On Writing

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

headshot of Lee Kofman

Some time ago I was approached by a writer asking me to mentor her. She was writing a novel set in seventeenth century Spain. I read the synopsis. The story – a young woman has to choose between her sexual desire and becoming a nun (this being the most viable pathway for a woman’s independence at that time) – interested me. The narrative had some original twists. I read several chapters and was impressed by the poetry of the prose. Still, the book wasn’t working.

The problem was the protagonist. She left me cold.

The recipients of the annual Glenfern Fellowships and emerging writers’ competition.

The 2014 Glenfern Fellowships for Mid-Career and Established Writers (supported by the Readings Foundation) were awarded to Jennifer Down, Lee Kofman and Christian Ryan.

The 2014 Glenfern Fellowships for Emerging Writers (supported by the Grace Marion Wilson Trust) were awarded to Allison Browning, Matilda-Dixon-Smith and Shivaun Plozza.

headshot of Julien Leyre

Co-director of the Marco Polo Festival of Digital Literature Julien Leyre shares his thoughts on Chinese readers and online writing. In August 2016, Julien will be presenting a half-day seminar on Reading and Writing Across Languages, as well as a half-day All-You-Can-Translate Workshop. Both sessions are presented as a part of the ...

headshot of Bernard Caleo

Graphic Novelist Bernard Caleo talks comics and graphic novels, influences and illustrations with Brendan Paholski. Bernard is teaching a workshop on Introduction to Graphic Novels this Summer School.

Bernard has been making comics since the early 1990s, in collaboration (‘The False Impressionists’ with Tolley, ‘Café Ghetto’ with John Murphy), solo (‘Flâneur’, ‘Mongrel’) and as an editor (the ‘Tango’ anthology). In 2012 he made a feature documentary ‘Graphic Novels! Melbourne!’ with filmmaker Daniel Hayward.

headshot of Katie Keys

Twitter poet Katie Keys shares some of her thoughts about digital writing through the form of tiny little poems themselves.

Katie is Melbourne-based poet, writer and arts manager. Her work has been published in anthologies, magazines and online in Australia and beyond. An advocate of online creative communities, Katie has tweeted a tiny little poem each day @tinylittlepoems for nearly five years. (She is also currently the Director of Writers Victoria).

When we learn a foreign language, it is usual for progress to be assessed in terms of four separate categories: reading, writing, listening and speaking. But in relation to mastering our native tongue, the distinction between these categories is given far less emphasis. 

Because some of my favourite philosophers are comedians, I often think of a line about how to know if you’re suited to being a comic, one that is amusingly relevant to the life of a writer too: “You have to like sitting on trains and have quite low self esteem.”

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 you. You felt special, special, special. 

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 lodging, the Hotel Tjampuhan, was a shadow of its former self. Peacocks roamed the garden, the swimming pool was filled with spring water, there was no electricity and the entire island seemed like an overgrown jungle. 

Watching him from above, the boy looks insignificant against the expanse of the ocean. I can mark his progress to the water by the tracks across the sand, the last of them erased by the next wave sweeping up the beach. Board under his arm, he wades through the shallows out to the bar, eventually sliding it under him where the water deepens. It is here that the transformation occurs – the gangly, fidgeting teenager on land becomes the fluent, easy paddler on water.