About DoctorDi

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 & TravelOUTthere, 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!


  1. Bushka said,

    You go girl!!

    Looking forward to reading more – seems like I am there with you and not half way around the other side of the world.

  2. Brett said,

    Yes! Take it global Di…looking forward to your coverage of Mardi Gras.

    Small query in the meantime: natural fingers but ruby toes. Aren’t the curtains supposed to match the carpeting? Or is that some anachronistic 50s affectation?

    Inquiring minds want to know.


  3. doctordi said,

    Hi Bushka! That’s the idea , honey, to collapse the distance between us! I’ll be trying to blog every day, so stay tuned!

  4. Ruanne said,

    Brett, dear,
    No doubt as Doctor Di will confirm as soon as she wakes up (I’m in Seattle) painted finger nails chip much more easily than toe nails with the result that ruby red finger nails would look terribly scraggly after a few days. Ruby red toe nails seem to look perfect weeks afterwards (they also grow more slowly than finger nails). And there’s something else about ruby red finger nails I can’t quite put my finger on – the image that doesn’t work 24/7 for me. But if I’m feeling adventurous I do go for pearly pink or blushing purple fingers. Ruby toes are irresistible.
    What’s your take Doctor Di?

  5. doctordi said,

    I am finding early navigation around my own blog a little daunting – why are these comments here instead of with Nail Sports…?! How can I move them…??!! I responded to Brett back in the Nail Sports stream (for some reason his comment appears in both places, but neither yours, Ruanne, nor yours, Buska, has transferred over…which is vexing…), but yes, I’m in full agreement with Ruanne. Chipped colored nails are ghastly nasty. Although if you could get a load of how much my fingernails have grown since last Tuesday, you’d be shocked. Clearly I am getting enough dairy.

  6. Ruanne said,

    So sorry – I posted in the wrong spot – my first ever blog comment – but will do better in future. This site is riveting… Well done!

  7. doctordi said,

    Oh you are too kind, Ruanne – we like riveting!!! Riveting is GOOD!

  8. Brett said,

    Di…don’t know how I managed to post in two places at once. Sorry for the blog-fusion or blog-iquity, not sure which is more appropriate…but I think it simply indicates your IT gremlins understood the pressing nature of my inquiry.

    SIn lechuga,


  9. doctordi said,

    You’re just too clever, is all…
    Is it possible that I have IT gremlins?! How fantastic – I’ve certainly often felt a deep need for IT assistance. Llew is still in shock that I managed to get this blog up unaided and unsupervised. He can’t even begin to conceal his surprise.

  10. Judith Marks said,

    Hi Diana!

    Well, these blogs of yours are what saves me from the brink….I love reading all your comments on life and when I can’t get out to get that all important adult conversation, they entertain me and put faith back in the fact that I did have a life BC (before child) and I still do have a sense of humour.

    So keep it coming and I can’t wait to hear all your tales of adventure after your trip to Italy!!

  11. Tim Roberts said,

    Hi Di,

    Your blog is hilarious, but I have to take issue with one of your comments:

    “In Good Weekend, there are two Modern Gurus – one’s a guy, who’s only so-so funny (which is why I can’t quite recall his name off the top of my head), and the other’s Kate Duthie, who is out and out hilarious (which is why I can recall hers).”

    Now, Danny Katz is actually a comic master, and I’m surprised that you don’t find him hilarious – after all that time in the office with you, I figured that I had your sense of humour figured out, but that really surprised me.



    My favourite Katz remark:

    “We keep losing all the good Jews to Christianity. Like Bob Dylan. And Jesus.”

    Anyway, hope you’re well – the letter’s been sent. (Not sure if this is an appropriate forum for trivial remarks about letters, but I’m too tired to send you an email.


  12. Justine Saidman said,

    Go Di Go! So glad to see you back on the blogwaves. Looking forward to reading more!

  13. doctordi said,

    Thanks, Justine, it’s good to have an outlet for all my rants! I am amazed and impressed that you of the three children even remotely finds the time to do anything other than fantasise about sleep, but thanks very much for reading!

    Now, Timothy, it’s not like I said Danny Katz (that’s him, thanks) is an unfunny lesson in tedium. He’s just not consistent. He has occasionally made me laugh out loud, but I have found some of his responses in Modern Guru decidedly ho-hum. I think it’s because, like my nana, he has a way of making it all about him. Sometimes what’s so funny about Kate Duthie is the way she responds to the reader’s problem, whereas Katz tends to appropriate the dilemma and use it as a platform to talk about his own experience. Sometimes it works, sometimes it backfires. Sometimes I look at the dilemma and look at his response and think “Huh?” Does he think he’s funnier than their oft’ hysterical problems? Maybe he does. I just don’t. I’d rather he unleashed that so-called comic genius on answering the bloody question.

  14. doctordi said,

    Lovely Judith, aren’t you kind. Not only are you my all-time favourite Amish friend (!!), you are also such a willing warm-fuzzy provider. Sense of humour? Check. Gorgeous baby? Check. Lovely husband? Check. Beautiful person? Check.

  15. Helen said,

    Hi Diana,
    Just thought I would let you know that Theo & Eileen have been in Sydney on and off for the last couple of weeks, that they told us they would love to catch up with you, that we tried to contact you but failed (until just now) and that T & E left for NZ this morning. Still, Eileen asked us to pass on her warmest regards if we ever did manage to find you…

  16. Wolly said,

    I was just Googling Danny Katz and couldn’t believe I found someone who didn’t think him funny!!!! I can’t even be bothered reading Modern guru if he’s not the respondent.

  17. CabinFever said,

    I was searching “wind madness” on google and came to your wonderful writeup! Then hopped over here to read about you and that is wonderful also! Thanks for the unexpected pleasure…and the wind IS driving me mad, a little, I think. In a wild, raw sort of way…maybe that is why I want it to stop. Thanks for the writeup!

  18. doctordi said,

    Well, a big welcome to you, CabinFever, and thank you so much for your kind words. It’s really very nice of you. Yes, I like the wild rawness of wind madness myself, but I think one must be in the right mood, otherwise it’s just slapping-your-own-face enraging!

  19. piereth said,

    Did I tell you how stoked I am that you are pregnant?

    Can you pls pleez send me your address so I can contribute to the baby shower, as I love babies, love YOU and will never have another BABY myself and want to send you something.

    Tons of love xxx

    • doctordi said,

      Oooh, Piereth, thanks, sweetie, I really appreciate that!!! Too generous and thoughtful by far – not to mention way too soon for me to even THINK about such mad things as a baby shower!!! Besides which, you really already HAVE sent me something precious for baby, you know, just in these lovely sentiments. xxx

  20. bakersdaughterwrites said,

    I’ve just been reading the comments above and am so glad I’m not the only person to be technologically cursed (I keep accidentally liking my own posts and then can’t work out how to reverse it, which makes me look incredibly arrogant.) Am now looking forward to spending a few hours browsing through your archives.

    • doctordi said,

      Yes, I steer well clear of that cursed “like” icon now myself after my first attempt went totally awry. I couldn’t figure out how to reverse it either, so I think we just give that one a wide berth!!

      bakersdaughterwrites, I am incredibly flattered you would think my archives are remotely worthy of anything like that sort of attention – I hope they don’t disappoint, and thank you for the enormous compliment.

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