On Writing

Writers, editors, agents, publishers and more share their thoughts, experiences and stories.

For this column, I’ve been asked to write on the theme of ‘Do It Yourself’ in relation to self-publishing, which I have to admit is a tricky one for me as a literary agent. As an agent, my role entails finding publishers for our clients and managing the relationship between author and publisher once we do, in addition to contract negotiations, handling foreign publication rights and film and TV rights, and being our clients’ best advocate.

Earlier this year, one of my sisters dragged me along to a game show audition. After filling out a four-page questionnaire that asked such insightful questions as ‘What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you?’, ‘Have you ever been caught out in a lie?’ and ‘Do you have an unusual bucket list item?’ (presumably so that they could be discussed and laughed at on national television) as well as what we did for a living, we were then grilled by a producer.

A good editor is a writer’s best friend. Naturally, the sight of red ink gives you palpitations at first, but once you contemplate the recommendations, inspiration strikes. You can’t wait to hit the keyboard. Your editor has shown you the way. Now your work can shine. That is, unless they happen to be a bad editor. Then you’re in trouble.

Alice Pung's new book for Black Inc.’s ‘Writers on Writers’ series explores the life and influence of Australia’s literary treasure, John Marsden.  As part of our Subscriberthon series, we talked to Alice about her writing process.

He’s rough when he steps into the kitchen, tie loose, bags under his eyes, hair shower-clean but skewiff. He sits at the little wooden table and she hands him a cup of coffee. He grunts thanks and takes a sip; it’s too hot, immediately burns him, but he doesn’t give any sign. She watches him across the table, takes a seat. He doesn’t look up. He keeps his eyes down on the catalogue in front of him, tedious stuff: milk is down, a special, two dollars for two litres. 

Erik Jensen

 Erik Jensen's new book for Black Inc.’s ‘Writers on Writers' series explores the life and influence of the Australian writer, Kate Jennings. As part of our Subscriberthon series, we talked to Erik about his writing process.

Out the kitchen window, blue bleeds to violet. Gracie holds the baby to her with one hand, his tiny fingers splayed at her collarbone, he’s still as small as when they first placed him there. That’s the way it’s been for a month now, held with one hand to her chest, feeding from it, balanced there as she moves about the kitchen. 

'Wish You Were Here' is Sheridan Jobbins' memoir of a broken heart and a crazy dash across America in a red spotty dress and a shiny red sports car. As part of our Subscriberthon series, we talked to Sheridan about her writing process.

 
 

I find myself in no-man’s-land – a large and largely empty space between freedom and detention. It has taken months of patient planning to get this far. Copies of passport, driver’s licence, Working with Children check, Federal Police check, and proof of professional status, together with detailed ‘Visitor’ forms and my car’s registration number, were long ago completed, signed, carefully scanned and sent as requested. 

Photo of Emily Brewin

Emily Brewin's novel 'Hello, Goodbye' was sparked by her aunt’s story of being single, pregnant and Catholic in the 1960s. As part of our Subscriberthon series, we talked to Emily about her writing process.