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Tuesday Therapy: Banishing Obsessive Demons

For the third installment of the Tuesday Therapy series, Kirstyn McDermott shares some advice that makes me think she’s worked out some magical way to SEE INSIDE MY HEAD. Seriously. (*knocks on forehead* Kirstyn? Are you in there?) I wouldn’t put it past her — the way she multi-tasks, it would come as no surprise to discover that she’s unravelled the secrets of telepathy while working on her award-winning novels. And her award-winning short stories.  And her (no doubt soon to be award-winning) podcast.

Kirstyn writes incredibly powerful horror and dark fantasy stories — if you haven’t yet read Madigan Mine, do so. The novel is perfectly paced, the characters are alluring, and the prose is simply gorgeous. It reads as though each word has been carefully chosen, carefully considered — this is not a book that was whipped off in the space of a few months, which I find extremely reassuring. As is Kirstyn’s therapeutic advice:

I have two inspirational quotes for you. The first I came across at university and I’ve never forgotten it:

“Hard writing makes easy reading. Easy writing makes hard reading.” William Zinsser

I mutter this all the time, reminding myself that good writing is hard. That it’s meant to be hard. That a writer’s job is to make the reading part easy. The other quote comes from a member of my personal pantheon of saints, Salvador Dali. I’ve loved Dali’s work ever since I first clapped eyes on “The Persistence of Memory” when I was about ten years old. However, I only recently came across this bit of wry advice:

“Have no fear of perfection — you’ll never reach it.”

Nothing you write is ever going to be perfect, so stop angsting over every damn word and syllable, Kirstyn. There’s a profound feeling of relief and freedom in that realisation. I’m going to use it to banish the anxious, obsessive demons that take over my brain every now and then.

Thanks so much, Kirstyn!

Madigan Mine won the 2010 Aurealis Award for Best Horror Novel and the 2011 Chronos Award for Best Long Fiction. Amongst other places, Kirstyn’s award-winning short fiction has been reprinted in Stephen Jones’ Mammoth Book of Best New Horror and the Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2010. She has a new collection coming out next year as part of Twelfth Planet Press’s Twelve Planets series. Once a month, you can catch her and Ian Mond discussing all things speculative on The Writer and the Critic podcast. Kirstyn’s website can be found here.

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