The Moral of the Story

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In the wake of the mass shooting in Las Vegas, the deadliest in US history, I was listening to a segment on the radio about research into gun owners in Australia. Rather than reinforcing the idea that weapons were more likely in rural areas where they are necessarily used for farming and predator control purposes, it found that a small number of urban gun enthusiasts and sports shooters were amassing huge arsenals. One owner had 283 guns. All legal, of course, otherwise the researchers would never have known about them.

There are plenty of illegal guns in Australia as well, estimated at about 10,000, but the strict gun control laws in this country mean that gun ownership is seen as unusual, abnormal even. We don’t have the gun culture that the US has, I suspect partly because of the different ways in which the countries established their independence from their shared colonial master.

The reason this segment on the radio resonated with me is because the main character in my debut novel is a small weapons engineer, a gun designer with a large arsenal of her own, although primarily comprised of historically significant pieces worth a lot of money. In the as-yet incomplete sequel, the novel begins with the opening night of an exhibition of her collection at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia. Continue reading

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The Choice Not to Publish

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You came up with a great idea, you worked hard to punch our chapter after chapter, you agonised over the ending, you reworked and rewrote and edited it, you paid for a manuscript assessment, you reworked and rewrote and edited it again, you asked your family and friends for feedback, then reworked and rewrote and edited it a few more times. The final step is to publish… so why might you choose not to go ahead and do it?

These days anyone can publish – self-publishing has seen to that. A monkey might not yet be able to write the complete works of Shakespeare but self-publishing is so easy I’m convinced the monkey would be able to self-publish them. So it’s not a matter of not being able to. It’s a matter of whether you should. It’s a hard decision because it requires as much objectivity as you can muster and absolute honesty. And that’s because the simple fact that something creative exists is not a good enough reason for it be released to the general public. Continue reading

How Academia Encourages Bad Writing

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It’s been nearly ten years since my last official experience with academia – I graduated with a master’s degree in writing in 2007. But in the past couple of months, I’ve been exposed to it unofficially in a couple of ways. The first was through my second youngest sister, who is in the final stages of completing her PhD and asked me to review her thesis for spelling, grammar, punctuation and readability issues. The second was through my youngest sister, who is in the first year of her undergraduate degree and who I am providing weekly motivation and sounding board sessions to. But both made me realise the same thing: academia encourages bad writing. Continue reading

Why writers should call out other writers when they do poor work

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Earlier in the year, my stepmother was dragged into a PR nightmare when the founder and owner of a program for gifted children became the subject of an article in a major Australian newspaper. My stepmother is a licensee of the program and a teacher, taking it into primary schools and offering additional educational challenges for children who have been assessed as gifted. The owner had made the mistake of posting opinion pieces on the business’s website and a concerned parent, upon seeing the controversial posts, immediately contacted the newspaper wanting to have it exposed.

That concerned parent had a point. The posts weren’t just controversial and inappropriately featured on the business’s website, they were also completely unacceptable in the context of the program being offered in schools. However, instead of the journalist making these points in a balanced piece of reporting, she instead decided to target and ridicule the elderly owner of the program. Continue reading