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  • Writer's pictureMona Community

Mona in Yanco: Curiouser and Curiouser

These workshops were generously sponsored by the Foundation for Regional and Rural Renewal.

As many of our followers will know, in September we were awarded a grant by FRRR to produce our second edition of Mona Magazine. We were THRILLED! This meant that we could pay for the physical printing of the magazine, but, more importantly, it meant we could pay women in rural communities to facilitate workshops and share their skills with other women!

We held the first of these workshops on the 21st of November in a tiny town named Yanco. Yanco has a population of 505 people, and is primarily known as an agricultural hub, with the region's only agricultural high school and a sizeable Department of Primary Industries facility. What we were more interested in, though, was the peaceful rural setting that was perfect for a day of uninterrupted writing, listening, discussing, performing, creating and painting, and the central location to enable writers from Griffith, Leeton and Narrandera writers groups to participate in the workshop.

The first of our workshops for the day was run by local playwright, poet, history buff and murder mystery afficianado, Leonie Napier. Leonie helped us tap into our curiousity, activate our senses and our empathy and embrace the vulnerability that comes with creative endeavour. She spoke to us about the intricacies of developing character, and gave us some insider tips from her own process developing her art deco-inspired drama, Bloodshed at the Banquet, including the research process, how she created diversity in her characters and how she manipulated the elements of theatre to create chaos and confusion at opportune times in her scenes.

Then, Leonie challenged us to compose a short script that fit the theme of 'curious women' (stay tuned for more info on this theme as Mona partners with The Curious Rabbit in Wagga Wagga, who are soon announcing an exciting play writing competition!) and, wow, didn't our participants deliver! We had the alphabet sisters, all guilty as sin but none prepared to admit it, and a nurse who was too curious - she found more than she bargained for!


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We were well and truly limbred up for our next session, with acclaimed local author Caroline Tuohey (if you haven't read Caroline's short story 'Fleeced' on the Mona blog, read it here), about short story writing, and more generally, writing for competition or submission. Caroline's wealth of experience shone through, with decades of accumulated tips about how many edits we need before we can truly call that manuscript a final draft (spoiler: the author CAN'T call it a final draft), how and what and where to research to ensure your settings and characters are authentic and just how important a reading buddy is (pay them in cake if you have to!) to ensure you don't miss those easy-to-overlook errors. We learnt to start near the end and, above all, don't just write a short story, write a short interesting story; every word and every line needs to work for its place in that story!

Caroline set us to work on a Furious Fiction task, a great initiative that writers all over Australia take part in every month, which involved a random jumble of: acourt setting, a rock, umbrella and balloon, and someone measuring something. There were very clever interpretations, amongst them a serial killer who took everything personally, a high school wallflower wanting revenge on the basketball court, a grisly crime scene, an animated animal court and a Catherine The Great inspired game of head tossing. A lot of talent in the room, indeed!

We concluded the day with Linzie Joanne's soothing art activity, learning how to bleed, blend and paint 'wet on wet' with watercolours. We learnt about the supplies we would need to get creative at home and Linzie shared some tips with us as to where to find them, what to look for and how to get the best value supplies. Linzie set up some beautiful art deco-inspired vases with a range of orange, yellow, red and purple hued flowers. While some of our dahlias turned out lopsided or uneven, some morphed into hydrangeas! Magical things happen at Mona workshops! It was the perfect end to a day, able to sit around together, listen to some classical music and discuss our favourite classic novel-to-film adaptations. Linzie's kind feedback meant we all went home with a masterpiece to hang on the fridge to remind us of a wonderful day spent with some very curious women!


Are you interested in staying informed about our Mona workshops? Subscribe to our email list to stay up to date about all our upcoming events!


Linzie Joanne, Caroline Tuohey and Leonie Napier are all published in Issue One of Mona Magazine. Get your copy here!

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