25 September, 2009

Olvar Wood Writers Retreat

I've been teaching here for the past week, and it's the loveliest place—buried in the bush, wildlife wandering in and out (and slithering a bit, too :) ), balmy weather and friendly people—but not so many as to become distracting.

Nike and Inga have set up the sort of place I fantasise about when I'm trapped in day-job land with no time to scratch myself (or scratch any words on a piece of paper, more relevantly). In the afternoons I've been writing up a storm. I've now finished the workshopping part of the week and it's all novelising from here on. Must go right now and write.


...to all Susanne Nobles' class, who've been dropping in and reading here in the past week. Thanks for all your comments. Sorry I haven't got back to you before now. I'm away from home and staying in a non-Internetted bed & breakfast place, and only managing to grab a few minutes online a day. I'm glad you enjoyed studying 'Singing My Sister Down' - although I know 'enjoyed' isn't quite the word, and I'm sure Ms Nobles has a bunch of other good stories up her sleeve to surprise you with.

Keep reading, keep writing and keep thinking!
All the best,

19 September, 2009

'My bad luck is legendary.'

Bob Hewlett, 'the unluckiest miner in Lightning Ridge', in today's Good Weekend:
I've been imagining opal ever since I first came here. It's a bastard of a thing, opal. It just gets you in. Each time you go to leave, you suddenly find a bit. Most opal exists in your own head. There's always been more opal in people's heads than in their mines.

A writer's life/The care of academe

Fiona Gruber says, in her interview with John Banville in today's Australian: 'It's a writer's life to spend nine-tenths of the time in closeted seclusion wrestling with placing good words in the best order, and one-tenth cramming in interviews and doing the rounds of writers' festivals.'

As far as I can calculate, it's a writer's life to spend 9.5/10 of the time cramming in the activities that allow one to spend .5/10 of the time cramming in a bit of writing.

Catherine Ford, in the most recent ALR, asks the following astonishing questions:
Tom Cho's Look Who's Morphing was written, as were all the [4] books discussed here, as part of postgraduate study, which prompts questions about why so many people choose to write fiction now in the care of academe. Perhaps it's to validate the embarrassingly non-vocational aspect of writing, bestow some respect on the caper, or maybe it's to enlist a professional interest, a curiosity, in the process when none would be forthcoming?

Or is it that academics have been lumped with giving nascent manuscripts the painstaking attention they need when editors, once responsible for the task, are more commonly out lobbying on behalf of their business interests and the country's literary livelihood, or pumping hands at book fairs?
What a slur on editors, for a start, although that's not my main point. (In my experience (as both editor and author) editors (both inhouse and freelance) consistently work under conditions that make it almost impossible to do a good job and put food on the table.)

The reason so many books are written in the care of academe? Academe will pay you to write your book. I'd be very surprised if any of these postgrad books were written without a scholarship from the institution concerned. A good advance, plus scholarship money, will just about pay you enough to spend a year on your book, if you're careful/lucky.

Why, yes, I am staring down the barrel of several months of dayjob. Does it show?

17 September, 2009

The days are just packed!

Mainly they're packed with Literature Board work, but today that should ease up in time for the Vogel Awards Cocktail Party. We'll be toasting the finalists, who are:
  • Courtney Collins, for The Burial
  • Lisa Lang, for Utopian Man
  • Nathan Markham, for The Book of Lilith
  • Jeremy Ohlback, for Squire Nation, and
  • Kristel Thornell, for Night Street,
then celebrating the winner among them.

I've been reading and thinking in preparation to teach at the Seed retreat at Olvar Wood in Queensland next week. It'll be workshopping in the morning, writing in the afternoon - and/or cycling and bushwalking. It'll be interesting to see a tree or two again. Heck, it'll be interesting to write again!

12 September, 2009


Geordie Williamson, fellow judge of the Australian–Vogel Award this year, talks about the spaces we've all been in for the past 3 months. The shortlist is there, and the prize itself will be presented on Thursday night.

At left, the UK's Books for Keeps reviews Tender Morsels.

Fyrefly has been listening to the audio book of Tender Morsels (you can listen to a sample over there—don't know if I'll be able to listen to the whole thing, it's such a weird experience—but people who didn't actually write the book may find it bearable!), and it sounds as if the second-act issues some people have been having will be exacerbated by listening rather than reading. I'm thinking, with this new multiple-POV novel I'm working on, maybe I'll just be super-clear about it and put the new-POV-character's name at the head of each piece.

I'm not sure that I noted these three reviews.

Tracy Baines picks my brain over at Tall Tales and Short Stories: 'I’ve generally found picking at sores and prodding at bruises to be more interesting than tiptoeing through the tulips, writing-wise.'

Whoo-ee, and someone calling themselvesTall Tales and Abrupt Stories has put the above interview through some kind of weird translator, changing the above sentence into: 'I’ve most of the time arriere pensee out-dated picking at sores and prodding at bruises to be more gripping than tiptoeing via the tulips, writing-wise.'

And the fabulously named Thor Axegrinder reviews Black Juice:
this book deserves a post, NOW. Why? Because it’s a reminder of why I keep reading fantasy despite the genre being overloaded with pandering, warmed-over shit, doubly so for YA fantasy.

09 September, 2009


Over here.
I’m sure I don’t understand most of it, but I glimpsed enough to realize it will be even better after a second reading, or three or ten.

Okay, I admit it: I almost cried twice at the end. Read it and see if you can guess which parts made me cry and why.

I am spotlighted

over at Reader's Place. And I get quite snarky, for me.

That picture looks kind of sinister, no?

08 September, 2009

The phantom Ditmars

I haven't actually been trying as hard as Felicity has, but I have sent a couple of emails, and I haven't seen hide nor hair of my Ditmar trophies either—not to mention the chocolate fish I was promised. I would have just commented on Felicity's post, but she's disabled Anonymous comments and I don't have a Livejournal identity (or perhaps I do, but I don't know how to use it...).

07 September, 2009

Leap in the dark with me at the NSW Writers' Centre

The relevant page of the NSWWC website is here.

04 September, 2009

Very full days,

full of grant application assessment. I've just about reached the end of the Developing Writers, and am about to plunge into the Established ones. It's maddening: makes me want to write, but prevents me from doing so. Everybody trying to buy time to write, and me sitting here rolling my eyes: Do I ever feel your pain.

'This is a book to savour and be repelled by.'

I quite like that, as an assessment of Tender Morsels. Tracy takes a while to decide, but ends up recommending it.