The NorthWrite 2018 programme has been planned to give participants renewed energy and drive for their writing. Our presenters are all well-known within the New Zealand writing scene and we know you will learn much from their diverse talents, points of view and experiences.
Well I hope you’ve settled your debts and heeded any warnings that foresee the end of the republic, for the “Ides of March are come”. The month of March 2018 now also has great historical meaning for New Zealand, for it is the month when NorthWrite, Whangarei’s writer’s festival is held on the weekend at NorthTec.
As mentioned in a past post, I like attending writer’s festival’s to engage in literary discussion about real things in the real world. It is a nice contrast from the fictional worlds I normally hide out in. This is the first NZ festival I’ve attended and I was pleasantly surprised. I’m no veteran of writer’s festivals but I have been to a few so I always challenge myself to seek out a new and inspiring things that can make the festival worthwhile.
For those of you reading from home, what valuable currency I found in New Zealand writers is very simple: honesty from all perspectives. What this meant was that participants were invited in to the world of writing through writers, agents and publishers, as well as members of the NZSA. These people included NZ writers Kathryn Burnett, Whiti Hereaka, Janice Marriott and Publisher’s Christine Dale and Jenny Nagle from One Tree House, as well as Agent Vicki Marsden who all have extensive resumes which can be read here.
There are a couple of threads of literary dialogue that I picked up during discussions which are valuable to me.
One is that it is okay to be shy about yourself, but by no means be shy about your work. This sat nicely with me because I finally felt like I had permission to put my work forward with the knowledge and understanding that I was not putting me forward. This gave me a bit of confidence to the point where I agreed to bring along my two self published books to be sold (which they did!) and I took up an opportunity for an impromptu pitch with Vicki Marsden, this also led to a positive outcome.
Another idea I packed in my bag to bring home with me so I could play with it in my own time is the idea that if we are wanting to make money as a writer, it is a good idea to split your writing time in to two parts: commissionable projects and projects for self expression. The way I see it, if you had a part time job doing anything, this can support your part time writing for personal projects and whether or not that job is commissionable writing or cleaning plates at a pub doesn’t matter. And on this topic, another idea that rang true with me which I had never thought of before – unbelievably – is to simply mention to people that you know or meet that you are looking for writing work. If only we could all be as ruthless as members of the Roman Empire!
A strong theme from the weekend which rattled around in my brain is that no one cares about your writing as much as you do. This leads in to the idea that it is so important to make it easy for other people to understand your work if they are to consider publishing it. This may mean a little after-work such as researching statistics for your audience, or reasons why your topic or story matters, finding profit outcomes from similar writers, and then going as far as presenting the information in your pitch to make it easy for your publisher or agent to find the language that is needed to sell you.
An undercurrent flowed throughout the weekend, one that washed upon us all with great passion. This was the importance of libraries as a place for research. I agreed that libraries are an integral source for information and it was noted that if your library should be in such a pickle, you could write a letter to the editor to support its future.
The New Zealand Society of Authors was represented by Jenny Nagle on the weekend, where we found out the secret to the success of NZ writers’ future: simply go to a physical book store and buy a book. This way, the profit remains in NZ, clearly in view of people looking for statistics on NZ future of publishing and writing.
NorthWrite 2019 will be bigger and better and I’m looking forward to meeting with my fellow writers again.
The writer’s festival journey so far has taken me from Ubud, to Melbourne, to Newcastle, to Scone, and now to Whangarei, NZ.