A man got off the train and collapsed onto a seat with his face in his hands. When I went over to see if he was alright, he said, “I’m just sooo hungover. I had to get off the train.” Poor thing, he didn’t thing he could even keep a glass of water down. Unfortunately he’d chosen the wrong station for a quiet sit down. About 5 mins later 100 cheery school children came over from the Zoo.
On Friday C, one half of a homeless couple who frequent the station and make a living begging at the local shops, had mislaid her partner M. She came through the station twice, all the time worrying, worrying, about M. First she went to the case worker and then to her partner’s step father as he is the contact if the police or hospitals pick up M when he’s drunk or has had an epileptic fit. She wasn’t willing to ring the police directly. She clearly didn’t trust them.
C and M doss down in an old shed somewhere near the park which they say is nice and dry, thought I was relieved to hear that they have moved in with a friend for the winter. Once when she was a bit drunk, C told me all about her life which seemed to involve abuse by ex-prisoner partners, estranged children and struggles with the State Trustees. She’s short and round and very non-descript looking, but on the rare occasions she takes off her beanie, she has beautiful auburn hair. She and M seem very happy together – a world of their own contained in the small backpacks they carry round. I was very glad to see M safely back yesterday when he waved out of the train at me as they were going by.
The Market Development Skills for Writers workshop at the Writers Victoria was one of the most useful pieces of professional development I’ve ever done. Over a free full day workshop for established writers sponsored by the Australian Council for the Arts, Hachette publicist Jaki Arthur gave us an insight into how big publishing works and how they work their publicity.
Cutting through the natural tendency of writers to over explain their work, she helped us formulate snappy descriptions of what sort of writers we were. (Historical fantasy with a chick lit twist) seven quick themes covered in our books, ( i.e. love, sex, death, travel, cookery, women’s power, the Great Barrier reef etc.) and showed us how to write a strap line for a book. (A beautiful courtesan, a deadly necromancer and the innocent young mage caught between them.) We worked on a list of media outlets and taste makers we wanted to get the attention of and she gave us some pointers as to what these sort of people might be looking for.
She also showed us how to formulate more concrete and finite writer’s goals as an important way of nurturing and directing our careers. For instance, we broke down a general goal such as “ Make enough money to write full time,” into something like “ Get my book in front of Jill Bloggs at the Write Place publishing house by the end of 2015.”
I found Jaki’s positive can-do attitude really encouraging and was reassured to feel that when faced with an important person to pitch myself to, I could bring out my themes and strapline instead of searching for words and babbling anxiously.
I had worried that the workshop wouldn’t help overcome my deep and innate talent for self-depreciation, but now armed with what I learnt I’m starting to feel that this whole big bad publicity thing might be … well … doable.
Thanks very much to Karen Le Roy from the Australia for the Arts, Kate Larsen from Writers Victoria and Jaki Arthur for running such an excellent workshop