The case of Victorian man Robert Farquharson, twice convicted for murder for driving a car into a dam with his three sons inside, has paralysed author Helen Garner. But she can't write about it. Not yet.

Garner, whose literary reputation is largely based on forensic and genre-bending explorations of legal cases, has sat in for much of Farquharson's trials and intends to write a book on it. But she told a Melbourne audience last night that with the case not complete -- he was found guilty after the 2005 deaths, won the right to a retrial, was found guilty on retrial, and is now appealing -- she can't craft the story. She tried to write, a process she described as hauling great shreds of seaweeds from her guts in the form of 70,000 words, which her sister described as boring and she has now junked.