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...]

Writing Fiction in and out of the University: A Guest Post by Josephine Wilson

I have met quite a few writers who, like me, have written novels, plays or collections of poetry within the framework of a PhD.  The motivation for writing within the University is sometimes a scholarship, which offers financial support for research and writing. Given how hard it is to make money as a writer, or a sessional academic (my other money-spinning job), the lure of three years of full-time writing and a weekly income is hard to resist. For writers who have continued down this path, … [Read more...]

The philosophy of fiction editing: A guest post by Sabita Naheswaran

Fiddling with fiction can be so very, very tricky, structural editing in particular. Henry James referred to editing as ‘the butchers’ trade’: we dissect, we cut, we rearrange the parts. Ten years as an editor and I still worry that my criticism, although necessary, might be altering the soul of a piece. And structural editing is an inherently personal act. Who the hell am I to say that the story arc is forced, or that the antagonist’s motivation seems tenuous? Yes, I’m an editor. But what if my … [Read more...]

Reading beyond our comfort zone

I’ve noticed a curious anxiety among some writers who teach writing about coming across as supposedly elitist when they discuss reading with their students. While these writers themselves are often ambitious readers and may complain to their peers about how little their students read, in the same breath they often say it doesn’t matter what the students read as long as they read, and it is not their role to pass judgement on their choices. Such an attitude might be beneficial for certain … [Read more...]

eBook: an innovation or a nostalgic gesture? A guest post by Julian Novitz

In a 1999 interview with the New York Times, Annie Proulx was quoted as saying: ’The internet is good for bulletin boards on esoteric subjects, reference works, lists and news – timely utilitarian information, efficiently pulled through the wires… Nobody is going to sit down and read a novel on a twitchy little screen. Ever.’ We’ve come a long way since then, but the sentiment expressed in Proulx’s statement is clearly still relatable for large numbers of readers and writers, who remain … [Read more...]

My Top 13 Writing Resources

We live in the time of Writing Resource Cornucopia. There are myriad aides for writers out there – books, magazines, courses and websites offering writing advice and exercises;  sometimes even recipes for creating the next bestseller. I have my reservations about how useful it is to have such a great choice. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of available information, and to grow confused in the face of often contradictory advice. Worse, the impression such plenty creates is … [Read more...]