September 02, 2005 Features & Images » Feature Story

The Vicious Circle returns 

Night Blooms

Fresh from their success with the Collective Novel Experiment, and with two grants lining the coffers, Whistler’s Writers Group, the Vicious Circle, has confirmed CanLit leading lights Susan Musgrave, Caroline Adderson, and Brian Kaufman as workshop leaders for the annual festival and retreat to be held in Whistler from Sept. 8 to 13.

Registration for the entire five-day writing retreat is open to anyone, with 21 spaces available, in either fiction or non-fiction stream, at a price of $500 (discounted to $375 if participants arrange their own accommodation.)  Large portions of the program are also available on a drop-on basis.

Morning lectures will be presented by Ross Laird on ethical issues related to craft and tapping into your creativity, Mary Schendlinger on the how to get work published, Patti Osborne on self publishing and Rebecca Wood Barrett on pitching stories to publishers.

A detailed program, bios of all the writing mentors and presenters, and information about the pitching session, are available online. To register, or find out more about the Retreat, lecturers and mentors, and readings visit the group’s newly launched website,

In anticipation of the Writers Festival, Pique Newsmagazine is showcasing four short stories written by local writers from Aug. 25 to Sept. 15. We hope you enjoy these stories and will come out and hear more local and national writers read and talk about their work.



Night Blooms

By Rebecca Wood Barrett

The bright girls at the club learn quick-smart which rules to follow, and which ones to ignore. Bronte Millar breaks rule number one at eight in the evening, in the kitchen of her one-room tenement flat; before she showers or dresses or even remembers why, she capsizes a bottle of vodka over a coffee mug. Two glugs clear and pure. Tops it up with orange juice from the fridge. She never drinks out of a glass when she gets up: the coffee mug makes her feel like it’s morning.

Eyes gluey with smoke-grit and mascara, she navigates with gold toes and flat feet, from Formica counter, past mattress, to shower stall. Bronte twists the taps on full bore, her face enduring a torrential summer – as long as it takes, until her eyelids come ungummed. Stuff the water shortages. She drains her mug, her sips slow and bubbling, a stutter.

She walks to work in thongs, her knapsack slung over one shoulder. Wearing a baby-blue skirt and tank top, Bronte looks like a backpacker. She slips through the narrow alleys of Woolloomooloo, navigating an indirect route to avoid the hostels, their balconies, verandahs, and the huddles of eyes. She scales the long vertiginous steps of the McElhone Stairs, and, on the fourth landing, looks over her shoulder and surveys the steep flight, feeling its pull; the descent, its potential. She scrambles up the last set, thongs slapping at heels. On the top step plants her foot in Potts Point, a more salubrious suburb than the pub suburb she’s just climbed out of.

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