Getting “The Break”

Metal_movable_typeRecently I was waking up and checking my emails while still feeling blurry when I saw a job going at the ANU Press for a Digital Editor. The role of Digital Editor job is something I aspire to but not something I feel fully qualified for. I don’t have loads of experience with editing nor a lot of formal education concerning it outside my writing degree. But one of the best ways to get both experience and education can be through internships. This gave me the idea to email them about volunteer opportunities.

I decided to be push myself to be a little braver and give them plenty of information about myself, my education and my goals as well as my CV straight away. I figure I am more likely to get a look in if I’m upfront about who I am, what I want and why. Perhaps because of this I got an email the next day from the ANU Press inviting me to have coffee and talk about opportunities happening at the Press.

I read this email while I was out with my best friend Cat, and was pretty close to screaming into the cold wind with victory. If I am offered a volunteer position and introduced to the real workings of publishing (not just fetching coffees and filing) then this really could be my break! This could be a fantastic learning experience that could help get me a position in a publishing house. This is the break I have been trying to get for well over 6 months. After a lot of getting no where and unanswered emails I am finally getting some traction!

Speaking of getting some where, tomorrow I start at the M16 Art Space. I’m nervous but also excited to be getting into writing for them. It looks like they want me to help them out with social media, their blog as well as write reviews of exhibitions. It will be interesting to see what the structure will be like and start orientating myself.

I don’t believe its as easy or unproblematic as pimping ourselves out for free for long enough to get that “perfect” writing job, but I do believe in gratitude to the people who are willing to give artists proper internships, jobs and experience in the industry. It’s been beyond hard getting out of Uni and finding that there were no jobs for a creative writer who wanted to just write fiction and that being a writer and selling short stories isn’t an art that can solely support me, but after much despair and depression I am finding a niche for myself. I’m finding where my skills can fit and how I can get a realistic income out of what I learned at Uni.

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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.