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...]

The map of creativity. Guest Post by Hazel Edwards OAM

Currently I'm between book projects.  I don't know what I’m going to write next. And it's weird I'm experiencing again the 'plateau of boredom' that I'd described in my memoir about my writing life Not Just a Piece of Cake; Being an Author. I don't want to start anything. I have a vague interest in early female doctors like Dr Constance Stone, who started the Queen Victoria Hospital for women, but I’m hesitant. I feel reluctant to start anything BIG. Recently, I re-read that chapter in my … [Read more...]

Why I was hard on myself as the narrator of my memoir: Guest Post by Jenny Valentish

Lee Kofman is a straight talker. When she told me – over a refreshing beverage in South Melbourne – that she felt I was too hard on myself as a memoirist, my inward response was to bristle. I’d just written what could be loosely described as an addiction memoir, Woman of Substances. Essentially, it is my back catalogue of misdeeds, spread across research-heavy chapters about the unique issues of women who use drugs and alcohol. I didn’t go light on the ugly. ‘You didn’t linger on any of your … [Read more...]

Thematic compass to guide memoir writing: Guest Post by Cassie Lane

My memoir, How to Dress a Dummy, began as a Creative Writing Master’s thesis - a feminist critique of the beauty industry. The creative component was a recounting of my experiences working as an international model. A member of my writers group told his publisher about my secretly-always-wanted-to-be-a-book thesis. The publisher then contacted me, asking if I could turn my 15,000 words into what it had always wanted to be. Once the elation from signing a contract with my name written … [Read more...]

How to write 3 memoirs by the age of 35: Guest Post from Ashley Kalagian Blunt

The second memoir I wrote was a romantic comedy about how my boyfriend and I finally decided we could live on the same continent. When I had an adequate draft, I sent it to a manuscript assessor. ‘It works’, she said. ‘You could write the next one about life in Australia.’ How could I write a third memoir? I thought. I’m only 32.   The first memoir didn’t even start as a memoir. I’d planned to tell the story of my great grandparents’ survival of the Armenian genocide. In 2010, I … [Read more...]

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...]