The good without the tantrums

It’s been a while since I have written anything; I felt my frustrated tantrums were better left off the internet. That’s not to say that good things haven’t happened. After months of applying for positions and internships I have finally gotten a bit of a break.

First off, after close to 6 months of stalling the Belconnen Arts Centre has taken me on as a volunteer. The next great thing that has happened is that the M16 Art Space has taken me on as a (contract) volunteer who will write for them for about 4-6 months. This is a major achievement! I was not expecting to be taken on by them as a writer! They are keen for me to do reviews, help out with social media and their blog. Yup, this is big. This is great for experience and for getting contacts, plus everyone at M16 I have met so far is warm and supportive.

My work with Duncan on Grapple Publishings second annual has been more and more rewarding the further I get into it. Just this Sunday he and I sat at Gus’s cafe for three hours and worked out the short list. We have selected about thirty pieces for the short list wrangled from the initial 140 submissions. It’s taken a few meeting and many weeks of reading to get down to 30. The process often gives me a rewarding feeling of having worked hard and done well.

I’ve also been steadily digging myself out of pretty nasty hole created by depression and anxiety. There is no truth to the romantic myth that depression makes artists more creative. Certainly people have made important artwork from times of darkness but when you’re in the middle of depression you’re not productive. So coming out of a difficult patch I have been much more capable of getting on with writing. I’m getting back into fiction again too.

The next awesome thing is that I am now a manuscript assessor for the ACT Writers Centre. They put a call out for more assessors, so I decided to put some faith in my abilities and apply. I’m really grateful to the ACT Writers Centre for taking me on and giving me more experience with editing.

I’m currently hunting down information about publishing internships and entry level jobs. I’m finding more resources than I thought. I somehow thought there would be very little, but some helpful people in the UK in particular have written about their experiences and offered advice. I found a striking quote from an article, Throw the book at publishing internships. It’s not a chipper article but it was a well timed reminder that I need to be on the look out for well structured internships that aren’t going to exploit me. This article is spot on when it says:

“Ability to do a job adequately should always be based on skills and competencies and never on how long someone has slaved or hawked themselves for free.”

Right on!

There is plenty in my (writers) life that is working out and I have a long over due sense that I am not far from meaningful and skilled work in the field of writing.


Essential Reading for Developing Writers

An old piece of mine from the Capital Letters blog.


— Rachael Nielsen

I don’t have a yacht and I don’t come from money.

The opposite is the assumption when I casually mention that I’ve studied at Oxford. That’s Oxford University in England, yes. (Note: you must mention something like this casually otherwise you sound pretentious). I tend to mention this summer of study and writing fiction when I’m trying to impress boys or if it is of some value to the conversation. As I’m not in a pub nor will this article circulate throughout a dating website, I’m not trying to impress you, it is the latter this time. The Forest for the Trees was required reading before I flew the twenty-six hours to England. It is one of the best books on the process and life of writing, and thus goes on my list for developing writers. This book, as well as the others I will mention, is…

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The well regarded and the brave: a winter recommended reading list


Words by Rachael Nielson

I buy most of my books online and read reviews before purchasing. I’m eyeing off Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham, A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride, and The Prince Lestat by Anne Rice. For those of you who, like me, enjoy a recommendation before buying a book, I have put together a currated list of well regarded contemporary and classic books for a variety of reading moods this season.

A Challenge  

You want to use your intellect during weekends in the blue mountains in amongst bush walking and antiquing. Going on a mini break doesn’t mean you’re not up for an emotional and ideological awakening.

candycoverCandy by Luke Davies
Luke Davies has mastered breezy prose and spot on slang. He builds a sense of place which is tangible and often lacking from contemporary literature. Candy gives the…

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“Myth #1: A good writer doesn’t need an editor.”

I’m experiencing a lush mania for researching the roles and types of editors out there. I found a warm, useful little article from Huffington Post regarding myths about editors.

“There’s a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about editors and what they do. Here are seven of those myths that I’d like to clean up:

Myth #1: A good writer doesn’t need an editor.

In these days of self-publication and “service” publishers — who take a percentage of sales for letting the author do all of the work — you hear this a lot. “I’ve slaved over this manuscript for years. I checked it through a hundred times. Microsoft Word’s Spelling and Grammar comes up clean. It’s ready for publication.”

Want an example of a professional book from a world-class author who convinced her publishers to put out the book as-is, without a deep developmental edit (see #3 below)? Look at J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Pretty good book, and it’s sold millions of copies, absolutely — but it’s at least a hundred pages longer than it needs to be. There’s needless repetition, uneven pacing, and side-plots that go nowhere. You’ll notice that the previous and subsequent books in the bestselling series were much shorter and much tighter. Rowling worked more closely with her editors.”

Digging myself out of a dark, long, bewildering year of being lost as an artist

You know how I talk often in those posts about losing hope and gaining a bit of it back…. well mostly finding my way as a “creative” has been miserable (growth comes from pain -_-). But this is the most jazzed up I have felt in….. years.

It was simple but pivotal. I picked up a copy of the 2015 ACT/NSW jobs guide and had a read of the description on ‘Editors.’ The information on Book Editors excited me the most out of any of the occupations I looked up. It was right about then that I wanted to let out a primal scream of victory FINALLY! tangible facts about jobs for creative types!

This book has started to dig me out of the dark descent I have been spiraling into over this long, bewildering year.


And I’ve continued to grow excited about the roles of editor through my work with Grapple publishing on the second Annual. I’ve also managed to find useful information about jobs prospects. I’m wanting to gauge my (increasing) interest in this career path with information about what most likely awaits me. I’ve already had a searing lesson in doing otherwise. But to be fair, it often takes a lot of time to work out our career paths.

I’m cautiously ecstatic about the new direction. Most of all I’m thrilled energy is coming back to me and I’m naturally finding myself directed towards gaining more editing experience and hunting down internships with publishing houses.

Missing words

I often wake up and look forward to doing my CIT homework. Currently my favourite class is Colour Theory. We are making a huge number of our own colour swatches from only yellow, blue (cyan), and red (magenta). It’s a great,  practical way to learn about how colour works. But I also miss words. I’m not engaging with them any less, but my focus and perception of my future is different.

I’m starting from the beginning again in a way; soon I will be building up portfolios, trying to get recognised, collecting contacts in the design industry. It’s been a bit humiliating to be starting over because my degree that took me five years is unrecognised. Those years of study and adoration for the conventions of Victorian fears imbedded in literature feels wasted. I always have what I know and I might find a way to use my knowledge in an unpaid manner, but that direction of learning seems a little dimmer. I’m doing something not totally unrelated, design is still in the field of the arts as writing is, but the skills I previously honed I’m sad to not be continuing to develop in a formal or paid manner.

I can be too concrete about my future, wrapping too much of my identity in what I do. None of us are only made up of what we do for a day job, but being a writer (and future publisher/editor) has been who I thought I was for many years. I miss it. The slowly solidifying dream of working for a literary/feminist/philosophical publication aches. In part it also aches because a question was posed to me about what kind of jobs in the art sector I want. I wasn’t sure how to answer as I don’t have a lot of clues about what jobs exist and what skills beyond admin are needed. But the question has beckoned me to dream into that dim space. From it I feel I should keep pushing forward in the writing/publishing world as well as see what develops from Interior Design. I don’t have to be one thing with one direction.


Talks to get you through your quarter life crisis

Oh I have had one of these! I’m probably still in it. I highly recommend these Ted talks to absolutely all twenty-somethings. The third video was especially impactful. It’s a bit confronting but it think it essentially advocates exploring (not procrastinating) and thinking about your future in a wise way (not putting off thinking about it). This has semi terrified me into action; into persisting with looking for internships and work/career options.