Literary Friendships

I think I got more lovers than useful writing advice from the various writers’ groups I tried in my younger years, even though those groups were often composed of intelligent people, and sometimes even acclaimed authors. Partly this must be due to my solitary disposition, and partly because it’s damn hard to come across writers (who aren’t also professional editors) who can guide fellow writers. Writing well and helping others to write are altogether different things. But my biggest issue with … [Read more...]

Writing about not writing

It feels apt to round up the discussion of creative nonfiction that I’ve had here for the last two months by looking in-depth into one creative nonfiction book that in my view exemplifies this genre’s best virtues – its irreverent nature and freedom of form. Geoff Dyer’s Out of Sheer Rage means a great deal to me both as a reader and a writer. Dyer is possibly the quirkiest writer in the UK - a country with a reputation as a breeding ground for quirky writers. Dyer’s fiction and creative … [Read more...]

How to be a writer AND an author: Guest Post by John Fanning

A Canadian novelist once said to me that the difference between a writer and an author is that a writer writes, but an author writes and represents her writing, when it’s done and edited. But when I started out writing, over twenty years ago, I thought you wrote something, sent it to an agent, and then got it published. Now, I know from experience, if you write something which fits into a specific niche, or genre, then this could be the case – if you’re lucky, or connected, or a rare exception. … [Read more...]

My top 7 tips for writing creative nonfiction

To follow on my last post in which I sang the praises of creative nonfiction, this month I’d like to share with you some stuff I have learned about working in this often misunderstood genre (after much trial and error). Here are my top tips. Writing is reading The most obvious, and least sexy, tip is that to engage deeply with creative nonfiction you have to read as many books in this genre as you can. Of course every writer knows, or at least so I hope, that reading for writers is as … [Read more...]

I am Joe: the joy in writing across gender. A guest post from Myfanwy Jones.

‘I am, at heart, a gentleman,’ drawled the iconic German movie star. A century ago, Marlene Dietrich was taking liberties: she wore well-cut men’s suits when this was considered insolent. She took lovers, of both sexes. She was disobliged, and this gave her power, and access. (She also had that incredible voice.) Authors take liberties, too. One of the privileges of the writing life is that we get to try on other sexes and walk around in them, sometimes for years at a time. But how well do they … [Read more...]

Creative nonfiction – the new black?

I discovered creative nonfiction only at 31, accidentally, and first as a writer rather than a reader. This was Writers Victoria’s fault. I had been in Australia four years by then. I had three fiction books published in Israel, but zero knowledge of the local literary scene. At least I knew to sign a membership with Writers Victoria. It was in their magazine where I saw a call for submissions by Griffith Review, asking for personal essays on the theme of communities. I had never written a … [Read more...]

The ‘hows’ of collaborative writing: A guest post by Anthony Morris

The novel The Hot Guy started out as a joke. My co-author Mel Campbell and I are both film reviewers, and we often go together to preview screenings as part of our job. One day we started talking, jokingly, about what it would be like to see a movie where the attractive male lead was being unknowingly preyed upon by a collection of savvy women just using him for his body. The more we discussed this idea, the more it felt there was a real story there. Maybe the joke could work as a novel. We were … [Read more...]

And More on Failure

Last month I blogged about the importance of failure for writers arguing that failure is (unfortunately…) an intrinsic, and healthy, part of the writing process. In my experience at least, feeling like I was a failure while I wrote my memoir generated tension that I found conducive to deepening my work. This post seemed to have resonated with some, as I received quite a few moving responses, which made me realise there are angles to the relationship between the writing process and failure that … [Read more...]

Bringing the dead to life: A guest post by Kelly Gardiner

I write about dead people. Not ghosts. At least, not so far. I write fiction set in the past. It’s not the smartest career move, to be honest, but apparently I can’t help it. Historical fiction requires years of meticulous research, most of which never appears on the page. It gets stuck in a purgatory between genre and literary fiction. It also involves both writer and reader to be in a very specific agreement, to both suspend and engage disbelief. When we read fiction set in the past, we … [Read more...]

Fail Better

Recently I came across an intriguing quote about the nature of artistic process by William Bailey, a notable visual artist. Apparently he said: ‘I believe that every painter is in a state of continual failure.’ At first I was puzzled, particularly that Bailey himself is a great success. But the more I contemplated Bailey’s words the more I realised he has a point - failure must be intrinsic to any attempt at making art. Isn’t it all about trial and error, groping in the dark, and then putting … [Read more...]