My first blog post was about KSP’s 1st Edition Retreat and through KSP I am part of Freo’s emerging writer’s mentorship program. The three of us who took part in that program had a weekend of intensive workshops with Laurie Steed but we do not have an ongoing mentor. There are three other writing centres involved in the program; each centre has its own selection process. Mel, Emma and I were selected through a blind submission process.
I went to the first of five workshops yesterday and this one was run in partnership with WA Poets Inc. The focus was poetry but there were some discussions about short stories. The conversation about ways to collate ours (e.g. finding a theme or “connective tissue”, creating a narrative arch, thinking about the anthology as a mixed tape) was useful. If you are fortunate enough to find an interested publisher, an editor will work with you but your anthology needs to have a concept before you submit your manuscript.
The discussion about manuscript length was also very useful. If you are preparing a manuscript for Freo press:
1) Your poetry collection should be between 60-80 pages. (I have 64 pages written in my notebook so it is likely that’s the number Georgia or one of the poets mentioned that number.)
2) Short story collections should be at least 60,000 words unless you are a Margaret Atwood or George Saunders; If you are you can do whatever you want. Everyone else aim for at least 60k which is approximately 12 stories because people are spending a lot of money on your book.
I asked whether publishers will accept anthologies that include stories that have been published elsewhere and are available online. The answer was yes, as long as not all of them are available on one website. So if you are a postgrad student or academic you might want to think about what you upload to your university’s research repository.
Also, you need to do your research and find reputable publishers for individual poems and short stories.
If your PhD thesis is a poetry or short story collection you should ask your supervisor how you go about putting an embargo on the thesis while you’re looking for a publisher.
The workshop gave me some ideas on which stories to include or exclude in I am because we are. It’s also helped me prioritise my writing projects. I was going to spend the summer working on essays and journal articles but I think I’m going to work on editing short stories and writing Maybe it’s Wanchai?
I’m really looking forward to the next workshop.
After the workshop I wandered around the city and spoke to a homeless guy who told me his life story. Some people will hear the same story and think what a loser he is to have lost his inheritance. People are so quick to judge. All I thought about after our chat is how sick our society is when homeless people cannot get welfare because they have no fixed address. I feel ill knowing that many people subscribe to the idea that people who lose half of one leg should stand on the other.
Compassion must not die!
The guy told me that earlier in the evening he was fined for loitering and there’s no way he can pay the fine. He doesn’t mind going to jail for a few days because at least he’ll get three meals, a bed and a shower.
We had a chat about how ridiculous it was that I can walk into a hotel lobby and rest for a while when it’s too cold or windy but he can’t because of the way he looks. I probably wouldn’t have stopped to talk to him if I was in a big city because I’m used to the idea of big cities being harsh and unforgiving landscapes full of forgotten people. I’m not used to seeing homeless people in Perth because Perth is like a big country town to me. I probably stopped to chat with the guy because he reminded me of a former student.
I’ve always had an issue with Will Smith’s film The Pursuit of Happiness, a rags-to-riches story about a guy who goes from a public toilet to Wall Street. Why was he living in a public toilet with a kid in the first place?
Northbridge had a friendlier vibe yesterday because of the Pride festival so I hope he had a safe night. He’s been waiting for housing for a while now and I hope he gets it soon.