“I admire anybody who has the guts to write anything at all.”
– E. B. White

Shutter and Pen is a blog started by CJ Levinson in early 2006. I live near Newcastle in NSW, Australia.

I’m a freelance writer and photographer. I’ve been writing semi-professionally for almost fifteen years and have been a photographer for five. I use this blog as a window to my thoughts on writing, life and photography.

I’ve been writing since I was 7, when I finished my first story, an adaptation of Tim Burton’s Batman. It ended up being nothing like the movie; I killed Batman – I guess I’ve always had a thing for sad endings! I’ve been writing seriously since I was 16 and have achieved several small publications, as well as received feedback from writers including Greg Bear, Jodi Picoult, Mike Moorcock and Zoran Zivković.

I’m currently working on my first novel and I also write poetry and the occasional song. I’m an avid reader as well and some of my favourite authors include Stephen King, Cormac McCarthy, Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, Kazuo Ishiguro, Janette Turner Hospital and Kelly Link.

Away from writing and photography I also enjoy cricket, tennis and cooking; I cook a mean pizza and my spaghetti carbonara’s not bad either. I also love music, particularly music from the 70s and 80s… not sure why exactly. Maybe it’s the big hair?

My writing style is fairly eclectic and philosophical but if you read my blog for long enough, you’ll see I have a good sense of humour and I love nothing more than discussing different ideas. So please, pull up a chair and join the conversation. I’m also on Twitter and Facebook if you’d like to follow me there, and feel free to check out my writing and photography if you’re interested.

And thanks again for stopping by. 😉

29 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi CJ,
    You recently left a comment on my blog, so thought I’d follow the link and take a look at yours. I was able to read a couple of your pieces and enjoyed your writing very much.

    Thanks again for taking the time to read my poem.

    CJ: Hi teeveebee, thanks for the compliment! I feel like I still have a long way to go with writing but I’m glad you liked what you read.

    Your poem was beautiful; I was happy to have stumbled across it. Look forward to reading more. Thanks for stopping by. 😉

  2. Hi CJ, thanks for coming to my blog yesterday. I’ve read some of your work and i have to say that i like your style. I especially like “The Garden’s End”. It certainly made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up which, i have come to learn, means that it’s very good indeed.
    I’ve tried poetry so many times in the past but have never been very pleased with what i have come up with. I still continue to mess around with it, and although I’m not brilliant at it i sort of enjoy the way poetry doesn’t have any rules in terms of how one structures each line and so on.

    CJ: Hi Katherine. Thanks for the kind words about my writing; I’m glad you liked it. I liked writing the The Garden’s End; it felt very introspective and I hadn’t been as open as that in my poetry before.

    I’m still not happy with anything I write; I always see little things to change or something’s not quite what I want it to be… in the end I have to let it go and I’ve learnt to enjoy the process more now. I think that’s why I like poetry; it doesn’t have to follow a structure and that’s very liberating.

    Hope you get some good news about your freelancing; sounds exciting. 😉

  3. Hello CJ,

    I found your link on Sulz’s blog and thought I’d check it out. I’ve read some of your works and am very impressed. I write constantly but am far to self – conscious to share with others. Reading your work how ever inspires me to reach out to others with what i have written so far.

    Hope you don’t mind me linking to you from my blog.


    CJ: Hi NW, thanks for stopping by. I owe sulz a big thanks as I get a lot of people coming from her blog. I need to send her a blogging award or something.

    And thanks for the kind words about my writing. I have a long way to go but I love writing and it’s an amazing feeling, putting something of yourself out there for others to read… it’s scary but when you connect with someone, it’s like nothing else. If you do share your work I’d love to see it.

    Thanks for commenting and for the link. I’ll be having a look at your blog later. 😉

  4. You have a wonderful blog, and we are of similar age group. Wow.:) I have found very few people so far who have Kazuo Ishiguro as one of their favourite authors. I read his Remains of the Day first, and I didn’t stop until I read his entire work. I started blogging almost two months back only but have found some great blogs within very less time.

    Scratch Bags

    CJ: Hi scratchbags, thanks for stopping by, and for the lovely comment. I like to think my blog is a work in progress but I’m quite proud of it. 😉

    Kazuo Ishiguro is just a wonderful author. I’m trying to work my way through all his novels; I started with Never Let Me Go and that’s my favourite. It’s one of the best novels I’ve read since Irving’s The Cider House Rules.

    Congrats on starting your blog; I’m sure you’ll be a blog veteran in no time. I’ll pop across later to check it out. 🙂

  5. Wonderful new look to your blog, love what you have done with it, it is so fresh and pleasing to the eye.

    CJ: Thanks MQ! It took a lot of work but I wanted it to be more like a website, to have a clean and uncluttered look. I love it. 😉

  6. CJ,
    Your wonderful mum put me on to your blog. I’m the guy who recently interviewed her for ‘Rob’s Reader of Week’. I just wanted to say hi and congratulate you on such a wonderful looking blog. You’ve got some first-class content here, which is not surprising given that you’ve been writing for so long.

    I hope our paths cross again soon
    Keep up the great work

    CJ: Hi Rob, thanks for stopping by, and for the wonderful compliment. I take a lot of pride in my blog and the new design has turned out really well. I feel like I’ve come a long way since I started blogging but I’m always looking for ways to improve as well… guess that’s the writer in me; or maybe just the perfectionist. 🙂

    MQ’s told me a lot about your blog; look forward to checking it out later.

  7. Thank you CJ for all your comments. Yes, I am feeling much better now, most of the cold is nearly gone. Sleep is a good healer:)

    I agree on what you said about feedback. It is good to hear that someone does enjoy reading what you’ve written. It makes you want to write more.

    I’ve had a look around your blog, and I really like the new look. I’ve also read some of your fiction and I enjoyed reading the one about Monica Davis. Very different.

    Look forward to reading the new novel:)


    CJ: Hi Kristy, glad to hear you’re feeling better. Colds are never much fun, are they? They throw me completely out of balance and I feel miserable for days. At least the chicken soup’s nice. 😉

    Feedback actually wasn’t something I thought about that much when I started writing but it’s been an incredible help, particularly when I was struggling to find a direction. I’ve learnt more from my correspondence than I ever expected; I’m sure you will too.

    And thanks for the kind words about my blog and work! Monica Davis is probably one of my better stories; I’ve been thinking about expanding it into a longer work at some stage. Just have to finish the novel first! Damn writer’s block. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  8. In the realm of odd coincidences I was on Last.fm and looked at Bic Runga’s artists page and thought that the name ‘Cjwriter’ displayed in the recent listens seemed familiar.. Took me a few hours to figure it out and then find your new blog, but now I’m here and can’t say: Great taste in music! Bic Runga is one of my favourite artists.

    And I simply love your blog theme, it’s great!

    CJ: That is an odd coincidence, Cat, that we were both listening to Bic Runga at the same time. She’s great, though; I love her music and Sway is one of my favourite songs.

    And thanks for the compliment! It took me ages to find the right theme; I love this one.

  9. Thanks so much for all your comments on my blog. I love the layout you have here. Wishing the best always.


    CJ: Thanks for stopping by, Amanda. It’s been a pleasure reading your poetry; it’s beautiful and I look forward to reading more. Take care, and thanks for the kind words.

  10. Hi CJ,

    Fantastic blog – I am an ex-Sydney sider – Paddo/Bondi/Cronulla to name a few suburbs. Presently living in Brisbane. Like you, I am an aspiring author and also a keen photographer.I look forward to having a good look around in here and often. You have done a great job. Very inspiring.



    CJ: Hi Lynn, thanks for the kind words. I still feel like a novice at the moment but my writing is slowly getting there. I’ve found blogging has helped me a lot creatively; hopefully that will start to show in my writing soon as well.

    I live in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, so I’m not that far from where you used to live. Small world, isn’t it? I love the area; there’s so much to be inspired by.

    I had a quick look at your blog also; your writing’s very impressive. I love fantasy, so I’m looking forward to having a good look around later. Thanks for stopping by. 😉

  11. Hi CJ,
    I haven’t read any of your writing but I predict it will be very well from what previous people have said. Have a happy holiday,

    CJ: Hi Hunter, thanks for stopping by. I’m very lucky that people have read and liked my work. I’ve been on a break from writing for a while now but that feedback has been invaluable. It’s what keeps me going.

    Thank you for the kind words and good luck with your writing. I liked what I saw of your writing on your blog. Looked promising. Have a peaceful & happy holiday. 😉

  12. Hey CJ!

    I’m a regular reader of your blog. I find it really interesting and insightful. I read ‘Cloud Atlas’ because you mentioned it in your blog as one of your favorite books from 00s. I throughly enjoyed it. It’s definitely one of the best books of 00s.

    I would like you to post more often. I know you are busy writing your own novel, but your fans would like you to take out some time for your blog too. Other than that, I’ve got no complaints. 🙂

    Talking about your novel, is it ready yet? I wish you good luck with it!

    Merry Christmas!

    – Nipun (India)

    CJ: Hi Nipun – thank you for your kind words. I’m glad you like my blog! I’ve had a bit of a difficult year and haven’t had as much time for blogging as I’d have liked but knowing people appreciate what I write is very inspiring.

    I plan to post more consistently in the new year. My blog is really an extension of my writing, so I hope to get back to posting about twice a week in 2010. I also use Twitter a lot, which is a great way of connecting with other writers. Do you tweet at all?

    So you liked Cloud Atlas? Great! I thought it was an incredible book but it’s one of those novels that people either love or hate. Glad you liked it! Mitchell’s latest Black Swan Green is excellent too.

    I’m still working on my novel at the moment. I had to rework a lot of it earlier this year and it’s taken longer than I thought it would, but it should be finished in the next couple of months… I hope! I have a couple of shorter projects I’m working on too which should be finished soon.

    Thanks again for stopping by and for taking an interest in my blog. I really appreciate it. Season’s Greetings and all the best for a happy 2010. 🙂

  13. Hiya CJ!

    I’m not into twitter that much. Although, I have an account there, but I prefer facebook over it.

    ‘Black Swan Green’, eh? I’ll scour for it in the local book stores.
    Have ya read ‘Metamorphosis’ by Franz Kafka? I’m really digging into it these days. It’s a fantastic and mesmerizing read, in my opinion. Kafka creates such a surreal world all of his own in this story, and yet manages to keep the reader emotionally attached to a character that they would obviously not identify with otherwise. What do ya think?

    I wish you all the very best for your future endeavors!

    Have a wonderful 2010, CJ! 🙂

    CJ: Hi Nipun! Yes, I have read Metamorphosis. I think I read it in high school and it’s been one of my favourite novels ever since. What I really love about it is just how absurd and comic it is, yet it feels real… human, which seems strange considering the nature of Gregor’s transformation. Kafka was a really brilliant writer.

    Do you like much science fiction? If you like Metamorphosis, there’s a novel I mentioned by Jeff Vandermeer, Veniss Underground, which is a little similar in theme. It’s quite bizarre and surreal at times but brilliant as well.

    I understand about Twitter. I go through periods of liking it and hating it myself! Looking forward to chatting with you on Facebook in 2010. Happy reading. 😉

  14. Hey CJ,

    You have a pretty interesting site. I very well worth the time spent reading and provoking thought about life, love, liberty, and writing.

    CJ: Hi Vik! Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you like my blog! I’m not updating as frequently as I used to but I try to make up for that with quality, so I’m glad you like my posts!

    I write a lot of science fiction and one of the things I try to do with my blog is to give people an idea of the things I care about, as a writer and as a person. Hopefully then when people read my work they can see it’s as much about life and love as aliens and spaceships.

    You have a very interesting blog. I’ll have to check it out more over the weekend. Happy writing! 😉

  15. Hey CJ, Ive been studying the smithsonian institue bearing witness to history site for english advanced in year 12 and found that ur poem october 12 ties really well and am analysing it as part of the unit history and memory and would love to hear ur expirieces from the bali bombings because the poem made may teacher (a tough ass) ball her eyes out!

    CJ: Hi Jessica, thanks for your lovely comment. I’m glad you enjoyed reading my work; the Bali Bombings had a profound impact on me and with the anniversary approaching, I felt like I needed to write about it and what I was feeling, so I’m glad you liked the poem and that your teacher was moved by it that much… that’s a wonderful compliment. I’d be happy to talk more… send me an email when you have time. Take care and thanks again for stopping by. 😉

  16. Hey CJ,
    I just started my first blog today in hopes of finding inspiration through other writers. I find your blog to be very inspiring and look forward to reading more of your posts.

  17. “One of my dreams is to open a small bookshop one day, with a small cafe and poetry readings and some of my photos inside, and combine all of my passions.”

    I hope your dream comes true, CJ. I’ll bet half of us have the same dream 🙂

    Your blog looks good; I particularly like the poetic bit you put between your photographs and the main block of text.

    1. Hi Mary, thank you! I’d love for that dream to come true one day. Maybe they’re becoming rarer these days with the rise of ebooks but I still think there’s nothing quite like wandering around a secondhand bookshop and taking it all in. 🙂

      Thank you for the kind words about my blog as well. I really enjoy writing haiku and finding some way of describing the photograph and bringing it to life. It’s a good way of combining both of my passions and it definitely helps to keep my writing skills sharp too!

      Thanks again for your kind words and for stopping by. 😉

  18. Hi there, CJ. I found you on the WordPress “recommended for you” list, of all places (imagine that!). You photography drew me in, and then I read a few of your posts, which I enjoyed immensely. You now have a new follower.

    In addition, I have chosen you as one of my nine blogs in That’s So Jacob’s Ninth Month Blog Challenge (http://www.thatssojacob.wordpress.com)! I challenge you to find nine blogs you find interesting and give them a comment to brighten their day…well, eight other blogs and mine 🙂 Copy this message in your comment and enjoy your new blog friends!

    There is, of course, no obligation – I realize lots of bloggers (usually including myself) do not participate in awards or challenges. But since I’m here anyway, I figured I’d include you. Hop on over to my site if you can, and see if you like my writing and photography as much as I like yours (and then, of course, you could cross off “1” if you do decide to participate in the challenge. 🙂 )

    1. Hi CookieCakes, thanks for your lovely comment. I’m so glad you liked my photos and posts… I don’t post as often as I used to but I do still really enjoy it and it’s always great meeting new bloggers. I guess every now and then the WordPress recommendations really do work the way they’re meant to. 🙂

      Thank you for the tag as well and I’ll definitely take part, although it might not be for a week or so. I had a quick look at your blog as well and really enjoyed it – you’ve definitely got some really interesting stories! I’ll be back to check it out properly when I’ve got a bit more time this week.

      Thanks again for the kind words, and for stopping by. 😉

      1. No hurry on either the challenge or on catching up with my posts. I’m honored that you’ve agreed to do both.

        PS: One of the other bloggers managed to turn each one of his challenge nominations into a new post. Wish I would have thought of that, I’m always short on post ideas.

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