National Youth Week / Writerly Types

Writerly Types: Yolande Norris

Speaking pic

Photo taken by Adam Thomas

Today for our Youth Week Writerly Types interview series, we spoke to Yolande Norris. Her career has travelled from arts marketing, to being a gallery manager and curator, to a producer of arts festivals, and now to doing a bit of everything all rolled into one. All the while she’s been a writer and intermittent blogger.

What is a typical work day like for you?
Like many people I have my day job and then other projects and jobs (some paid and some not) that I work on outside of this. I’m one of the fortunate ones in that my day job is part-time! I’m working with Big hART – an arts and social change company who run long-term arts projects in communities around Australia. My day starts with lots of coffee and then there are all sorts of things I could be working on; marketing and PR, managing social media, writing proposals, briefs and funding applications, creating web content and updating websites, and catching up with artists and producers who are working on various projects. We are all based all over the country and sometimes the world so we spend a lot of time on Skype and email. The projects have all sorts of different artistic outcomes, so on any given day I might be working toward a documentary, a theatre production, an exhibition, an album or even a comic book! That variety is great and no two days are the same.
Outside of the office I am chasing up correspondence and having meetings for other small projects, or dreaming and scheming up new ones (more coffee- you spend a lot of time in cafés with this line of work). Most writing work I do in the evenings, particularly in bed when I should be asleep.
What advice do you have for people just starting out in your field?
Intern! It was possibly the best thing I ever did. It really set the wheels in motion for me, having some actual experience on my CV. Even though you might just spend a lot of time getting coffee for people it is extremely valuable to see workplaces from the inside and figure out how it all works. If you can spare a day a week to volunteer or intern somewhere relevant to your interests then I would highly recommend it. Even better if you can tie this in with your time at Uni.
Once you are working and especially when you’re starting out it is important to know your product. If you are interested in writing and publishing, go to all the writing and publishing events you possibly can. If you are interested in the visual arts sector then go to all the exhibitions and galleries you find, and so on. And don’t be afraid to talk to people you admire! For me, many great things have come about from randomly emailing people whose work interests me and asking to meet for a chat over coffee. You feel like a huge dork doing it, but people are mostly lovely, interesting and generous with sharing their advice and experiences.
Do you have any exciting things coming up?
I’m having my first piece of poetry published later this year, which is exciting and extremely nerve-wracking. It’ll be in the forthcoming Grapple Annual, from Grapple Publishing.  And 2014 is shaping up to be a big year for Big hART, in the best possible way!

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.Lately I’ve been reading (and thinking and writing) a lot about Canberra’s history. I’ve particularly enjoyed Paul Daley’s ‘Canberra’ and ‘The Moth Hunters’ by Josephine Flood. And I am still pouring over ‘Head Full of Flames’ – the huge book that came out with the exhibition at CMAG by the same name, about the punk scene in Canberra from the 70s to the 90s. So many amazing stories and images.


You can check out big hART, or follow Yolande on twitter.

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

One thought on “Writerly Types: Yolande Norris

  1. Pingback: Writerly Types: Farz Edraki | CAPITAL LETTERS

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