May 5, 2015

Don’t ask, don’t tell: my year of non-disclosure agreements

After a string of literary rejections, Murray Middleton wins one of Australia's most prestigious literary awards -- and isn't allowed to tell anybody about it.

When a publisher at Allen & Unwin asked to meet for a coffee last September, I tried not to be presumptuous. After a decade of attempting to get my work into the hands of publishers — including a period of submitting under pseudonyms and mentioning in my falsified author’s bio that I’d been imprisoned following a spate of armed robberies — it seemed perplexing that one was actually interested in meeting up with me.

It took me four attempts to tie my shoelaces the morning of the meeting. I also realised that I didn’t have any decent clothes to wear, considering the restaurant we’d arranged to meet (a place full of shimmering wine glasses, checkerboard floors, and waiters imitating old world Europe) was a place unsuited for failed writers with poor personal hygiene. I wound up sitting on a bentwood chair at the front table of the European for 15 minutes, dampening the armpits of my wrinkled Kmart shirt.

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