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Maryanne Plazzer on Country Living, Felt Sense, and Showing Up for Community

Growing Up In Country Australia

Maryanne Plazzer is an audio producer, writer and creative collaborator. The co-founder of SquareSound, she works with authors and actors to bring stories to life. Maryanne’s work is forthcoming in Black Inc.’s exciting new anthology, Growing Up In Country Australia.

Writers Victoria Writeability Program Manager, Jess Obersby, spoke with Maryanne about her creative practice, how community informs her writing and audio work, and what we can expect from her in future.

You are the co-founder of SquareSound, a company that produces audiobooks. Did being so close to books and authors through your work prompt you to start writing yourself?

It is inspiring to be around creative people every day. I guess we are all creative, but some of us act on it!

I started writing when I was quite young, around 10? Initially as a poet, piano composer and songwriter. This continued into my 20’s and early 30’s as a performing and studio artist.

After completing an Advanced Diploma in Sound Engineering, I branched out into post audio production and became more involved with other people’s creative work in advertising. Producing audiobooks started in 2015. 

It’s like the writing found me again in a way, this time through spoken word.

Can you tell us about your writing process? How do you fit it into your life?

I’m a night owl and an early bird, so the hours I spend awake are more than the average person, I’d say. Generally, my writing starts with an idea that I want to express, then I plan in time to write.

I am good at procrastinating and finding something in the fridge to eat or doing a spontaneous clean up of my desk. Without deadlines my editing phase would never end. We all need a FULL STOP at some stage in the process and Black Inc. helped with that!

For me daydreams are important for creativity to flourish. We are so bombarded with information these days, so making time for imagination is key.  The best times to daydream are in life’s simple moments, like travelling on the train or bus. I turn off the podcast, put away the book and daydream.

Do you have any favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing?

I’d say my main influences come from everyday people: my teachers, mentors, musicians and moments with fellow writers who have encouraged me and assisted in the editing phase.

When I was 19, I wrote for a youth magazine, Brain Waste, run by the Moreland City Council. Showing up is where it starts. Having a group of fellow writers is how so many writers keep up their work and stay inspired through sharing.

I met often with my band as co-writers in song and I had a writing group through a short story course I did too.

You have a background in music. How has this artform contributed to your writing?

Music is a great storyteller.  The feelings that can be evoked through different frequencies are the same felt sense that can be activated in audio story telling and reading too!

When I work with new authors and narrators at Square Sound I emphasise the importance of the felt sense, thoughts and tone. This all influences the end product and can be detected by the listener as a book they connect with (or not).

For me, there was a period in my teens where all I engaged with was music videos. I wasn’t a huge book reader at all, so these clips acted like books. This then led to me writing lyrics and short stories and also informed my approach to audiobook production.

You speak very warmly of living in Jeparit, and you grew up in Horsham. Do you think this sense of community is present in all country towns, and what advice can you give to city-dwellers considering a sea change?

Many of us have become wired to technology. Fast isn’t fast enough these days.  It doesn’t really matter if you live in the open space or a dense city if technology is where you spend your time.  When I was living in Jeparit, the internet hadn’t yet taken hold and we barely had a mobile signal out there. So naturally there was a deeper connection to the people and to living in reality with purpose and community, and there was accountability.

The real journey we all need to take is right in front of us, in our own neighbourhood. I think it is easier to be accountable in small town communities, as you can’t hide for too long. Eventually someone will come knocking if you don’t show up.

Sadly, many small towns are now overpopulated by too many empty homes, due to investor holiday homes or Airbnb’s. This is not a good thing, and a balance is needed for small town survival. If you invest in a small town you need to turn up to local meetings, get to know the locals and participate. Many investors come into the communities with a profit-focused approach. However, being interdependent is important for a thriving community. I think that independence is a modern-day illness that separates us. We need to look out for and rely on each other too. This is what all functional communities require.

Are you currently working on any other writing projects? Can you tell us about them?

I am working on several writing/creative projects. 

One is a community project called Yangga Dyata Walking On Country. It’s been in the pipeline since late 2020. Yangga Dyata Walking On Country is partnered with the Horsham City Council and community, to bring the story of Yanggendyinanyuk, a Wotjobaluk warrior’s story of leadership and resilience on the Horsham silo to life. The artist Sam Bates (aka Smug), will commence in late April, and we launch on National Reconciliation week, late May.

I am also currently in development to create a book for young people to nurture their innate felt sense and guide adults back to their inner compass and activate their creativity.

The inspiration for the concept started when I wrote a short story in late 2021 called ‘Inner Tuition’ about my inner teacher. It was birthed after being inundated by the overwhelming focus on escapism in the creative arts industry.

To follow my journey, you can visit my Facebook or Instagram @map_writes.

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