Essential Reading for Developing Writers

An old piece of mine from the Capital Letters blog.


— Rachael Nielsen

I don’t have a yacht and I don’t come from money.

The opposite is the assumption when I casually mention that I’ve studied at Oxford. That’s Oxford University in England, yes. (Note: you must mention something like this casually otherwise you sound pretentious). I tend to mention this summer of study and writing fiction when I’m trying to impress boys or if it is of some value to the conversation. As I’m not in a pub nor will this article circulate throughout a dating website, I’m not trying to impress you, it is the latter this time. The Forest for the Trees was required reading before I flew the twenty-six hours to England. It is one of the best books on the process and life of writing, and thus goes on my list for developing writers. This book, as well as the others I will mention, is…

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The well regarded and the brave: a winter recommended reading list


Words by Rachael Nielson

I buy most of my books online and read reviews before purchasing. I’m eyeing off Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham, A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride, and The Prince Lestat by Anne Rice. For those of you who, like me, enjoy a recommendation before buying a book, I have put together a currated list of well regarded contemporary and classic books for a variety of reading moods this season.

A Challenge  

You want to use your intellect during weekends in the blue mountains in amongst bush walking and antiquing. Going on a mini break doesn’t mean you’re not up for an emotional and ideological awakening.

candycoverCandy by Luke Davies
Luke Davies has mastered breezy prose and spot on slang. He builds a sense of place which is tangible and often lacking from contemporary literature. Candy gives the…

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“Myth #1: A good writer doesn’t need an editor.”

I’m experiencing a lush mania for researching the roles and types of editors out there. I found a warm, useful little article from Huffington Post regarding myths about editors.

“There’s a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about editors and what they do. Here are seven of those myths that I’d like to clean up:

Myth #1: A good writer doesn’t need an editor.

In these days of self-publication and “service” publishers — who take a percentage of sales for letting the author do all of the work — you hear this a lot. “I’ve slaved over this manuscript for years. I checked it through a hundred times. Microsoft Word’s Spelling and Grammar comes up clean. It’s ready for publication.”

Want an example of a professional book from a world-class author who convinced her publishers to put out the book as-is, without a deep developmental edit (see #3 below)? Look at J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Pretty good book, and it’s sold millions of copies, absolutely — but it’s at least a hundred pages longer than it needs to be. There’s needless repetition, uneven pacing, and side-plots that go nowhere. You’ll notice that the previous and subsequent books in the bestselling series were much shorter and much tighter. Rowling worked more closely with her editors.”

Digging myself out of a dark, long, bewildering year of being lost as an artist

You know how I talk often in those posts about losing hope and gaining a bit of it back…. well mostly finding my way as a “creative” has been miserable (growth comes from pain -_-). But this is the most jazzed up I have felt in….. years.

It was simple but pivotal. I picked up a copy of the 2015 ACT/NSW jobs guide and had a read of the description on ‘Editors.’ The information on Book Editors excited me the most out of any of the occupations I looked up. It was right about then that I wanted to let out a primal scream of victory FINALLY! tangible facts about jobs for creative types!

This book has started to dig me out of the dark descent I have been spiraling into over this long, bewildering year.


And I’ve continued to grow excited about the roles of editor through my work with Grapple publishing on the second Annual. I’ve also managed to find useful information about jobs prospects. I’m wanting to gauge my (increasing) interest in this career path with information about what most likely awaits me. I’ve already had a searing lesson in doing otherwise. But to be fair, it often takes a lot of time to work out our career paths.

I’m cautiously ecstatic about the new direction. Most of all I’m thrilled energy is coming back to me and I’m naturally finding myself directed towards gaining more editing experience and hunting down internships with publishing houses.