So much has been said and written about this topic, that it is almost fruitless to comment. All you need do is google the topic and you will find countless analyses of the benefits of one or another approach, or of each approach. But beware, the writer’s subjective preference will often show, once you do this. For example, Kate Forsyth is probably on the side of plotting, as is James Patterson. And the genre chosen by the author to write in, will determine to a great extent, which approach s/he chooses. Fantasy writers and detective story writers will likely employ plotting as the favoured approach. However, not always. Kate Atkinson writes detective stories, but she is also great with character. She seems to bridge the gap between the two categories in a seamless way.
Cargoes by John Mansfield
I woke up the other morning with an old verse I’d learnt at school — not sure which year, but it was at least half a century ago — playing in my head like on a tape recorder. And the rhythm was still there!
I’m sure some of my readers will have also known this poem from school days: “Cargoes” by John Masefield?
Even the foreign words were still intact and popping up out of the subconscious like bubbles from a geyser.
It took me some days before I got around to Googling the poem and finding oral renditions of it on YouTube. I think what I liked about the poem (and still do) was the exotic-sounding words, not to mention the rhythm of the seas, and the sense of the wind in the sails. It lifted me out of the dreary classroom and into exotic faraway places .
The contrast of the last stanza, with the two preceding ones, always enchanted me in class. That’s when the rhythm changes to mimic the type of sturdy, industrial-age “coaster” vessel and its more prosaic cargo.
I read somewhere that the cargo items in Stanza 2 were taken directly from the Bible.
WHERE IS VACY?
Vacy is in the Dungog Shire, not far from Paterson in the Lower Hunter Valley. It’s a 197 km drive north and then north-west from Sydney. Or you can catch the train to Maitland and be picked up by a family member from there.
Country living is much cheaper than renting or buying in the city. This young family spent their first few years renting in picturesque Paterson. Then they decided to build a house in nearby Vacy. How to do it? All you need is a two-acre block of land in the bush. And a kit home ready to install. In this case, one with many bedrooms. Five children and a dog came along as well. Help from a live-in granny was essential, also. She has her own unit at one end of the building.
Italy: Fast Cars
Driving on the autostrada is a relief after Rome. Watch on the right, my partner says repeatedly, having been traumatised when the mirror on our rented manual Fiat Punta was flattened against a truck in Rome’s crowded streets. I’m the driver, having learnt to conduire à la droite in France, as a student there. Mark will prepare lots of fresh dishes, based on heavenly tomatoes, plucked straight from the fields. When we get to the outskirts of Siena, we ask for directions to our destination.
Tonni: an Etruscan Village
A rusty sign on a hedge, after winding roads and an unsealed gravelly stretch, marks the hamlet. First settled during the Etruscan era. Dogs, cats, a few children and a smiling woman with false teeth greet us. Several small cars are parked on the narrow gravel street, mediaeval buildings, the lot set in field and forest—oak, laurel, elms, conifers, and the ever-present cypress pines.
Moree, with a population of about 8,000, is situated in the north-west of NSW on the Mehi River and at the junction of the Gwydir and Newell Highways. It is famous for its Artesian Spa waters, which were discovered accidentally in 1895 when a bore was sunk in search of irrigation waters. Instead, mineral water heated naturally to 45 degrees spurted upwards flooding the area. For years I had wanted to return to this town, so loved by my father.