Hi, my name is Diana Jenkins. I am a freelance writer, predominantly in Special Reports and the arts. In February 2010 I became News Editor of the Varuna Alumni website, established by Australian novelist Charlotte Wood for the benefit of the Writers’ House alumni. I produce a monthly feature for the Varuna Alumni News. Varuna is Australia’s only national writers’ centre, and was originally the home of novelist Eleanor Dark (1901-1985).
My articles have appeared in The Australian, The Weekend Australian, The Australian Magazine, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Sunday Telegraph, WHO, Vacations & Travel, OUTthere, Is/Not and others. In addition to freelance commissions, I am working on my own writing full-time. Falling head-first into that abyss and finally giving fiction a proper nudge (having spent the best part of my life running away from my one constant dream) is so scary, so nail-bitten, so anxiety-ridden (so poverty-stricken!), but also so…um, essential, I guess. It’s essential that I try, and, it seems to me, completely unavoidable now.
My first book-length work of fiction was shortlisted in the 2009 Varuna HarperCollins Manuscript Development Awards.
My second fiction MS – currently a very incomplete first draft – was shortlisted in the inaugural Varuna Publisher Fellowships.
It’s back to the drawing (read redrafting) board for now. I am a grateful member of the Varuna Alumni Association, and a member of the Darklings, a writing group of five formed during our 2008 Professional Development Residency at Varuna with the inimitable Peter Bishop.
I am really, truly a doctor, but a PhD, not a GP – no questions about drugs, aches, pain, or disease, please! I essentially did a PhD to prove I was serious about writing, after an accidental career in advertising threatened to mark me for life. I was branded sales scum every time I tried to cross over to the other, mythical side of the fence, and so I retreated, vowing to return with some street cred. A research PhD in English apparently does the trick.
The other reason I submitted myself to the unmitigated torture that is a doctoral program is that I am a huge fan of the work of contemporary American author Don DeLillo. I really had some things to say about his fiction, and so I said them, in over 80,000 words and across 4.5 years. No, I didn’t know what I was signing up for. No, I don’t recommend it. No, I can’t stop looking over my shoulder thinking I imagined graduation as part of my lengthy ‘Wishful Thinking’ series. If you’re interested in reading the abstract (don’t worry, it’s only a page long), the link is here.
I live by the beach in Sydney, Australia, with my lovely husband Llew and our beautiful boy. I have great and hilarious friends. I am a greedy pig with food and booze. I love running and jumping into the big blue. In addition to wonderful, wonderful books, I also love travel, art, space, architecture, film, fabric and footwear… And I just detest reality TV. Talk about sucking the brain out of the room. What else? I guess you and I will both see what comes out on this blog… cheers!