Between books

When a book appears in print, its author can bask momentarily in the satisfying afterglow. BringIng a full-length writing project to fruition will usually have taken years of hard labour, so one feels entitled to savour the pleasures of publication. But not for long. The OCD component of a writer’s temperament doesn’t permit much lounging around. A prospective next book may already be starting to make urgent demands, and in any case other ideas will probably have begun to bubble into words.

So what does the writing life look like between books? It’s a busy mixture of activities, I’ve always found. Post-publication events continue for some while in response to invitations from various groups. And the habit of writing doesn’t subside.

In the nine months since the release of my fifth novel, The Madwoman’s Coat, I’ve given nearly 30 talks that are directly or indirectly linked to it. Most of the venues are libraries, clubs or community centres. Another of these presentations, illustrated with an assortment of screen images, is coming up soon and is open to the public: details here. More sessions are already being scheduled for next year.

Meanwhile I’ve been continuing to write productively, with a current focus on short fiction and poetry.

Some of my poems have recently come out in Australia (in Burrow, Cordite, Creatrix), others overseas (in Shot Glass and Catalyst).

One of my short stories is shortlisted for the Southern Cross Prize, another is due out very soon in Backstory, and a short-short has just been published in the NZ magazine Flash Frontier.

In addition, accepted items will appear within the next few weeks, e.g. in Pure Slush (a special issue on the theme “Appointment at 10.30”, with a striking cover image) and Quadrant.

Several more poems are currently under consideration by various magazines. What would we do without all those labour-of-love literary periodicals to provide platforms for our work?

I’m also delighted to be included in the handsome just-released book Poetry for the Planet: An anthology of imagined futures.

Carefully edited by Julia Kaylock and Denise O’Hagan and published by Litoria Press, this brings together poems by scores of Australian and NZ writers united by a concern for our physical environment.

You can purchase a copy here.

So the writing life goes on steadily between books. Perhaps my own next book-length publication will be a collection of short fiction or poetry.

8 thoughts on “Between books

  1. Hi Ian,

    Thanks for the update. The Poetry for the Planet cover reminds me of Erskine Falls near Lorne in Victoria (though I’m sure it’s not). And the Slush Pile cover puts me in mind of many holidays as a child on the SW coast of WA, during stormy winters. Again, I’m sure it’s somewhere else, but I’d probably believe you if you told me it was the Busselton Jetty.
    Good to hear that the “afterglow” has slipped seamlessly into further writing and publishing for you.

  2. They are both fine cover designs, aren’t they? And worth close inspection, too. If you look closely at the Poetry for the Planet cover pic, you’ll see (just above the “edited by”) a discarded plastic bottle!

  3. Hmmm…yes. But is it a rock doing a credible impersonation of a 2 litre Coke bottle, or vice versa? I can’t decide. This has turned into a kind of slightly-disturbing “Where’s Wally?” moment. And now you’ve got me thinking about Millais’ painting of Ophelia drowning. I could never find the skull in the surrounding undergrowth.

  4. Hi Ian,

    This is impressive in terms of productions and commitment to the writing life, a writing life, and helpful and informative for those of us bitten, without such reliable drive or knowledge of possible venues and outlets or evident achievement. Between books seems an interesting state in itself, physiologically or psychologically, to me – given all of those ways we may think of expenditure, of drive or energies. Helpful for those who may be before a books, or after a book or after some books, or still in a book. Possibly in a stultified or stalled process, in a book and resisting it or subverting and deferring it. Your posts always stimulate possible solutions, and many writers will benefit from your long pattern, here, of interspersal and variation, with kinds of writing and teaching and performance.

  5. Terrific, Ian. It’s good to see all of this evidence of your varieties of writerly production, betweenness obviously a time and space for continuing work. There is no resting, not long anyway, in the aftermath glow of a significant publication, as you say. I’m looking forward to reading “The Madwoman’s Coat”. Great news. All the best.

  6. Thanks Robyn. I’m glad to have stimulated at least your interesting train of thought. (To quote Eric Beach: “Poetry is a train of thought / that refuses to arrive.”)

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