Deciding what to leave out is the hardest part of the writing process.
As anyone who reads my blog, articles, eulogies, business proposals, film treatments, keynote addresses, song lyrics or grocery lists can attest, I need work on this skill.
I tend to write 1000 words then start thinking about how long the piece is going to be. It’s baffling: as a former news agency journalist and newspaper section editor, I spent a good part of my career insisting 400 words were all you needed to tell a good story, but look at me now, I can’t shut up.
On the shonky stages of inner Sydney and Melbourne venues in the 1980s, I harbored a quiet confidence that, despite the mullet and my habitually poor choice of clothing, I would eventually find a niche in the music world. Sure, the stony silence that greeted the end of many of my band’s performances was a little unnerving, but the physical beatings were merely sporadic.
Yes, I would tell myself as I slinked off the ‘stage’ at the Sussex Hotel avoiding the gazes of (depending on which band we’d just supported) snarling disaffected youths or poncy rhythm-less geese with peacock hair, my voice will one day reverberate around some of the nation’s biggest venues.