Home > My Writing, thirsty work, Yellowcake Summer > My time as Emerging Writer-in-Residence at the KSP Writers’ Centre

My time as Emerging Writer-in-Residence at the KSP Writers’ Centre

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My time as Emerging Writer-in-Residence at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre has been an extremely busy and enormously productive one. I did a short, five day stint over Easter and then a longer, three week block from April 15th to May 5th 2013. My major goal for this period was to produce 40,000 words on a new novel, Dan: A Cautionary Tale. I actually didn’t start writing the novel at all over Easter, so I left myself just 21 days to write this amount, setting myself an ambitious target of 2000 words per day. I’m happy to report that as of today, May 2nd, I’ve written 36,000 words and foresee no problems in reaching my target on or before May 5th. I’ve also had the opportunity to read from Dan at several of the regular KSP groups, including the Tuesday morning group, Writefree women’s group. Thursday Night Group and Speculative Fiction group. I found these writers very welcoming and enthusiastic about Dan, and I got plenty of confidence from that.

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I needed it, too, as one of my other tasks was to read from the novel on RTR FM’s ‘Artbeat’ program. This was only my second time appearing on the radio (the other was last year on York FM) and I was very nervous. I had earlier read a chapter from Dan at the Thursday Night Group that had seemed to go down especially well, so I chose this short, 1000 word chapter to read on the radio. The chapter features our protagonist Will attempting to get his forklift ticket so that he can drive the forklift legally at the bottleshop where he works. I managed to read the excerpt live without any major mishaps, and in the end I was glad to have done so. You can listen to this reading here: http://rtrfm.com.au/story/what-a-busy-guy/

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In my first stint over Easter, before I got started on Dan, I was busy working on a project called The Tobacco-Stained Sky: An Anthology of Post-Apocalyptic Noir. In 2012 I had been invited by author Andrez Bergen to write a story for this themed collection, set in post-apocalyptic Melbourne, and for this I had written a story “The Dying Rain”. As it transpired, however, the anthology was short a prose editor, and so when I was offered the opportunity to take on this role I jumped at the chance. Thus I had 60,000 words of prose to tweak, as well as an introduction to write, which consumed my attention during this Easter period. The anthology will be out from US publisher Another Sky Press later this year.

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Wedged between my Writer-in-Residence stints was KSP’s ‘2013 Writers and Performance Festival of the Asian-Australian Voice’, which I’ve written about more extensively here: https://guysalvidge.wordpress.com/2013/04/20/wrap-up-on-ksps-festival-of-the-asian-australian-voice/ This was an amazing weekend and a great opportunity to meet and mingle with a whole host of talented writers including Benjamin Law, Oliver Phommavanh, Lily Chan, Nadine Brown, Jackson and plenty of others. The festival ended on Sunday April 14th, meaning that I was literally moving into KSP the day those talented writers were moving out.

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Writers-in-Residence at KSP are treated very nicely: they are afforded accommodation in one of three newly-built retreats: Aldridge, Clarke and Phillips. I stayed in the Aldridge chalet and I found this to be a very cosy writing space indeed. For cooking, not that I did a tremendous amount of it, I had the use of the main kitchen up at Katharine’s house. During my stay, I also had the opportunity to attend several book launches in Perth and Fremantle, including those for Lee Battersby’s novel The Marching Dead and Bruce Russell’s Reunion. This Sunday I’m also off to Rockingham to meet author Kaaron Warren, who will be in Perth hosting a number of events, including one organised by the very same Lee Battersby, himself previously a Writer-in-Residence at KSP.

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One of my major tasks as Writer-in-Residence was to prepare and run a three hour workshop. My workshop, “Sail into Publishing: Charting a Course for Your Writing Career”, was held on Saturday 27th April and by accounts it went well. I went a little overboard on the slides (83 in all, even though a lot of them were pictures) and thus I had to rush through my presentation toward the end. I covered an awful lot about what I’ve learned about publishing in this presentation; if you’d like to download it, you need only to paste this link into your web browser and the presentation will start downloading: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/53426575/Sail%20into%20Publishing.pptx

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Earlier today, I had the opportunity to assist Dr Melissa O’Shea in running the third day of this year’s Write-a-Rama, a workshop for 10-15 year-old students. I first participated in this program last year, so I knew pretty much what to expect. My task today was to assist students in learning how to properly edit their own work, although I did manage to work some theory on writing into my talk as well. I was very impressed with the calibre of writing on display and I thank Melissa for giving me the opportunity to work with these students again.

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Lastly, on Monday I gave an interview to students from Eastern Hills SHS who had come to KSP to make a documentary film for a school assignment. I spoke to them about my time at KSP and also provided a little history about Katharine Susannah Prichard and Hugo Throssell. Here I was assisted by KSP stalwart Chris Oakeley, who helpfully produced some speaking notes for me. I’d also like to acknowledge the amazing work done by KSP’s Co-ordinator Shannon Coyle and its Chairperson Renee Hammond. While I’m at it, thanks must also go to Treasurer Robert Perks and Management Committee members Danika Potter, Karen Treanor and Mardi May. Each of these people has assisted me in some way over these past weeks and months, and I thank them for their tireless efforts in working for the benefit of KSP.

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I’m nearly done now: I have just 4000 more words to write on Dan, as well as a Literary Dinner to read at this coming Tuesday. This will be one of KSP’s series of literary dinners for the year, at which the Writer-in-Residence reads for three lots of ten minutes. I’ll be reading excerpts from my soon-to-be-published third novel Yellowcake Summer, “The Dying Rain” and Dan. My final task as a Writer-in-Residence will be to mentor a promising KSP writer, and for this I have chosen to assist Tuesday morning group regular Franci Leibenberg. Franci and I have been competing of late to see who can hit 40,000 words on their novel the quickest, and my plan is to assist Franci in structuring her work-in-progress over the coming weeks and months.

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I think that’s it. For exercise I’ve been walking up Old York Road, quite a steep climb, and on occasion I’ve made it to the nearby John Forrest National Park. But frankly, a lot of the time I’ve been too busy to stray far. It’s not often in life that one gets the opportunity to do what one truly wants to do for an extended period of time, but that’s exactly how it’s been for me here at KSP. It’s been an amazing time.

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