Archives For Fiction

On Treating Writing as a Form of PlayA guest post by Eli Glasman, author of The Boy’s Own Manual to Being a Proper Jew

For years before my novel was published, I felt insecure about whether or not I was a ‘real’ writer. I don’t think this is a unique anxiety amongst unpublished authors and I responded to this anxiety in the way I think many people do: I romanticised the act of writing.

I told myself that the burden of writing fiction was thrust upon me and I had no choice but to sit each night and delve into the unknown to produce works of genius. Writing like this didn’t flow easily for me. And as a result, it was hard to read. The prose were pretentious and calculated. It was clear that everything I wrote was me begging the reader to think of me as a genius.

I told myself that if it was easy to write it meant that it wasn’t any good. Good fiction needed to be sweat over. If it was hard, it meant I’d worked at it and it was worthy.

This attitude to writing was one I’d been carrying around in my head since I was a kid. On my weekends and days off, I wrote all day. It was all I thought about. I’d obsess over the stories, especially the syntax, running through sentences over and again in my head until I’d memorised them.

I have a habit of over analysing myself, but I think I obsessed over writing as a childish way to simplify things, as I was not in an emotional position to take on the complexities of life.

It felt safer to focus on this alone, as it meant I didn’t need to focus on many of the pressures we all face, such as finding a job and becoming financially independent, or worrying about the things that may have been more specific to me, such as the Crohn’s Disease and my recent decision to no longer remain an orthodox Jew.

As I’ve spoken about previously on my blog, when I started socialising and earning my own money, I found that writing didn’t need to take on the task of carrying my entire sense of self and keeping at bay my anxieties. I felt more comfortable with my life and could relax and have fun with my writing.

As a result, my writing immediately improved, because I was treating it as what it really was, which is a form of play. In not romanticising it, I could allow myself to be crap for a little while and acknowledge that it was something I needed to learn to do, rather than some pure expression that flowed flawlessly through me.

The first short story that I had published was one that I’d ‘let go’ for and allowed myself just to enjoy the writing process. Yet still, even knowing that the healthier approach was to try and enjoy it, I still fell back into old habits.

Shortly after my first short story was accepted for publication, I needed to have a small procedure due to the Crohn’s Disease, which required that I spend a few nights in hospital. Before I began the bowel prep, I received an email from the editor of Voiceworks with the final track changes on my story.

Before I started drinking the solutions, even though I’d been fasting all day, I did the edits on my story. In my head, I marked this as my commitment to writing fiction. It showed how important this was to me, how I would overcome any obstacle to pursue this craft.

In retrospect I see this as deluded and pretentious. I should have just said I was in hospital and asked for a few more weeks on the edits. I’m sure they would have been more than happy to oblige.

I now see that occasion as a lesson in what not to do. I will never force myself to write.

Now I write every few days, while thinking of my stories every day because I want to, not because I feel I have to. If I write until two in the morning it’s because I’m having fun, not because I need to validate that I’m a real writer.

I figure if I want the reader to stay up until two in the morning reading my book, I should be able to enjoy writing it until that time. I realise now that a reader will enjoy reading the novel half as much as I enjoy writing it. I need to glow as I’m writing to know a reader will feel this as they’re reading it.

I find that writing obsessively, telling myself it’s work, a burden that was thrust upon me, snuffs out that sense of fun. And I will produce a novel I wouldn’t even want to read.

More from Eli GlasmanOn How Getting a Novel Published Isn’t Just About Persistence

Eli Glasman is a Melbourne based, Jewish author. His writing has appeared in Voiceworks magazine, the Sleepers Almanac and in 2013 he placed second in the Josephine Ulrick short story competition. His debut novel, The Boy’s Own Manual to Being a Proper Jew (Sleepers Publishing), about a homosexual boy in the Melbourne orthodox Jewish community, is available now from all good Australian bookstores or online 

 


Horation Nelson Fiction Prize 2014

The Horatio Nelson Fiction Prize is awarded each year by Black Balloon Publishing. The winner of the 2014 prize will receive US$5000 and a publishing deal with Black Balloon.

The prize is for a completed, unpublished, original fiction manuscript over 50,000 words. Writers can be from any country and there are no citizenship restrictions. Both novels and short story collections may be entered.

The 2013 Horatio Nelson Fiction Prize was won by Iowan author Mike Meginnis. His novel Fat Man Little Boy was published in this month.

Continue Reading…

“Literature deserves its prestige for one reason above all others: because it’s a tool to help us live and die with a little more wisdom, goodness and sanity.”

As writers and book lovers, we know everyone should be reading literature. But there are people who view it as frivolous and who question the value of reading novels and poems when there are so many real problems and issues happening in world. In this video The School of Life, founded by philosopher Alain de Botton and curator Sophie Howarth, explains why we should all be reading literature – and even why we should prescribe it as a cure for life’s many ailments.

Continue Reading…

Museum of Words Flash Fiction Contest

The Cesar Egido Serrano Foundation’s fourth ‘Museum of Words’ international flash fiction contest is now accepting entries. The competition is for very short fiction pieces of up to a maximum of 100 words. The winner will receive a prize of $20,000, with three runners-up each receiving $2000.

This contest is open to writers from all countries and entries are accepted in four languages: English, Spanish, Arabic and Hebrew. The slogan for the 2014 contest is  ‘Mandela: Words and Concord’ but there are no subject or genre restrictions. All stories entered must be original and unpublished.

With such a generous prize on offer, the contest is extremely competitive. The last Museum of Words contest attracted 22,571 entries from writers in 119 countries.

The Cesar Egido Serrano Foundation is based in Spain and is a private, not-for-profit foundation. The foundation’s aim is to encourage dialogue between different cultures, ideas, religions and sensibilities.  Continue Reading…

 I wish I had a formula, I wish I had a way of proceeding that would be kind of, you know, this is what Chapter One is always like, and this is what Chapter Two is always like.  But it isn’t.  I just have to plunge into it.  And it’s usually the one . . .  that the voice of sanity and reason is telling me not to write.  It’s usually that one that I end up writing.”

In this interview recorded for bigthink.com, 74-year-old Booker Prize-winning author Margaret Atwood explains her creative process.

Continue Reading…

18 Countries 18 Publication Opportunities
A list of 18 literary magazines from around the world that accept international submissions.

Argentina
Digital publication The Buenos Aires Review publishes work by emerging and established writers from the Americas in both Spanish and English. All prose submissions – fiction and non-fiction – must be under 5000 words and poets are asked to send 3 to 6 poems at a time (up to 2000 words). The Buenos Aires Review also publishes cultural criticism and interviews.

Papua New Guinea
Stella describes itself as a thinking woman’s magazine from Papua New Guinea for the Pacific. The magazine covers fashion, health, travel, arts and lifestyle topics. Stella welcomes submissions of articles and creative-journalism from emerging and established writers from across the Pacific region.

Canada
The Malahat Review invites writers at all stages of their careers to submit their work. The magazine publishes poetry, short fiction, and creative nonfiction by writers from Canada and abroad as well as reviews of Canadian books. The Malahat Review runs four literary contests per year.

South Africa
Published four times a year, New Contrast is South Africa’s oldest literary journal. It accepts submissions of fiction up to 6000 words and poetry up to 75 lines. The journal welcomes writers from around the world, though preference is given to pieces which have some bearing on issues, events or reactions relevant to South African and in some case African contexts. Continue Reading…

Rainbow Rowell Reflections on Writing Fangirl

Nebraskan author Rainbow Rowell was recently described by Flavorwire as ‘the next YA sensation adults need to know about’ . Her second novel, Eleanor and Park, was the Goodreads Best Young Adult Book of the Year, with Dreamworks buying the film rights earlier this year.
Rowell’s third novel Fangirl was written in 2011 as part of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), the project that challenges writers to complete a 50,000 word novel in a single month. In 2013 she wrote the following inspirational letter other authors undertaking the month-long writing challenge.  

Dear Writer,

I was very skeptical about NaNoWriMo at first.

It seemed like something that amateur writers would do. Or young writers. People who needed to be tricked into finishing their books. I’d already written two books by October 2011, and sold them to publishers, and I couldn’t imagine writing either of them—or anything good—in a month.

That’s not writing, I thought, that’s just piling up words.

But then I thought about how wonderful it would be to have a pile of 50,000 words…

Maybe some writers enjoy the first draft—the part of the writing process when anything is possible, and you’re out there forging your own path. I hate that part. All I can think about when I’m starting a book are all the words I haven’t written yet. I actually feel them, hanging around my neck, tugging at me. First drafts always make me feel anxious and a little desperate—like, “Oh God, I just need to get all of this out and on paper, so that I have something to work with.”

I like having something to work with.

Continue Reading…