I’m just going to throw it right out there and say that I can’t think of an interesting intro to this month’s update. So, continuing the trend from my last monthly update, here’s a Harry Potter-related picture of the most recent global holiday/occasion.
Happy Valentine’s <3 Gilderoy. Image via Pottermore.
So festive. Anyway, here’s what’s been happening for me throughout January and the first half of February.
What I’m doing
In all the excitement of putting together a 2015 reading recap in my last post, I forgot to announce that I finally have my very own professional website! Yay! You can find it at www.clairebradshaw.com.au.
It’s full of info about the freelance writing and editing services I offer, as well as the work I’m currently doing and have done in the past. There’s also a link to a little portfolio of my writing, and a handy contact form you can use if you want to work with me. :)
(Side note: I also got some very cute business cards in January. I feel like such a fancy business lady.)
Ahh, that word: ‘internship’. It comes with all sorts of confusing connotations, especially when you’ve got a head full of worries about making/saving money and being a Real Adult With A Proper Career.
It’s been almost a year since I was flung into the wide open world on my own, and in that time I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned that I want to – and can, and should – call myself a writer. I’ve learned that working with words is truly what I want to do for the rest of my life. I’ve learned that I have the most wonderful, supportive partner in the world, who’ll encourage me when I’m floundering, and who’ll stick by me even when I’m earning next to nothing.
And I’ve learned that if an opportunity through which you’ll gain valuable experience presents itself, you should be brave and consider it – even if it means going out of your way, or making no money from it.
Late last year, two such opportunities did present themselves, in the form of two different internships. I dove right in without a second thought. It couldn’t hurt to apply, I thought; if I never heard back it was no big deal, and if I did – well, I’d work that out when I came to it.
As it turned out, it did come to it, because I was offered both internship positions. After some consideration, I accepted both of them… And so far, I’m really glad I did.
NSW Writers’ Centre
Until the end of June, I’m a one-day-a-week intern at the wonderful New South Wales Writers’ Centre, which offers an amazing range of courses, resources and services to NSW writers.
I’ve been there for almost a month now, and I’ve completely fallen in love with the place. It’s such an amazing atmosphere to work in. I’m surrounded by lovely people who are as passionate about writing and publishing as I am, all within a vibrant hub brimming with opportunities for emerging professionals and creatives. Working there makes me feel like a real part of the Australian writing community, and it’s a very nice feeling indeed.
There is a slight downside to this internship, though, in that the Writers’ Centre is in Lilyfield, Sydney… and I’m in Newcastle, about 170 kilometres away. This means I’m up at 4:30 every Wednesday morning, jumping on a train at 5:30 and arriving in Sydney by 8:00, then catching a bus that just makes it to the Centre before 9:00… And doing it all again come the end of the day.
I stagger in the door around 8:30–9:00 every Wednesday night, my appreciation for Nate reaching an all-time high every time as he welcomes me with a home-cooked dinner and a glass of wine. (Told you he was amazing.) But despite the vague feeling of dread that accompanies setting my alarm on Tuesday nights, despite the long, long days and the travel-weary state I’m in at the end of them, I’ve enjoyed every day I’ve worked at the Centre so far.
It also helps that it’s situated in a lovely historic building in the beautiful, jacaranda-shaded grounds of Callan Park. Nothing like blooms and a breeze to foster creativity…
Image via NSWWC.
My second internship takes place every Friday at the lovely white magazine. Apart from the fact that it’s an amazingly beautiful publication, perhaps the best thing about white for me is that it’s local – the office is smack in the middle of Newcastle! It’s an absolute dream to have a (now worldwide) publication based so close to home, let alone to be able to work with them myself.
To call white a wedding magazine would be to do it a disservice, because it’s much more than that. Unlike many other bridal magazines, white focuses not only on the big day, but all the days that come after it. The mag and its online component are full of all the usual beautiful real wedding galleries and styled shoots, but white also makes a point of delving into the love story behind each couple they feature. It makes for really beautiful, meaningful, moving reading alongside all the gorgeous imagery.
As the mag’s mission statement itself says:
We are a catalyst for positive change in the culture of marriage and relationships… We bring together stories of love and life – personal narratives of laughter, romance, oftentimes tragedy, but always hope. We hold marriage up to the light, and use our pages to venture into honest, clever and meaningful conversations about all the unglamorous parts of marital (mis)adventure.”
I’m loving the people and the work at white so far, and I’m looking forward to getting as involved as I can with the upcoming production of their next issue.
What I’m writing
My latest article for Writer’s Edit, 9 Simple Ways to Sharpen Your Manuscript, pretty much does what it says on the label. If you’ve finished your manuscript, firstly, I bow down to you, because since NaNoWriMo I’ve added a total of 700 words to mine (BLAH); and secondly… I hate to tell you, but the work’s not over yet.
There’s more to be done before you think about sending out your book, even if you’ve perfected the plot and tidied the writing (and bewitched the mind and ensnared the senses…). I’ve done a stack of research and put together a checklist of nine little things you can do to make your manuscript at least 900 times better.
(While you’re over at Writer’s Edit, have a think about submitting to our third and final Kindling anthology, Kindling Volume III! We’re looking for short fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction and writing advice, and submissions are open ’til March 1st, so get on it.)
Image via Writer’s Edit.
I recently spent a lovely Sunday writing all day to finish an entry for the Newcastle Short Story Award. One of my writing goals for this year is to try to get more work out there, whether by submitting to publications or entering competitions (or both). Run by my local Hunter Writers’ Centre, the Newcastle Short Story Award seemed the perfect choice for my first submission of the year.
I’m not sure if my piece will do well (that’s what you get for leaving things to the last minute), but I’m really pleased to have entered, and to be honest, writing the story was a joy.
On the topic of fiction… Remember how I mentioned above that I’ve done basically nothing on my fantasy WIP since NaNoWriMo concluded? Well, I thought it was high time I kicked myself back into gear and really got back into this project.
To that end, the lovely Helen Scheuerer and I have agreed to do a self-imposed NaNoWriMo next month! We’ve dubbed it NaNoWriMarch, and we’re both spending the rest of February plotting and planning and preparing. I’m hoping to go into this one feeling a LOT more ready than I did before November’s NaNoWriMo – stay tuned to see how that goes…
The poor To Do list is getting a workout as March approaches… Image via Kaboompics.
What I’m reading/listening to
I recently signed up to Goodreads, where I’ll be tracking all the books I read this year.
So far this year, I’ve read six books:
- The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
- Crown of Midnight, Heir of Fire and Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
- Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
- The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Patrick Rothfuss’ and Sarah J. Maas’ books have had me fangirling pretty hard. I love fantasy fiction SO much. Burial Rites was great too, my first Australian read of the year; and I read The Girl on the Train in a single day, over two train trips, so that was pretty cool. (Another good thing about my NSWWC internship: five hours of uninterrupted reading time on the train every week.)
At the moment I have multiple books on the go, which is something I rarely do, but THERE’S JUST SO MUCH TO READ AND I WANT IT ALL. I’ve set myself a modest 40 books in the Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge, but my ‘Want to Read’ list long surpasses that…
How did it take me so long to get into podcasts?!
Nate’s been a fan of them for a long time, but since he mainly listens to sports podcasts, I automatically dismissed them as boring and irrelevant to me. It wasn’t until he showed me the non-sports program he listens to that I became interested, then completely hooked.
The most wondrous thing about podcasts is that they make boring activities WAY less boring! Doing the dishes, cleaning the house, driving 40 minutes to my parents’ house – these are all humdrum activities that I now actually look forward to, because I can listen to podcasts while I do them. (‘Looking forward’ to cleaning the house might be an overstatement, but you get what I mean.)
The coveted title of Claire’s Favourite Podcast has to be split between two shows: Stuff You Should Know, from HowStuffWorks.com, and So You Want To Be A Writer, from the Australian Writers’ Centre.
SYSK is amazing. The hosts, Chuck and Josh, are so easy to listen to – they’re funny and genuine and a little bit daggy, which I love. They cover this ridiculously wide range of topics, from the broad to the obscure, and the way they deliver the show makes for interesting listening, even on the most dull-sounding subjects.
One of the best things about SYSK is their regular scheduling: you know you’ll get a new episode every Wednesday and Friday (Australian time). I’m particularly grateful for the Wednesday eps – they really brighten up the last leg of my long morning commute! Plus, Nate and I listen to episodes together when we can, whenever we have a long drive or want to drift off to sleep listening to something. It’s great.
So You Want To Be A Writer is equally wonderful. Valerie Khoo and Allison Tait are two go-getting Australian writing ladies who I really admire, and the amount of advice, insight and industry info their podcast offers is incredible. Every week they cover news, trending topics and writing tips, as well as conducting an interview with a successful writer.
Just listening to this podcast makes me feel more like a ‘real writer’, and I feel myself learning and absorbing and growing more passionate with every episode. I especially love hearing about established writers’ routines and experiences, both via the interviews and from Allison and Valerie themselves. And, of course, the plethora of writing tips and advice is truly invaluable!
An honourable mention must go to another podcast I subscribe to: Serial, from This American Life. The first season, which covers the infamous Adnan Syed/Hae Min Lee murder case, was such addictive listening that I smashed out the second half all in one day.
The current season isn’t quite as mysterious and gripping – it tells the story of Bowe Bergdahl, a US Army soldier who walked off his base and was held captive for five years by the Taliban – but I still find myself fascinated by it. Military stories definitely aren’t one of my foremost points of interest, but the way this story is delivered has me really invested, always curious about what the next episode will bring.
Well, this was a way longer post than I originally anticipated! It’s made me realise that I do have a lot going on at the moment, but also that that’s exactly the way I like it.
Hopefully next month’s update will be centred around the amazing leaps and bounds of progress I’ve made with my book… ‘Hopefully’ is definitely the operative word there. But at the moment I’m feeling motivated and optimistic, and that alone makes me really happy.