The personal and the sensitive

This week I taught people how to sew handmade books, someone else a little on how to make ebooks, edited a ten-thousand-word transcript of a panel-type presentation, realised that I totally know how to style a Word doc for html, and had a friend offer me a job that sounds like fun and money. My harddrive is also dying, so I’m now working off a shitty Windows 8 netbook, and my floral-patterned trolley (it’s so awesome people stop me in the street to tell me how awesome it is) cracked a wheel. But it’s mostly good. It’s actually pretty damn nice to be in a position where people are starting to throw things in my direction so I can use my collection of professional skills to (nearly) pay the rent.

When I finished my BA with an anthropology major and an Honours thesis on genocide as a form of sacrifice, I had no community, no sense of connectedness to academia or the industry. It’s a strange and wondrous thing, this time around, to have friends and connections to the community and PWE staff, to have a tangible skillset that isn’t ‘writing essays’ or ‘able to tell you just why the UN failed in Rwanda’, to have people in my life who know I’m the resident ebook expert. I don’t regret my BA. I loved my sojourn into Shakespeare; I loved everything I learnt in anthropology. My novel is essentially a fantastic form of the themes in my thesis. It did not give me, though, what a less-prestigious TAFE course gave me; I am not the person that began the course two and half years ago in terms of the array of skills I now have, and I am so damn glad of that.

If you are in Australia and you are a literary creative, if you have even the slightest pretensions to a industry career that goes a little beyond just crafting words – Professional Writing and Editing TAFE is the best investment of your time and money, and the Victoria University staff and community are the most amazing people. I know I say it again and again, but I owe so much to this course. They have allowed me to transform myself from K. A. the warehouse flunkie to K. A. the emerging writing and publishing professional.*

(* This phrasing, which is something I wrote without thinking about it, is quite interesting in the sense that it squarely places the agency in my hands. I could have said that they transformed me, and not so long ago I would have. That’s not true, however, and that must be a truth I’m starting to grasp enough that I can phrase it in just that way – that I’m the agent of change in my own life. My teachers and psychologists and friends can support me, encourage me and teach me, but they can’t change me. I can.)

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Surrender, my dear (the world as it is)

Surrender the idea that you’ll be victorious.

Let it go. Give up. Surrender.

It doesn’t work like that, you see.

You step out the door, and they speak, but the wrong words touch their lips.

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Reprise: mate, you’re stepping on my foot / the words the world gives

(Or: honesty and the dark side of the Force. Either way.)

I just want to say that every post of late brings with it a new collection of followers. I’m touched that my words mean enough that people want to keep on reading them.

So. People step on my toes, right?

Of course, having bruised toes never means I don’t have the ability to step on other people’s toes. Hell, being a member of the same oppressed group still doesn’t mean I’m not going to step on toes.

Just like everybody else, I have stepped on a lot of toes.

I’ve been reading back through some of my old writing … not too far, no later than 2005 or so. Anything I wrote before that (and I’ve been writing since 2000) is less like curiosity and more like masochistic levels of embarrassment. I’m not sad that it took me so long to get up the nerve to show my writing for an audience. Every writer is going to have a growing trail of old shame – in fact, they should, or otherwise they’re not growing and developing as a creative and as a person. Next year I hope I look back at what I write this year and twitch, just a little … most likely at my abuse of fancy punctuation. (I also hope that I’ve gained the ability to be content with the fact that I’m doing as good a job as I can right this moment.)

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