VIRGINIA Woolf did it, Franz Kafka did it and so too did Susan Sontag. But what about more contemporary writers? Many of them keep journals too. Take Joan Didion, for example. She started making notes of things from the time she was just five. And then there’s David Sedaris, one of America’s most respected humour…

A while back I attended a party in honour of a visiting best-selling author. I was duly introduced and ended up chatting to him about the obvious: the way we write. Convinced a rapport was developing, I ventured a more personal question. ‘So what do you do about the self-doubt?’ He stared at me as…

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look into an abyss, the abyss looks back at you.” – Fredrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil When I was in the fifth grade I wrote a story for my school class about a knight…

DEAR author, you’re stupid. At some point in the process of writing every manuscript, I end up composing a long letter to myself. No matter what the novel or the subject matter, the letter always has a common theme: Are you out of your freaking mind? Sometimes the letter writing comes early in the piece…

NOVELS are big. I’m stating the obvious, but only because it bears restating. Novels are hard to write because there’s so bloody much in them. That’s one of the reasons why we love them, of course. You can lose yourself reading a novel in a way you can’t with short stories or poems. Which is not…

IT’S March 2013 and I’m standing in the foyer of the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, queueing for Margaret Atwood to sign my copy of Cat’s Eye. As the line shuffles me closer I cast about for magic words that will make her lift her eyes and talk to me as if we are soulmates. Just as…

WRITING a novel can sometimes feel like climbing Everest in only a T-shirt and tennis shoes. Mind you, not being a mountain climber, I’m using that simile without any personal experience whatsoever. But I well know the terror of an ocean of blank pages waiting to be filled, and the even worse terror of starting…

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