Word Con 4 — Part II

Word Con 4 had a lot to offer, this semester. There were guests from publishing houses and literary magazines, plus lectures from our own lecturers. These posts detail one part of Word Con 4, and this is part two.

On the second day at Word Con 4, Brad Webb did an interview with Chester Eagle. He is an author, and has been writing for many years.

I hadn’t read any of his books, though I did take home two of the small magazines that he prints himself, as I am sure to find their content interesting to read.

However, it was his connection to music that I most admired. He mentioned Percy Grainger, and from that point I had Molly on the Shore stuck in my head. His enthusiasm for Australian writing, whether it be music or books, was astounding.

He also spoke about the freedom of text online. His self publishing venture has been predominantly online. Chester loves the freedom of online publishing, the way the words are out there for anyone in any situation to read. And as long as you’ve got an internet and technology connection, any book out there is yours to read.

Chester even puts his own books up on his website, TrojanPress.com.au for free download. Some have even been translated into Chinese, for his massive audience over in China.

His love for music and freedom of the word are what I found most inspiring about Brad’s talk with Chester Eagle. And the pouring of tea before they began made the show even more endearing.

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Word Con 4 — Part I

Word Con 4 had a lot to offer, this semester. There were guests from publishing houses and literary magazines, plus lectures from our own lecturers. These posts detail one part of Word Con 4, and this is part one.

The first day started with a live interview between Rob, a lecturer at Melbourne Polytechnic, and Marisa and Puja from Hardie Grant Egmont Books. They both work on children and young adult books and they both had interesting starts in the industry.

Puja began as an engineer, finishing her degree and beginning work with an engineering firm. But the global financial crisis hit, and suddenly she was out of a job, paid out, and free to do whatever she wanted.

So she got into design. She took a short course and began work within the packaging world. She created things for SuperCheap Auto and worked her way into designing book covers, after much time with packaging.

Marisa’s story is a bit more conventional. She finished university with an Arts degree and started as an editorial assistant. She worked her way up the chain until she was where she is now.

Marisa mentioned that most of her job is reading. She read a manuscript on the bus on the way to the session. But she also spends a lot of time working directly with the authors. And, apparently, having the agents of said authors yell at her.

Puja and Marisa both had interesting ways into the industry, but Marisa’s story is the one I took the most from. I want to get to where she is, and I’m hoping to start small. Volunteer at the Williamstown Writers Festival, maybe, and then work my way into the publishing industry.

I want to read manuscripts on the bus.

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Word Con 3 – Robyn Doreian

Robyn conducted an interview for her session with Andrew Mast. Mast is the group managing editor for The Music in Melbourne.

These are my notes and thoughts during the session.

Andrew Mast spoke a lot about how The Music is moving towards longer form journalism. He was saying that the website for The Music is receiving many more hits on the longer, more details pieces.

People may want deep, long pieces because they can’t get it elsewhere. From the new generation, there should be new kids starting quarterly.

Zines are completely independent but have the opportunity of creating more sales.

Entry level into The Music’s team is through writing ‘live reviews’. This is not paid writing. You only get paid for features. From the feedback, you can get tips on the writing, which is a great way to patch holes and errors within your work and figure out why something did not get published or why something did.

You can also apply for internships. Mast said that they hire a lot of people from their internships. Although, ‘a lot’ is relative considering that The Music is a small publication.

10 people in Sydney

1 person in Perth

2 people in Brisbane – Fortnightly magazine

12 people in Melbourne (full time) – Weekly magazine

They are real writers, writing real stories.

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Word Con 3 – Brad Webb

Brad Webb’s session was all about landing a commissioned book deal and I am posting this for Pre-Press Publishing because Brad spoke about formatting the book, and I feel that this session related the most to what we do in Pre-Press.

Anyway, here are the notes and thoughts I had during the session.

People remember the mistakes more than the good things. Brad spoke at length about all the mistakes that the editor and the publisher made but only stopped on the good things every once in a while. It is clear that the bad things, the frustrating, easily fixed mistakes are what have stuck with Brad the most.


Several times Brad said that he had to go into the proofs and edit things that he’d edited in previous proofs. He was constantly fact checking the things that the publisher was putting in the book. And with something like Ned Kelly, you have to make sure that you are 100% correct because there are fanatics out there who will slaughter you online if you don’t.

Probably the thing that I found most astonishing about Brad’s session, is that the editor did not read the whole work until several proofs had been done. How can you understand and edit the content if you haven’t even read it?

If you have an existing audience, you are more likely to take it to an editor or publisher.

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Word Con 3 – Memory Writing

Here is a piece that I wrote during the memory workshop. I felt that this would work well for the Writing Life, Self, and the Other blog post because it is similar to the work we have been doing in class.

Heightened emotion: rewrite

It wasn’t the actual death that was the worst part. No, his death would have been fast, and quick. ‘Oh shit,’ and it’s over. He feels nothing.

The worst part was the funeral. Watching the family stand at the front of the room and openly weep for their son, their brother.

My best friend standing up there with her mother and her father and her stepmother and half-siblings, she held her stony face. She was staying strong for her mother, but the pain was clear in her eyes, if you knew how to look.

But, at that time, I’d know Monica for 13 years. So I cried for her. Jarrod was a fucking pain in the arse but losing a brother, even one so annoying as him, is unthinkable.

So I sat there in that pew, listening to the priest throw abuse at young people doing stupid things, and I cried for Monica. I cried for her mother and the pain I knew would never leave her.
And let me tell you that it does not leave. Now, in 2017, it has been almost two years since that fiery car crash (not a stupid thing, priest, you fuckhead), and I see Monica frequently. I’ll be seeing her this weekend. Just last Friday she was trying to get out of homework by hanging out. I know her. She’s been one of my best friends for a long time now, and I can see that pain.

I see it when I go to her mum’s house, when I walk through that door and the pictures of Jarrod are hanging on every wall and sitting on every flat surface. Apart from the silence, you would think he never left.

I see it when Danielle, Moni’s mum, comes over to chat with my own ma. She asks me to plug in her phone to let it charge and the screen lights up with last picture of her and her son.
But I don’t grieve for Jarrod. He’s gone, he’s not thinking or feeling or reeling in pain like those he left behind. No, I grieve for my best friend.

Moni’s mother is so trapped in her own pain, leaving images of Jarrod around the house, leaving him as her screensaver on her phone and no doubt her computer, and where is Monica?

In this life carved out in the wake of Jarrod’s death, where is my best friend left in this family? She’s there to tell the story.

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Word Con 3 – Andrew MacRae

This is a compilation of the notes taken during Andrew’s session and my own thoughts on the session.

The Freelance Life

The knowledge economy – emotional labour that makes a connection – meeting someone else’s needs.

Cognitive bias/mental traps:

  • Survivorship bias > do not focus on the exceptions, pay attention to failures rather than successes
  • Imposter syndrome is an inability to understand competence (I love that statement. It works both ways for people who cannot understand their incompetence and for those who underestimate their ability).

The fear will never go away. Expect it. Fail more, and fail harder. After all, it is hard to succeed if you don’t know what doesn’t work.

Andrew also talked about looking at the failures. If you only focus on the good things, then you leave yourself and your work open to destruction, but if you patch up the mistakes, then you end up with a piece of work that is indestructible.

You need to find a niche, and you can expand your clientele by just checking in with who you know.

Build a folio of things that expand on what you love. Andrew has a more secure workforce where Robyn is constantly pitching to editors. Work tends to pop up in Andrew’s field. Robyn works about 70% of the weekends (I very much love my weekends, so that’s a good idea for me to know what line of work not to go into: freelance journalism).

Don’t miss deadlines, say ‘no’ when asked to go out. Robyn and Andrew both stressed how important it is to meet deadlines.

I did enjoy this session. I really like the part about focussing on the weaknesses to make everything stronger overall. I do tend to focus on the good things, which would then make the mistakes more obvious.

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Word Con 2 Day 2 Part 2

Hi everyone, so like last time I had word con, I will be posting a blog post for each of my teachers to have a look at and comment on. Please expect to see this message at the beginning of each blog post.


Finally, this is the last session and it was with Adam so I am just going to write out some of the stuff that I wrote for his session.

Write 1-2 paragraphs imagining yourself in darkness and describing the objects around you that you can’t quite see.

Your eyes open and you almost expect light. There is no light except that of the phone charger in the corner. It’s a red light that never seems to switch itself off, even when there is no phone plugged in. Stupid thing.

Your eyes are open and there is only the small red light. You think that perhaps this is your room, but you can’t quite remember where you went to sleep so perhaps this is not your room. The carpet appears red around the light and yours is blue but the red from the charger might be disrupting the colours.

You close your eyes again and count to fifteen. When your eyelids hit skin, lashes up and about your brow bone, you can look out at the room. Your eyes have adjusted, but the utter darkness and that one red speck is still not as illuminating as you had hoped.

You can see the light bulb hanging from the ceiling. Well, you can’t really see it, but the black is shaped much like you know a light bulb to be shaped. And you can feel the string brushing against your forehead if you really concentrate. You thought it was dust before, so light and flittering across your skin, but now it makes more sense as a string for the lamp.

And so, this is not your room. For your light is in the wall and not hanging from the ceiling. Which means, this is someone else’s room, and this is someone else’s bed.

You try to lift your head from the bed, but you cannot. Moving your head too much triggers lightning behind your eyes, and that might be helpful in a room so dark but it’s not worth the pain. You must have been very drunk.

You flick your eyes a little to the left, and then you grit your teeth as the pain shoots through. There is a window in the room. You can tell because of the slight change in colour from the darkness of the room to the darkness of the world outside. You wonder where the curtains must be.

The darkness outside is only slightly lighter than the darkness within the room and it only shows the surrounding wall. Thus, you can almost make out shelves under the window. And the ticking of a clock coming from that direction would indicate that the square lump sitting on the top shelf, is, indeed, a clock.

But now you’ve focused on the clock and your brain is swearing at you to stop the ticking but you can’t get up and this isn’t your room and you cannot speak to ask if someone’s there to help because the alcohol must have burnt your throat dry.

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