Alison Lock - Poet, Writer

'Like a gentle voice in your ear, these poems speak of love 
and life and pain and war with words so precisely-chosen 
they will make you tremble' - Laura Sheridan.

Blog: Of Words and Wings

Vienna: finding the story bones

Posted on July 31, 2014 at 7:05 AM

'Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still.' Henry David Thoreau.

Attending the 13th International Conference on the Short Story in English was a delicious highlight of my year. As a writer of short stories, the opportunity to meet with other writers and academics who study this form meant that I have come away with a wealth of ideas and notes. I was pleased to be invited to read a story and also to have a new story published in the conference anthology, edited by the director of the conference, Dr Maurice Lee. His obvious enthusiasm and dedication infused the gathering as did that of the co-director Dr Sylvia Petter of the University of Vienna. 

Several workshops were on offer at the beginning of the week and I attended one with the Australian writer Cate Kennedy who talked about creating drama by revealing character and pushing plot within a story. She began with a quote from Thoreau - 'know your own bone.' (full quote above.)

Then on to a panel - 'How we begin and end stories' -  with talks about the generic features of Margaret Atwood's stories and their open endedness, (Teresa Gilbert, National University of Distance Education); Aboriginal dreams, patterns of words, punctuation, or lack of, (Cameron Raynes, University of South Australia); and the idiosyncratic beginnings of T F Powys (Milosz Wojtyna, University of Gdansk).

I was blown away already. It will take me months to unpick all my notes.

In between all this intellectual/artistic stimulation we explored Vienna, drank coffee, ate fabulous food, and soaked in the atmosphere of this incredible city.There are so many impressive palaces, stone monuments, statues of emperors, circled by day and evening by visitors in horse drawn carriages. It all seemed like a fairy tale..

In fact one of the best known tellers of tales also spent some time in Vienna:

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