Lee Kofman, writer: Creative Space
Fact: Lee Kofman is the author of four books, including the memoir, The Dangerous Bride (Melbourne University Press), and co-editor of Rebellious Daughters (Ventura Press), an anthology of prominent memoirists.
Fact: Her short works are widely published in Australia, the UK, Scotland, Israel, Canada and the US and her blog was a finalist for Best Australian Blogs in 2014.
Fact: Her next two creative nonfiction books will be published in 2019 by Affirm Press and Ventura Press.
Fact: Lee Kofman is an incredibly nice and generous writer, mentor and tutor. She has given many an encouraging and kind word to me, often making me smile when I thought that was impossible!
Where are you working from today?
Today my two sons are in childcare, so I’m working from my favourite place – my home (often it’s either libraries or cafes or even locking myself in my bedroom while a nanny is looking after the boys). At home, I alternate between the desk situated in what I call ‘my library’, where I love being surrounded by all our many, many books, and the couch in the living room which is super-filthy (those children again…) and super-comfortable. I am often most productive on the couch, in a semi-horizontal position.
What are you working on?
Today I’m juggling multiple things. Most of all, I’m preparing for the four events I’ll be doing this month. I’ll be launching John Tesarsch’s new novel, Dinner with Dissidents; and at the Melbourne Writers Festival I’ll interviewing Ceridwene Dovey, Dave Graney, Hung Le and John Tesarsch again; then I’ll be also doing a guided tour in the Melbourne Museum, talking about WWI maimed soldiers and about my forthcoming book, Imperfect, that deals with what I call ‘imperfect appearance’. So, to prepare for all that I’m currently doing a crash course in Australian music and stand-up comedy scene, Russian classical composers, excavations of Pompeii and trenches warfare among all else… In addition, I’m busy ‘discussing’ on email the cover and publication schedule for Imperfect and soliciting illustrations for this book. So quite a dizzying, but also thrilling, day.
How is it going?
Today great, because while all these tasks are demanding, none of them is as emotionally taxing as my real work – writing.
When you get stuck, what do you do?
Since I had children, I’m happy to say I rarely get stuck. Before that I suffered a prolonged writers’ block (it lasted for something like three to four years). But now I have so little time that I ‘forget’ to get stuck. Having said this, every time I write a first draft of anything, be this a book or a 5-minute speech, I can get stuck because I absolutely hate first drafts (and love revisions). But now when I feel this way, what I do is I attack this ‘stuck-ness’ by going into fast and furious typing sessions. They can last anywhere between 30 to 60 minutes each when I just write and write, against the block. Often this permission I give myself to write rubbish results in a first draft which is indeed rubbish, but still, it is something I can then revise and deepen. And sometimes such furious typing even produces better sentences or ways of thinking than I’d have produced if I were writing more carefully. I guess, sometimes speed and a lack of self-awareness can ‘unruffle’ your more conventional patterns of thought… Or so I hope.
Who sees your earliest draft & at what stage?
Having done many, many mistakes in the past of showing my writing too early, or to the wrong people, I now sit on the other side of the continuum. What works for me is showing my work only when I feel I’ve done my very absolute best with it: thought it through and revised it to death. And even then, I won’t show it to many people, only to several trusted peers. My friend of many years and private editor, Bradley Dawson, is the first person to see anything I write. Once he’s edited it, then I may share my new work with two, or three at most, friends. Most of my friends these days are writers, but I find that to be a good writer yourself doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be a good critic of others. And even some good critics I know may not share the kind of writing vision I have. So after all that trial-and-error over the years I’ve learned to identify the people who really get what I do, and in return I always try and reciprocate by reading their works. Leah Kaminsky, Nicola Redhouse and Kate Goldsworthy have been my longest ‘writing partners’. But there are a few other writers I now do such exchanges with.
Lee Kofman a Russian-born Israeli-Australian writer. For more information on all the great things she does, follow her around: