On Writing

Writers, editors, agents, publishers and more share their thoughts, experiences and stories.

headshot of Lee Kofman

Six copies of ‘The Dangerous Bride’ recently arrived in my house. It took me five years to write this memoir and then I waited more than a year for the publication to happen, and here it is – printed.

The book is not in the shops yet, not until October, but at least it exists physically in the world, which is already burdened with too many books. I sometimes feel sick when I walk into bookshops even though they are amongst my favorite places.

headshot of Earl Livings

Earl Livings is not only an internationally established poet, but also an experienced teacher with an interest in novel writing. His Light Up Your Words: Poetry for Beginners workshop shares the insights his career has given him into poetry, language, and publishing.

He spoke to Deanne Sheldon-Collins about some of these insights, as well as the relationship between verse and prose.

a close-up photograph of a microphone with the words 'on the air'

Festivals can be a good opportunity to meet other writers and, of course, other readers! Kate Holden takes us behind the scenes as writers let down their hair.

'Remember school play night? All the bustle and the brimming nerves. The school hall lit up specially in the dark and the sound of activity within. Your parents forsaken at the door as you caught sight of your friends – everyone pink with excitement, suddenly so much to say, the glory of importantly pushing aside the curtain that separated mere humans from the Stars of the Stage. And afterwards, when everyone wanted to know...

headshot of Craig Sherborne

Memoirist, novelist, poet, and journalist, Craig Sherborne knows the best ways to start writing in many genres. He spoke to Deanne Sheldon-Collins about some of the issues he will cover in his upcoming workshop in Clunes.

Craig’s novel ‘The Amateur Science of Love’ won the 2012 Melbourne Prize for Writing and was shortlisted for the NSW and Victorian Premier’s Awards. His memoir ‘Hoi Polloi’ was shortlisted for the Queensland and Victorian Premier’s Awards. The follow-up, ‘Muck’, won the Queensland Premier’s Award for Non-fiction.

the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival logo 2014

Melbourne-born Janet De Neefe first traveled to Bali in 1974 with her family. She returned 10 years later, fell in love with a local man and decided to make this island her home. In this Postcard, Janet describes the beauty and benefits of the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival.

"It all began with a family holiday in Bali in 1975. I was instantly smitten with the culture, the food, the place, with the rustic charm and that infectious Balinese warmth. Our lodgings, Hotel Tjampuhan, was a shadow of its current self. Peacocks roamed the garden, the swimming pool was filled with spring...

A straw-hatted boy made of rubber sails the seas to find the greatest treasure in the world and become the King of the Pirates. He is racing thousands of other pirates to the end of the Grand Line, where the infamous Gol D. Roger has left his riches behind. The rubber boy’s pirate crew contains a robot shipwright, a shapeshifting animal doctor, an animated skeleton musician, and a bunch of equally zany humans. This is the premise of the manga series, ‘One Piece’, which is currently dominating the Japanese entertainment industry. Ah Japan, you’ve done it again. 

In 2009, the year that I turned 41, a slew of significant things occurred for me. I published the ninth issue of the romance comics anthology ‘Tango’, a comic book anthology that I’d been putting together since 1997, compiling new short comics stories from cartoonists all over Australia. At the same time, Allen & Unwin published ‘The Tango Collection’, a selection of pieces from the first eight issues.

For a children’s writer thinking about going “indie” and publishing their work outside of the traditional publishing house, what advice do you have?

Don’t assume writing for children is easier – it most definitely isn’t – and a picture book is the hardest to do: it’s the Rolls Royce of writing. A children’s audience is far more critical (they give you much more praise and fantastic fan mail, though!). Professional editing and quality is absolutely vital (and the benefit of this is it will mean your work lasts longer).

Working as a book designer for the past thirty years, I’ve witnessed quite a few attempts at self-publishing. It’s a tough gig. But as a part-time writer myself and confronted with the shrinking world of commercial publishing opportunities I decided to set aside my skepticism and try my hand at publishing solo. I knew that commercial success was highly unlikely but this didn’t really deter me. I was more interested in the process.

First a confession. The idea of writing a story about post-natal depression (PND) aimed at children was abhorrent. Plenty of people – mostly counsellors – had suggested I write about my depression. “Think of it as a form of therapy,” they said. To my mind, immersing myself in the very thing that was upsetting me seemed like an idiotic plan.