On Writing

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

headshot of Lucy Treloar

The writing life is a strange and rollercoastish thing. This time last year I was about to put my first adult novel, 'The Things We Tell Ourselves', away and concentrate on my new book.

It was a hard decision to make after 2011, when I felt I was getting somewhere. I’d been awarded a mentorship through the ASA and an Asialink Writer’s Residency to Cambodia and, while there renewing my love affair with the country and undertaking research, had been contacted by a publisher who was interested in seeing the completed manuscript. Publication didn’t seem an impossible dream.

headshot of Lee Kofman

When internationally renowned Israeli novelist Aharon Appelfeld was barely nine years old he escaped a Nazi concentration camp in Romania, surviving by moving from one hiding place to another for the next three years. As an adult, still haunted by wartime horrors, he couldn’t work in confined spaces and wrote his novels in cafés of Jerusalem to where he moved in the aftermath of the Holocaust.

Indeed, Appelfeld used cafés not only as work spaces, but also as sources of inspiration.

Suzanne McCourt orders a lemongrass tea and takes in the glistening sea from our sun-drenched spot on the deck of Brighton Baths Café.

Her first novel, contracted with Text Publishing, is due to be launched in February 2014; she is currently working on her second and she has recently released two self-published books – an anthology of her own poetry called The Lost Men, and a photo-gift book called Old Dogs: Lessons in Loving & Aging.

As we watch the dotted boats sailing out to sea, she reflects on her writing path. “I’ve now learned to get out of my head and listen to my...

headshot of Lee Kofman

In the autumn of 2008 I was approaching the 5th anniversary of my writer’s block. During those years I never stopped writing and sometimes even produced publishable works. However, writing had become much harder than it used to be and the ratio of bad work to good was incredibly high. I felt I’d lost my writing voice.

headshot of Lee Kofman

Many writers, particularly the confessional ones to whose clan I belong, depend on people in their lives to inspire their work. But what makes a good muse? “Nice” people would rarely stimulate art. Art demands a complex character and often such complexity has something to do with force, intensity. In short, Kerouac nailed it.

headshot of Lee Kofman

When famous writers decide to get grumpy with their fans, one of their popular complaints is being asked supposedly ridiculous questions, such as whether they write with a pen or a pencil, or nowadays – a keyboard.

Photo of Euan Mitchell

As more authors move into publishing their own ebooks, the sometimes confusing implications of their decisions are becoming more and more important. In the lead-up to his new Digital Makeover for Writers in March, Euan Mitchell explains the truth behind some common misconceptions in digital publishing.

Euan is a former senior editor for a major publisher. As a writer he has three novels and a range of non-fiction books to his credit. He has also successfully published other writers in a range of genres. Euan has taught writing, editing and publishing at Monash University, Victoria...

headshot of Lee Kofman

Welcome to my first ever feature for this website. Here I’m going to develop a conversation with you about the craft of writing. More precisely, my intent is to focus on that tough beast called “the writing process”.

I believe that understanding this process is more important for a writer than learning so-called rules of craft, which in our post-Raymond Carver times, teachers and books on writing like to bestow on their students – such as, “don’t use any adverbs” or “no more than one adjective per noun is allowed”. But – have you ever read Gail Jones? Or that guy, Lev Tolstoy, for...

Interior of a bookshop

For some writers, the idea of promoting their book makes them want to quietly vomit into their hand. “Why should I have to promote my book?” they cry. “Surely the work speaks for itself!” I get where they’re coming from. We’re writers because we’re the kind of people who like to edit the hell out of ourselves. We’re not good at that whole “spontaneous” thing, or that “talking in front of massive crowds” caper.

Photo of  Inez Baranay in front of a bookshelf

Inez Baranay, our Year of the Novel tutor, answers 10 quick questions about being a novelist, writing rooms and resembling the Red Queen.