Re-drafting in Isolation: Guest Post by Angela Meyer

At a crucial stage of writing my debut novel, A Superior Spectre, I travelled to the Scottish isles of Islay and Jura. I had been to Scotland three times already, but on this occasion I wanted to experience the conditions of my two main characters who spent time there: Jeff’s isolation, and some physical aspects of Leonora’s 19th century existence. When I left Australia, the novel was almost at ‘skeleton draft’ stage. Some scenes were still missing, as was the ending, and many passages had … [Read more...]

Fifty Shades of Self

One of the first questions I ask myself when I begin a new creative non-fiction work, short- or long-form, is existential in nature (and stolen from Shakespeare). To be or not to be? Am I going to appear in my work or not? Or, to what degree am I going to be present? Because in creative non-fiction, the author is always there, if not as an explicit ‘I’ then as the organising consciousness hovering over the work, palpable in thematic, structural and stylistic choices, with all their implicit … [Read more...]

Second Book Syndrome: Guest Post by Bram Presser

Having come from the world of music (well, punk rock, which to some might not count), I’m all too familiar with the curse of the sophomore album. A band bursts onto the scene with a killer debut only to come undone rushing out a follow-up. Critics and fans alike revel in the evisceration of their fallen idols, wilfully blind to a simple truth: the songs on that first album were written and played live over the course of years. They had a chance to mature, to be honed and cherry-picked. They … [Read more...]

Writing the Silences: Guest Post by Alice Nelson

Many years ago, in one of those serendipitous but fateful-feeling writing discoveries, I came across an essay by the American poet Louise Gluck. In her poetry, Gluck said, she was attracted to gaps and ellipsis, to disruption and hesitation, to eloquent, deliberate silence. It was not the words on the page, but what was left unsaid that exerted the most compelling power for her. As a reader, she was drawn to works that were either damaged or incomplete, art that haunts precisely because it is … [Read more...]

A Book in Identity Crisis: Guest Post by Amra Pajalic

I first started writing my recently completed memoir, Things Nobody Knows But Me, when I was doing my Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing. I titled it then Sins of the Mother. I was 20-years-old and even though I had officially transitioned out of my teens, I was still stuck in the midst of adolescent angst; I had judged my mother’s parenting ability and found her wanting. The memoir was in four parts telling the stories of the women in my family, starting from my childhood … [Read more...]

Chagall’s Curse

Two years ago I pitched a short memoir to a notable Australian literary magazine. It was a story from my childhood about how I helped my parents, then dissidents in the Soviet Union, to hide forbidden literature during a KGB raid on our home. The editor, without reading my memoir, rejected it, saying they were interested in publishing writing about Australia only. The rejection was no surprise. On several occasions I had been told by publishers interested in my work that they only want … [Read more...]

Writing, & Fictionalising, My Parents’ Lives: Guest Post by Anne Connor

How do I write about my parents, Jock and Bess’, lives when they are no longer here, ethically, with credibility? How do I use their stories to examine universal issues such as the futility of war, post-traumatic stress disorder and generational trauma without exploiting their lives? And how do I bring them, and the world they inhabited decades before I was born, to life? These were the quandaries I faced when I began writing my debut memoir, Two Generations, which tells the story of my father’s … [Read more...]

How to keep your book alive. Reluctantly.

I’ll begin with a disclaimer. I’ve always experienced considerable tension between my writer-self and my book-promoting self. However you approach the task, when you promote your books you inevitably take residence in the kingdom of niceness, where the drive to please prevails. I smile more when I promote my books. I seek agreement more. I often try to present as the kind of person whose company, and by inference whose book, will please you. Sometimes, if say I suggest myself for a public event, … [Read more...]

What Screenwriters Need to Know: Guest Post by Saara Lamberg

Screenwriting is a very different practice to any other type of writing, and one that suits my personality. I mean, who wouldn’t want to sit under the palm tree being attended to by half-naked man-gods while typing away one’s fantasies? The reality, is of course, a little different. If screenwriting is your passion, you’re more likely to not being able to pay your rent for the foreseeable future. The attraction of writing screenplays lays for me in a certain ’plainness’ and action. I have … [Read more...]

Ethical interviewing & self-care: Guest Post by Heather Morris

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is ‘based on an incredible true story’. Those words are stamped on the front cover of my novel. What they don’t say is how finding and telling a true story can change the life of the writer forever. For writers who, like myself, always search for the amazing true stories that exist but are yet untold, let me tell you a little about the impact hearing such stories, and being entrusted to tell then, might have on you and on the story’s owner. Yes, this is a warning. A … [Read more...]