Sam van Zweden




A Mind of Its Own

I’ve recently committed myself to 3 “morning pages” per day. For the 3 days that I’ve done these, they’ve mainly consisted of reflections about my writing, which has been helpful, and has also raised some questions.

Yesterday I found myself reflecting on a piece I planned to write based on the recent mouse plague in our kitchen. Having scribbled down some initial images, I was pondering where to take these ideas. A poem would lend itself well to the strong imagery I wanted to use. But, I also thought, perhaps our mice would do well in a short story too. In my morning pages I wrote something like, “I’m not sure yet what this piece wants to be.”

What it wants to be… It struck me as such a strange idea. To think of a story or poem as a separate being with a mind of its own. As a free-thinking agent.

Should a piece of writing be able to want anything? Does this kind of attitude make me a lazy writer? Shouldn’t I be wrangling my words in whatever way I want? If I sit back and let a story guide itself, it may have an internal logic, but will it be the best story or poem that it can be?

I don’t have an answer to these questions, but they’re things that my morning pages brought up for me today.

What do you think? Can stories or poems have a mind of their own? Should they?

The Numbers: A Study in Reading Habits

Early last year, I did a little analysis of the numbers around my reading, inspired by a post of Chris Flynn’s. I thought it might be interesting to do the same sort of break-down of my reading for the whole of 2010.

Here goes:

30 men. 52 women. 1 combined.
22 Australian. 31 non-Australian.
1 literary journal*. 2 graphic novels. 7 non-fiction. 43 fiction.

I have to say, I’m surprised by how close the numbers are between men:women and Australian:non-Australian, I thought both these areas would be pretty highly skewed in favour of non-Australian men. There’s definitely room for improvement, to read more women, more Australian writing, but I’m pretty pleased with the effort for 2010.

Next year I’ll start counting literary journals and include that in my tally. My non-fiction:fiction count isn’t quite what I’d like it to be – I’ll be aiming to read more non-fiction in 2011.

*I read many, many more than 1 lit journal during 2010, but I only included KYD in my list. In 2011, lit journals that I’ve read cover-to-cover will be included in my count.

Blog at

Up ↑