On Writing

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

At this year’s Adelaide Writers Week, the Miles Franklin award winner – and mighty fine writer – Roger McDonald, had a deep dig at the Stella Prize. McDonald claimed that “they [women] were shooting themselves in the foot” by creating a literature prize exclusively for female authors.

Standing on Big Rock in the You Yangs on a clear day you can see the country in a wide sweep across to Corio Bay, then around to Geelong itself, the Barrabool Hills, Mount Anakie comes into view and behind it the Brisbane Ranges. The name You Yangs comes from the Aboriginal words Wurdi Yawang meaning “large mountain”.

The familiar Dublin greeting “What’s the story?” – the equivalent of Australia’s “G’day” – hints at a longstanding Irish tradition of oral history and storytelling, reflected in the capital city’s treasury of literary culture.

I pack my mother’s case.

“This is how you do it,” I say and I fold the nightdresses and the blouses and the skirts in neat piles and I roll up the undies and I place a lavender bag between the jumpers and I put the shoes in plastic bags.

On our first day, Anna sets us the task of interviewing someone and writing a profile piece to present in our final week. It would draw together everything that we’d learn: how to interview effectively and how to write clear, pared-back prose. “Painting” a vivid colour picture for the reader, using dialogue, anecdotes, observation and all five senses.

Photo of AS Patric

‘Las Vegas for Vegans’ writer AS Patric spoke to WV’s communications intern Patricia Tobin about the short story form.

headshot of Angela Meyer

‘Captives’ writer Angela Meyer will be running a course on Flash Fiction at Writers Victoria in July. She spoke to WV communications intern Patricia Tobin about the flash fiction genre.

headshot of Lee Kofman

Last month I promised that the next post would contain strategies to defeat the writers’ greatest enemy – procrastination. So let’s get armed to win this battle.

Charlie stood under the porch light at the back of the house and squinted down the barrel of his beer. He swirled the bottle in tiny circles, watching the liquid spiral and foam, then tipped his head back and drank it off. Tossed the bottle out into the night. It glanced off a water tank with a clang and thudded down somewhere in the neighbour’s yard. There were muffled voices, a light in a window. Farther away the clamant barking of a dog.

My stomach churned when I was given a card at Tullamarine; it said that there was no guarantee I would be allowed back into Australia. Shit, my re-entry permit had expired. I closed my eyes and jumped on the plane, because nothing could stop me from going to Gifu. I was to receive the Award of Excellence at the twenty-second Gifu Literature Festival.