Soul-scorching voyage (bring it on!)

This is absolutely the best article I’ve read for a while on contemporary issues in writing – the way it’s talked about, taught, and so on: ‘A Writing Career Becomes Harder to Scale’, by Dani Shapiro. Shapiro says:  ‘the decisive factor is what I call endurability: that is, the ability to deal effectively with uncertainty, rejection, and disappointment, from within as well as from without.’ And as Helen Garner said at the Wheeler Centre the other night – it never gets easier. I have already decided to commit to writing, so I’m willing to weather the storms, willing to embark on ‘ a life in which apprenticeship doesn’t mean a cushy summer internship in an air-conditioned office but rather a solitary, poverty-inducing, soul-scorching voyage whose destination is unknown and unknowable,’ as Shapiro says. Makes me think of Albert Camus, also, who said: ‘A man’s work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened.’ It’s the way I am choosing to live. Of course, something like this resonates with me too, from the article: ‘They tweet and blog and make Facebook friends in the time they used to spend writing.’ So far it has not been a concern, because I am writing (and I have always used the internet, from 18, when I committed to writing). But still, I think I will work to more of a balance, and conserve more creative energy for fiction. But I do think blog posts, and tweets, can be their own morsels of imaginative expression.


The Commonwealth Writers Prize regional shortlists have been announced, and in the South East Asia and Pacific region I was stoked to see Kirsten Reed and Tom Cho nominated – and small press generally well-represented. Have a look at the full shortlists for Best Book and Best First Book here.

I offered a ‘daily proposition’ in Crikey today: ‘In this play, you are the star’. (Subscribers only.)

Bookseller+Publisher March is out in the world. This is the second issue I’ve edited, and I also reviewed Peter Goldsworthy’s new book Gravel within. We all love the Penguin cover, too.

On that note, I will reveal that an interview with Peter Goldsworthy is coming very soon on LiteraryMinded!

And speaking of B+P, we now have a blog too, mostly penned by my lovely ed-in-chief Matthia Dempsey (plus publisher Tim Coronel, publishing assistant Andrew Wrathall, assistant editor Katie Horner and sometimes me). It’s called Fancy Goods, from the original name for B+P, which was The Australian Stationery and Fancy Goods Journal, way back in the olden days – 1921. There will be a post up there tomorrow on literary iPhone apps, written by moi.

Bring. it. on.

One thought on “Soul-scorching voyage (bring it on!)

  1. It never gets easier? Not even if you’re Helen Garner? Well, that’s a bit depressing. 😉

    On the tweeting and blogging and Facebooking, I agree that it’s important to keep your focus on the main game (whatever that is for you as a writer), but I also think those activities can have value. And indeed, in some cases be the main game – or at least part of it.

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