Today I want to talk more about how scary it is being an emerging writer. A lot of people know me as a poet. Very few people know me as someone who writes fiction. Creating a name for myself in a new field is challenging. While I’m mostly focused on creating new work, I’m also learning new skills, refining old skills, making mistakes and trying to work out how to get my stuff in front of an audience. For example, I won NaNoWriMo again this year. I now have one and a half novels and, while I’m still editing the first one, I have 25,000 words left to write for the new one.
I wrote 50,000 words in November while working full time. I neglected this blog because I thought (rightly so, I think) that my time was better spent writing my novel. I had days where I didn’t write at all. There were intense days where I wrote too much. I had to write 10,000 words in 4 days at one point, in order to catch back up.
When NaNoWriMo ended in 2017, I kept writing anyway. I continued writing 2000 words a day. That hasn’t happened this time. My second novel is at 59,000 words (my goal is 85,000 words), and, since NaNoWriMo ended, I have only written 9,000 words.
Despite this being my second time doing NaNoWriMo, I’ve still struggled for motivation. Work is busy. I’m burnt out and tired. I’ve found I’ve been listening a lot more to the advice of more experienced writers, especially when it comes to balancing my writing with work. Some of these resources have also helped me get over the fear of breaking into the industry and having my voice heard. I find a lot of my fear is because the business of being a writer is unknown. There are so many resources available now that help debunk some of that mystery. I’ve noticed a big shift in the industry where authors are more open to talking about their journeys and financial situations. Here are some of the resources that have helped me:
Centre for Stories “Conversations”
I listened to this podcast with Michelle Johnston and Dawn Barker recently and it covers a lot of helpful topics, such as finding time to write between family and your job, dealing with criticism, and getting your first novel published. The Centre for Stories also publishes the Between the Lines series, which interviews Australian writers to “uncover the hidden processes, research, and inspiration that goes into the making of a book” (n.d., Centre for Stories, para 1). Check out some of their latest posts with Angela Meyer and Yvonne Fein. I also suggest the series, “In Australia I will be…”, which is a collaboration with the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP). Four students worked with the Centre for Stories to document their own experiences as migrants integrating into our culture. It’s an eye opening read.
One thing to note is that the Centre for Stories website can be little less intuitive to use if you’re looking at reading content and listening to podcasts instead of looking at what events they’re running. All you need to know is that you can find all the online content under the “stories” tab.
The First time podcast
The first time podcast is all about writer’s first times…publishing a book. It was created by Katherine Collette and Kate Mildenhall as they were working towards their debut novels. Mildenhall and Collette interview authors about their first times, with recent topics including using Patreon as a side business, a guide to handling publicity once you’ve published a book, what you need to know about touring festivals, and how money works. It’s a great overview of the industry and worth subscribing to.
Annabel Smith’s “How to become a writer” series
Annabel’s Smith’s “How to become a writer series” is a very honest account of the business of being a writer. Smith interviews other writers about the steps they took on the way to publishing a book. It’s a refreshing reminder that everyone’s journey is different and there’s no right way to break into the industry. The series was named after Lorrie Moore’s book “How to become a writer” (which is also worth a read). If you haven’t been following Smith’s blog, you can start reading the series from the first post, which is here.
I’m also going to give a shoutout here to Smith’s “What to expect when you’re expecting a book” series, which covers topics like being edited, understanding social media, and understanding that the rollercoaster ride of feelings is completely normal. Smith’s “How writer’s earn money” series is also a very honest explanation of how money works in the industry. Smith includes a breakdown of her own income and uses graphs to help readers make sense of the numbers.
Australian Writer’s Centre “So you want to be a writer” podcast
This podcast is a very useful guide to the industry and, like The First Time podcast, it includes interviews with Australian authors. In recent episodes they talk about how to afford an editor, and how to know that your manuscript is finished. One of my favourite episodes is with DM Cameron where she talks about the amount of edits she did to finish her first novel, Beneath the Mother Tree. Cameron did an edit for each of the five senses. I’m reading her book now and the result is a very engaging and immersive novel.
Curtin’s China Australia writing Centre podcasts (CAWC)
The China Australia Writing Centre is a collaborative venture between Curtin University in Perth and Fudan University in Shanghai. The centre provides space to showcase Chinese writing in Australia and Australian writing in China. Their podcast provides an interesting dialogue of both country’s approaches to writing.
The Australian Society of Authors resources
The ASA have some great resources that are free for members, including “Australian copyright vs Indigenous intellectual and cultural property”, and “An introduction to digital self-publishing”. Their resource kit is also discounted for members and includes a DIY Marketing Starter Park and a guide to getting published.
If you aren’t a member, you sign up for a discounted price through the ASA’s Christmas Advent Calendar Promotion.
Australian Writer’s Marketplace
Australian Writer’s Marketplace used to be a book of resources for writers. The book focused on contacts, such as the email addresses for agents, magazines and journals. An updated version was published every year, but this was discontinued some time ago. Now the marketplace is a constantly updated website with one single upfront membership fee. The subscribers only area includes writing advice which provides a great overview of most peoples burning questions. It’s only $25 to subscribe.
Fremantle Press and “The business of being a writer”
Fremantle Press are running a seminar as part of the 2019 Writer’s Week, called “The business of being a writer”. The seminar will be run 12.30 – 4pm on Saturday the 23rd of February and costs $25. The seminar includes authors Liz Byrski, Gail Jones, Alice Nelson, Australia Council Director of Literature Wenona Byrne, screen director Alison James, Black Swan State Threatre Company Literary Director Polly Pow and Red Room Poetry Diretor Tamryn Bennett, among many others. The workshop includes information about grants, residencies, awards, and tools for developing an author profile.
Also check out Fremantle Press’s blog series on tips for writers.
So that’s it. I’m also going to include a shoutout for Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. I’m currently working my way through the book and it has helped me uncover a lot of demons from my past that fed some unhealthy beliefs about creativity and the writing industry. The book is hard to find in stores, but you can order it from Book Depository.
Centre for Stories (n.d.) Between the Lines. Centre for Stories. Retrieved from http://www.centreforstories.com/between-the-lines/