Bronte

This blog is a little rushed, but I wanted to write something about my experience. It’s been such an interesting ride, and a few piddly words on my piddly blog can’t really convey that, but I’ll try and sum it up quickly.

A couple of months ago I submitted a story to Voiceworks magazine, a superb li’l publication run by the good folks of Express Media (mainly staffed by people under 25). I’ve been reading Voiceworks for years, and I think I even submitted something a couple of years back, but I realised recently that I only had a couple more chances to get something in because I’ll be 25 in June, and the magazine is published quarterly. So I wrote this piece, a dark little story about a girl called Bronte and her life, and Voiceworks got back to me and told me it had been shortlisted for publication!

Being edited professionally and collaboratively for the first time was a wonderful experience. It made me think so much harder about my story and the minutiae of character’s and their decisions, as well as the structure and language. AND Voiceworks pay their contributors, which for young, unpublished authors is pretty special. I went to the launch on Saturday, met lovely people, drank some wine and picked up a fresh copy of the magazine which can be purchased easily for $10.

On Monday night I read at Debut Mondays, a monthly event run by The Wheeler Centre that involves readings by 4 ‘new’ authors. Included in the line-up with me was Kirsten Krauth, Fiona McFarlane and Adam Browne, all of whom are published novelists and share illustrious careers including publication in The New Yorker (McFarlane), editing the NSW Writers’ Centre magazine (Krauth), and winning the Aurealis Prize for best Australian short story (Browne). I have had a few reviews and features published online (unpaid) and ‘Bronte’ is my first piece of published fiction. To say I was intimidated is somewhat of an understatement.

Debut Mondays is held at The Moat, the cafe beneath The Wheeler Centre. I was so nervous I couldn’t actually finish my hot chocolate (sheesh) before I went to meet Donica, the program coordinator. I was up last on the list of speakers, so my heart had plenty of time for a vigorous workout. Listening to the authors read their work was bliss. I have read The Night Guest and just_a_girl already, but hearing them read aloud by the writers themselves is always much, much better. And I have not yet had time to read Pyrotechnicon, but after hearing Adam Browne read an excerpt, I cannot WAIT. It was finally my turn, and with my heartbeat roaring in my ears, I introduced myself and started reading. Brilliantly, there was a bright light and a big microphone right in front of me which made it difficult to see the audience, and easy to forget them. I actually felt myself getting calmer as I read.

I got some really lovely compliments afterwards and stalked the other authors until they took pity on me and signed my copies of their novels. They were all so nice to talk to and I think I managed to come across fairly coherently – go me. I can’t recommend these Debut Monday events enough. All my near and dear ones who came to support me said they enjoyed themselves, and it was a great opportunity to meet other literary-minded people.AND Debut Mondays pay their contributors also. I am so incredibly lucky and thankful for this opportunity. And now I need to sit down and write more, stat.

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