First anniversary of this blog, and an interview with Iowa Writers’ Workshop teacher Marilynne Robinson

Well, apparently it's the first birthday of this blog. How nice. Some stats: Today, 16 views so far from 16 visitors. USA - 8 UK - 8 One each from Qatar, Germany, Italy, Austria and Netherlands. Total 63 followers, total 187 comments. Total of 3,936 views, best ever single day was 69 views (I think [...]

Colm Tóibín workshop – Melbourne Writers Festival 2013

UPDATE: It was announced yesterday that Tóibín's The Testament of Mary has been shortlisted for this year's Man Booker Prize. I haven't read it but it's 'on the list.'*It's a writing day today. I'm lucky to have taught my last session for term last Wednesday and so have been burrowing into my manuscript, wrangling with [...]

Workshop with MJ Hyland at the Melbourne Writers Festival

MJ Hyland has written three novels and I enjoyed all of them, particularly the second (Carry Me Down) and third (This is How). Her stripped-back prose and clever, clever management of points of view I find exciting. In an earlier writing course I did, in 2009, in between meetings every two months we read books [...]


My mother loves Dickens's works, and loves to read about his life. This morning on twitter among a conversational back-and-forth on Dickens, there was a link to an article about Dickens and his children. From the London Review of Books How Does he Come to Be Mine? by Tim Parks, which is a review of [...]

Catching up on… The Writer’s Room Interviews

I've mentioned this fabulous suite of interviews before but really, they are such a great source of information and insight that it's worth mentioning them again. You really should subscribe. (It's The Writer's Room and you can go here to find out more.)Author Charlotte Wood established this project earlier this year? Late last year? A [...]

The Single Largest Cause of Writer’s Block–Might Not Be What You Believe

This is good, from Kirsten Lamb. Useful even for literary fiction writers, not just plotters & genre peeps.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Today, I’d like to talk about the single greatest reason for writer’s block (aside from laziness and fear, but we can chat about those another time). I spent years as an editor, and I believe I’m a pretty good one. I’ve taken stories that were train wrecks and helped the author create a best-seller. Just ask Piper Bayard about Firelands, LOL.

I had a unique ability to pull apart a story and locate what wasn’t working and why. Then I could guide that writer to the best book possible (without altering that writer’s voice). Editing is a skill, but it’s a different skill from creating. For instance, a person who restores historical houses isn’t necessarily someone who can draw a blueprint and build a new house. The restorer looks to the bones of the house and fixes what’s already standing to help create what the owner envisions.

Same with…

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I am back from hols and happy to be home. I do love Melbs, even though it's chilly and grey. This week I have to hit the ground running; teaching three gigs, getting a thing cut out of my back on Friday and then a mighty Tour de France dinner with my sister and her [...]

During the whilst

While looking for pictures to use in the review section, I found this:Annotations on Hemingway's A Moveable Feast which contain page references, links to youtube clips, photos and extra quotations.It's quite simply extraordinary.I know Ernest Hemingway is passé and a lot of people bag him and/or his writing but if anyone wanted a taster, A [...]

So my dear ones

I was going to write my first review on Jill Stark's High Sobriety. No, it's not a novel, yes it's like a memoir of a year without alcohol. But it was so important, I lent it to a friend this morning to read. So, I'm thinking The Great Gatsby will be my first review. Why [...]

This is good

6 Rules of Thumb (from an editor-turned-writer) This one too: 7 Interesting Links for Writers Funny how we are attracted to lists and posts that have numbers in them. And I'm not the only one thinking about book reviews. This from Cate Russell-Cole. That's it for today. I'm off to make pumpkin soup.

While I’m cogitating on the next ‘How-to’ book review post…

I wanted to quickly list the books that I have on my shelves that I have found (variously) helpful in improving my writing skills but thought I'd also write a bit about my beliefs for revising work. Editing Knowing and clearly understanding what the different types of revision are is a first step and this [...]

I’m back

Back from my quick LA/NYC trip. Six flights in 7 days with two long-haul, two 5-hours and two one-hours. Travelling with the Qantas crew was fascinating and about half way through I started taking copious notes. I learned a lot being in the crew bus with them from airports to hotels, during the milling around [...]

Yes please

I would like to spend a year in Hemingway's attic and write. * Also, I am reading Hilary Mantel's Beyond Black. What a book. Like many others I suspect I tried Wolf Hall. I am just not that into historical fiction. let me try that again: I am not into historical fiction. But this, oh [...]

Best one-stop (publishing info) shop I think I’ve seen

And that title is probably the worst I've ever seen. Never mind. I was googling around when I found Ian Irvine's website. He's a fantasy author and has most helpfully laid out, in order on one page virtually everything about the writing/publishing process, divided into three sections: Getting There, Surviving Publishing and Coping with Success. [...]

Edited – Not about Building web traffic and all that jazz

EDITED - I couldn't find that post again on building blog traffic. I'll keep trying but in the meantime, here is another link from Jane's site. I have to say, it's one of the most comprehensive 'writer support' sites I've seen. You could spend days trawling through the material. Below is a link to some [...]

Now with blogroll

I've copied across many of my writerly links from my personal blog so that I can have them stored here because this is the space I'm shaping into the writing thing, the other blog is just personal blah blah stuff. There are a lot of helpful links to the left-hand side (in terms of writing [...]

Who are you?

I was looking at the CAL website today and almost joined but then thought I should wait and get some advice about it. But I got up to the 'select your title' bit. It is a drop-down menu and I don't think I've ever seen so many choices. I so desperately want to be a [...]

GIRLS update

Sorry I am a bit obsessed at the moment. It seems the most recent episode of GIRLS has got people in lathers all over the world. The problem seems to be this: how could someone who looks like this: possibly seduce and spend two days with someone who looks like this: There's all sorts of [...]


I remember a few years ago feeling I had reached the point where I was so stuffed with fiction I couldn't read it anymore, and turned to NF. I am wondering whether it's not happening again. I feel like my reading is flighty, agitated and skittish. I can't commit, I flit around, looking for something [...]

First interview with Amanda Lohrey from The Writer’s Room

Writer Amanda LohreyIf you haven't already subscribed to this new publication, and you are a keen student of learning as much as possible about 'the craft' (and also if you are a nosy sticky-beak like me and love to read about writers and their writing processes) then get thee here and subscribe. If you do, [...]

First plot point, mid-point, second plot point. Etc.

I'm doing a bit of reading about screenwriting and how a person might apply structural and plotting strategies to novel writing. I've ordered a book about 'story engineering' because I want to learn how to be able to make conscious decisions about plot and structure while not losing my instinctive organic processes with characterisation and [...]

Life of Pi

Quite an extraordinary movie even if only for the visuals (especially the realism of the tiger; how he swam accurately, how his facial expressions shifted, how his eye colour changed as he became deteriorated — his coat thinning, nose drying out and becoming pink and his form becoming emaciated). It made me want to re-read the book, to [...]

Helen Garner’s True Stories

I am re-reading True Stories, a collection of essays and other non-fiction snippets written by Helen Garner. It contains an essay titled A Scrapbook, An Album which I read first in another collection, called Sisters, edited by Drusilla Modjeska and published in 1993. I have my mother's inscription on the inside: To Dearest Jen, Much Love Mum, [...]

Flawed memories

Sometimes, as a person who likes to write things, I collect stories and end up telling it to others and in the telling, I make it better than the original. The thing is, I'm not lying; what's happened is I've misremembered the details and then filled in with other bits. Sometimes this includes the conflation [...]

Our Quentin

I am really excited about Tarantino's next movie, Django. Partly, because it's Tarantino, partly because it's got Di Caprio in it. I had a big response to Inglourious Basterds, (feel uncomfortable saying I loved it because it was so chilling in parts) and wrote a long post about it on my WOS blog. This is [...]


I first heard about throughlines (in fiction) last year (2012). Today, I am focusing on my own, making sure that the unraveling of story is perfectly paced. To me it's about keeping a story connection going, a character's development; managing the revealing of information and then tying it up (or not) at the right time [...]

Christmas Eve

I've spent the day thus far cleaning. All is done so I can relax now and make potato salad and rice salad and start drinking champagne around 5pm. I was vaccuming the rug beside my bed (I should say our bed, shouldn't I?) and it has two medallions and floral motifs and is a gorgeous [...]

Great things

Found $450 pushed up the back of my bedside drawer - excellent. This morning, I think I solved my structure question about the next thing I'm working on. It's another novel, it's the first of my Turkish stories. I have the first draft completed, it's rawther polished but still is really just the base now [...]

Tracing influence

I'm reading an interview with Michel Houellebecq in The Paris Review. These interviews are marvellous; along with First Tuesday Book Club catch ups on iView, these Paris interviews I think will take up much of my eyeball time over summer. I've never read any of Houellebecq's novels; I can barely spell his surname, there's a [...]

What’s in a name?

Bought Middlemarch today at Readings for my 16-year-old daughter for Christmas. She's quite the precocious reader. In addition to ALL the vampiric books she's read: The Russians - she's reading Anna Karenina now and has read Lolita. The English - Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility and Northanger Abbey. She's read Great Expectations [...]

What publishers want

Australian literary agent Virginia Lloyd recently visited Sydney (Virginia lives in Brooklyn) to have a series of meetings with agents to find out: what they want more of and what they are sick of reading or not interested in. In short: helpful information for writers wanting to get published. There are no huge surprises - [...]

Day of achievements

In the morning, read the papers. The worked on four short stories getting them ready to send off into the world. Then, this afternoon, cleaned all the windows and even the brickwork of the house with a pressure-hose-thingy. I have never lived in such a cobwebby house but it's sparkling now. Quickly gave the roses [...]

Missed a few days

So, yesterday I did [another] writing workshop. This one was more to meet people than to learn, though I did learn some things so that was a bonus. The workshop was run by Rebecca Starford from Affirm Press/Kill Your Darlings and Jon Bauer, who wrote Rocks in the Belly. I took my copy of Rocks [...]