Hey Team Wordsmith,
Have been quite sick over the last few days, and it’s going to be a little while till I am up and at it again. Will get back to posting asap, so please be patient with me until I am all good and ready – I’d rather have some quality blog posts as opposed to ones with no wordsmith value just for the sake of regular posting…
I’ve never had a problem with big projects, or academic writing. Then again, my last stint doing an academic project was when I was 21, doing my Masters and writing a thesis that I could pay attention to because I didn’t work full-time worrying about paying a mortgage.
This time around, things are different. This thesis is significantly bigger. Where I spent that 21st year finishing the project in a year with plenty of time for editing and formatting and relaxing after, I have spent the 9 months of this year no where near finished with the primary, existing research with this one. And by primary, existing research, I mean reading and musing on literature that is already there, not the kind of research I actually have to go out and do – like field work and analysis and interviews.
My supervisor told me I need to anchor myself in my work, so I have spent the last week visualising myself as a sort of ship, docking into thesis harbour. Despite said visualisation, I am still struggling. I have books around me, my door is closed, and my curtain is snapped shut to ensure I am not even distracted by outside visuals. And despite the fact that I am completely wrapped up in Paullina Simons’ The Girl in Times Square and its seeming cross between love story and murder mystery, I have put it away, purposely trying to ensure that my focus is solely for the 16 books surrounding my desk which must be scanned for references by tomorrow.
I have 8,000 words to write by 10pm Monday night. It’s a big deadline, esepcially considering I received notice of my annual performance review in the mail. I need something concrete to show on Tuesday morning, and my concrete slab cannot be notes of ideas and preliminary arguments and research. I thought routine would solve my problem, but even that’s not working.
I love my topic and the motivation to finish is there, in the form of a bottle of Moet that boyfriend purchased for me when I got accepted into the program and which I am only allowed to open on my graduation day, when my family will start calling me Dr. and when I will still not be closer to having any remnant of a proper job.
I used to wonder why I could never finish any of the novels I started working on. Even with my utmost intent, and my clear focus and mad determination, I could never continue with the big project. A feature I am happy to dish it out in hours, a thesis, or a book, is an entirely different story.
I am curious to know how novelists with full-time jobs do it. Where do they find the time, and the energy? How do they pave way for their writing through the distraction? How do they break up their giant task into small ones that can be easily achieved as every week goes by?
I’m hoping that soon enough, I will have the answer. Until then, I’ll continue searching this ship for its anchor, and hope that uni won’t kick me out of the thesis harbour when performance review comes around. And if they do, at least I will have my abandoned and unwritten novels to keep me occupied, or at least, still possessing that undeniable need to find the anchor.
1. Back from Canberra, though my plate seems to have gotten bigger and I have a lot to catch up on. That’s not to say I didn’t have a good time, because I most certianly did. In fact, I had a ten second conversation with a very important VIP – Mr K-Rudd himself, and then I took a pic with him and two Canberra-met mates. Can you see how excited I am? I mean, please, could I get any nerdier?
2. Don’t know what you guys are doing at the moment, but I am too busy scanning my near-empty wallet for spare notes (yeah, right) so that I can invest in the latest issues of two very cool magazines that just hit the stand at the newsagent. Although I am not a regular purchaser of Instyle, I must say that I found Kerrie Alcorn’s influence bringing me back to it in recent times, and the current issue, with all its thickness and its pretty cover, just makes me covet it more. Of course, the latest, new-look issue of CLEO has got its cool factor in overdrive, and I can’t help but be mesmerised by the nylon/frankie/yen influences throughout the magazine. Loving the spread on food consumed over a few days - a picture (or few) surely tells a thousand words. That said, I might have to forfit and go for the Vogue, with its pretty pink and spring-influenced cover, mainly because it houses my favourite ever features – Comment and Upfront. What will you guys choose? Or, can you help me justify the purchase of more than one?
3. Am MADLY in love with this red jacket at Topshop. I’m really thinking Australia needs to get a Bring Topshop Down Under petition going, to add to its Bring Zara one. It might be a bit much, but I reckon its got Style, Smarts and Savoir-Faire written all over it.
4. Speaking of Style, Smarts and Savoir-Faire, one of the women I think really epitomised it beyond measure was none other than Audrey Hepburn. If you’re a fan like me, I’d contemplate investing in the newly-released Audrey Hepburn Muse Collection of boxed-set DVDs. Slightly steep at around $80, but this is where scanning your junkmail for DVD sales at Target and the like will definitely come in handy.
5. Sydney siders are revelling in Mother Nature’s recent dose of sun and warmth, which means they’re heading for the outdoors. If you’re not a sporty type, but still like to pass time while you’re soaking up your much needed vitamin D (while still slip, slop, slapping of course), make time pass a lot more nicely with a book that’ll get you caught up in its web of drama and mystery. I’ll be checking out Audrey Niffenegger’s (of the best-selling The Time Traveller’s Wife) latest book, Her Fearful Symmetry (Jonathan Cape/Random House, $32.95) – a tale of two American teenagers who inherit an aunt’s flat that overlooks a cemetry, and with an interesting array of characters weaving in and out of it in an air of tragedy and magic. Ofcourse, you don’t need to be lounging about in Sydney to enjoy, curling up in front of a fire on the otherside of the world works wonders for the reading mind, too!
6. Musication is coming up soon, guys, so I hope you’re all rallying to get behind Sydney’s great, untapped musical talent – including Ranger Spacey, The Affairs, Sierra Montana and WIM. Buy your tickets here, and come say hi on the night.
7. I’m going to exercise my right as the editor here to nag a little bit: I have six weddings in November. If anyone has any savoir-faire tips for surving that load of celebrations, please write in.
8. Going to fulfill my wordsmith lane duty and share some wordsmith wealth that will surely help you on your writing journey. If you have not registered for Australian Writing Opportunities Updates, I thoroughly recommend you do. You’ll be notified of opps and prizes, some of which are monetary, so if you win, you’re one step closer to surviving off your labour of love. Get in on the updates here.
9. Motivation Marketplace this week will see me finish off with some very nice words from Mother Teresa (RIP), which were printed on a tee I purchased in Canberra and which I am now proudly wearing. “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin”. I think you can apply this to whatever work you do in life, whether its humanitarian or not. So go forth, work hard and be fruitful in all that you do. Don’t regret wasting time, when you could be sowing the seeds of your future.
Have a fantastic week
Hey Hey Wordsmith Laners,
Back from Canberra and back into the busy scheme of things, even though I am absolutely exhausted. Due to a whole host of unforeseen circumstances like issues at work and a grandfather in hospital that have spun my schedule upside down, I have had to push Wordsmith Weekly to Tuesday for this week.
“The event I’m most excited about though is Media140, the latest in a series of over the past couple of years that have dealt with the thorny – but exciting – question of what lies ahead for future of journalism. Named after the 140-character limit imposed by Twitter and the old-school SMS, it’s part of an international collaboration – think London, New York, Bangalore, Dubai and Rome – that sets out to answer the question: “What is the future of journalism in the social media age?”
The event will feature writers such as Caroline Overington, Mia Freedman, Jonathan Green and many many more. Rachel Hills is giving away a two-day pass valued at $250, and the comp closes at 8pm EST tonight (Monday 21st September). I’ll be trying to get there myself, so you can be assured it will be worth it. Enter here, and good luck!
As mentioned earlier today, I feel it will be just as beneficial for us to follow the tales of aspiring writers who are just starting out in the game as it is to learn from those who are well-established. This week, Wordsmith Lane regular Sarah Hannah Fisher takes us on her little journey. Don’t you just love her picture here? I feel there’s a lot more than wordsmith to this lady! Check out her blog at www.deathwearsdiamondjewellery.wordpress.com
Tell us (in a nutshell) about your wordsmith career path so far:
I’ve been writing my whole life: journaling, poetry, short stories & novellas… So I knew that I wanted to make a career out of the written word from a young age.
I did a BA Media & Communications degree at Sydney Uni majoring in English. However, life got in the way and I ended up taking a fairly long time to finish my degree- I only graduated last year. I’m a bit of a free spirit and at the moment, working 9-5 stuck behind a desk sounds so unappealing to me! I started doing a small bit of freelance work last year, but this year I’ve worked really hard to feel like I deserve to call myself a ‘freelance writer.’
Who are you writing for at the moment? / What are some of your current projects?
I’m currently working on two articles: one for Australia’s premier eco fashion magazine Peppermint and another for Urban Animal.
I am constantly sending pitches to editors and negotiating possible upcoming commissions so tomorrow morning I may get an email back from Marie Claire with the good news that they want to publish my story, so check back with me!
I’m also working with another freelance journalist to set up a new online portal for writers, which is set to launch on November 1st.
Have you ever attended or been a part of any writer’s festivals? If so, how do you think they aid your career?
Sadly, no I haven’t! I planned on attending this years Sydney’s Writer’s Festival, but I ended up interstate the whole time. Next year…
What are your favourite topics to write about?
There are so many!!! I like writing about issues that I can personally relate to or are interested in. Things like animal rights, body image and mental health are all topics I am passionate about. That said, I also love fashion & beauty writing and I love analysing pop culture too.
Are you looking to concentrate on a certain niche, or do you want to continue to vary up your topics at this stage?
I like keeping things varied. I would love to one day end up writing on topics that are relevant to teenage girls. I had such a hard time as a teenager and just out of high school but now I am on the other end of it all… The idea that something I have written could help a girl cope with serious issues such as depression, body image, self harm etc would be amazing.
You are currently interning at Dumbo Feather Magazine. How did that come about, and what does it do for you to intern?
It’s actually a fairly new gig for me! I’d heard about the mag for a while but for some reason never got around to buying an issue until a few months ago. I fell in love with it- it was just such a refreshing change from all the usual celebrity saturated magazines. I basically just emailed the editor to tell her how much I admired her for creating Dumbo Feather and straight out asked to intern one day a week with her!
Kate Bezar (editor) is an amazing woman and I am learning so much from her already. It is a fantastic experience.
What are some other avenues that you are taking to further your career? Have you ever utilised networking opportunities or writer’s groups, or are you more reliant on your blog and mediums like Twitter to make a connection?
So far I’ve just been relying on things like my personal blog and twitter as well as recommendations from other writers and friends.
I’m looking into joining some writer’s groups and things, but I’m still a little lost as to where to start searching! Wordsmith Lane post idea maybe?
You have had work published in Cleo and Girlfriend. How did it feel to get published in the mainstream publications and how did this come about for you?
The first time I saw my name printed in a magazine I was so excited! I bought multiple copies and gave it to pretty much everyone I knew!
What are some of the difficulties you encounter when trying to establish yourself as a freelance journalist? Are you reliant on any tools, mentors, groups or writers centres/courses for help?
The main difficulty I have is having my proposal’s approved by editors! My portfolio is still fairly skeletal and a lot of the mainstream publications, especially in the current economic climate, find it risky to commission such an unknown writer.
I find that when I get stuck with something I am unclear on, I tend to ask for advice from a couple of freelance writer’s that I admire such as Katrina Fox and Rachel Hills. Both women have been extremely generous in unofficially mentoring me!
Great writers read a lot. What are some of your must-reads?
Oh god, I am a huge book nerd!! Unfortunately my apartment is so small that 90% of my collection lives with my mother as there is just no space to put them all!
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger, Dracula by Bram Stroker, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte and The Chronicles of Narnia are a few of my all time favourite books.
Works by Anais Nin, Chuck Palahniuk, Bret Easton Ellis, Kurt Vonnegut, Jeffery Engines, Henry Miller, Scott F. Fitzgerald, Hunter S. Thompson, Johnathan Safran Foer… I could go on!
Writers that work from home (part-time or full-time) tend to comment about the merits of being able to work their own hours, or work in their PJ’s all day. Is that something that appeals to you, or do you tend to structure your day around a routine to keep you more productive?
It definitely appeals to me; I have a slight issue with authority and being told what to do and when to do it!
I generally keep a pretty loose schedule that I like to stick to every day, but it changes depending on my motivation and my social life! I make a ‘to-do-list’ and as long as I complete it each day, I am happy.
I do need to be a little more strict on myself thou. I have slight issues with the fact that a 25year old should be a grown up already and having a live in boyfriend who works nights is hard sometimes as I’m often tempted to just leave the laptop and spend the day mucking about.
What are some of your current writing projects, and what are some of your writing goals?
The biggest goal I have is to complete my book. I am currently writing a sort of loose memoir on some of the hardships I’ve experienced in my very early 20s- mental illness and psychiatric hospitalisations and such.
I want to keep it in a diary-like format, so I’m in the middle of transcribing entries from my original diaries and writing journals.
Tell us about your blog ‘Death wears diamond jewellery’.
I basically just write about whatever pops into my head! Some posts are inspired by current topics in the media and other’s are just random thoughts I might have on something like Disney songs.
What are your primary reasons for blogging? Does it get your ‘juices flowing’ in a sense?
I started blogging earlier this year when I became serious about freelance writing. It definitely keeps me in the habit of writing regularly and gets my brain moving.
I also just got sick of reading the same old blogs by people my age- photos of what they are wearing or what they ate etc. I thought having a blog with a more insightful edge to it and that was written less formally than a news site or something, would be appealing.
What is a typical day in the life of Sarah Hannah Fisher, freelance writer?
Every day is different! One day a week I am interning and once a week I volunteer at the Cat Protection Society. I’m trying to put roughly 2hours a day aside for working on my book, but I’m not very good at it yet!
Most other days I get up when my body clock does, around 10am. Late I know, but I am a big believer in sleep! I start the day with a coffee and checking emails, new twitter updates, reading & replying to new blog comments and browsing some newspapers and blogs. The rest of the day I usually spend replying to emails, planning new blog posts, doing research for new proposal ideas and writing and editing whatever articles I am currently working on.
That said, some days I don’t really do anything but play with friends!
What are some of the perks associated with your job?
Writing what I want to write, whenever I want to. I am lucky that it’s not my main source of income, so I do have the freedom to take on projects that I am passionate about.
What advice would you offer to aspiring freelancers and wordsmiths who want to follow a similar career path?
That it’s never to late to start! Also, I think having faith in yourself plays a huge element in perusing freelance work; there is a lot of rejections!
Ten in the Hot Seat:
Describe yourself in one word: Vampiric
Biggest accomplishment to date: Finally finishing my degree! I hated university with a passion. My respect goes out to writers like you who tackle thesis’s!
You wish you wrote: The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
Can’t leave home without: Saying goodbye to my cat
One thing you are currently writing: A proposal to Girlfriend magazine
First thing you wrote: A story about visiting the zoo
Addicted to reading: Mags that combine quality content with gorgeous photography like RUSSH, Oyster, Lula
Top spot on your goals list: To stay happy
If you were a character in a novel, you’d be: Some one from Alice in Wonderland. Probably the Cheshire Cat
The best thing about being a wordsmith: Playing around with words to paint an image in the reader’s head.