Category Archives: Telling Your Story

Writing Starts with Questions?

Most writing starts with a question or a what if scenario.

What if we allow same-sex marriage?

What if you had three months to live?

What if you found out you had magical powers when you thought you were small, powerless and unwanted?

What would you do if you found out your partner was cheating on you?

As a writer, it’s your job to try to answer these questions. It’s through the writing that you will nut out the answers or solutions to a problem that your reader might have or the character in the story might have. You may not have all the answers but you can offer the reader some arguments, ideas or solutions that help them come to their own conclusion.

Readers are looking for something all the time. It might be that they feel lost or indecisive and these solutions can be presented in many ways through story. It doesn’t matter whether that story is fact or fiction because it’s the truth in the story that will make itself known. Even a simple love story has to be anchored in reality.

Truth? you say.

Yes, even fiction carries truth. In fact, without it the reader won’t connect with the story and will dismiss it very quickly.

Quite often the reader will already know the answer to their question but it’s from reading it in someone else’s words that helps to validate their own beliefs and ideas and cements a solution for them.

Here’s an example: We have been told through the ages that the ‘little guy’ can defeat the all powerful, that size doesn’t matter. These stories are played out in stories such as The Fellowship of the Ring, Harry Potter or countless biographies. The reader is looking for examples of how they might survive despite feeling like they have no choices, no power in their life.

Think about this when you’re writing. What is the truth that you are giving the reader? You have a lifetime of lived experience to share with your reader. They have questions, wants, and needs that they are looking for answers to.

 

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The Genesis of Busybird Publishing – the short story

The Genesis of Busybird Publishing, image by Les Zig

Many people ask me about why the business is called Busybird. I guess it was an organic genesis. Let me try to give you a short version …

When I was a child living in the bush, I spent a lot of time hiding under a blanket watching birds. My favourite bird was the cheeky Willie Wagtail flitting from branch to branch showing off his beautiful blue-black tail feathers in all their fanlike glory, and the little Superb Fairy-wren, so delicate and pretty.

This fascination was further encouraged when my stepfather went to Melbourne and came home with posters of bird species from the Royal Melbourne Zoo. My little brain would attempt to pronounce the Latin names without much success but I learned about what noises the Whipbird made or what region the Welcome Swallow lived in.

Fast forward to adulthood and I began to collect bird trinkets: earrings, necklaces, scarves, ornaments, even a bluebird tattoo. Friends and family started to give me gifts that featured birds. I’m not sure what this fascination is about. It may be that I am an air sign, or I love the idea of the freedom that wings might give me.

In 1998, when I was making handmade cards (using feathers as a design element), it seemed very natural to name a business ‘Busybird’. I wasn’t after the ideal of ‘being busy’ but more so the industriousness of my feathered friends.

In partnership with my husband Kev Howlett, we tackled design and photographic work. The digital landscape was changing rapidly during this time. We got one of the first ‘bubble’ Macs, I learned how to send an email and got my first mobile phone (a red Nokia, no querty keyboard). I still have the same mobile phone number today.

We were fortunate to get a contract with Ford Motor Company digitizing their catalogues and this kept us very busy for almost ten years. But like anything in technology, a company in Sri Lanka out priced us and we lost the contract. At the time were were devastated but it allowed me to go back to school to learn about publishing. I had intended to learn about writing in order to finish my novel but I fell in love with the publishing process.

In 2007, while studying my Diploma in Writing & Editing, I met Les Zigomanis. We immediately found that we worked well together and had similar views about the writing industry. We decided to publish a short story anthology called [untitled] with a couple of the other students.

This was a VERY steep learning summit. This experience made us realize how many mistakes you can make when you don’t have all the knowledge about self-publishing, in terms of time and money.

This experience also made me realize that this is where I wanted to be: bringing books to life. I love the whole process and I love being part of this journey with people. It really can be cathartic, life changing, satisfying, frustrating, fun and rewarding.

Ten years on (we changed the trading name to Busybird Publishing) and we’ve  (the whole Busybird team) now worked with over 200 people to bring their book out into the world, and countless others to improve their writing.

I like to think that we are like a midwife. We’ll hold your hand, wipe your brow and whisper words of encouragement. We’ll also be there when you hold that baby up to the light and bask in the wonder of what you have created because we feel as much pride in the outcome as the creator.

What a blessing to be able to help give something wings and release it out into the universe. Everyone deserves a chance to have their story told, to have a voice. It’ll have different resonance for different people but it’s the value of being able to tell it as much as it being accepted by a reader.

If you’ve been thinking about your story, why not attend my next Life Writing session THIS Saturday.

Blaise, the book chick

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