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