Month: April 2017
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Busybird Publishing is always interested in trying to be socially conscious.
Our anthologies were initially designed to give new and emerging writers exposure. Our books will usually give a portion of proceeds to a charity and/or foundation, and/or will help to raise awareness for a cause. We run workshops on photography, writing, and publishing, and we’re always happy to answer questions – especially if it helps inexperienced authors (or authors who aren’t that knowledgeable about the publishing industry) to avoid pitfalls, such as unscrupulous businesses who’ll try to exploit that author’s inexperience for money.
We also try to be community-minded, fostering our studio – here in the heart of Montmorency, Victoria – as a creative hub. One of the ways we do that is through our monthly Open Mic Night, held the third Wednesday of every month from February – November.
Some people will frown. A number of writers will scrunch up their faces, and find nothing more distasteful than reading in public. Ewww! Why ever would you do that? Most writers think all they have to do is write, publish, and their books will march off the shelves to the adulation of the public.
Maybe it works that way if you’re Stephen King, JK Rowling, or some other bestselling author with an established fan base, but if you’re just starting out, or even if you’re published but still establishing a readership, letting the world know of your existence – not to mention your writing’s existence – is a necessity. That means you’ll always be hustling: doing interviews, giving talks, and performing readings.
Now here’s what Open Mic can do for you:
- Give you experience reading in public. Sure, it might be terrifying – at least at first. But the audiences at our Open Mic Nights are always friendly, nurturing, and supportive.
- Show you how your material connects with an audience. You might believe something you’ve written is brilliant. But there’s no better gauge than seeing how an audience respond.
- You get to network. Yes, writing is an insular vocation, but you will – at some point – need to rely on others. You could meet another writer with whom you can exchange work for feedback. You could meet an editor who can help you, or even a publisher who’s interested in looking at your work on the strength of your reading. You could meet prospective readers, who want more of your work. If you have a book (or books), you could sell copies. (We’re always happy for people to do that at our Open Mic Nights.)
- You could make friends. Again: writing = insular vocation. There’s nothing more invaluable than making friends who understand your dreams and frustrations and all that.
There’s a lot to gain from Open Mic Night. So if you’re writer, think about the way reading could be beneficial to you.
Of course, Open Mic Night isn’t just for writers. We get asked that often: If I come, do I have to read? Like the moment somebody walks in, we hook a cane around their neck and haul them to the podium, a spotlight blaring in their eyes. Open Mic Night is about entertainment. It’s about fun. It’s about culture. It’s about being ‘open’. So if you just want to come along and sit in the audience, that’s perfectly fine, too. And it’s a great alternative to staying at home, watching television, or dawdling around on the net, procrastinating. Have an inexpensive night out, enjoy the readings, chat with people before and after the Open Mic section begins.
Busybird’s Open Mic Night costs just $5.00 entry. That covers a raffle door prize, the refreshments that are provided (a great assortment of nibblies and beverages), with a small amount going to the pool that constitutes the Busybird Creative Fellowship – a fellowship we award an inexperienced writer, designed to help with their development, and nurture and guide their formative steps into the industry.
The next Open Mic Night is Wednesday night, 19th April, beginning at 7.00pm and running until 9.00pm. No bookings are required. If you want to read or perform, just come in and write your name on the booking sheet – a warning, though: the final order is randomised by our emcee Blaise, so don’t think putting your name last means you’ll read last. We also randomise the order to mix up what you get.
If you have any queries, feel free to email us or call us on (03) 9434 6365.
We hope to see you all there!
April 6, 2017
But memoir doesn’t work like that – and this applies if you’re writing autobiography, a biography of somebody else, or a family, community, or business history. Yes, the facts are all there. But that doesn’t make for story – at least not usually.
If you’re going to write memoir, you need to work out what your story is. No, it can’t just be everything that’s happened to you in your life, no matter how interesting and exciting that is, e.g. you might’ve been born in a warzone, raised by wolves, educated by poachers, escaped to be brought up by nuns, recruited from tertiary education by MI6, foiled terrorist plans time and time again, got married, had a kid, donated a lung, became a teacher, grew old, planted a rose garden, and in a nursing home wrote your memoirs.
Amazing, right? It’s the story of your life.
Well, no. It is your life but that doesn’t make for story. It makes for a bunch of stuff that happened.
You need to find what your story is going to be.
Recently, I watched the Hoges miniseries – about iconic Australian comic and actor Paul Hogan – and I was struck by how aimless it was. Yes, it seemed all the important bits in Hogan’s life were documented. And some of it was interesting. But it went nowhere, just following Hogan from one episode in his life to the next. The makers of the miniseries must’ve been aware of this issue structurally, as they bookended the miniseries with Hogan performing a routine for loved ones, looking back at his life, and being at peace with what he’d done. This was meant to give it a sense of completion, but it was artificially contrived – particularly since Hogan never really sought completion as a goal, and always seemed relatively content with where he was at pretty much every stage of his life. So how can you find something you’re neither looking for, or need?
Compare that to, for example, Never Tear Us Apart: The Untold Story of INXS. Here, we saw how INXS struggled playing pub gigs, grew to become the biggest rock band in the world, how it began to unravel, before culminating with Michael Hutchence’s death. There’s a clear journey there – the rise and fall of this great Australian band, and what each of the band members went through on that journey. We have a clear, beginning, middle, and end, a clear direction the story has taken and a logical completion to the story of this band’s life (or, at least, a completion of this chapter).
Open, the autobiography of tennis champion Andre Agassi, doesn’t have a rise and fall. It looks at how much of Agassi’s life was about people making his decisions for him – his father decided he’d play tennis and drove him; social status compelled him to try and maintain this glamorous image; his trainer nurtured him and took care of him. But Agassi ended the story by growing up, learning to be his own person, reconciling tennis’s place in his life, and using his experiences and resources philanthropically. It is effectively the story of Agassi growing comfortable in himself, and becoming his own person, rather than the one everybody else wanted him to be.
Your story has to be about something. If you’re coming out of a bad relationship and now working as a life coach, it might be about how you married thinking it would be for life, how it unravelled, and how you emerged from the hardship and learned to coach others. If you’re somebody who’s suffered from neurosis for a lifetime, it might be how you learned to deal with neurosis and come to a point you can now cope. If you’re a business owner, it might be about how you’ve run businesses, your successes and failures, and how those experiences have qualified you now to help others with their business.
With all these examples, there’s a beginning, middle, and end, rather than just a rambling discourse that goes on indefinitely.
So, if you’re writing memoir, think about the story you want to tell.