What is real? What is virtual? Does it matter? Writers, artists can explore those spaces and breathe life into the ghosts of the past. And even those of the future. How is it that the human mind can find itself in the thrall of past, present, future and even mythical lives and events? How do we feel real and immediate sensory impulses moving through our bodies and our minds? Writers and artists transmit sharp and often dry insights, insights which cause that sudden gasp, that wry or explosive laughter, that shriek that says, "Oh, I get it!" For me, writers such as Margaret Atwood and Isabel Allende are spirit guides to other spaces, other lives. Other writers such as Charmian Clift and

There's Good Stealing and There's Bad Stealing

Recently I came across Austin Kleon's little book Steal Like an Artist and then stumbled across his on-line blog. For some time, I'd been reading scattergun and castigating myself for being superficial, uncommitted, undisciplined and lacking direction while my manuscript languishes in the birth canal. Been there before? Well, reading that little book convinced me, that as artists and writers, we need to get over it and get on with it. Taking stock, I gave myself a good shake and decided to get real. To quote Glenn O'Brien from Kleon's book, we all 'start out as a phony and become real'. A prominent publisher recently reminded me that although I had spent a relatively modest length of


Currently I'm doing some heavy breathing. After exactly twelve months of daily writing I have finished the first draft of my manuscript “Motherlands,” a family saga spanning one hundred years and focussed on three generations of women from the same family. All 86,849 words. And years of imagining, writing it in my head, as Annie Hall (Three Kookaburras Press) generously reminded me. Now comes the real work. You thought writing a book was straightforward? Wrong. Maybe you thought the turnaround between completing the manuscript and publication would be the fast part of the exercise? Wrong again. The path to publication is fraught, confusing and overwhelming. You have to plot your own pa

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