National Youth Week / Writerly Types

Writerly Types: Duncan Felton


Duncan Felton

What’s that?  Another interview for our Youth Week Writerly Types series?  That’s right!  Today we have Duncan Felton, Professional Library Dweller, Somewhat-Professional Writer, Editor and Publisher, Scissors Paper Pen Co-coordinator and Grapple Publishing Page Grappler.

What is a typical work day like for you?
I try to wake early to get some writing, editing or even just emailing in first thing. Then, four days a week, I’m off to work at the NLA in a vaguely 9 to 5 configuration.  On said work days, when I’m not wrangling books, assisting library users, doing desk work or any of my other duties, I grab spare moments and breaks where I can to read, email, sort out all sorts of admin stuff and write little scraps and fragments here and there. At the best of times, this frees me up to do the more focused work outside of work.

So in the evenings, and especially on my three days off each week, I try not to be too much of a lazy hermit. Outside of helping to run Scissors Paper Pen events or the Saturday SPP radio show, my current pre-occupation is knuckling down on some edits for The Grapple Annual. Other times I’ll be slowly (oh-so-slowly) making my way towards a finished story, poem or other wordsy construction. The remaining times are for reading, watching The Wire, interwebbernetting, cooking, eating, sleeping, and other things that have little apparent relation to writing, editing or publishing work. But maybe that’s when all the good work is done?

What advice do you have for people just starting out in your field?
There’s plenty of advice out there for writer/editor types. The essential points are: read, write, edit and persevere. Other advice is probably more autobiographical. Here are my three points:

  • Learn to say yes: take on opportunities, create opportunities, apply for things, accept offers, put yourself out there. Do this until things are going too well, until you have the luxury of choice and experience, and you know what you want to focus on. Then: learn to say no.
  • Do stuff that scares you or that you think you shouldn’t suck at so bad.. For me (and for many), that means anything related to public speaking, reading or performing. When doing this sort of thing: over-prepare, then go with the flow, and realise you feel way more freaked out than you appear to others. You’ll get away with it, and with practice, you’ll get better at it. You’ll be not quite as terrified and you’ll suck at it less consistently. You might even enjoy it sometimes, and it’ll be a valuable tool to add to your imaginary wordsmith utility belt
  • Take advantage of your age. Not only do you get seemingly endless holidays while you’re school-age, there are so many opportunities that you’ll miss when you’re older. Submit stuff to Voiceworks, get involved with Express Media (and, quick plug, Scissors Paper Pen) and, hey, attend Youth Week events while you’re still under 25, while you still can. You never know what it’ll all lead to. Hopefully you’ll set yourself up nicely for the coming decades, when you have to blend in with rest of us oldies.
4. Do you have any exciting things coming up?
I’m very excited to be editing, designing and preparing the first edition of The Grapple Annual for launch by May. It’s going to be a marvellous miscellany of stories, poems, non-fiction, comics and art from Canberra, Australia and the world. After that’s out, I’m going to start writing again, and I’m very excited about that too.
5. We love recommendations – anything caught your eye lately? Maybe it’s a book you couldn’t put down, or a film that you wanted to immediately rewatch, or a website that made it to your bookmarks.
I’m too focused on The Grapple Annual for much other in-depth stuff for now, but I have been listening (on constant repeat) to the latest album by The Drones, the cacophonous, devastating and lyrically brilliant I Sea Seaweed. I might have to stop soon though. Almost every song is about climate change catastrophe, overpopulation, technology-induced ennui and/or the general inhumanity of humanity. I think it’s making me cynical. But it’s just so good.
Click here to go to Duncan’s twitter, or find him at Scissors Paper Pen and Grapple Publishing.

This interview is part of a series for National Youth Week 2014 called Writerly Types. Click here for yesterday’s interview with Ellen Harvey.

One thought on “Writerly Types: Duncan Felton

  1. Pingback: Writerly Types: Jack Heath | CAPITAL LETTERS

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