Trust Me, I'm a Storyteller

December 19, 2010

Wanted: Your views on E-Books – Campaign to save the Dorothea Mackellar Award – and ‘A Bunch of Hazelnuts’.

 

Are you a publisher, editor, author?

If so, the government is interested in hearing your views on E-Books, according to Barry Jones in his article in the Sydney Morning Herald.

For more about how you can have your thoughts and opinion heard  and for the full article — go to the Sydney Morning Herald, The future of books is a real page-turner by Barry Jones, December 13, 2010 

Barry Jones is the chairman of the Book Industry Strategy Group. Ideas can be submitted to www.innovation.gov.au/bisg until January 31.

An example of a New E-Book reader

Take a look at some of the new E-Book covers available now.


 

Hot on the heels of the campaign to save our School Magazine, we now hear news of another campaign to save the Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards.

'My Country' by Dorothea Mackellar

A recent report found that: A new international study shows Australian students compare well to those overseas, but the nation is slipping when it comes to literacy. But despite scoring well in literacy, Australia has still slipped in the ratings. “Australia is one of only five OECD countries in which reading literacy levels have declined,” said Geoff Masters, chief executive of the Australian Council for Educational Research, which conducted the national part of the study. “So we have fewer 15-year-olds now performing at high levels in reading than we did in the year 2000.

You can read the  full ABC article: Australian students’ literacy levels declining by Timothy McDonald.

 

  If this is the case, then why are Australian Federal and State governments reducing funding and support for these Australian literary icons? Surely, they have proved their worth by their longevity and popularity?

 If you’re interesting in lending your support for the Dorothea Mackellar Awards to continue, please read the article From the NSW Association for Gifted & Talented Children website http://nswagtc.org.au/mynswagtc/news/1204-dorotheas-demise.html

    

Dorothea Mackellar

HELP SAVE THE DOROTHEA MACKELLAR AWARDS

 WHAT YOU CAN DO –

Send your objections to Graham.Nuttall@aph.gov.au  and/or Tony.Windsor@aph.gov.au Tell these people how important poetry is in Australia and to Australian children. At a time when literacy is supposed to be a priority, it seems absurd that this funding would have been cut. 

 


 

Multi-award winning author, Hazel Edwards shares a story of tutoring an adult writing class and the resulting Bunch of Hazelnuts:

Hazel Edwards: A Tutor’s Perspective

A Bunch of Hazelnuts

 All adult writing classes are different. Chances are you’ll have experts from varied fields, and that’s the delight. We all learn together. Classmates include engineers, rap musicians, truckies, hairdressers, potters, gardeners, singers, psychologists, nannies, herbalists, actors, speech pathologists, teachers, parents, chemists, check-out chicks and roosters, interpreters, illustrators, and I’ve even had an ex-spy in an earlier class. Many speak and write multiple languages.

It just so happens that my skills are in crafting ideas in accessible English and anecdultery (structuring mini stories with humour). Age, shape, gender or culture doesn’t matter, except in the first five minutes in the opening class, and in providing perspectives and facts from which to write.

My adult students are aware of my deficiencies in admin, formatting and filling in rolls. But I hope they gain a realistic insight into the workstyle of a professional creator.

Most people who enrol for a year-long writing project course, have a subject about which they are passionate. Their content matters. They have ‘real’ experience of value to others in our society. They just need help writing it. Often ‘tragic’ historical material needs to be crafted so the writer can make sense of a past, but the reader is not overwhelmed and rejects the story.  Common strands are those who wish to write aspects of their family history for grandkids or to make sense of their migrant parents’ earlier struggles. Others want to write How to books in their specialties, such as health, cooking or racing. Some plan autobiographies but often settle on ‘memoirs’ focussing on important stages.

Writing is more than therapy. An amateur writes for the love of writing and for themselves as the only reader (or maybe their Mum). A professional invests time to craft those ideas and experiences in a format more people will read, so it’s effective use of time, both ways.

As a self-employed author, I encourage habits which will enable creators to work regularly and to a high standard, but also to get recognition for their efforts. We ‘celebrate’ acceptance, publication or awards, with champagne, or even an ‘imaginary’ toast. Networking is encouraged, beyond the class, so that those with a significant story to tell about extra-ordinary ‘so called ordinary’ people, can do so.

 Why do I teach in a TAFE as a sessional lecturer? I was asked to ‘fill in’ by author Garry Disher, about 20 years ago. I enjoy seeing the ‘light bulb’ moment when an adult student understands I am a mentor, partly because I didn’t have a writing mentor when I needed one as a beginning author. I consider that I am ‘giving back’ in practical ways from the viewpoint of a practitioner, not an academic dealing only in theory.

I’m also an authorpreneur, aware of the need for an artist to learn media skills and to initiate paid work. TAFE courses offer ‘a second chance’ to those who wish to learn new skills when they are ready to do so, at any age. When an adult student ‘gets it together’ in a well-crafted piece, this gives me pleasure.

Taking a weekly class, forces me to analyse techniques, and keep up with topical examples. We swap recommended books. A writing tutor’s role is to offer technical suggestions, and set up a workshopping environment in which people’s stories can be crafted for a wider audience. The rest of the class create the public opinion responses (which may differ) enabling ‘testing’ of those ideas.

Commercial publication is not the only aim, but on average 3-4 books are published by major publishers within a couple of years of those students completing their year-long course. Others find their aims change. Completing the writing of a book length project is a creative achievement, inspiring the confidence to tackle other goals.

Many ex-students retain contact, because friendships have been formed from the depth of ideas explored, or from new socialising via galleries, book launches and festival attendance. Lives have been deepened because others’ motivations are better understood.

 A ‘freelance’ used to be a medieval mercenary with a lance for hire. A freelance writer can be many things. An ex-student, now a published author and exhibited artist, told me that a ‘filbert’ is a cultured hazel nut, and maybe that could be my pseudonym. A freelance filbert? A bunch of filberts doesn’t have the same ambiguity of title, but … Titles are vital. I am proud that my students have called this a Hazelnuts Collection, or even colloquially the ‘Hazelnits’. Playing with words works.

Hazel Edwards (c) 2010

http://www.hazeledwards.com/

Of Hazel Edwards’ 200 published books for adults and children, the best known is There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake, soon to be a film with Pocket Bonfire Productions. In 2010 she wrote the novel f2m:the boy within, on transitioning gender, with Ryan Kennedy who is the first ftm.( female to male) co-author of YA fiction on this subject internationally. On the Australian Society of Authors committee of management, Hazel holds the Education portfolio. She’s been nominated for the international 2011 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award and is a recipient of the peer awarded ASA Medal in 2009. She’s also proud of her ‘espionage network of ex-students’ using their writing skills in diverse occupations.

Thanks, Hazel, for your inspiring story – I’m sure a Hazelnuts Collection is a great read.

   

  

Happy writing, until next time,

Sharon

 

 

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