On Writing

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

headshot of Lee Kofman

“Why do I write?” is a question I have asked myself more than once, particularly when I receive publishers’ rejections, or hear about some friend’s obscene corporate salary, or when I am paralyzed by fear before starting a new project, or lose faith in the work-in-progress I’ve been slaving over for some years, or when my pile of research notes reaches the height of Mount Everest – in absolute disproportion to the manuscript’s word count. In short, I often question my choice of dedicating my life to writing.

headshot of Benjamin Law

In the lead-up to his Life Writing and Memoir masterclass at Writers Victoria, we asked Benjamin Law about reading and writing memoir.

headshot of Kate Belle

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and, as Tolstoy said in Anna Karenina, ‘There are as many kinds of love as there are hearts.’

Kate Belle, successful erotic fiction writer, believes that one person’s crude is another’s glory when it comes to writing about sex. We ask her what it’s like writing erotica, and – despite its recent boom in popularity – why so many people don’t respect it.

Photo of Hazel Edwards

Children's book author Hazel Edwards talks about the use of new media in writing for children.

Hazel writes quirky, thought-provoking fiction and fact for adults and children, across varied media. Known for ‘There’s a Hippopotamus on our Roof Eating Cake’ and ‘Authorpreneurship’, Hazel’s 200 books have been translated into 10 languages.

Image of Green Mangoes

“Where you from?” asks the green mango vendor from behind his cart on the ramparts surrounding Galle fort.

“Australia,” I answer, but immediately feel the need to add, “but my parents are from here.”

In your memoir Too Afraid to Cry, the narrator doesn’t use her voice, she keeps silent about things. How did you find your voice as a person and as a writer?

As children, we were raised on a farm. We would be seen and not heard. We knew we were adopted, but we never really talked about it. So, for most of my life I guess I never really thought I had a voice, or a right to voice an opinion, and you just sort of dealt with things without saying anything and I think that was a bit of a rural, Australian tactic as well – that you just sort of copped it sweet.

I came across the transcripts, or “minutes of evidence”, of the 1881 Inquiry into the Coranderrk Aboriginal reserve 11 years ago. I stumbled upon them while studying in the archives at the University of Melbourne, doing preliminary research for a PhD in history. As I worked my way through the 141-page transcript over the summer I became captivated by the voices it contains. I became deeply inspired by the Coranderrk people, black and white, and the collaboration they had forged 150 years ago, which still strikes me as one of the most remarkable stories I’ve ever encountered.

So, I work in TV as a writer. I get to write gags, indulge in my love of puns, and sow thinly veiled threats to morons among my words. But it’s all on someone else’s ticket. When it comes to picking up a pen and giving into the stories that fill my head, I’m lucky if I can jot down dot points in between phone calls and briefings.

It’s not something that is usually spoken (or written) about in the same sentence, and even less likely in children’s literature. Children and menstruation.

In her recent Guardian Australia review of Barracuda, Mary Kostakidis gave the very interesting descriptor “most un-English” to Christos Tsiolkas’ writing.