Ep 86 “Yaaas” is added to dictionary, British writer tracks down teen who gave him a bad review and cracks a bottle of wine on her head; and can you promote a book without making yourself miserable? Dictionary of English Down The Ages. And meet film director and novelist, Shirley Barrett.

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podcast-artwork In Episode 86 of So you want to be a writer: Allison’s The Mapmaker Chronicles optioned for a film, new words in the dictionary (YAAAS!), the author who assaulted a reviewer, book promotion minus the misery, China Rich Girlfriend giveaway, and the book Dictionary of English Down The Ages by Linda and Roger Flavell. You’ll also meet novelist and film director Shirley Barrett and find out if an unctuous cup of coffee is a good thing. Plus: the Pink Fibro Book Club, and more!

Click play below to listen to the podcast. You can also listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher Radio. Or add the podcast RSS feed manually to your favourite podcast app.

Show Notes

The Mapmaker Chronicles optioned for film

‘Yaaas’ is the latest addition to the dictionary

British Writer Tracks Down Teen Who Gave His Book a Bad Review, Smashes Her With Wine Bottle

Can You Promote a Book without Making Yourself Miserable?

Dictionary of English Down the Ages

Writer in Residence 

Shirley Barrett

South_Solitary_bhk_28451-1Shirley Barrett is an Australian film maker. She has written and directed three feature films (Love Serenade, Walk the Talk, South Solitary), and worked extensively as a director in television (Love My Way, Offspring, Wild Boys). Known for her ability to elicit strong, truthful and detailed performances in both comedy and drama, her work is also striking visually.

Shirley’s first novel Rush Oh! was released in September 2015 by Picador Pan Macmillan (Aust), and in January 2016 by Little, Brown and Co (US) and Virago (UK).

Find Pan Macmillan Australia on Twitter

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China Rich Girlfriend

Entries close 23rd November 2015.

Your hosts

Allison Tait

Valerie Khoo / Australian Writers’ Centre

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@valeriekhoo

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Interview Transcript 

Allison

Shirley Barrett is an Australian filmmaker. She has written and directed three feature films, Love Serenade, Walk the Talk and South Solitary, and worked extensively as a director in television, Love My Way, Offspring, which is a big favorite with all of you I know, Wild Boys and some television commercials.  

Shirley’s first novel, Rush Oh! Was released in September 2015 by Picador Pan Mcmillian in Australia and will be out in January 2016 in the US and the UK.

 

Welcome to the program, Shirley.

 

Shirley

Thank you, Allison. It’s delightful to be here.

 

Allison

All right, so firstly tell us a little bit about Rush Oh! And what compelled you to write this particular story.

 

Shirley

OK, years ago I came across a story of the killer whales of Eden, and for those of you who don’t know that story, it’s back in 1850s onwards to the early 1900s, a pod of killer whales would regularly turn up around July of each year and assist the whalers in the chase and capture of, capture is a euphemism, they had at the time for killing, whales. And the same pod of killer whales kept pretty much regularly returning and the whalers came to know them by name, identifying them by their dorsal fins. And a very affectionate relationship developed between the whalers and the killer whales. And that, I think, is what appealed to me.

 

First of all the oddness of the story in that it’s two species cooperating like that, and then also is that it in a way it seemed an animal story. I’ve got a soft spot for animal stories. And it seemed… it just kept my imagination.

 

So, that was the backdrop, I suppose, although it’s a bit more than a backdrop to the story that I went on to create, which is about a family of whalers, the Davidsons, and they’re based on a real family, or at least a real whaler, George Davidson, who was the master whaler around the 1990s. And the documenting of a particular whaling season, the whaling season of 1908, told in the first person by young Mary Davidson, who’s the 19-year-old eldest daughter of George.

 

And there’s a bit of romance, there’s a lot of action. It’s a bit of a family saga, various brothers and sisters who go through various things.

 

Allison

Well, the Pink Fibro Book Club read Rush Oh! as our October book, and it was very widely embraced, people absolutely loved it.

 

Shirley

Oh great. Oh wonderful.

 

Allison

Despite the grisly nature of some of the descriptions.

 

Shirley

Yeah.

 

Allison

Which I found quite interesting. I went to a library talk at my local library that you did and I know that you were talking about that, because some of the… I mean we’re talking about a fairly difficult time to write about now, because of our relationship with whales is somewhat different to what it was in 1908.

 

Obviously you did an enormous amount of research, but did you find those scenes particularly difficult to write? Or, I mean remember that you said in the talk that because of Mary’s distance from the actual chases that you were able to perhaps put that small amount of distance yourself into the description of the chases? Is that how you went about it?

 

Shirley

Well, yes. Look, that was helpful to me that I was able to write most of those whale chases from the point of view of someone who had never actually seen one. I was just kind of hoping she had all of the details straight. She’d heard what… the conceit, I suppose, is that Mary had heard her father and her siblings and the whalers talking about a whale chase and then she’s written it down in kind of an excited fashion, as someone who has just heard it.

 

Later on in the book she does get to see her own first whale chase. And she’s fairly shocked by it.

 

I based the whale chases in the book on accounts of the whale chases that I had come across in the Eden newspapers of that period, and they were very compelling written, quite unflinching as they described every kind of maneuver that the poor whale took as it was trying to kind of dodge the onslaught of killer whales and whalers.

 

There are kind of very harrowing to read, but quite gripping as well. And they were… I felt I suppose, “If I’m going to write a book about this, then I can’t just gloss over it and pretend it wasn’t as horrible as it was.” And I suppose I spun the story as Mary kind of almost romanticizing it for most of the book until finally she’s confronted by the reality herself and is kind of shocked by it, as is her sister.

 

I remember actually reading, or hearing on the ABC, there’s a wonderful old history… a documentary series called The Hindsight, and they had done a special on the killer whales of Eden. And they had some interview with one of the daughters of George Davidson and she told a story about how her father had kept them all away, as children, away from the horrors of whaling, but she had been traveling across the bay one day in a boat and they came across a whale chase and that she was just so horrified by what she saw. She describes how beautiful the whale’s tail was as it rose up out of the water in the morning sun. And then this terrible, terrible sound rising up out of the water also of the poor whale basically hammered to death by this pack of killer whales.

 

I think from that point on she was horrified. I so I kind of used that a little bit in the book as well.

 

I have to say, you know, as I think I mentioned to you Allison, my own mother was pretty horrified when she read the whale chase and she said, “I had to put the book down for two days.” And that surprised me. I think I spent so much in that world that I had perhaps underestimated how harrowing those whale chases can be to read, not to everyone, but to many people. But, I also I think had I known that I would probably still had pursued it as I did, because if you’re going to choose a subject matter, then you have to paint the picture wholly and not just gloss over, I think.

 

Allison

Which, I have to say, I think you did brilliantly. I think the world that you’ve created in that novel is so intense, you really feel like you’re there, as far as it goes.

 

Shirley

Oh, great.

 

Allison

I know that you did an enormous amount of research to get that sort of voice right and the details right. My question has to be, because I know that this is something that many writers, particularly those who use historical detail struggle with, is this business of how do you know when to stop researching. Like, you could research forever, couldn’t you?

 

Shirley

You certainly could.

 

Allison

How do you think, “I’m there. I’ve got enough. I can get started.”?

 

Shirley

That’s a really good question and I know it’s a really difficult thing, because also research is fun too. You know? It makes you feel like you’re working, but without actually doing the hard yards. So, it’s a very nice state to be in, when the story is still full of possibilities and you haven’t actually begun to put it down yet.

 

I have a friend at the moment who’s in the midst of doing a massive amount of research on a subject for a book he’s writing. And I can see he’s in exactly this predicament where he’s sort of very reluctant to step off, and also the story has got many, many more… it’s a story you could research endlessly. I’m trying to kind of get him to start writing, even just little bits and pieces of it, just to get going.

 

I think you have to… unfortunately it’s so long ago I can’t quite remember at what point I decided I had enough to get going, but I know I spent a good amount of time in the state libraries of New South Wales and here in Sydney, and I spent a lot of time pouring over those newspapers. But, I was also… it was also such exciting material that I remember feeling kind of eager to get going. And, in fact, when I wrote the novel and just before I sort of went properly to publishers I went back to the library and went back through the newspapers, really just trying to make sure I hadn’t missed anything fabulous. I’d hate to be in that position where I’d missed something that would have just been fantastic to put in the book.

 

So, I kind of went back and double checked a lot of those newspapers, just to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. In fact, I did come across little bits and pieces I had to put in the book. So, yes, it’s a hard thing, but I just encourage your listeners to… even if they feel like they could keep going, at some point you’ve just got to jump off and begin.

 

Allison

Let go.

 

Shirley

Let go, yeah.

 

Allison

All right.

 

Shirley

You can always go back.

 

Allison

That’s the thing, but then the trouble becomes you go back and back and back and you never actually send it anywhere. So, we won’t go there.

 

All right. So, Rush Oh! actually began life as a screenplay and then became a novel. Can you tell us a little bit about why that happened and what made you decide to write the novel?

 

Shirley

Sure, I mean I’ve always been… my career has been as a screenwriter and a director, and I’ve written the three feature films that I have made have been my own scripts. And so it just was the way I wrote, it had never occurred to me to write a novel. A novel seemed much harder and a completely different process. I had some degrees of success with my first film, so I just thought I would continue on in this fashion, writing a screenplay, getting them made and so forth.

 

Allison

Winning awards and being fabulous.

 

Shirley

That’s right, winning awards.

 

And it didn’t continue to happen, you know, some short scripts didn’t get made. You know, some films disappeared without a trace. You know, it’s a hard slog in that world.

 

But, anyway, after Love Serenade, which was the first film that I made, I thought, “What can I do next?” And the killer whale story, as I said, really caught my imagination, so I went off and did all of the research and wrote it as a screenplay. And, comparing the screenplay to the novel, it’s a much… it’s very similar, the characters are the same, it’s told through Mary’s eyes and there’s all of her brothers and sisters and her father and John Beck and all of the whalers. And it’s the same setting, it’s 1908. And it finishes with the plain and fancy dress ball, which is more or less where my novel finishes too.

 

But, there are scenes that definitely in the book that were in the screenplay, but it’s much simpler, it’s a much simpler story, because the novel has much more to it, because I’m able to go back and forwards in time and deviate into little details, which I could never be able to get away with in a screenplay, which generally are much more rigidly structured. It’s a trickier thing. People can do it, but it’s trickier to sort of take those leaps in time. And also to get inside your character’s head.

 

So, I wrote it as a screenplay and I spent, you know, a lot of time trying to get it made and finally had to give up on it, mainly because it’s just too expensive, all of those whale chases, that’s all CG, computer generated effects, and a very, very expensive, costly thing to do.

 

And, you know, it was never… a whale chase is a very difficult thing to watch, as they are to read, and I don’t… I think would be a rather uncomfortable film, a kind of romantic comedy set against a backdrop of a whale slaughter, you know? So, it’s uncomfortable. And so I began to realize it was just never going to happen. But, I loved the world so much that I finally thought I’d have to give it a shot and write it as a novel. And, it took me a long time. I stop and started a great deal. I sort of just went back to it in between other jobs, because I work in TV as a freelancer, and so you work for a few months and have a couple of months off. And I’d sort of go back to it then, but always feeling kind of guilty about it, like it was a bit of a vanity project that I should wait, you know, until I retire to attempt, because in the meantime I should be writing films, you know?

 

But, I began to also realize, once I got the hang of it, that it was more fun, it was a lot more fun to write in this way, much more freeing and playful and liberating than writing a screenplay. I just embraced it really, and to be honest now I’m not sure I would ever go back and write another feature film script, because I’d much prefer this new medium, new for me, of writing novels.

 

Allison

Oh, that’s really interesting. That’s quite a big call.

 

Shirley

Also you write your screenplay and it doesn’t amount to anything until you get it made, you know?

 

Allison

Yeah.

 

Shirley

It’s just immaterial how good a screenplay is, it has to be made… it’s hard to get a film script made these days. They cost millions and millions of dollars. We don’t make that many films here in Australia, because there’s limited budgets, in the amount of money to do so. And, it’s just hard, whereas when you write a novel it’s finished, that’s it, you know? It can go directly to the reader and nothing more needs to be done.

 

Allison

Screenwriting is a very collaborative thing, isn’t it? Sort of by the time everybody’s had their bit, your movie is very much a team effort isn’t it? Whereas on novel, while there is definitely a team involved in your editors and things like that, you have a lot more control over what the final product is like, is that correct?

 

Shirley

Well, yes and no. With my feature films…

 

Allison

Oh, you make them?

 

 

Shirley

I’m really fortunate in that…

 

Allison

You are actually, yes… the team.

 

Shirley

I had full creative control over them, which is one of the great privileges of being able to make a film in this country, there’s no one telling you not to do what you don’t want to do.

 

So, I’ve always had that lovely creative control, but, yes, it’s a collaborative thing, once everyone else comes aboard, your actors, your camera, your DOP, your designer, your costume designer, and so forth. And it’s wonderful, you know, it’s exhilarating and wonderful collaboration, all of that. And that I must say I would miss if I didn’t make another film.

 

In television, where I also work as a director and a writer. It is more a team effort, there is a lot of people who work together to plot the stories and as a writer you don’t have complete creative control, the director will often move it into another area.

 

So, yes, it is… but, you’re right in saying there’s full creative control in writing a novel. That’s one of the great joys, knowing that it goes out there untrammeled. You know? That the reader will read it as I wrote it, you know?

 

Allison

How many drafts of your novel do you think you did? Like, in the sense that with your screenplay you probably had essentially a very solid outline of what was in your mind.

 

Shirley

Yep.

 

Allison

Did you kind of follow that as a plan? Or did you…

 

Shirley

I did. Yes, I did. I started off pretty much with the screenplay as my blueprint and moved on from there. So, in terms of drafts, it probably had about three drafts, ultimately. The first draft was after the screenplay is went out to the publishers, well, it’s probably more a polished first draft, maybe you can even call it a second draft.

 

Allison

OK, let’s call it a second.

 

Shirley

But, then it had another full draft after that, before it was published. So, yes, I think a lot had been worked out in the screenplay, and so it was a reasonably straightforward process, I guess. Although, it was still, as I say, a lot more… there’s a lot more to the novel than there was in the screenplay.

 

Allison

So here’s a question, if you were now approached to create the screenplay for Rush Oh! would you go back to that version that you had written? Or would it change?

 

Shirley

Yeah, I’d start again.

 

Allison

You’d start again?

 

Shirley

I’d start again, because I think it’s simpler — yeah, and simpler then than the novel and there’s more detail in the novel that I would try and capture somehow, I’m not sure how you’d do it, because the novel is told from Mary’s point of view 30 years in advance, and that’s never a completely successful process in a film, I think.

 

Allison

Oh yeah.

 

Shirley

Telling a story in the future, you know, there’s always some actor in bad age make-up, no one ever buys.

 

Allison

You make it so attractive.

 

Shirley

Yes.

 

So, I don’t know. I think I would start again. I think I would start again. I think the novel changed the story a little bit. It feels more complicated, more complex, I should say, now.

 

Allison

So then you would be in the position of having to adapt a novel to screen, which is a different process again, isn’t it?

 

Shirley

Yeah.

 

Allison

As far as — yeah, how would you go about that? Like, where would you start? By simplifying it at all?

 

Shirley

I mean I think I would probably just… I think there’s… I’d probably try to tell a story just from 1908 and not bother with flash forwards and flashbacks.

 

Allison

 

Shirley

So, I’d have to do that. But, then it would have sort of a… perhaps a slightly bittersweet ending and I’d have to find some way to get that. I might… I imagine I would be very tempted to make it a slightly more happier ended, romantically, than the one I gave it.

 

I can imagine I would be very tempted to do that. In fact, if the original screenplay did have a happy ending, happier ending romantically than the novel then.

 

Allison

See, but then all of your audiences would go and they would go, “Oh, they changed the ending. They always do that.”

 

Shirley

I know. Exactly.

 

Allison

All right, so you’ve have a pretty amazing career in film and television, with the writing and directing. How did you actually get into that in the first place? What was your process there?

 

Shirley

Well, it started around when I dropped out of university in my early 20s and my older sister actually suggested I try the film school, the Australian Film and Television School, and see if I could… I was really foundering. I hadn’t really ever imagined myself as a filmmaker, but anyway, at that point, the Australian Film and Television School used to sort of… you used to be able to sort of submit scripts and you could get in the writing department, you know? They had different disciplines. And so I had a bash at writing scripts and after — look, it took me three years to get in, and I finally got in. At that point it was quite a long course, it was a three-year course, and at that end of that three years you got to make a short film.

 

And I loved film school. You know, I liked… I made a lot of very dear friends there and we had a lot of fun there working on each other’s films. It was a very playful and creative time, and I’m very grateful to that period, because I think by the end of that three years I had found my voice as a film-maker, and what it was that I could do.

 

And, I sort of feel sorry for film students now at the film school, although I think it’s changed again now, but you know they can often only get into a year course. In a way I don’t think that’s enough. I think you need more time to be able to play, to be able to experiment and form those collaborations that in the end sort of shape you.

 

That short film that I made while I was at film school won some awards and so I… and I got offered some TV directing, and I really liked that. I felt because I had gone in as a script writer, I didn’t know much about directing and so I learned a lot about directing, working in television, and I still work in television a lot, and I really enjoy working in television. I like the speed at which you have to work and the on-the-spot problem solving and the sort of comradery of the film set. I really love all of that. I really enjoy it.

 

I just… but, while I was directing TV I kept thinking, “I should write my own film script.” I wrote the script for Love Serenade and was luckily enough to have Jan Chapman, who’s in my short film, read the script and she decided to take it on as producer. She just made The Piano.

 

Allison

Wow.

 

Shirley

So, I couldn’t have been more fortunate in my timing.

 

Allison

Wow.

 

Shirley

You know, they weren’t going to knock Jan back.

 

Allison

Yep.

 

Shirley

And so, you know, I just sort of had a bit of a dream run, really. I feel really lucky to have had that. It wasn’t so easy afterwards, you know, because it is hard to make a hit movie.

 

Allison

Yeah.

 

Shirley

And I’ve never really fully succeeded as others have, but, again, I also feel sort of privileged to have had the opportunity to make films that are very idiosyncratically, my own films, I suppose.

 

Allison

If you were kind of a would-be screenwriter starting out now, what advice would you offer a would-be screenwriter?

 

Shirley

A would-be screenwriter?

 

Allison

Yeah, someone starting out.

 

Shirley

Look, it’s tricky and I know, you know, I’ve worked at the film school and I do occasionally mentor screenwriters and directors, and I think you just have to try and write the most compelling original script that no one can knock it back, you know?

 

Allison

Yeah.

 

Shirley

You have to… it’s just got to be strong enough when you go to Screen Australia or whatever they’re called now, and ask for money they think, “Oh no, we really should make this film.” In lots of ways I think it’s easier when you’re a first timer because you’re an unknown quantity and they think, “Oh, this could be the next big thing.”

 

Allison

Right.

 

 

Shirley

I think you’re on a good wicket here, you know, as a culture, I think, we do encourage first timers and in some ways it’s harder the more work you’ve done because you’re a known commodity.

 

So, I think, yeah, you’ve just got to write something fabulous and original, I think, because there’s enough imitation out there.

 

Allison

Yes.

 

Shirley

And derivative stuff. But, I think everyone recognizes when something is original and strong and good, and there’s a lot of people that would really be keen to get something made in that case.

 

Allison

All right, so now that you are a novelist and a screenwriter, do you find the business of being a novelist different? Like, in the sense of do you have to promote yourself more? Are you needing to connect with people more? How does it work for you?

 

Shirley

Yeah. That’s a good question. The obvious difference is in the necessity as a novelist of befriending, for want of a better word, the bookseller, you know? Making that connection with the bookseller, because in filmmaking that just doesn’t happen. You make your film, you just assume the cinema owners will screen it and they, you know, and you have no power of whether they… what screenings they give it, you know, how many screening sessions and all of that.

 

You just have no — no matter how much you schmooze the cinema owners, that’s never going to happen, that you’ll have any control over how many times they screen your film in a weekend, for example.

 

Allison

Yeah.

 

Shirley

And, you know, how quickly it goes back to those terrible screening times of 4:00 PM in the afternoon, no one can ever see them. Which is hard, you know, as a filmmaker.

 

So, that’s been the most striking that, as a novelist, you know, my publishers have really made sure that I’ve been out there and met the booksellers, gone out to the bookshops and talked to the booksellers.

 

Because this process, which I hadn’t heard of before, call hand-selling, where they really rely upon the bookshop owner to read your book and to recommend it to people who walk into the shop.

 

Allison

Yeah.

 

 

Shirley                                                                             

And that’s really very different, as I just said, to making a film.

 

And, as a process I’ve really enjoyed it because and I can really see the need for it. There’s been a couple of bookshops that have just gone above and beyond the call of duty, I think, for Rush Oh!, particularly down on the South Coast, where they’ve just sort of really embraced the book and really kind of put it forward.

 

I’m really grateful to book[shop] owners for that, and other bookshop owners too, because it really makes a difference, I think, if they do like your book and they’re able to recommend it to people wandering into the shop and wondering what they’re going to read.

 

Allison

The browser, we love the browser.

 

Shirley

The browser.

 

Allison

What about the idea of an author platform? Did your publisher talk to you at all about doing social media or any of that sort of stuff? Have you been encouraged to engage?

 

Shirley

Well, look there was a bit of talk about that at the beginning and I just said, “I just don’t do that.” And they’ve never mentioned it again. So…

 

Allison

Lucky you.

 

Shirley

So, I was expecting a bit more of a fight over it, but it just never got mentioned again.

 

Allison

Fantastic.

 

Shirley

So, that was good, because I’m a bit uncomfortable with that. And, I mean I can see why it’s useful, of course, and I’m sure they’d rather I did it, but I’ve uncomfortable with social media. I’ve never done it.

 

Allison

 

Shirley

I’m a bit old school. And, so… for better or worse, that’s just the way it is. My publishers are so, kind of, lovely that they’ve never pushed it, but perhaps they’re secretly gnashing their teeth about the whole thing. I don’t know.

 

Allison

We’ll see what happens when the next book comes out, shall we?

 

Shirley

Yeah, that’s right.

 

Allison

All right, so speaking of next book, your next project will be a book, by the sounds of things? You’re moving away from screenplays?

 

Shirley

I am… look, my next project… I’m actually write a new script for Offspring at the moment.

 

Allison

Oooh.

 

Shirley

So, I’m still working very much in TV.

 

Allison

That’s exciting.

 

Shirley

I’m not saying nothing. I’m not giving anything away.

 

Allison

Oh, come on…

 

Shirley

Sworn to secrecy.

 

Then I’m also a director. I’m going on to direct A Place Called Home, next year, which I’m doing a bit of. So, I’m still working very much in television.

 

But, I’m also really keen to keep writing novels and I might have mentioned this to you when we were talking the other day, Allison, that I have a drawer full of unrealized screenplays that…

 

Allison

Yes! You did mention the drawer.

 

Shirley

… I’m thinking can possibly be converted into a novel.

 

Allison

I’m a little bit jealous of your drawer, it has to be said.

 

Shirley

Yeah, so at the moment I’m in the process of adapting a script I had written, which is a horror film, into a novel. And it’s been quite fun up to this point, and now I’m beginning to have doubts about it, which, of course, as we all know is part of the process anyway. But, it’s working well as a novel, but unfortunately the problems I hit in the screenplay are just the same problems I’m hitting in the novel, and so I’m not entirely sure I’m going to be able to solve them at this point.

 

 

Allison

Don’t you hate that?

 

Shirley

Yeah. Also, it’s not exactly the ideal follow up to Rush Oh!, I have to say. So, that’s a bit of a concern too. But, it’s the only kind of thing I’ve got going at the moment. I might have to rethink…

 

Allison

Oh well, you’ve got a fair bit on your plate, so you…

 

Shirley

Yes, that’s right.

 

Allison

… you have time to kind of put it in the back of your mind and cogitate a little.

 

Shirley

Yes.

 

Allison

All right.

 

Shirley

That’s right.

 

Allison

So, just to finish up, I’m going to ask you our famous three top tips for writers question. So, if you had to give three top tips for aspiring writers what would they be?

 

Shirley

Well, one bit of advice that… well, the first thing is my mantra is work is play. And, so I tend to try and approach my work in as a playful a manner as a possibly can to make it an enjoyable and inventive thing to engage it.

 

And if it gets a bit leaden, then I know that’s because I’ve stopped being playful in my approach, I think.

 

The other tip is, which is a good one, which I have stolen from another writer, is write as if the reader is a friend, which I think is a nice piece of advice.

 

It worked particularly with Rush Oh! I think because it has a kind of chatty style.

 

But, I suppose it means writer as if your ideal reader is reading it…

 

Allison

Yeah, yeah.

 

Shirley

…I feel a little bit. You know?

 

Write for yourself, really, in a way, I think is probably good advice. Just write to entertain yourself.

 

And the last thing I’m sort of realizing more and more in all of my work, from across the board from directing through to writing is the importance of your energy, and that the energy you manifest is really what people respond to almost above anything else, I think. And so I think you kind of have to cultivate it. It’s a very obscure kind of thing I’m saying, but…

 

Allison

No, it’s actually… no, the thing I’m liking about these is that they’re three quite original tips. We haven’t… I haven’t really heard them. And I think the energy one is actually a really, really good one.

 

Shirley

Because I remember reading one saying of Dickens that he has just an incredibly energy on the page. And, he does. You know, it just leaps off, his personal energy leaps off the page. And, you know, I think it’s something you can cultivate a little bit, if you… it’s a hard thing because it’s a difficult thing to pin down. But, I think… and I know, like, even working with actors, sometimes if… it’s almost the energy they have on screen that beyond even their ability or whatever, but it’s the energy that makes you look at them, you know, that draws you to them.

 

And, so it’s an obscure thing to lock down, but I think there is something about the energy on the page, to the way that something will leap off the page that is something that is worth trying to cultivate, I think.

 

Allison

Fantastic. Definitely worth thinking about, that’s for sure.

 

Shirley

Yeah.

 

Allison

All right, Shirley. Thank you so much for your time today. It’s been so interesting.

 

Shirley

It’s been wonderful.

 

Allison

I could sit and chat to you for at least another half hour.

 

Shirley

And likewise. It’s great to talk to you. It’s great to sort of talk to another writer and to have such great questions, so thank you for having me on.

 

Allison

Thank you so much.

 

All right. I will put the link to your website in our show notes, at www.shirleybarrett.com so people can have a look at the film work you’ve done and other things.

 

 

Shirley

 

Allison

Thank you very much for your time.

 

Shirley

A pleasure. Thanks a lot, Allison. See you then.

 


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