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

Why writers should support other writers when they do good work

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This might be the most obvious statement ever expressed on this blog but there are a lot of writers out there. From those who’ve achieved enormous wealth and fame and those who manage to eke out a mid-list career to those who publish their own work and earn virtually nothing and those who secretly tinker away on novels without telling a soul, there are many of us including those who fall somewhere between the four descriptions above and those who fall somewhere outside of them but still consider themselves writers.

With so much competition in such a small pond, so many competing voices in which writers shout over each other and still struggle to be heard, it’s never been more important for writers to support other writers. Readers are all well and good – in fact, they’re very good – but when a writer is struggling for readers, the one thing that can keep their self-esteem in positive territory is support from other writers who know all too well what they’re going through. Continue reading