Freeing the Writer Within

I have long tried to silence the critic in my head, telling me my writing is never good enough, I can never succeed, and what makes me think I can be a writer. It’s called ‘the impostor syndrome’ when your inner critic tells you your writing is worthless. For years I was governed by my inner critic, with the result that none of my writing ever saw the light of day, and remains locked away in dusty archive boxes on an unreachable top shelf. It was writers like Natalie Goldberg and Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way) who began to free me from this destructive and inhibiting thought process. Freeing the Writer Within In her classic book, Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg contends that writers need to practise their craft in the same way that musicians, athletes or Zen meditators need to perfect their practice. She gives writers the following four rules: Keep the hand moving. It’s better to be writing anything that comes to mind, than to sit there chewing your pen or staring at the blank screen. The main thing is to keep the hand moving. Even if you write about how you can’t write, some words will appear before too long. Don’t think. Write so quickly that your internal editor can’t keep up with you. Most of us have a critic sitting on our shoulder, telling us what we’re writing is ridiculous, illogical, or maybe too revealing […]

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The Writing of Capriccio

THE WRITING OF CAPRICCIO I have written three completely different versions of this novel, over fifteen years, each of the three entailing many drafts. The first was called simply ‘Assia’, and was based on what I then knew of her life. Most of my information came from scholarly works on Hughes or Plath, plus a study of Hughes’s poetry. A […]

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This Writing Life

Lately I’ve been reworking my novel, A Dangerous Daughter – hence you haven’t heard from me for quite a while. It’s a never-ending, always changing process of trial and error, good days and bad. Starting a new draft requires courage, determination and a belief that you can do this thing, killing your darlings as you go, silencing your inner critic […]

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RIP Anita Shreve

Dina Davis’s Reviews > The Stars Are Fire “https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/41784640-dina-davis” The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve Dina Davis‘s review I am sad to learn of Anita Shreve’s death. I have read every one of her novels and enjoyed them. They are accessible, easy reads with good pace and well-drawn characters. Sadly The Stars are Fire did not come up to the standard of her previous novels. There were some undeveloped characters, and it was hard to feel sympathy for Grace as she displayed the typical subservience of a woman in an abusive marriage. The plot was a little disjointed and difficult to follow. I wanted to know more about Grace’s relationship with the doctor she worked for. On the whole I was disappointed, but still appreciated Shreve’s use of language, and her obvious love of the Maine coastline always shines through. Requiescat in Pace. Excerpt from Anita Shreve’s Obituary, copyright Washington Post Ms. Shreve was a teacher, journalist and nonfiction author before she began to focus on fiction in her early 40s. She went on to publish 18 novels, which became fixtures of countless book groups and attracted a large and loyal following. Many of Ms. Shreve’s novels were set in New England and touched on subjects as diverse as airplane crashes, textile mills and World War II. Her books seldom had happy endings, but all of them shared an irresistible page-turning quality, with a strong emotional undercurrent, often colored […]

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Writing by the Rules (Or Not)

Is it only our greatest writers who are allowed to break the rules of writing? And what exactly are these rules? Mantras such as ‘Show not Tell’ ‘Point of View’ ‘Omniscient Narrator’ or ‘Close Third Person’ seem to abound in 21st century writing guides. I doubt whether the great Virginia Woolf, George Eliot, Jane Austen, or Ernest Hemingway had ever heard […]

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The Joys and Perils of the Writing Life

The Joys and Perils of the Writing Life So here I am, as Abraham said to the Lord when offering up his son for sacrifice. “Here I Am” is the title of a wonderful new book by Jonathan Safran Foer, a monumental work close to 1000 pages, exploring themes of cultural identity, fidelity and betrayal, the ephemeral nature of love, families functional and dysfunctional, and what makes them so. As for me myself and I, this post is in the nature of an apology to you, my readers, for my untoward absence. SInce I last posted back in April, life has overtaken me. There’s been illness, convalescence, slow recovery, as well as the joys of grandchildrens’ birthdays. and celebrations of their achievements, some sojourns in beautiful Darwin, home of my daughters and grandsons, and the minutiae of everyday life. On the writing side, I’ve been hard  at work on my new novel, ‘A Difficult Daughter’, and preparing my first novel. ‘Capriccio’, for publication. This entailed a major rewrite, mostly in appeasement to Faber and Faber, publishers of the works of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, and the Hughes Estate. Like Jonathan Bate, I fell foul of the Estate when requesting permission to quote thirteen lines of Hughes’s poetry, fully expecting dispensation for such a small amount of material. The lines I quoted were used to introduce chapters, each of which was given the title of one of the ‘Capriccio’ poems […]

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Brushes with (Writerly) Fame

While waiting for my novel to be published, and for the hoped-for fame its undoubted brilliance will bring (if only!) I must content myself by rubbing shoulders with the already famous. Even though these chance meetings are mere brushes with fame, perhaps they may magically transfer a whisper of their glory to my humble self. Last year I was honoured to meet […]

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