Career.  Mostly in education, working as a manager, writer, editor, teacher, trainer, and course developer.  My research and teaching included written communication (creative writing, document design, workplace writing), electronic learning, and cultural issues.

Some other jobs I had earlier in my life included managing a bookshop,  starting a storefront school for expelled teens, tutoring near-illiterate young adults, assisting people with chronic mental illness, operating an amusement park ride, and making a failed attempt to waitress. Some of these experiences have appeared in my short stories.

Varuna The National Writers House.  I currently chair Varuna’s board of directors. Varuna supports committed writers through residencies, workshops, and mentoring. It hosts the annual Varuna-Sydney Writers’ Festival, showcasing local, Australian and international writers.

Personal interests. I like travel, meditation, camping and being out in nature, yoga, and photography.

My reading. focus on fiction (short stories, novels) and creative nonfiction. Favourite authors include Flannery O’Connor, Tim Winton, Joyce Carol Oates, Geraldine Brooks, Kate Grenville, J. M. Coetzee, George Eliot, Jane Austen, Alice Munro, Ian McEwan.

Formal education.  BA and MA in literature, Graduate Diploma in communication management,  PhD in text linguistics.

Email   I’m contactable at this address:   marsha dot s dot durham at gmail dot com





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