Just an update on what my last few months have been like, writing-wise.
In late November, I completed my third year of study and attained an Associate Degree in Writing and Publishing. This was my first year at a new campus, and I only knew one other person going into it. (Ever the introvert, I know about three–four coming out of it.) Overall, a valuable way to spend my year. The course has helped me further refine my writing, editing and publishing skills. The highlights were the fantastic lecturers and the guest speakers, who came from all walks of the industry. I’m looking forward to 2014, the year I commence working towards a Bachelor of Writing and Publishing. (This will also be my final year of study, unless I go on to do a PhD.)
I’ve been a little lax about sending work out this year. Although I came away with a string of rejections (mostly the encouraging, personalised kind), the string was not as long as 2012’s. Nevertheless, here are my two recent publishing successes.
- The first was in the ninetieth issue of American literary journal, Crack the Spine. This story, ‘The Wall’ (found here), and I have been through a lot together; it had been knocked back – always with positive comments – and subsequently redrafted many, many times. I always believed in this one, so the fact that I was eventually able to place it feels like a lesson in perseverance. Notably, this marks my first international publishing credit. (Unless I count Vine Leaves – a journal that operates from Greece, but is run by two Australians.)
- The second is a vignette, written partway through last year, called ‘The Matador and the Bull’. This was selected for publication by a team of Writing and Publishing students (Bachelor students; I had no association with them) and appears in the fourth issue of the spoken-word online journal, From the Course’s Mouth. This was an interesting experience for me; I had little experience with the medium of spoken-word (other than giving a few mandatory public readings). I came into the recording studio on the scheduled day and tried to speak slowly and clearly, despite nerves. I was told I did a good job. (I bet they say that to all the girls.) All From the Course’s Mouth recordings are mixed professionally by NMIT music students. The stories are accompanied by soft, ambient music. Honestly, I can’t bring myself to listen to the final product; if I do, I’ll die of embarrassment – probably a thousand times over. But if you want to check it – and my droll Aussie accent – out, do so here. (Alternatively, ‘The Matador and the Bull’ is available to read in print here.)
Not sure I’ve blogged about this before, but editing’s a real passion of mine, and I’m told I’ve a talent for it. At the moment, I’m enjoying volunteering my services to anyone who’ll benefit from them, but I’m considering setting up a freelance editing operation down the line. This probably won’t happen until after I graduate.
Of recent note, I was one of four main editors on an ambitious class publication called Swimming, Sometimes. Unlike Deakin’s Windmills, RMIT’s visible ink, or NMIT’s [Prof. Writing and Editing publication] INfusion – each of which follow year-to-year templates – our class was given free creative reign to conceive and develop a print or online publication of our choosing. By committee, we decided upon an A4-sized standalone arts and literature magazine in the vein of Express Media’s Voiceworks. (We even used Voiceworks as a physical template.) The twist, we decided, was that we would divide the magazine into four distinct sections, each with different coloured line ink that would correspond thematically to a season. (Think Stephen King’s Different Seasons. I’ve no idea if King was an inspiration, as I wasn’t present for the initial round of decision-making.)
We split the class into groups of four–five and set to work, independently, on our respective sections. In hindsight, this was a huge mistake, as the groups seldom checked in with each other. Although we were working to a style guide, the quality of the final product is inconsistent. A few of the stories would have benefited from more rounds of intensive editing. In my opinion, there are far too many typographical errors for a professional publication of this nature. (Honestly, every one is like grit in my eyes.) Having worked as part of the editing teams on INfusion 47 and [untitled] issue five, I was disappointed by the class’s overall inattention to detail. Though it looks fantastic, Swimming, Sometimes isn’t something I’m especially proud of – nor will I be using it for its intended purpose: showcasing it to prospective employers. Having said that, it’s probably not fair for me to comment, as I largely removed myself from the processes of its creation. The class was choc-full of big personalities, and I never really felt like I had the opportunity – nor the desire – to give input. I guess that’s why I feel ambivalent about the final product. (Again, this experience contrasts to my class’s work on INfusion 47, which, to this day, I’m still very proud of.) I was pleased with the efforts made by my team – the Spring Team – on Swimming, Sometimes. We were a tight-knit unit and were always organised.
Unfortunately (or is that fortunately?), the magazine does not exist online in PDF form, so we are limited to the copies created in the initial print run. Although it won’t do justice to the incredible artwork, here are a few snaps of what Swimming, Sometimes looks like.
Photo Credit: foxinahat, 2013
This year I was a recipient of the inaugural Bachelor of Writing and Publishing Manuscript Consultation Fellowship (mouthful, huh?). This meant I was able to have my unpublished manuscript of short fiction professionally assessed by one of my lecturers. This was (or rather is, as it’s presently ongoing) an amazing opportunity. To put it into perspective, Writers Victoria (formerly the Victorian Writers’ Centre) charge a minimum of $310 for their Manuscript Assessment service (it’s a word count-dependent sliding price scale). To receive carefully considered, personalised feedback for free is a huge boon. The lecturer and I are presently around a third of the way through my collection, and already her feedback and encouragements have proven invaluable.
Although I have to kick myself in the arse for submitting less than I should’ve, I still feel this was a productive year. (I mean, for one thing, I started this super amazing blog, improving the lives of countless others.) In a way that’s hard to articulate, it feels like I’ve rounded some maturity corner. I’m a little wiser, a little braver, and I’d say I’ve a slightly better understanding of what I need to do to make a go of this whole writing thing. I’m moving into 2014 with renewed enthusiasm and confidence. Hopefully my readers are in a similar headspace. Here’s to sending out our shit and making the most of opportunities.