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In my paper ‘Mixing Memory with the Desire to Forget’ given at the Australian Association of Writing Program’s annual conference last November, I outlined the difficulties in writing about the lives of women, and explained the different narrative strategies I utilised to write about a woman’s history in fiction. Yet, despite writing a novel that strives to highlight the gaps and silences in women’s histories, there remains lingering questions of why the details of ‘ordinary’ women’s lives are so difficult to find. This paper examines the reasons why archival information about women’s lives is difficult to unearth, and details some of the ways in which genres such as the social sciences, memoir and fiction have endeavoured to find and document women’s histories. It examines both the loss of women’s history and the ways in which this loss has been, and is being, addressed by writers. It is my contention that it is not only a lack of salient documentation that prohibits certain stories about women from being narrated in fiction, but also that the conventions of realist fiction - particularly the emphasis on revelation and closure - inhibit the narration of certain lives. By challenging the conventions of realism, we, as writers can not only acknowledge the silences that persist in the lives of women in the past, but also signal new ways to write around them.' (Author's abstract)
'This practice-led research paper considers, from a writer's point of view, the linked notions of masking and unmasking as they apply to creative practice in the field of writing fiction. It examines these notions within the framework of existing theory relating to the construction of 'Children's' and 'young adult' literature' drawn from scholars including Nodelman, Hunt, Rose and Immel. Taking as a starting point the question of whether 'unmasking' in fiction is truly possible, the paper considers both the creative process behind and critical reaction to, the author's 2008 young adult novel Into White Silence, and measures both process and response against the impact of masking and unmasking in the making of that particular work.' (Author's abstract)
'Commencing tertiary students in writing and communications programs often struggle to absorb literary and cultural theory as it is presented in existing texts. Finding alternate strategies for presenting such material might prove productive. One possible alternate strategy evolved from the preparation of the theoretical component of my PhD thesis, during which I realised that I was telling a story not only about the object of analysis (the creative artefact), but also about the very selection and synthesis of theory for my epistemological apparatus. Forming the view that the discursive and experiential composition of a writing subject is central not only to literary practice but also to critical and theoretical practice, I recognised this as one of the defining attributes of a fictocritical approach, which validates exploration, construction and application of literary theory by using the textual strategies, traditions and conventions of literature itself, so that theory might ‘don the clothing’ of literature and ‘walk about in it’, much as an actor does to understand and interpret a character for an audience. Thus writing literary and cultural theory into a narrative might prove useful for commencing tertiary students, who are likely to be familiar with literary strategies and conventions.' (Author's abstract)
'‘Theorising the madwoman : fictocritical incursions - a performance’ is an intervention into the politics of naming and writing about women’s madness in literature. Using fictocritical tactics, this article stages a dialogue between the madwoman and the critic to make visible ‘the fiction of the disembodied scholar’ deployed in textual criticism. Sometimes speaking as the madwoman, sometimes as the feminist critic, I aim to destabilise the voice of the objective scholar, while continuing to lay some claim to it. Polyvocal in arrangement, discordant and offbeat in its strategies, and fictocritical in its tactics and stylistics, this article is an incursion into, rather than an interpretation of, women’s madness. Using a hybrid of fictional strategies, feminist scholarship, and personal experience, I allow the madwoman to interrupt, challenge and resist the interpretive project, by careening into it. Provisional, disorderly and subversive, fictocriticism offers a way of thinking through, rather than thinking about women’s madness. It seems particularly suited to an investigation of the madwoman in literature, as it dramatises the very disorder and instability the madwoman is said to embody.' (Author's abstract)
'Anecdotal by necessity, this essay through an act of confession considers the advantages and disadvantages of memoir as a genre for the contemporary writer who is also an academic. Employing the ruminative techniques of the lyric essay in order to question the reliance of confessional prose on anecdotal narrative, the prose style deliberately mingles genres in fragments that attempt both to stalk the subject - confessional ethics - and to free it from a narrative entrapment where content is supreme to textual expression. Considering also the notion of creative writing as therapy, and the vanity of the self-directed gaze, any resolutions are avoided as intimacies reveal the thorny negotiations of writing and revelation.' (Author's abstract)
'Traditionally, memoir writers use ‘prose’ to build narratives. Sometimes they use images, but often not. In the multimedia age some memoirists are turning to art, photography, design, typography, and technology to increase the range and scope of their research and ‘writing’. Writing, in this sense, takes on a more Derridean flavour, and comes to incorporate all manner of inscriptions. Readers consequently become viewers, and texts shift from ‘readerly’ to ‘writerly’ in the Barthesian sense. Design software like Adobe InDesign helps make such bricolages possible, and helps overcome some of the design limitations of mainstream word processors.
By combining elements of a/r/tography, applied grammatology, autoethnography, and creative non-fiction, I have created a graphic memoir bricolage to explore the death of my mother and the difficulties of narrating it. By combining words and images—design and content—I have come some way to articulating the challenges of this process.' (Author's abstract)
'Writers of nonfiction are regularly called to make ethical decisions as part of the day-to-day requirements of their calling, as they balance the demands of publishers, editors, readers and the craft of storytelling itself, with responsibilities and sometimes loyalties to those written about. Writing memoir, in particular, raises a host of ethical questions regarding the ownership of the material and the ways in which it can be used. Our lives (and life stories) are made more interesting by our relationships, their ups and downs and the way we handle them. But what happens when we are telling the stories of those for whom it is difficult to give clear or informed consent? What happens when the line between the public and the private is blurred? When we are writing about family members? Our children? Do we have a greater ethical responsibility when telling their stories? Couser, Carey, Mills and others have deliberated on the responsibilities of the memoirist in celebrating the private self in the public realm. This paper reflects on these issues as part of the author’s own ethical dilemmas in writing about the adoption of her young daughter and her struggle to work out where her responsibilities lie in the creation of the text.' (Author's abstract)
'The good editor,' suggests Thomas McCormack in his Fiction Editor, the Novel and the Novelist, 'reads, and ... responds aptly' to the writer's work, 'where "aptly" means "as the ideal appropriate reader would".' McCormack develops an argument that encompasses the dual ideas of sensibility and craft as essential characteristics of the fiction editor. But at an historical juncture that has seen increasing interest in the publication of Indigenous writing, and when Indigenous writers themselves may envisage a multiplicity of readers (writing, for instance, for family and community, and to educate a wider white audience), who is the 'ideal appropriate reader' for the literary works of the current generation of Australian Indigenous writers? And what should the work of this 'good editor' be when engaging with the text of an Indigenous writer? This paper examines such questions using the work of Margaret McDonell and Jennifer Jones, among others, to explore ways in which non-Indigenous editors may apply aspects of McCormack's 'apt response' to the editing of Indigenous texts.' (Author's abstract)
'Author and anthologist Herb Boyd’s recollection of Richard Wright’s tongue in cheek, ‘All you need to compile an anthology is a pair of scissors and a pot of glue’ (Boyd 2003: 50), hints more than a little wryly at the trials and tribulations of anthologists’ struggle for recognition. It is also a struggle for affirmation that I have experienced in my own journey as children’s author, editor and anthologist and member of the broader children’s writing community - a struggle that gnaws at the creative heart of many involved in children’s writing and book creation, precipitating artistic and creative tension for children’s writing, picture books and anthologies as niche genres. In this paper I contend that writing courses within the Australian and globalised higher education sector, along with governments and funding bodies have a responsibility to the broader community to more actively recognise and support creators of children’s books as these books contribute to our literary lore.' (Author's abstract)