On Writing

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

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. 

We drove home along the forest road, the trees like exposed bones in the headlights. I stared out into the bush while behind us the darkness closed like a jaw. Uncle Cricket’s roll-your-own dangled from his lip, the ember tip brightening when he breathed. It happened quicker than I could blink; the kangaroo flung itself out of the night and, vibrating from the impact, the truck slewed across the track.

“A woman must have money and a room of her own,” Virginia Woolf told us, “if she is to write fiction.” The wisdom of this is never clearer to me than when I work on my novel while my husband hangs a curtain. Crafting fiction fires the brain – it’s all you and your ideas. 

Writers Victoria tutors Paddy O’Reilly and Kelly Gardiner chat about writing in company,reading each other’s drafts, and the value of having writerly friends.

Kelly Gardiner (KG): Was I recruited? Must be three or so years ago now. I was invited for coffee with two women I’d met briefly a few times [Paddy and Fran Cusworth]. After we ordered cake, I was asked if I’d like to meet more often and read one another’s manuscripts. Set up. A bit like the CIA. And yet not. Did you plan that? Why?

Rangoon creaks awake in the grey-blue hours before dawn. The heat softens into the compound like putty, melting into the cracks and corners with a sinewy torpor. It’s mercifully dry. There are perhaps three or four weeks before the wet descends once more, blanketing Myanmar in its oppressive skin like a birth sac over some newborn animal that lies damp and steaming beneath its cowl. 

I started in single-storey orange brick. A gum tree out the front with roots that fractured fault-lines in the nature strip. It scared me at night, creaking in the wind like a mast about to snap when there’s no land in sight.

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and it’s a great “event” to help kick-start your writing. The goal is simple: write 50,000 words of a first draft in the month of November. For some genres that means a full novel, for others it might only be half way. But the important thing is 50,000 words in one month. 

headshot of James Button

James Button is a writer – a journalist, a political speechwriter for Kevin Rudd, a political memoirist. Here’s a glimpse of what he has to say on the art of speechwriting.

James is a former deputy editor and Europe correspondent at ‘The Age’. He has won two Walkley Awards for feature writing. In 2009 and 2010 he wrote speeches for former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, an experience described in ‘Speechless: A Year in my Father’s Business’. The book was shortlisted for the National Biography Award, National Book Industry Book of the Year and the Walkley Foundation Non-...

Portrait of Marianne de Pierres

Prolific Queensland-based author Marianne de Pierres talks spec fic and genre writing with Writers Victoria in the lead up to her Spec Fic Masterclasses in Melbourne and Geelong.

Marianne is a multi-award winning Australian author of novels written in the science fiction, fantasy, crime, and young adult genres. Over the eighteen years Marianne has been a professional writer, she’s acquired a wide skill base and knowledge about the craft and business of writing.