On Writing

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

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.

Euroa, Benalla, Glenrowan, Wangaratta – these north-eastern Victorian towns are imprinted on my mind, their lyrical names a soundtrack to a childhood spent travelling the Hume Highway from Melbourne to see family. Early settlers in Australia, the myth of my ancestors and their overland journey from the Blue Mountains to Wangaratta is the stuff of legend. 

on the way to Jo’s funeral we hit a cow

and in Terang the police slow us down 

Like most writing students, money is an issue for me. Two-minute noodles are a regular menu item and I get mistaken as a staff member at Savers in Footscray because I’m there so often. 

Bunkered down between the old stone walls of the State Library of Victoria basement, the Melbourne Writers Festival office is humming with intensity and antici­pation. With over 400 artists confirmed, more than 400 events planned, and over forty venues ready to roll, preparations are in full swing for the 21–31 August 2014 festival. 

headshot of Kate Belle

Sales of romance fiction were estimated to reach $1.35 billion in 2013; Kate Belle argues that it’s time to start taking the sentimentalists seriously.

“Do you write ‘Mummy-Porn’?”

The words fell from my anesthetist’s curvaceous lips as I gazed into his vivid violet eyes. “My goodness, he’s handsome,” the thought stumbled through my stupid, sedated mind. Even bleary with drugs, I still sensed the mocking tone. Internally I struggled, knowing I was incapable of intelligently defending myself.

a picture of a book titled 'The Foundation' by Steve P Vincent

After the release of his first novel Steve P Vincent traces his path to publication.

"I am a writer. I never felt right saying that before. I’d written – tinkered to the point where my documents folder was a morgue of half-born ideas – but I wasn’t a writer. They finished things. They maybe even got published. I’d start something, get frustrated, then start something else. I’d say how much I’d love to write a novel, but never get on with it.

headshot of Lee Kofman

Recently I read the novel ‘Freedom’ by Jonathan Franzen. I didn’t much like any of its main characters – an angry, depressive rocker; a housewife who spends her life not doing what she wants; her saintly husband who nevertheless sells his soul to corporations; their son trying hard to become a moneymaking machine. Still, I felt involved in their lives and kept turning the pages greedily, and in the last quarter of the novel I even warmed to all except the rocker.

This got me thinking of several fictional works I had tried to write years ago but discarded

Photo of Lisa Jacobson

Award-winning poet and fiction writer Lisa Jacobson talks with Bronwyn Lovell about the art of writing a verse novel.

Lisa's verse novel, The Sunlit Zone (Five Islands Press, 2012) was shortlisted for the inaugural Stella Prize, the Michel Wesley Poetry Prize and, as a manuscript, for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards.