Archive for November, 2009

A special birthday present

It was my birthday two weeks ago.

At the time I treated myself to two new books to read when I go on a beach holiday in a few weeks’ time. I also received a book voucher from my book loving daughter. I managed to use the voucher last week. I bought myself a copy of the recently published Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature. Its launch was covered in controversy, not so much for what or who was left out but rather what was included. It generated quite a deal of debate about the whole concept of what can and cannot be classed as literature.

Forget the debate. I’m looking forward to dipping into this mighty tome over the next few years, revisiting some old favourites and hopefully discovering some new works or authors to dig deeper into. At over 1400 pages of smallish print it is not light bed-time reading.


Jose, N, 2009, Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature, Allen and Unwin, Crows Nest.

What I am reading: Seamus Heaney

I always seem to have half a dozen books on the go at the one time.

This has been particularly so over the last year or so during my Master of Arts course. I’ve dipped into many reference books in the course of doing background reading or research for the units of study. Then there are  the books delved into while writing essays, or books needing to be read in preparation for lectures or tutorials. At present I’m still doing background research on my novel set in Nepal. Even though I have written the novel – I’m up to the 6th draft – there still seems to be more research I could be doing.

Then I have the books I’m currently reading for relaxation. These books are very important for a balance in my life. I need to be daily reading books for recreation as well as study or those directly used as research for my novel.

I’m currently reading – and rereading – two slim volumes of poetry written by Irish poet Seamus Heaney, the Nobel Prize winner for literature in 1995. I’m sorry to say that I’ve not read much of his work previously and so I’ve come to his works with great anticipation.

The reason I’m reading his works now goes back several months. A few months ago my daughter led a group of her high school students on a trip to Ireland. Just before leaving she asked me if I wanted her to buy anything while she was there. Without thinking too much I asked her to look out for a good book of Irish poetry. She overwhelmed me with not one, but two books of the poetry of Heaney. I’ve been slowly savouring them ever since she returned home.


  • Heaney, Seamus, 2006, Death of a naturalist, Faber and Faber, London
  • Heaney, Seamus, 1979, Field work, Faber and Faber,  London.

A significant writing goal achieved

I am reasonably goal driven with my writing.

I like setting goals that stretch me and keep me accountable to myself. Over recent years though I’ve learned to be gentle with myself when I don’t reach a particular goal. No one else cares, so why should I beat myself up over just missing a goal by a small margin? The important thing to remember while reflecting on the issue is that I tried. I gave it a good shake.

One of my goals each day is to write at least a 1000 words. On the good days I can achieve over 3000 easily; other days I struggle to get a few hundred. Generally I know I can comfortably average over 700 per day every day for a whole year. That takes commitment, discipline and determination.

Yesterday I passed the 250,000 word mark for the year so far.

I’m very pleased with this achievement. It means that I’ve achieved the same amount now for four consecutive years – that’s over a million words in four years. Not bad. I think I’m starting to get the hang of this writing thing.

The words I have written this year cover a wide range of writing activities: a novel, numerous short stories, many poems, writing exercises, essays, emails, nearly 300 blog posts, hundreds of comments on my blogs and a journal.

Good writing.

Happy birthday to me


(Blushes as he hears all the wild cheering.)

I haven’t posted here for quite a few days. I’ve been busy putting the finishing touches to my MA novel and the accompanying essay.  My novel is now in its 6th draft and will soon see its 7th and 8th drafts. More on that another day. My 10,000 word exegesis essay is lingering around the 2,000 word mark and desperately needs my attention. Tomorrow.

For my birthday I treated myself by buying 2 new novels: “The Turning” by Tim Winton and “The Slap” by  Christos Tsiolkas. I’ll review them here when I’ve finished reading them in a few weeks’ time.

Good writing.

Why I’m not participating in NaNoWriMo

I think that the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a great idea, but I won’t be participating this time around.

It’s just that I simply do not have the time to do it this year. Nor did I have time to do it last year. I’m in the last stages of completing my Master of Arts in Creative Writing and only have this month to get everything finished and submitted. I finished the course work earlier in the year. Now I’m working on my thesis paper, a 40,000 word novel for children. My novel writing month was spread over about six weeks in August and September.  That’s when the pressure was on for me.

Now I’m busy with rewriting, editing, revising and proofreading. It’s a tedious job but one that must be attended to with meticulous care if I want to stand a chance of being awarded my degree. After that I will be submitting the manuscript to publishers so it will be time well spent.

The NaNoWriMo concept is a good one. It’s main strength as I see it is to motivate people to get the novel they’ve been wanting to write for so many years and actually do something other than talk about it. Then there’s the incentive of having hundreds of other  people doing the same thing around the globe at the same time which results in a certain momentum being built up. It’s like being caught in the surge of a crowd of people, or catching a great surfing wave. It just carries you along and builds an energy from within.

If you are participating – good writing.

May you eventually recover from the inevitable  lack of sleep.

For more information about NaNoWriMo click here.