Month: December 2014
Welcome to the Busybird blog, where you can find helpful articles, updates, industry news and more. Make sure you stay up to date by signing up to our newsletter below.
So we’re almost at the end of the year, which is a time both to reflect and also to look to the future.
What did we accomplish in the past year? Did we finish that book we wanted to write? Or have that exhibition? Or read at that open mic night?
Going into 2014, we all would’ve had plans, things that we wanted to achieve. If we did achieve those goals, we should commend ourselves. If somebody else had written a book, we’d congratulate them and flatter them, yet we’re always unkindest or – at the very least – the most blasé to ourselves. So if you achieved a goal, commend yourself. Reward yourself. Celebrate a little.
And if you didn’t, now’s not the time for self-flagellation. Why didn’t you? It’s important to look at why we didn’t manage what we set out to do. Is it a case of not having a time? If so, how’s that something that can be addressed in the future? Maybe there were personal upheavals. Ultimately, the reason themselves aren’t as important as the examination of how we learn from them – and we can learn – and plan to address them next time we encounter them.
As any type of artist (writer, poet, singer, paint, illustrator, sculptor, etc.), learning is pivotal. It’s not about doing the same thing over and over. There’s a constant evolution occurring – we not only get better at our craft (whatever that is), but about learning how to approach it and how to tackle any obstacles. This is how experience arms us.
Here at Busybird, we released a number of books in 2014: [untitled] issue 6, page seventeen issue 11, The Book Book: 12 Steps to Successful Publishing, Self Made: Real Australian Business Stories, and Walk With Me. It’s an eclectic mix, and yet it wasn’t everything we wanted to get out this year, but we did the best we could and we’re proud of each of them.
On top of that, we also helped a number of authors self-publish. The term ‘self-publish’ has always held a stigma, particularly as self-published books could look cheap and amateurish. Now, as printing’s becomes easier, it’s become a much more accepted and respectable medium to self-publish, and it’s a worthwhile avenue to pursue given big publishers can be so risk averse with what they decide not to publish.
Also, with self-publishing, you can undertake every component of the publishing process that big publishers do (e.g. structural editing, copyediting, layout, design, proofreading, distribution, launch) and end up with a product that is indistinguishable from books released by commercial publishers. That’s how easy and accessible it’s become. Most importantly, we take pride in nurturing authors – many who are inexperienced in publishing – through the process and giving them the best result possible. That’s pivotal to us.
This year, we also had a string of exhibitions, ran workshops, and held our monthly Open Mic Nights, which continue to grow in popularity. They’re all things that will be returning throughout 2015 and we’d love to see you at them. If you have suggestions for the sorts of workshops you’d like to see, why not shoot us an email?
In 2015, we hope to release another issue of [untitled], another issue of page seventeen, Below the Belt: Experiences with Prostate Cancer, Joffa, The Uncanny Love of Jimmy Panagakos, The Launch Book, The Writer’s Companion, and more.
So there’s plenty happening for Busybird in the new year, and we hope to continue to grow, to go from strength to strength. To everybody who’s supported us, we thank you.
But what about yourself? What individual goals are you setting for 2015?
And what’re you doing about making them a reality?
Busybird’s closing its doors for a fortnight, from Saturday 20th December 2014 to Sunday 4th January 2015.
See you in the New Year!
December 11, 2014
The definition of the word writing denotes it to sound like such a plain, everyday concept; as in the context of writing an email or writing your name. The people who see writing just as that are missing out. They obviously don’t experience the need to get words down on paper, to craft, to create. They definitely don’t understand why anyone would want to make a career out of it. For writers, it can often be difficult to justify why we write, because it’s a difficult thing to explain.
But I’ll give it a try.
Think of the last time you read a really good book. Not just an okay, enjoyable book, but one that you would curl up with for hours on end. With these kinds of books, you slip away from the real world without realising it. The distinction between fiction and reality becomes increasingly fuzzy. You become so invested in the characters; you cry with them, you laugh at them, you become one with them. Your eyes don’t read words on a page; they see into another world. You live a different life.
Then comes that moment when there are no more pages to turn. Despite this, you’re not ready to leave. You stare at those final words, refusing to accept that what you just experienced was not real. You were buried so far into the pages that now your own life feels like the fantasy. Following this state of denial, reality slowly seeps into your consciousness, even though you desperately cling to pieces of that other world that’s drifting away.
That feeling of emptiness, the post-book-depression you’re left with is now an issue. What to do now?
I’ve found only one thing to fill this void: write.
The thought of writing something that has the potential to take someone on a journey even half as good as the one you’ve just been on is unbelievably satisfying. Crafting words into sentences and stringing sentences into stories that create life, it provides a thrill achieved by little else. Hours of frustration searching for that perfect word or phrase is worth the excitement of finally finding it. Even the hours of writer’s block are lost to those times when the pen scrawls wildly across the page, and cannot write fast enough to document all the ideas pouring out of you. It is all worth it in the end when you have rid yourself of that sense of emptiness, by doing none other than writing.
Holly Bromley br>
– Busybird Work Experience Student.
December 4, 2014
page seventeen has had a lot of varied authors featured across eleven issues – close to 400 individual writers if we wanted to sit down and count them all. That’s a lot of authors and poets – and while we may never be able to give due acknowledgement to every contributor who has ever graces the pages of page seventeen, we can try to shine a spotlight here and there as we go along.
S A Jones is one of those writers, with her article on the nature of being an author, ‘What is Writing For?’, appearing in Issue 09 of P17. For anyone interested in reading the article and the rest of Issue 09’s goodies, back issues are available through Busybird Publishing. But recently her second novel, Isabelle of the Moon and Stars, was released to critical praise. We at P17 caught up with S A Jones to have a quick chat about the novel, the article and her influences as a writer.
* * *
Describe your main influences in writing Isabelle.
Isabelle of the Moon and Stars did not have direct influences, which may be one of the reasons it was so damnably difficult to write. I had ‘anti-influences’ more than anything. My motivation derived partly from my dissatisfaction with the way mental illness is portrayed in popular culture. I wanted to see if it was possible to write honestly about the experience of depression and anxiety without falling back on the tired old tropes of ‘suicide chic’ or ‘protagonist is unbalanced but endearingly quirky’. Whether the novel is the best form for exploring an illness characterised by wearying sameness and repetition is something I’m still grappling with.
In ‘What is Writing For?’, you described the writing process as ‘psychological taxonomy’. How would you say this idea applied to you in writing a book described as both personal and historical?
Isabelle is a story about dark and light states and places: how they contrast, how they connect, how they differ across space and time. For example, part of Isabelle’s fascination with the city of Prague involves the Libussa myth. Libussa was a seer and visionary, prone to trances and altered states, who prophesied that a great city would emerge where Prague now stands. To twenty-first century sensibilities Libussa sounds quite ‘mad’, but her contemporaries recognised a power in her unconventional consciousness. Isabelle evinces some of Libussa’s ‘symptoms’ and is labelled ‘mentally unwell’. But is she any more or less sane than her boss Jack, with his reliance on inane management strategies, or her best friend Evan who runs his life according to a singular childhood experience? I’m interested in the way states (personal and geopolitical) are ‘read’ as adaptive or dysfunctional.
In the same article you also discuss the ‘addiction’ of publication and its negative effects. As a published novelist, what advice would you give to writers still seeking their first publications?
I hesitate to give advice because I’m not sure any writer outgrows their apprenticeship. I certainly haven’t. What I will say is that rejection is an endemic part of writing for publication. Rejection can be crushing and demoralising, especially when it takes years of one’s life to complete a novel. All writers need to find a way to process rejection, take what’s useful from any feedback, pick themselves up and keep writing. I generally give myself twenty-four hours to wallow after being rejected. I drink wine, cry, seek solace in the company of writing friends who know how it is and generally feel sorry for myself. Then I keep going.
Your admiration of the Brontë sisters’ works – Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre in particular – is well documented. How have these books influenced you as a writer?
Wuthering Heights is a master class in structure. When I figured out the ‘how’ of Wuthering Heights it was a revelatory moment for me. As I’ve written elsewhere:
… the duality, the symmetry, the very patterns evident in the architecture of the novel all led inexorably to one conclusion. This was no anarchic work of random genius. It was a painstakingly crafted work built on well thought through ideas, imagery and structure. Discipline, not divine intervention, created Wuthering Heights … if this book with its sublime power is the result of discipline, study, revision, trial and error then writing – even writing of genius – is a process. And that means that I can learn it.
I’ve been greatly inspired by the persistence and dedication shown by the Bronte sisters. When Charlotte Brontë asked the poet laureate Robert Southey for literary advice he told her, ‘Literature cannot be the business of a woman’s life, and it ought not to be.’ Jane Eyre is the ultimate middle figure to such nonsense.
You developed your own management strategy when writing Isabelle. Can you tell us a little about how you managed your time and how it affected your writing process?
I am very disciplined and rigid when it comes to my writing time. I have to be, as I have a demanding full-time job and a family. I must be at my desk and writing by 9am on Saturday and Sunday and I don’t move until I’ve achieved my word-count objective for the session. My time is limited and I cannot afford to wait for inspiration. Even then, it took me seven years to finish Isabelle of the Moon and Stars. I went through thirteen drafts, three points of view and junked near on 130,000 words before arriving at a version I was happy with. There were times I wondered if I’d crossed the line between admirably persistent and woefully dogmatic.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on a novel called The Fortress. It’s a radical departure from anything I’ve published before. It is about an all-female civilisation running parallel with the modern world and the experience of a man who takes a vow of total submission to enter that civilisation. The novel is interested in what male sexual submission looks like, if readers find it sexy or strange, and how a female civilisation might operate. Its Fifty Shades of Grey meets The Handmaid’s Tale at a cocktail party thrown by Anais Nin!
* * *
Isabelle of the Moon and Stars is available now from UWA Publishing.