Posts Tagged ‘Kim Wilkins’

Many thanks to the lovely Lynn Priestley of Zenquill for passing on The Versatile Blogger Award to me. And thanks to all who find the time to drop by. I’m being good for once and trying to follow…

The Rules:

1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award:

2. Share seven things about yourself:

3. Pass this award along to bloggers you have discovered who you think are fantastic for whatever reason:

4. Contact the bloggers you’ve picked and let them know about the award:

Seven Things About Me:

1. I am disgusting: I let the dog sleep on my husband’s side of the bed when he’s not there.

2. I am secretive: I try to keep this lapse in standards from my husband.

3. I am competitive: my step-daughter says I am the most embarrassing mother in the world, even more embarrassing than her mum, and this has become a source of some pride for me.

4. I am grateful: I have had two novels published and hope to leverage this into a career that will see me into my dotage.

5. I scare easily: My kids boo me for fun.

6. I have regrets: I once threw a bucket of coke over the lady in front of me during a scary scene at the movies.

7. I am shameless: When she turned round to complain, I shushed her and pointed to the screen, just to let her know that some people were trying to watch a movie you know…

Favourite blogs (in no particular order)

The lovely Lynn has already nominated some of my favourites, so I’ll just add a few more of my own that are well worth a visit.

Kate Constable’s Blog

Julia Lawrinson’s Writing in the Margins

Karen Brooks’s Blog

Anthony Eaton’s Musings from an Outer-Spiral-Arm

My Missing Life

Hexebart’s Well

Angela Slatter’s blog

thesimplestgame

Have Chicken, Will Fly.

and of course, Lynn Priestley’s Zenquill.

As a newbie in the world of publishing, I enjoy hanging on the words of the wise, and spending time with older hands who are happy to roll back their sleeves and show me their scars.

I have learned much at the knee of Veny Armanno (QWC’s Year of the Novel), Kim Wilkins (Year of the Edit) and Nick Earls, whose generosity in inducting Brisbane’s debut authors into the world of publishing was stretched to capacity this year.

My education continues, online, following writer’s websites (a few of my  favourites are on the lower right of the screen), and in real life, at festivals, writer’s get-togethers, and through reading till my eyes bleed.

But almost everything I have learned as a writer, I have learned by writing and putting it out there.

I now have a discerning first reader who is capable of pinpointing what hasn’t made it onto the page (but needs to be there), and what clunks in the otherwise smooth action of my story.

Feedback may not be the hallelujah chorus of my dreams, but neither is it a direct thrust to the heart. It is certainly an opportunity to see my work through trusted, more objective, eyes.

When I scanned the initial response to my latest work, I had to admire my first reader’s ability to season praise with constructive criticism. She hit on a couple of niggling issues that I had pushed away during the writing process (things I probably hoped to get away with and didn’t.)

It reminded me of James Roy on the adverse comment in an otherwise favourable review: ‘That’s like saying you’ve got a beautiful baby, but it’s got big ears. Big deal. You’ve still got a beautiful baby.’

I’ll hang on to that thought while I’m doing my revisions.

I’ve got a beautiful baby … (but that’s not going to stop me pinning back those ears.) 😉

SURF'S UPI’m like Tank the penguin in the movie Surf’s Up. Between action scenes, I’m holed up in my room, endlessly polishing my ladies.

It’s a guilty pleasure, which I have shelved (temporarily) after eavesdropping on other authors’ daily word counts on facebook.

There’s John Birmingham, working to deadline on his new thriller, with chest-thumping accounts of his daily tallies:

“Haaaaaar!!!!! Smashed thru the last eight hundred words & carried on for another three. Five thousand words for the day. This IS SPARTA!!!!!

He is Writer, hear him roar. Thank God I’m a girlie, or my goolies would have shriveled at the mere thought of trying to compete with all that writerly testosterone. Talk about inducing performance anxiety: his word count is sooo much bigger than mine.

I am Re-writer, hear me keep my word count to myself. Once I did manage to unwrite five thousands words of pure shite in a single day. But write – uh uh, no way.

No less impressive is the versatile and productive Kim Wilkins, who gets up before her two kids to knock off a couple thousand words before breakfast. Now that’s commitment. Which, incidentally, is also the key difference between the professional writer and the amateur.

The professional writer writes, even when it’s hard. The amateur waits for inspiration.

(That’s from “Confident vs delusional writers” in A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing. It’s an entertaining post, well worth the visit.)

I’ll be honest. I struggle with the first draft. Its imperfections bug me and I’m constantly side-tracked by the need to fix them.  But as Hemingway said ‘All first drafts are shit’. Get over it.

So each day now, I tell myself, just concentrate on getting it out. Write first, then you can polish with impunity, later.

I’m not alone in my fixation on polishing. Kate Grenville did thirty-eight complete drafts of The Idea of Perfection – and won the Orange Prize for fiction.

Melina Marchetta says she must have rewritten the prologue for Finnikin of the Rock fifty times; it won an Aurealis Award and she’s been at the top of her game for more than a decade.

Marcus Zusak says he would have rewritten sections of the The Book Thief a hundred times – and he made it onto the New York Times Children’s Bestseller List.

But that doesn’t alter the fact that first, we must write. In my case, a thousand words a day till it’s done. And then, the exquisite pleasures of the rewrite. Polishing my ladies, without feeling guilty, until I am spent.

According to American humourist Gene Fowler, writing is easy: you just have to stare at a blank page until drops of blood form on your forehead.

[Note to the long-dead Mr Fowler: my forehead has been geysering in a Monty Pythonesque fashion onto my computer screen for days now, but it isn’t getting any easier.]

I tried to blame my two-day-old headache on the decaffeinated beans that I found in my grinder. But then the discovery of Il Perfetto Espresso in a dusty recess of the larder put paid to that theory. After two cups, the head still hurt. And I think I know why.

The word count on the work-in-progress ground to a halt just shy of the 44,000 word count, while I prowled, growled and pawed at my keyboard. Not writing, but paying bills, finishing quarterly accounts and filling in the BAS that’s due Monday. When I flicked back to the WIP, nothing happened. My brain bled like stink, but the words, they just wouldn’t come.

Then Kim Wilkins popped up on facebook – Kim is writing crap, but at least she’s writing – and jealousy spiked through my veins. Wot a skite.

I’d kill to write crap. But I’m literarily constipated – blogstipated, as Belinda Jeffrey would say – and my dear departed dad’s words keep buzzing round inside my skull like blowflies: “Shit, or get off the pot.”

I know, I know. Straining doesn’t help and busting my foofer valve will just add to my woes. But I can’t walk away and do something else. Not with the WIP in crisis.

So I’ve been tinkering with the problem, hunched over my writer’s toolbox, showing my crack.  I think I’ve located the blockage. A couple of main characters that need the screws tightened, that need to be pushed harder and further, to force them to drop the mask and reveal their true natures.

Writers know that true character only comes out under pressure; the greater the pressure, the greater the revelation. If you want to find out if a character has iron in her filings, hit her hard as you can, right in the heart. Force her to act because it is her choices under pressure that will define her.

I’ve been going too easy on her, I can see that now.  I’ve let my sympathy for what’s she’s been through cloud my judgement. It’s time to hitch up the duds and wipe the blood from my brow.

It’ll take a big wrench to fix it, but that’s OK. I’ve got one in my writer’s toolbox.

The spectre of Aussie literary blokes being transformed into all-American guys looms large on the Australian literary horizon.  Taps will become faucets; nappies, diapers; and even our dear old Mums will have to answer to Mom if the Productivity Commission isn’t made to see reason.

Its review of copyright restrictions on the parallel importation of books could make overseas versions of popular Australian books the only version we are able to purchase here.

Removing existing copyright protections guaranteeing that books must be published here within 30 days of their overseas release, would open the floodgates to overseas versions of Australian books, swamping a local industry that is already struggling with low profit margins and worsening economic conditions.

Readers, writers and the local publishing industry would all suffer.

Gone are the days when writers being published overseas merely had to contend with Americanization of our spelling.

High profile authors such as Nick Earls and Emily Rodda have gone public with their experiences of American publishers wanting to change everything from setting (the Brisbane suburb of Indooroopilly being deemed unacceptable for an American audience) to vernacular (Aussie kids asking “Mom” for “cookies”) to omitting scenes (because they don’t “get” our humour).

As Nick Earls told the Productivity Commission: “..it’s important to us as a nation that we keep reading, seeing and hearing our own stories. Children need to grow up with access to Australian stories — stories that speak of places they know, in a language they know, and that validate the world they live in.”

Yet when I checked the Productivity Commission’s website today, only eighteen people have cared enough to comment. Yay for the likes of Kim Wilkins, Nick Earls, Sean Williams and Pamela Freeman. Boo hiss for the rest of us. Time to get our finger out [or you’ll be substituting an Americanism here].

I would love to see my own novel Dust, published overseas. Yes, I would struggle with any changes to the Australian vernacular that is so much a part of the voice, but I would accept that some changes are needed in order to be understood by an overseas readership.

However I could not accept that an internationalized version of my book could be the only one available to readers in my own country, in my own culture, in my own backyard. And I’m going tell that to the Productivity Commission before submissions close on 20 January.


Being a writer makes a virtue of my bad habits. I was a shocking liar as a kid, but now that I’m an adult, I’m using my powers for good rather than evil.

Q. If that’s your virtue, what’s your secret vice?

A. Turkish Delight and writing something that makes me laugh or cry out loud. Now that’s addictive.

Q. How long did it take you to write your first novel Dust?

A. Way too long. I did everything wrong in the first draft and had to pull the whole thing apart and start again from scratch. It taught me a lot though and I hope never to make any of those 147 basic errors again.

Q. What was the motivation for writing your first novel?

A. Long story. I’ve devoted a whole page of my website to the answer so Click this link On writing Dust if you haven’t already. It’s for everyone who loves writing and loves their Dads.

Q. What is the best writing advice you have ever received?

A. Don’t give up after the first draft; the real writing starts with the rewrite. Write every day – the more you write, the better you get. Join organizations like the Queensland Writers Centre. Do courses, be prepared to learn from other writers and never be afraid to show people your work. QWC workshops I did with Veny Armanno, Kim Wilkins and Kate Eltham taught me things that I may never have been able to figure out for myself.

Q. Do you have a pet hate?

A. Advertising – it’s horrible that people are manipulated into wanting a whole heap of stuff they don’t need.

Q. Who are some of your favourite authors?

A. Peter Temple – he’s probably going to hate me saying this, but I just love all his early work, the Jack Irish novels, Iron Rose and Shooting Star – he just nails dialogue and the Australian vernacular. In YA, I am a big fan of Marcus Zusak and Melina Marchetta, and Karen Foxlee’s debut novel The Anatomy of Wings is just wonderful. Ditto the Mallory detective novels by US writer Carol O’Connell and the Jackson Brody novels by British writer Kate Atkinson.

Q. If you were an animal, what would you be?

A. I’m a fool for my dog, Huggy, but have to say that personally, I’m more of a cat – I have the requisite laziness, attention to personal hygiene and tendency to bite if rubbed up the wrong way!