The Great Leap Forward by John Jenkins
I began writing verse in the early 1970s, and have subsequently had much poetry published and anthologised. To make a living, as one must do, I became a journalist, working mainly in Melbourne and Sydney, but also overseas, variously on magazines, newspapers and some radio.
Between 1975 and 1990, I co-edited two anthologies of experimental fiction, and had about a dozen stories published. After that, I concentrated solely on non-fiction, more poems and a verse novel, and didn’t return to short stories until 2013. In that year, I was fortunate enough to be selected for Knitting & other stories, the 2013 Margaret River anthology.
That was certainly a leap forward, and I have now completed another 18 stories, with an additional 20 or so in first draft. Of this very recent ‘batch,’ five have been short-listed in competitions, including ‘Through a Latte Darkly,’ now published in Joiner Bay & other stories.
Clear deadlines help to keep me focused; and if you are short-listed in a major competition, such as the Margaret River Short Story Competition, you know you are keeping to a very high standard. This is very important to me, as I am working towards my first short fiction collection.
Short stories engage all the writer’s skills, calling upon observation, research, character study, pacing, innovation, concision, descriptive writing, many elements of poetry and drama; and, of course, old-fashioned story-telling itself.
My story in Joiner Bay is about two recovering alcoholics, a serious subject, though one tempered by humour. While I personally don’t have a problem with alcohol, I have worked closely with some tragic cases, particularly back in my journalism days, and hope my story reflects the sympathy I feel for those afflicted.
Things are going well on my writing journey, from Joiner Bay to the future!
John Jenkins is a widely published and much-travelled former journalist who now lives on the rural outskirts of Melbourne and writes short fiction, non-fiction, plays and poetry. He was anthologised in Knitting and other stories (MRP, 2013) and Joiner Bay and other stories (MRP, 2017). His tenth poetry collection, Poems Far and Wide, was published in September 2019.