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Who’s Marsha?

Welcome to WritingCompanion. I started this blog as a way to share writing information with others who write as part of their creative life.

Writing can be done nearly anywhere, at any time, and at any skill level. George Harrison carried a ukulele on his travels so he could always play music. How much easier to carry paper and pen or electronic device and capture our thoughts, explore our world, and let our imagination take us to something 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 began with a famous book by a 19th-century philosopher, plus a 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 part of his experiment in living, Thoreau built and lived in a cabin in Walden Wood, Massachusetts.  Wanting to undertake a similar experiment, I left my usual life to stay on a tiny island off the south coast of Tasmania. Many items we take for granted in our modern society were not available. 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, no TV or radio.The island population included four humans, two seal colonies, and a half-million noisy mutton-birds raising their chicks.

Short fiction interests me because of the challenges it presents. A  short story is like walking a tightrope while pretending you’re simply strolling down the street. It has to look effortless but offer something deeper.  I enjoy writing fiction, after a career where my writing was mainly to do with  research and education, including a published book on workplace writing.

Writing education can be undertaken on one’s own, through reading, finding ways to learn more about writing, and establishing a regular writing habit. 

And more . . . 

Background  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, where I undertook a number of roles—manager, writer, editor, teacher, trainer, and course developer.  My research and teaching included written communication (creative writing, document design, workplace writing), computer-based learning, and cultural issues.

Some other jobs I had included managing a bookshop,  starting a storefront school for expelled teens, tutoring near-illiterate young adults, providing services for people with chronic mental illness, operating a ride in an amusement park, and trying, unsuccessfully, to be a waitress. I mine some of these early experiences when writing short fiction.

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

Personal interests  include travel, meditation, camping and nature, yoga, and photography.

My reading  tends to 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 includes a BA and MA in literature, Graduate Diploma in communication management, and a PhD in text linguistics.

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





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