I was quite chuffed when Blaise asked me to write this week’s blog. I’m three months into my six month internship here at Busybird Publishing. I find myself looking forward to Wednesdays, not only so I get to spend some time with Oscar, the dog, but because it’s a place where I am given freedom to learn and create under the guidance of the experienced and talented Busybird team.
So how did I get here? Well, a few years ago I turned forty – I know, right! I realised I’d reached the age that in my younger years, I had proclaimed with great conviction that I would retire. Ambitious or naïve, either way I was determined, so I worked hard and did my best but, spoiler alert – I’m not retired. Despite that, I believe the journey I am on now, is the next best thing. Whilst I enjoy discovering new technology and educating people in the IT corporate world where I have been for the past twenty years, and I have daily opportunities for business writing, I realised it was time to start a new adventure in the literary world.
My writing life started when I was young, but it was on that milestone birthday, I made a decision to seek it out and follow it. So, I started with a short course, blurted out a first draft (which I continue to write and rewrite), joined writing organisations and writers groups and through those connections started this internship. Three and a half years down the track, I feel I am still at the beginning, but I am happy to be walking this writing-life pathway experiencing new and exciting prospects – and I’m so glad I started.
I won’t lie, it’s not been easy and at times it can be hard to keep the motivation going. I continue to work four days a week and have a family to look after, whilst perusing this path. But, I truly believe we all carve out the time to do the things we love. Whether it be exercising, reading, cooking or walking the dog. I also know this busyness of working two jobs will not go on forever and one will begin to wind down whilst the other ramps up. When I struggle with motivation, I reach out to my writing community.
Recently, I volunteered to be part of the event team at the Emerging Writers Festival (EWF), a not-for-profit organisation whose focus is on writers, particularly new writers. Their artistic vision is: “We develop, nurture and promote Australia’s new writing talent, creating platforms for connecting writing communities and their audiences.” Under this umbrella they run two artistic programming streams: “to provide opportunities for emerging writers to develop professionally; and to support emerging writers to engage new and larger audiences.”
This year the EWF is in its 15th year. It was held in Melbourne and from 19-29 June 2018 it had over 70 events on offer, held from early morning to late in the evening at several locations including the State Library, The Wheeler Centre, Deakin Edge, a number of different bars and other great locations.
The EWF Program is vast, as are the speakers and topics covered. With Lunchtime Lit sessions, the Speakeasy, performances, one off-events and the National Writers Conference that runs over two days at the State Library there is something for everyone. Many festival events are free and some are provided at a cost, such as Master Classes and Writers Night School. I highly recommend taking the time to research the speakers and topics and ensure they are the right match for you to ensure you have the best experience.
As a volunteer, I was required to attend a mandatory information session at The Wheeler Centre that covers all the information needed to volunteer, what to do and how to do it. From there it’s all about enjoying the experience. So, I picked up my lanyard and EWF Team t-shirt and was allocated three shifts over the ten day festival. The EWF staff encourages volunteers to enjoy as many events as possible, and when rostered on, if an EWF staff member says it’s okay, volunteers are free to watch.
I was lucky enough to be rostered onto the Writers Night School: Romance Writing with Alli Sinclair, and have a EWF staff member give me the okay to watch. Although I write crime fiction, I was able to take away with some great writing tips and meet and share experiences with a highly motivated, energetic and successful author. Alli was able to provide great advice and reconfirm my belief in the importance of being part of a writing community and building relationships.
Volunteering is a great way to build experience and build relationships. I find if I’m not happy to volunteer, then I’m not on the right path and I definitely won’t be able to go the distance. This writing path is different to most other paths I’d travelled that often had signage and a path (or at least someone) to follow. Here, it’s totally up to me which path I take – I can even create my own.
So as I walk, I discover writing can sometimes be a solitary path, often on rough, unexplored terrain. But it can also be one filled with people and support – who knows where I will end up? But, isn’t that half the fun? It’ll be just like creating a character, I think I know what they’re going to do and where they’ll end up – but they always seem to surprise me, and show me a better and far more interesting journey.