What I’m writing
Ohmigod! I finished the structural edit on the new book!
Yes, that is awesome. But I still l have to prune about 4000 words off it before I’ll feel happy to send it back to my editors. That’s because I originally sent them a manuscript about 20,000 words too long, so…my bad. But now it’s starting to take shape, and that’s a nice feeling.
I’ve sometimes felt ambivalent about this book while writing it, so it’s really good to see that there’s a possibility it might all work out okay. I mean, who knows. It’s a crap shoot. But at least there’s hope.
What I’m doing
At the start of November I ran a two-day Advanced YA workshop intensive at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne, as part of the Writers Victoria program. People seemed to have a good time – phew. Yes, it was intense, as the word intensive suggests. I was trying to cram everything I knew about writing YA and everything I knew about the publishing industry into two days. I hope I did it right. Thanks to everyone who participated – you were super-engaged and great to work with.
On Nov 18-19, I’ll be running a workshop, and hosting a panel, as part of the women’s crime-writing extravaganza, SheKilda3, organised by Sisters in Crime Australia. The workshop will be about Writing YA Crime. And the panel will be me, Shivaun Plozza (Frankie), Fleur Ferris (Risk and Black) and Nova Weetman (Everything is Changed) talking YA Crime.
But we’re not the only people yapping – there are heaps of panels and events, so you can take your pick. There’s pitch sessions, bitch sessions, cocktail parties, a session with Melina Marchetta talking about Tell the Truth Shame the Devil, and then the announcement of the 2016 Scarlet Stiletto Awards, which should be hella good fun. If you want to come along to SheKilda, it’s open to everyone (not just SiC members) – follow this link to check out the program and get tickets.
After SheKilda, I’ve got one last school gig at the Victorian College of the Arts before I collapse in exhaustion. This has been a busy year, which, y’know, I’m grateful. But I’m hanging out for some family time over the Xmas holidays, and the chance to get stuck into some new story ideas I’ve had brewing.
What’s bugging me
Well, you probably all watch the news. You know what happened.
So this week I was told on social media to keep my political views to myself. Which, okay, I’m a fiction author and my job is making up stories and selling books. If you didn’t know, most every fiction author is forewarned about talking politics – you’re supposed to let your views reveal themselves subtly in your work, not be overtly proselytising about stuff.
I am in a largely privileged position, where I get to choose whether to expose my politics or not – for many people, there’s no choice; their politics are lived every day. So I get to choose, whether to speak or be silent. And sure, I’ve mouthed off about gender issues, or queer issues, or literacy/book industry issues, or diversity issues, or refugee issues at times. These have not been the dominant notes in my repertoire, however.
Some RealTalk now. What happened this week is nothing I wasn’t expecting, after the return of Pauline Hanson in Australia and after Brexit in the UK. But it still cut me. If you want to know how some Australians reacted, go here and here. If you want to know what life has been like for people in the US since the election, go here. If you’d like a historical analysis, go here, and then here, and then hear what Noam Chomsky has to say about it here. Or you could just listen to what people of colour have been saying about this issue from the start. Or, y’know, turn on FoxNews, if you can stand it.
The job of a writer is to create stories that help society by encouraging people to dream, and think, and have empathy, and share experiences. But I don’t agree that this is a writer’s only role. A writer, because they have a platform, is also in a position to speak up (or alternatively, clear a space to give others who have more expert opinions the opportunity to speak). Lots of writers I admire speak up. There is plenty of shit in my own country to speak up about. There is plenty of shit to speak up about all over the place right now.
And for those who say this isn’t really part of my job description, well…I actually think it’s part of everyone’s job description, as a human being.
And for those who want to make this small, and say this has nothing to do with books, and the United States is far away from Australia – think about it. Because if you think the book industry in this country won’t be affected by new trends over things like book banning, and ‘appropriate’ literature within curriculums, and library shutdowns, and the repression of writing freedoms, and the destruction of the arts and humanities, then you’re fucking crazy. It will affect us. These things already affect us. Writer colleagues in the YA community on the other side of the water have been targeted. Librarians and teachers and bloggers and readers and publishers are fearful. And that’s putting aside the fact that US books will be actively and aggressively pushed into this market, if PIR lobbying is renewed under new economic agreements.
Look at this picture – I look so young. And daggy, of course, that goes without saying. I was nineteen in this picture. It was my first year of uni. I threw myself into everything then (but often the same things I throw myself into now, if you’ll notice the placard).
And now I’m closer to fifty than I am to forty. And I feel like I only have one go at this life, and I may as well do the things that are worthwhile. It’s worthwhile to stand up for equality and human rights, and other things you believe in. It’s worthwhile to signal boost about political issues that are of humanitarian concern. It’s worthwhile to join and donate to organisations that assist people who need it. It’s worthwhile to support colleagues who have an important message to share.
If that’s all I can do, then I’ll do that.
So I guess you might say my repertoire is expanding.
What I’m looking forward to
I’m looking forward to holidays, like I said. Not the ‘ohmigod it’s the hectic Xmas period time’ part. Not the ‘kids home all day and getting no work done’ part. But the ‘camping on the beach and reading’ part is always nice. And I like the ‘sitting on the cliffs writing down new stories’ part, too.
This month we’re celebrating our first anniversary for bookclub, and it seems fitting that our November read should be GEMINA, considering our first month’s read was ILLUMINAE. Have I mentioned I love this series? I looooove this series. Anyway, if you want to read along, come join us at the FB group page. We’ll have some extra content from the authors, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, and a discussion post in early December – this is so I can push our December book through to the end of January, to fit into the holiday schedule.
These are some of the books I’ve read:
Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – yes, it’s awesome. Yes, you should read it.
The Paper Hearts series by Beth Revis – an excellent, straight-talking series on writing craft, the publishing industry, and book marketing.
Everything is Changed by Nova Weetman – I’m reading this for the SheKilda panel, but I wanted to read this anyway. Nova is fantastic, and I’m talking both in her writing and as an all-round lovely person.
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne – hot, snarky, well-written romance. Australian author. Do you need more?
I’ve also been reading the Tripods trilogy by John Christopher with the kids – we’re up to The White Mountains. I remember these books from when I was their age, and except for a few formatting idiosyncrasies, they’ve matured extremely well.
That’s it. Take care of yourselves, folks, in these tough times. If you can, support the people around you. Catch you again soon.