Tag Archives: memoir

Find Your Tribe – The Writing Secret

Open mic night 60 at Busybird Publishing

My love of story goes back to the mid seventies when I was a barefooted girl living in the bush. Back then, I had no point of reference when it came to my tribe because I had one and was well and truly loved and accepted. I was free to be myself.

When I went to boarding school I was suddenly without my tribe and had to learn how to fend for myself and to navigate the confusing relationships that go with teenage territory. I suddenly had no voice and stopped being myself. I also stopped loving stories – writing or reading them.

This is not a unique story. Just about everyone I know has experienced the slow suppression of his or her true self. We fight against society norms or what we thinkwe should be doing. Unless we find the right tribe early on, it can take a long time to live how we truly want to live. We are always searching for somewhere to belong but at what cost?

About 13 years ago, I was at a crossroads in my life. In hindsight, this was a special situation for me because I was at a point where I could decide where I was going. Luckily I chose what was really in my heart. I wanted to pursue what I wanted, not what I had been doing. I wanted to write.

I saw a flyer about an open mic night for writers. I went on my own. You could say that night changed my life. Not in a big bang sort of way but a dawning of consciousness. I didn’t participate or talk to anyone. I sat up the back and observed, which is my natural way. I went again the next month. I loved hearing people reading their work and I started to write again. At the end of the second night, one of the organisers came up to say hi and chatted to me. He was a teacher at the local TAFE. Within months I was enrolled in a writing course and you could say I was now part of a cult. A good one. I found a tribe and realised that maybe I wasn’t as weird as I thought. Or maybe the things that I wanted were not out of my reach.

When I started my own publishing business I realised that so many writers deal with isolation, depression and anxiety. I searched for ways to create a safe haven. I wanted a place where people could go to feel nurtured and less lonely. Those open mic nights had stayed with me.

Fast-forward 13 years to our own open mic night at Busybird Publishing. As I sat listening to each reader last night at our 60thopen mic night, it struck me how much the writers had grown and improved in their writing. How much fun they were having! Isn’t this what it’s all about? To create, share and have fun?

We have many regulars who have been coming for years, and many who have now been published. And so often the comments after the readings harp back to it’s so good to hang out with like-minded people. To be part of a tribe.

Of course, I’m not saying that coming to our open mic nights is responsible for good writers, but I know it helps on so many levels. People feel safe to share their work and by doing so can get feedback. This can only help them improve their craft as well as confidence. My hope for all writers is that they search out the like-minded people who can help them in their writing journey. It’s too lonely to do it on your own. Stories need to be shared and are pretty irrelevant if they aren’t.

I’d like to thank Barry Carozzi (that TAFE teacher) for those open mic nights. I don’t think he realises that they meant so much to me and I’d like to think that I’m carrying the baton along with my Busybird family.

Busybird Publishing runs open mic night on the third Wednesday of the month, February to November.

Blaise the book chick

Event Review – Breaking the Code: from published to best-selling author

Breaking the Code: from published to best-selling author

Last weekend, Les Zig and I were part of this two-day festival held at the Belgian Beer Café at Southbank in Melbourne. The venue was very apt for writerly activity and the program was jam-packed with great topics for anyone wanting to learn about writing and publishing.

Best-selling author is the thing we are all chasing. Or is it? Simply being published could be what many authors would be happy with and that was the topic of many of the discussions at Breaking the Code last weekend.

The brain-child of Mat Clarke and Suraya Dewing, Breaking the Code was a mammoth task. It’s hard to pull off a program like this for the first time. Of course, there were some teething problems and the venue wasn’t perfect (aside from the beer) but overall, I think it was a success.

Of course, our session From Writer to Reader was well received because we were giving an overview of the writing to publishing process. We always aim to educate people on the pitfalls, not because we want to depress people but because we want them to be well armed with knowledge to prevent wasted time and money. There were great questions from the audience and a real attitude for sharing ideas and knowledge in the room.

There were two standout sessions that I think really gave a great perspective on promoting your book. The first was a session with Clare Dea, author of The One Breast Goddess. Clare is a specialist in speaking, so this enhanced her presentation but her overarching message was to be authentic. Own your story. When you think about this in terms of your book you might be totally confused. ‘Of course, I’ll “own” my story because I wrote it!’ But this isn’t what she’s talking about. Clare means that when it comes to promoting your book, you are the brand. This means that you don’t offer your book out to the reader and think that it’s so great that the writing will do the work of getting the book to that elusive best-seller status.

A book isn’t a book until someone reads it. So while you MUST make sure it’s well written, and that the publishing produces a great product, that is only the start of the journey. You need to then become a person who is willing to get in front of people and “own” who you are and tell everyone about your book.

The other stand out for me was Ander Louis from Up and Up Media. Andrew liked to compare the music industry to publishing. There were two things that Andrew said that really resonated with me. One was that it’s cool to call yourself an indie publisher rather than self-publisher (just like in the music industry, it’s cool to call yourself an indie musician).  And just like in the music industry, as an indie artist, it takes time to gather a following. You have to do the local pubs before you make it to bigger venues. Translating this to books is helpful in looking at ways to get in front of readers.

There was a wealth of knowledge in the room at Breaking the Code and I came away with some new things to try. I hope they run it again next year. Like anything, it takes a few years to get a following and this format is no exception.

Blaise the book chick.