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Sam van Zweden

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getting published

Guest Post on The Emerging Writer Online Journal

Today I’ve got a piece up over on the Emerging Writer Online Journal. It reflects on the process of coming to see myself as a nonfiction writer, and how the recent NonFictioNow Conference made me think even more.

The Emerging Writer Online Journal is a fantastic opportunity for emerging writers. Karen, who edits the journal, is keen to hear pitches for just about anything concerning writing, the writer’s life, process… Etc. It’s a great way of getting your name out there, of having a paid writing gig, and of building up your publication folio. I can’t recommend this organization highly enough, so go make the most of their generosity!

On Killings

Today the lovely folk at Killings (the Kill Your Darlings blog) have been kind enough to publish an article of mine. It looks at the discomfort I felt when confronted by honest, humble musicians in a ridiculously large arena, and with a stupid amount of fame.

You can read that article here. Big thanks to Ronnie Sullivan for her eyes pre-publication, and to Imogen Kandel’s patience and commitment to providing quality editorial.

Emerging Blogger, Coming Through!

An exciting announcement! I’ve been accepted as one of the Emerging Bloggers for the Melbourne Writers’ Festival (in partnership with Emerging Writers’ Festival). Myself and four other bloggers have been granted the amazing opportunity to go along to the Festival and soak up all the writerly and readerly vibes, and blog about it all. So fear not, I’ll be taking you with me all the way!

Below is the piece I submitted to apply for this opportunity. I hope you enjoy it, and I’m looking foward to sharing the Festival with you here. Keep an eye out before the festival for my picks, and if you’re a Festival attendee and you need a date, hit me up. We can hang.

Only Connect: 

Think about the last really good book you read. Really good books grab hold of something inside us and don’t let go. The best books are the ones that are close to impossible to articulate in terms of why they are so great.

Give it a go – in that last great book you read, what about it stuck with you? Was it the author’s use of rhythm, alliteration or pastiche? If you’re a really critical reader, perhaps you do take note of the author’s knack with minimalism, or their broad use of literary allusion. But you remember these things because they provoke some sort of feeling inside you.

While we may live in a post-modern world, where the author is dead and reading any cultural artefact becomes a individualist free-for-all, good books don’t exist in a vaccuum. Good books come about through that invisible bond between the reader and the writer. By spinning this story and sending it out into the world, the author has followed EM Forster’s mandate to “only connect!”. There is a lot of wisdom in the idea that a reader’s experience impacts the meaning that they draw from a text, but that text doesn’t come from nowhere.

I’ve just finished reading Charlotte Wood’s Love and Hunger. The book is a foodie memoir, made up partly of Wood’s memories of foods and the stories that go with certain foods for her, and partly of recipes that go with the stories she tells. Upon finishing this book, I needed to sit in silence for a while, having had something inside me moved. I needed to be still and interrogate my emotions to figure out what about this book had so grabbed hold of me. I realized that the reason I was so affected by Love and Hunger was because of my own closeness to food, with two chefs in my immediate family. The bond that Wood makes clear between food and stories is something I relate to entirely. In reading this memoir, I felt a connection with the author, despite never meeting, never talking, never interacting beyond the pages of her book.

Finding a good book involves handing yourself over entirely to what you’re reading, trusting the author’s attempt to connect with their readers, and doing your part as a reader by interrogating your emotions. Turn inward and look inside yourself for the answer; the connection.

Further…

Further to this morning’s post about how money’s not everything, I thought I’d call attention to this: the Emerging Writers’ Festival just posted a HEAP of information about pay rates for various publications. Included in this information is not just monetary rewards, but also a column for “Other Benefits”, which includes a lot of the stuff I mentioned this morning.

As stated on the EWF blog, this information will soon be up as a searchable database, but I thought it was worth calling attention to now. Great, fabulous, wonderful initiative.

She Works Hard for the Money (But There’s So Much More)

Something that’s come up multiple times across the Emerging Writers’ Festival is the idea that we shouldn’t be so focused on money, and I’ve really appreciated that people are raising this point. I think it’s really important.

While there’s definitely space to be concerned about being ripped off, there’s also a need to get some perspective. As an emerging writer, I’ve had to do a fair amount of writing/working for free- but I don’t feel ripped off at all, because what I’m getting out of those experiences goes beyond money.

For example, interning – I’ve met countless wonderful people, learned about what I’m actually capable of as a person, discovered new possibilities for myself and my career as a writer. Interning is one of those experiences that can potentially pay itself off non-monetarily, in things like networking opportunities and transferable skills. You know those skills that everyone wants, but that are impossible to get without getting a job? Interning’s a great way to get those skills!

Last night at the Industry Insider panel on Indie Publishing, Sophie Black (from Crikey) made note of the fact that she appreciates that low pay-rates need to be subsidized by giving the piece(s) the time they deserve editorially, helping to make them the best pieces they can be, and arming the writer with new skills and knowledge beyond just getting paid.

So while it’s important to value your work, and make sure you’re getting what you deserve for it, also be aware that what you get for your work might not just be about money. With so many indie publishing places hard-up for cash, it’s not always going to be possible to get a high pay-rate for your work. That’s not to say that these places should be turned down or not considered – “What you deserve” might include transferable skills, networking opportunities, a forum for your work, or extra attention to making your work the best it can be. Look past the money, with the bigger picture in mind, and look at what an opportunity really has to offer you.

Opportunities a Plenty

Being involved with EWF more closely this year has opened my eyes to the amazing amount of opportunities they have available for writers, outside the festival itself. There’s a bunch of deadlines coming up, so I thought I’d just do a heads-up for anyone that might be interested in these opportunities. I’d encourage people to apply, because EWF’s a fanastically supportive atmosphere, and a wonderful starting point. Having this stuff on your resume is so helpful, and in terms of experience it’s priceless. And some of these are lucrative. Woot.

–> The Monash University Undergraduate Prize for Creative Writing. Most prizes are almost impossible for an undergraduate emerging writer to win. They either require a publication history, or a whole book, or a completed manuscript, or… a bunch of stuff a lot of undergrads just don’t have. The Monash Prize has a large bundle of money to give to its winners, it’s for previously unpublished writers (see website for specs on this), and entries are reasonably short pieces of writing. Winners are also being published as an ebook by Penguin. Entries close April 23rd.

–> Words In Winter Writer’s Residency. A two-week writing residency at “a high-profile CBD location”. The theme is a future of writing, which is a pretty hot topic at the moment. If you’re concerned with digital story-telling, blogging, ebooks, self-publishing, or anything that’s wrapped up in the idea of the “future of writing”, then apply for this residency. There’s ten spots available, and EWF’s offering a publishing opportunity post-residency. Applications close April 20th.

–> Australian Poetry’s fantastic Cafe Poets program is launching their next round as part of the EWF in May. The program puts poets in cafes as writers-in-residence, giving the poet a space to work, free coffee, and an outlet: contact with the public. Applications close April 24th.

With all these opporunities available, you’ve got no excuse not to make stuff happen. Give it a go! Entries for all these close very soon, so get writing!

Verity La Post

The lovely gentlemen at Verity La published a poem of mine today, called Sail. I wrote it quite some time ago, inspired by the deluge that took over Melbourne mid last Winter. Given that we’re getting to that time of year again, it’s fitting that it’s been published just now.

You should check it out, it looks lovely. They do such a great job, so thanks guys!

Guest Post at Liticism

The lovely Bethanie Blanchard over at Liticism hosted a guest post from me today… Head over and read it, stick around for Bethanie’s past posts, and visit in future for the awesome that Bethanie brings. Here’s my post.

Run! Don’t Walk!

The lovely Phuong-Nghi from Run! Don’t Walk! interviewed me for their new column, “Fresh Meat”, where they talk to Melbourne’s “maddening young talent”. There’s a sample of my writing as an eight year-old, a Douglas Adams/Philip K. Dick face-off, and a discussion of whether writers need to engage in all the digital stuff.

Run! Don’t Walk! is a brand-new website run by young creative people from Melbourne. They write, draw, view, and absorb all that the world has to offer, and I admire their work for its considered approach to things – it’s young people showing that they have brains and know how to work ’em.

My interview here. Thanks to Phuong-Nghi for having me.

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