Why write memoir as fiction?

I am often asked why I chose to write “A Dangerous Daughter” as fiction rather than as a memoir. These words by Jayne Tuttle, from Lee Kofman’s blog for writers, perfectly express my own feelings about why I chose to write two books based on truth as fiction not fact, not even creative non-fiction. From “The Ecstatic Truth in Creative Non-fiction:A Guest Post by Jayne Tuttle” published in Lee Kofman’s Blog for Writers: “My books are based around significant episodes in my life, but I am less interested in that than the sensations and ideas and questions they raise. So I take the true story, and try to tell it in as juste a way as I can. Meaning, I aim to communicate the feeling of this experience to my reader, not just recount the list of events. To do this, I shrink timelines, invent dialogue, play with detail and tone … I try to reconstruct the actual experience in as creative a way as I can, to fit the compact form of a book. A factual account would be a thousand pages, boring and indulgent.” — Read on leekofman.com.au/the-writer-laid-bare/the-ecstatic-truth-in-creative-nonfiction-a-guest-post-by-jayne-tuttle/

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Author Spotlight

I am honoured to be the subject of this month’s “author spotlight” in the newsletter of the NT Writers’ Centre, March 2023. Since arriving in Darwin in the late nineties I’ve been involved with its writers’ centre, and was elected to its Board five years ago. As the current Vice-President I am working to increase First Nations representation both on […]

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Dina’s Summer Newsletter

Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Joyous Summer Solstice, and Happy Holidays to Everyone! What a year this has been! I hope yours has been as exciting and fulfilling as mine. Since my Spring newsletter, the BuildUp and now the Wet have visited the TopEnd. It’s a mixture of despair and delight as we swelter in the humid heat, then open our arms […]

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A Reflection on the Joy of Swimming

https://theconversation.com/friday-essay-morning-thalassa-the-calm-salt-therapy-of-sydneys-womens-pool-171386 This beautifully written article by Jane Messer encapsulates the liberation and delight felt by a woman in immersing her body in the women’s pool at Coogee. I love Jane’s use of humour, and the poetic language in this piece of creative non-fiction. Jane is a fellow Varuna alumni who I keep in touch with. We are part of a […]

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Freeing the Writer Within

I have long tried to silence the critic in my head, telling me my writing is never good enough, I can never succeed, and what makes me think I can be a writer. It’s called ‘the impostor syndrome’ when your inner critic tells you your writing is worthless. For years I was governed by my inner critic, with the result that none of my writing ever saw the light of day, and remains locked away in dusty archive boxes on an unreachable top shelf. It was writers like Natalie Goldberg and Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way) who began to free me from this destructive and inhibiting thought process. Freeing the Writer Within In her classic book, Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg contends that writers need to practise their craft in the same way that musicians, athletes or Zen meditators need to perfect their practice. She gives writers the following four rules: Keep the hand moving. It’s better to be writing anything that comes to mind, than to sit there chewing your pen or staring at the blank screen. The main thing is to keep the hand moving. Even if you write about how you can’t write, some words will appear before too long. Don’t think. Write so quickly that your internal editor can’t keep up with you. Most of us have a critic sitting on our shoulder, telling us what we’re writing is ridiculous, illogical, or maybe too revealing […]

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The Writing of Capriccio

THE WRITING OF CAPRICCIO I have written three completely different versions of this novel, over fifteen years, each of the three entailing many drafts. The first was called simply ‘Assia’, and was based on what I then knew of her life. Most of my information came from scholarly works on Hughes or Plath, plus a study of Hughes’s poetry. A […]

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This Writing Life

Lately I’ve been reworking my novel, A Dangerous Daughter – hence you haven’t heard from me for quite a while. It’s a never-ending, always changing process of trial and error, good days and bad. Starting a new draft requires courage, determination and a belief that you can do this thing, killing your darlings as you go, silencing your inner critic […]

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RIP Anita Shreve

Dina Davis’s Reviews > The Stars Are Fire “https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/41784640-dina-davis” The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve Dina Davis‘s review I am sad to learn of Anita Shreve’s death. I have read every one of her novels and enjoyed them. They are accessible, easy reads with good pace and well-drawn characters. Sadly The Stars are Fire did not come up to the standard of her previous novels. There were some undeveloped characters, and it was hard to feel sympathy for Grace as she displayed the typical subservience of a woman in an abusive marriage. The plot was a little disjointed and difficult to follow. I wanted to know more about Grace’s relationship with the doctor she worked for. On the whole I was disappointed, but still appreciated Shreve’s use of language, and her obvious love of the Maine coastline always shines through. Requiescat in Pace. Excerpt from Anita Shreve’s Obituary, copyright Washington Post Ms. Shreve was a teacher, journalist and nonfiction author before she began to focus on fiction in her early 40s. She went on to publish 18 novels, which became fixtures of countless book groups and attracted a large and loyal following. Many of Ms. Shreve’s novels were set in New England and touched on subjects as diverse as airplane crashes, textile mills and World War II. Her books seldom had happy endings, but all of them shared an irresistible page-turning quality, with a strong emotional undercurrent, often colored […]

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Writing by the Rules (Or Not)

Is it only our greatest writers who are allowed to break the rules of writing? And what exactly are these rules? Mantras such as ‘Show not Tell’ ‘Point of View’ ‘Omniscient Narrator’ or ‘Close Third Person’ seem to abound in 21st century writing guides. I doubt whether the great Virginia Woolf, George Eliot, Jane Austen, or Ernest Hemingway had ever heard […]

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