How to Make Gravy by Paul Kelly

This is a great book for people interested in the writing process, be it poetry, song or prose. Paul Kelly is an Australian singer/songwriter and Caron sent me this book a while back. I have noodled through it many times but decided to sit down and read it as a cover to cover.

If you know Paul Kelly songs and are looking for the answer to “what’s this song about?” you won’t get those answers here. This is more about, here is how I came up with the idea to write this song. It is also about the pebbles we put in our pockets as writers that we subsequently throw into a big wooden bowl when we get home, look at, pick up and ponder and polish until they become the final product.

It is refreshing to see that other artists have reams of paper, books of lists and time “wasted” pondering before the emergence of the final product. Many time people ask what I am working on, looking for an exact answer in the linear world. An answer that frequently I can’t give and comes out in some mumbled half idea that sounds as if I am doing nothing.

A great example is a painting that is working its way to canvas. With each day, the idea becomes more clear but a brush hasn’t touched my hand yet – the muse and the lightning strike work in mysterious way. Likewise, when writing, a hash of ideas, a conversation or turn of phrase heard here and there become the great work.

Paul Kelly does a great job explaining the inexplicable.


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