a new milestonE
Last Friday I officially completed the first year of my degree Graduate Diploma in Secondary Education. After I attended my last class and submitted my last assignment for the year, a strange feeling descended. A mingling of awe at how quickly the year had passed and joy that I was halfway through my qualification.
Embarking at the beginning of the year to study this on a part time basis seemed so huge and daunting. I found myself floundering slightly in first semester, and hit my stride halfway through the year.
The placements I have undertaken teaching Year 9 Humanities have been a revelation. I was nervous about whether I would enjoy teaching things other than creative writing and found to my surprise that I love the process of sharing knowledge and learning new things myself.
I now have time over summer to focus on my first love-writing. After failing on numerous occasions this year I am embarking again on the adventure called affectionally Nano, National Novel Writing in a Month. While I don't expect to complete a book in the time frame, my commitment will be to write every day 1,000 words and to complete at least 30,000 words. This is one goal that I might fail, but I figure that as long as I valiantly try I will succeed beyond my wildest expectations.
I have my buddies lined up to keep me on track and I've decided that I'm going to employ the biggest tool in my arsenal to achieve this goal-public accountability and shame. To that end I will be updating my blog EVERY single day with my word count. And if I haven't achieved it, I will be justifying to myself and (technically) the world (although the world won't read my blog, just a few of you select and treasured readers) as to why I haven't written my words for the day.
So wish me luck and come and join me if you like. I've signed up on Nano under my own name (public accountability and shame again) so let's buddy up and try to do this. Nano is like my white whale. The elusive beast I have been trying to capture for too many years to admit. I'm going to work my butt off to make this the year I do it.
How to know when to move on
Sometimes the only way to move forward is to stop looking back. I blogged a few months about finding an extract of unfinished novel I had forgotten about and it caught hold of me. It seemed amazing to me that I had written 25,000 words and forgotten about it. I kept thinking about how I could make this manuscript work. How could I re-write it, with minimal time of course, and look at sending it out into the world in some way.
The temptation of self publishing made this idea a worthwhile possibility. If nothing happened out in the world then perhaps I could produce it myself into a beautifully packaged publication. But every time I opened the file and re-read the extract I found power in the writer I was 7 years ago, however my expectations and writing ability have changed. To try and do anything with this manuscript would involve pulling it apart, basically start again. And then if I did do that, how much of what I wrote originally had any validity.
Then I needed to weigh up the time I had to invest in this project versus the possible gains. The equation did not match up. While I could self publish anything of mine today and perhaps make a buck or two from it based on the my achievements to date, would this work speak well for me? If I self published something sub-par, that I didn’t believe in, how could I expect a reader to want to buy it and read it? And if they did and were disappointed the power of negative reviews could damage what I’ve built up so far.
I kept going back and forth like this for quite a few months. Feeling like I couldn’t let go of it because there was something of potential there, but wondering whether I should start at all.
Then I began thinking about the story itself. What was this novel about? And that’s when I realised what my decision was. I began this novel a long time ago and what I wanted to say with it then, is not something I want to say today. I’ve grown as a writer and as a person and need to work new projects that reflect that.
So I created a RIP folder and placed this project inside of that. Now I’m free to focus on new projects. Things I’ve had on the go for the past few months while I’ve been studying and can now dedicate myself to. There’s such a relief in arriving at this decision and not torturing myself any further. Time to look forward.
Today's guest post is by my husband Fikret Pajalic on a talk he attended by journal editors Blaise van Hecke and Les Zigomanis.
Last night I attended a talk by the publishers and editors of 'Untitled' and 'Page 17' literary journals, Blaise and Les for Busybird Publishing and Design at Caroline Springs library.
Blaise and Les shared with us their enormous wealth of invaluable information on how they got into writing and more specifically into publishing and editing side of the industry. They concentrated mostly (to our collective delight) on how to get published and on editing as well.
In almost two hours they gave us great tips of what to do and what not to do, lots of advice worth in gold (seriously, if you get published you get paid, every writer's dream). They answered heaps of questions with patience and great detail.
Both Blaise and Les were immensely charismatic with great rapport and energy flowing between them and then to us. They sat at our table and presented their stuff in very easy going, easy to understand manner, approachable and precise. I really like that there was none of the preachy attitude, but rather, 'we're here to help you' kind of a talk. It was a wonderful night and I am so glad I made an effort to see Blaise and Les from Busybird Publishing.
If you ever get a chance to attend one of their workshops/talks I strongly recommend you go. You won't be disappointed. In fact I guarantee you will walk away richer for the experience.
I also purchased the last issues of 'Untitled' and 'Page 17' magazines at discounted prices (Thanks Blaise) and am looking forward to reading them.
I would like to thank Blaise and Les for taking time to come to talk to us and to Emily Wark from Caroline Springs Library for organising this magnificent event.
MY WEEK WITHOUT FACEBOOK
I’ve been feeling a bit off Facebook and social media for a few months now. Every morning I would spend at least half an hour trolling through status updates, then keep going back intermittently during the day.
And while yes some gold was discovered in the form of publication opportunities and industry news, a lot of the time I felt a bit flat. If I was having a bad week and didn’t feel I had achieved my goals, seeing other positive status updates made me feel deflated and even worse.
While I realised that all of us present our shiny versions of ourselves through social media, I know I did it, this realisation doesn’t help when you’re in the grips of the grey cloud.
Then last week something changed. I did not want to be a masochist anymore and put myself in the path of more pain. And just like that I stopped. I stopped going to Facebook and Twitter.
I didn’t think I would last. I thought I would drift back to my wasteful ways, but then something interesting happened. I got more productive. In the time I would have wasted on Facebook I did all those things I’ve been putting off for months, like rearranging my office.
The more I achieved my goals, the more motivated I felt. Not reading other status updates about people’s achievements or word counts or news made me focus on just me. I wasn’t competing anymore with anyone. It was just about achieving my personal best.
So I’m going to stay off for awhile. I’m not going to set any goals or timelines. I’m just going to take a time out and enjoy the golden silence that I need at the moment. I need to go inside myself and focus on the important things, my writing, rather than getting caught up with my ‘media presence,’ checking my blog hits and status likes.
I’ll still be blogging intermittently, and I will be back on social media, just not yet.
Amra Pajalić is an award-winning author, an editor and teacher who draws on her Bosnian cultural heritage to write own voices stories for young people, who like her, are searching to mediate their identity and take pride in their diverse culture. She writes memoir, young adult and romance under the pen name Mae Archer.
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