Archives For Writing

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 I don’t think this is a unique anxiety amongst unpublished authors and I responded to this anxiety in the way I think many people do: I romanticised the act of writing.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 

 


Judging Your Own Work

4 September 2014 — 3 Comments

Judging Your Own Work - Brian McDonald

By award-winning writer and director Brian McDonald
Excerpted from Invisible Ink: A Practical Guide to Building Stories that Resonate

 

A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.
– Thomas Mann

Don’t write for other writers. People are drawn to writing for different reasons and many people do it to seem smart. If you have a good first act, most will never recognize it, because they’re not really clear on what a first act does. They know nothing of construction, but will turn their noses up at the idea of it anyway. The less they know about it the more they will object to it.

The one thing I have noticed about people who are exceptional in their creative work is that they are always trying to get better. That’s how they got good in the first place. These people judge themselves against the best work. They aim for the top.

Just worry about the craft and the art will take care of itself.

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Wattpad for Authors

Online community Wattpad has a large and dedicated following around the world. In this guest post Rowena Wiseman explains how writers can use Wattpad to reach a whole new audience.

Wattpad is the world’s largest community of readers and writers with over 30 million people using the platform. I’ve heard that only 10% of these users are writers, making it 90% of readers looking for their next great read. This is where Wattpad is superior to other writing sites that I’ve used in the past where it’s just been writers reading and commenting on other writers’ work. Sure it’s great to connect with other writers, but Wattpad offers the unique experience of attracting masses of actual readers.

I started an account on Wattpad earlier this year and I now have followers from places as far as Mexico, Latvia, Vietnam, India and the Philippines. I’ve been lucky enough to have my short novella Bequest showcased on the homepage and as a featured story. Bequest is about a man that has been almost fully tattooed by a well-known artist and he wants to donate his skin to the National Gallery when he dies. This story attracted almost 30,000 chapter reads on Wattpad and is now being published as a short eBook by Tenebris Books.

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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…

In the afterword of Stephen King’s highly regarded memoir/writing guide book On Writing, the bestselling writer shared a list of 96 books that he’d read while writing the book that he’d enjoyed and had influenced him. When a 10th anniversary of On Writing was released, an updated reading list of 82 books was included.

More recently, King has taken to Twitter to share with his fans and followers some of his favourite recent reads. Since joining the social media site in December 2013, he’s recommended the following 22 books.

1. Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

Stephen King Reading List - Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

   

 2. The Marauders by Tom Cooper

Stephen King Reading List - The Marauders by Tom Cooper

 

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As we explained in last year’s F. Scott Fitzgerald eBooks Collection post, Australian copyright law means that the works of many 20th century authors are freely available in the public domain, despite being still under copyright in the United States and elsewhere. This is because until 2005 Australia had a ‘life of the author plus 50 years’ copyright rule, making the writing of any author who died before 1955 freely available.

Thanks to the University of Adelaide, readers in Australia now have access to free and legal eBooks archive of works by George Orwell. The books are available to be read online, downloaded as ePub files (suitable for most eReaders), and in a format accessible on Kindles.

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“He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”
– William Faulkner on Ernest Hemingway

“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?”
– Ernest Hemingway on William Faulkner

This infographic designed by Jan Diehm for The Huffington Post shows that even the world’s most celebrated writers aren’t above dishing out a good insult to their literary rivals. Hover over the arrows between the authors to see a cutting critique directed by one to the other.