Creative Non-Fiction: Writing Styles


Character Description

Eight legs and eight eyes, she pulls the strings from behind the scenes as she stealthily weaves her webs. Fine hairs cover her body and legs, her spinnerets work flawlessly. This spider learnt to read. She worked tirelessly through the nights to save someone she barely knew.

Most people are wary of spiders if not terrified, yet the vast majority of arachnids are instrumental in reducing flies and other insects. The vast majority of people have never been bitten by a spider. Spiders are inherently beneficial creatures. They see much. Very economical in movement.

Compassion and creativity drive Charlotte to exhaustion as she scribes, ultimately saving the life of an innocent bred for butchery.  The people of the village are stunned to see such a wonderful pig beaming from beneath a web telling them how wonderful he is. No one in the village ever questions who wrote the web.

Charlotte’s insight into human society is the gullibility of the average person, their two-dimensional perceptions, and their unquestioning drive to identify with their group. Charlotte applies the human technology of writing and questions our assumption of truthfulness: ‘it is written’. 

Despite her frail body and virtual invisibility, Charlotte’s writing changes destiny.


Album Review

Australian rock band Midnight Oil has been part of true Ozzie music culture since 1972, and has been a constant voice of Native sovereignty, treaty and political transparency. 20,000 Watt RSL was released in 1997 one year before the Sorry Marches opposing white Australia’s ongoing callous treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. This album’s compilation covers the bands hits from 1979 to 1998.

Signifying the heartbeat of the nation, drums form the core support to Peter Garret’s sharp, clear voice. Lead and bass guitars weave together with synth defining each song’s tone. Drums regularly pump the lyrics along, forcing the listener to engage and take notice. 

Too Much Sunshine has the drums slapping our faces, demanding we wake up; Dreamworld kicks us out of our privileged complacency; Bullroarer’s drums smacks us up the back of the head insisting we take notice. All these tracks evoke visceral responses. These are vital songs. We must dance.

With their new album Resist, released February 2022, the track We Resist thematically extends Aboriginal rights as being the rights of all. But in this song, much like our response to human rights abuse in Australia, much like our response to climate disaster, the drums haunt the backdrop, slowly moving forward, too quietly. 

Albanese only put the flags up. It’s 2022.


Meal Description sans Food

The Beach House, Queen Street Mall

The reinforced concrete balcony overlooks the intersection of Elizabeth and Albert streets, peering into the windows of other buildings at the fourth story level, and with the underground transit centre being extended just across Albert St. Grimy Brisbane bustles below conveying no ‘beachness’ at all.

The staff are friendly with wide smiles who breeze through the beach motif décor. My dining companion distances himself from the ostensible seaside ambiance by ordering a very large steak evoking images of a farm. Or, perhaps, a slaughterhouse. I attempted a recovery of theme by ordering baked salmon and potatoes: fish and chips!

The mis-match of vibes within permeates the city without. I loved Brisbane when it was just a big country town. I’ve been away 20 years and this place has mutated into a megacity wannabe: the city’s history not quite compatible with the pretence of privilege slopped over it.

Nor do the random 70s and 80s tunes quite meld with the white wash walls and tiled floors. The open air pertaining to beach dinning only brings in drilling dust and fumes. The screeches of seagulls are replaced by the blurt of horns and roar of engines. The deliciousness is not supported by the affect.


Character Portrait

‘Let’s have a cuppa.’

Those magic words which meant an end to hours of toil in the summer sun and which framed the only steady element in my childhood. Tea and bikkies entailed at least a good hour of chatting. Her logic and practical insights a constant counter-balance to the turmoil at home.

‘You’re a good worker.’

Like a pebble dropped into an empty well, the compliment doesn’t connect – only meaningless reverberations. From time to time over the 15 years I worked for her, she would sometimes join me whilst I weeded her garden or mowed her lawn.

‘Make it neat or she’ll just tell you to get back up there.’

He agrees and gets back up the tree: we know her aesthetics. She later compliments me in muted surprise and gratitude how I saved her trouble, expense and waiting. She lights another cigarette with satisfaction on her wrinkled face as I enjoy my bikkies upwind.

‘You’re a square peg in a round hole.’

I wasn’t notified when she passed away. I miss her commonplace sensibilities and total lack of emotional drama. I miss coming up the drive to see her 245 Volvo parked in the garage beside the A-frame house. I still haven’t found where I belong.


Personal Essay 

Walking back from uni last week I began to feel faint. Not unusual. I then noticed a blank spot just to the left of my vision. Just before I got home the blank area had evolved into a shiny circle which remained present whether one or both eyes were closed or open. By the time I got home and called the medical centre, the shiny circle had shattered into a kaleidoscope and started to move in an arc to the left. 

Apparently, migraines have a variety of symptoms. While I had the blurred vision and slurred speech, I didn’t suffer debilitating pain. The doctors and nurses at Royal Brisbane confirmed it was not a tumour or a stroke. Chronic stress is a key factor.

For a few seconds last Sunday morning, I fantasised the Greens had taken the federal election: I can move out of this boarding house and afford food! I can afford to socialise! 

Yay socialism: Medicare paid for my hospital visit and Austudy provides some money. How would I live without these basics? Not sure. I am sure of this: billions spent on war machines we do not use can greatly improve our social productivity, just by raising minimum support to at least poverty levels.


Photograph Description

Sand cool, laying on the cool sand, amongst the leaves sprouting from the grains. Long green shoots waving in the breeze. Waves flow toward the shore, rolling up the wet sand along the beach, mesmerising and replenishing. Salty air, moist, soft, slides over the sea, over the beach and waves, over me and the dunes, over the lands.

Light grows and glows along the eastern horizon. Suddenly everything is still! The dawn zephyr bounds past proclaiming, ‘The day has begun!’ The first shiny arc of brilliance pips above the vast ocean. Heat tickles. The sun rises. 

Seaweed and ocean smells joined by the first gulls in flight. What would the sea be without them? Light flows over my shivering arms and chest and legs. It covers my face. Muscles relax and sinews loosen. I am between warm light and cold sand. 

Birds peer at the interloper. A small snake wanders past inspecting the huge mound across its path home. A small crab finds the sole of my shoe rather spongy.

The sun.

Above the skyline, between waves and mist, the circle-without-an-edge propels living to recommence. The sands begin to warm and dry, as do I: cramps in arms and legs fade, my skin tingles, my mind returns to its usual mode of daytime functions. 


Topic: Art & Lies

Homo sapiens is quite an odd example of evolution. Unlike most species which have adapted to particular environments or have established mutually supportive ecosystems, our species is different: we evolved a particular talent for ideas. Our myriad ideas about trade, ownership and religion have resulted in millennia of strife: which is the superior? Which ones are true, and which are lies? What is real?

Art exists at the intersection of what is real and what is not. Art in its many varieties blends our abilities to associate ideas and imbue them with beliefs and values, stretching the truth and blurring the lines of reality. Art, in opposition to lies, opens our perceptions and ideas for edification. Lies are only created to obfuscate and to imbalance interpersonal exchanges.

There is no beauty which does not also hold some truth, as there is no lie which is devoid of creativity. However, all creativity is not in the service of deceit just as all truth is not beautiful.  We are susceptible to ideas.

The difference between art and lies, however, is that good art strengthens with scrutiny, whereas good lies eventually weaken and fail.