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How to Critique Others

  Helen Garner, in ‘Making Stories’ by Kate Grenville and Sue Woolfe, Allen & Unwin, 1993, writes: ‘You’ve got two selves I think. One of them is the deep one that can do the work, and the other one is constantly discouraging you and saying: ‘oh come off it, who do you think you are?’Some days when you feel like this you just have to keep on. Some days I look at what I’m doing and I think: this is pathetic. How can I have thought this was any good? Some days it’s so awful I have to put my pen down and lie on the bed. I feel I’m going to be exposed. Other days you start a paragraph and suddenly out it comes, all these ideas streaming out of you and you can hardly keep up.’ In her accomplished essay on Helen Garner’s ‘Cosmo Cosmolino’, published in the Sydney Review of Books, Tegan Bennett Daylight has this to say about the dangers of too much technical analysis when critiqueing our own and others’ writing: ‘We all grow our own methods from our own practice and our own personalities, but I’d say there’s a general consensus among us, and it’s this: simply, that less is more. Too many instructions, too many fussy little exercises about point of view and tense and conflict and character are likely to break the heart of the real writer, who is writing from an […]

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Report from the Sydney Writers’ Festival

Diabolical Persistence is the key to successful writing, according to editor and writer Craig Munro, who gave a highly entertaining address at the SydneyWriters’ Festival which I was fortunate to attend. Over his long career as an editor for UQP, Craig honed the works of Peter Carey, David Malouf, and other literary luminaries. He’s now written his own book, ‘Under Cover’, […]

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Guest Post from our Writers’ Group

The following excerpt is from a novel, as yet unpublished, by a member of Waverley Writers of F.O.W.L. Maureen would appreciate feedback from readers of this Blog. Please add any comments in the ‘Comments’ section, or on Facebook. wikipedia. Colorado Springs, Colorado. EvanS THE ROCK by Maureen Mendelowitz There is a rocky ledge that leans over the sea at Llandudno. It juts out on three sides, exposed to the changing shades of ocean and sky, the blues, the greys, the oranges and reds of sunset, and the pale violet hues of early dawn. It is a hidden place. A steep flight of steps hewn from rock leads down from the road to a pristine crescent of white beach. At the far end a pile of huge boulders are piled and lean haphazardly, one against the other. The rock is beyond the boulders. It is comfortable, flat and smooth. Below is nothing but the wide ocean – above, the wide skies. The sunrise sometimes bathes it in crimson hues, and sometimes it is fiery in the red flames of sunset. But in the dark of night its surface hardens in the glittering sparkle of stars and the moon etches its compact layers in a strong beam of white light. The rock is difficult to find. There are only small spaces and narrow crevices to crawl through – a secret rock – hidden behind an ominous outcrop of huge boulders that signals the end […]

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TWO WRITERS ON DAFFODILS

DAFFODILS – A poisonous flower, a harbinger of Spring, a Poet’s Muse? Below are two takes on these flowers, from Ted Hughes, where they symbolise his lost love, to Helen O’Neill, who has written a Biography of the Daffodil. Daffodils We piled their frailty lights on a carpenter’s bench, Distributed leaves among the dozens – Buckling blade-leaves, limber, groping for […]

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Ferrante Fever

The Neapolitan Novels: what’s all the fuss about? I’m into the third of the quadrilogy by this mysterious writer, and finding it repetitive, clichéd, and, to be honest, boring. It seems to me  standard chick-lit dressed up with some social history.  Apart from being set mostly in Naples from the fifties to the present time, these novels differ little from standard soap opera fare. I admit to feeling disappointed with the endless detailed descriptions of Lenu’s and Lila’s every mood, move and thought. The plot moves slowly, ever so slowly, which to me is rarely a problem as long as the novel brings to life characters with whom I can identify and care about. I’m afraid this is not the case here. I’ve listened to a talk by a Professor of Italian Literature, who praised the book for its scope and honesty. I asked her about the translation: was it true to the text? Yes, she assured me, Ann Goldstein is a consummate narrator, mirroring the author’s original Italian as closely as possible. So one can’t blame the translator for the slow pace, romantic clichés, and unnecessarily complicated cast list. Ferrante (not his/her real name) writes under  a psoudonym ‘to protect her family’s privacy and ward off her inner censor’. (London Review of Books, 8 January 2015). In one of the author’s rare statements, she/he says that personal publicity would defeat the aim of hr novels, which unlike today’s fraught attempts […]

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Sylvia’s Last Letter

  What do you think Sylvia might have written in that last letter? Sylvia Plath’s last days have been well documented, again and again giving us the same facts in the various non-fiction biographies. We know she wrote a letter just before she died, and asked her downstairs neighbour for stamps.. The letter, if it was found, has never been disclosed. […]

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Ted Hughes and the Muse

  Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath In his his introduction to ‘Poetry in the Making’, the then Poet Laureate of Britain had the following words of advice for those of us whose passion is Writing, be it poetry, prose, fiction, non-fiction, or something in between: Do you relate to these words? ‘You write interestingly only about the things that genuinely interest you. This is an infallible rule.. in writing, you have to be able to distinguish between those things about which you are merely curious –things you heard about last week or read about yesterday- and things which are a deep part of your life… So you say, ‘What part of my life would I die to be separated from?’ –Ted Hughes, Poetry in the Making ‘It is occasionally possible, just for brief moments, to find the words that will unlock the doors of all those many mansions in the head and express something – perhaps not much, just something – of the crush of information that presses in on us from the way a crow flies over and the way a man walks and the look of a street and from what we did one day a dozen years ago. Words that will express something of the deep complexity that makes us precisely the way we are.’-Ted Hughes   Dina Davis Convenor Randwick Writers’ Group 📚 0418 115748

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