This week we interview emergency medical specialist-turned writer, Venita Munir, about the microlit piece published in Out of Place, edited by Kirsten Tranter and Linda Godfrey. We ask about the inspiration for her writing and what she does when she is stuck for ideas. To read Venita’s work and other great Australian microlit, click the Out of Place cover below.
What inspired you to write the piece of microliterature which will appear in Out of Place? How would you describe this form of writing?
The brief for the competition was ‘… dislocation, in space, time, feeling, psyche, memory.’ Dislocation in feeling and psyche resonated with me from a personal history of postnatal depression back in 2008. I thought that the altered sensorium would come across well in a short piece where the senses are highlighted.
Microfiction is such a succinct version of a story. I’ve always written short stories so this is one end of the spectrum of short, that is 200 words compared to 3000 words. I love that microfiction gives the reader just a snippet to work with, then they are left wondering; it makes them have to think.
How do you know the point at which a piece you are writing should end? Do you have any favourite closing line/s from your own work or from another writer? If so, which ones and why?
When should it end? Give enough to entice but not tell all. I’m a ‘pantser’ not a ‘plotter’ so generally my stories just end when they decide to. My longer stories usually want to end with some conclusion but the microfiction doesn’t have to. It’s much more open ended.
It’s very hard to think of any favourite closing lines off the top of my head. ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’ by Jean Dominique Bauby: “I’ll be off now.” It’s so casual and conversational, to end this incredible feat of a book.
My favourite last line of my own writing was from a microfiction story on my writing website (venusianmoon.com) called ‘Non-compliance’: “This is not his Country, not his dreaming.
My favourite writers are mostly Australian fiction writers who have a strong focus on landscape. In no particular order, Chris Womersley, Evie Wyld, Richard Flanagan, Tony Birch, Hannah Kent, Tim Winton. I love a bit of magical realism such as anything by Haruki Murakami, or Rana Dasgupta’s ‘Tokyo cancelled’. My favourite book last year was ‘The Orenda’ by Joseph Boyden.
I’ve just read ‘Fly away Peter’ by David Malouf on a recommendation, but I admit I struggled through the war chapters. I’ve just started ‘Stoner’ by John Williams. I also recently read ‘Alice Springs’ by Eleanor Hogan, which I found sad because of its negativity. I try to alternate reading fiction and non-fiction, but I love fiction most.
What you do if you haven’t written anything in a while and you want to get started writing again? Share one of your favourite writing exercises with our readers.
Writing exercises and writing group are the best ways to get my writing going again. My favourite prompts are:
- three random words (eg: recently my writing group and I did ‘ghost, car, crow’), or
- modelling writing from passages by writers I would like to emulate (eg: I recently wrote a passage based on a paragraph from ‘Cloudstreet’ when Quick and Fish are sailing a boat on the Swan River at night). It’s great when your writing can sound like one of your literary favourites.