No Easy Options

Despite all evidence to the contrary, I’ve been sitting here squashed under the impression that writers concentrate on one type of writing at a time.  If you’re a fiction writer, write fiction.  If you’re a travel writer, focus on that and so on.

I don’t know how I fell in to this line of thought.  There are thousands of great authors who started off in journalism, progressed from columns to novels or moved from script writing to other fields.

As stupid as it seems, it wasn’t until I attended a conference in Tauranga recently that it dawned on me I should be writing in every area I possibly can.

The conference was called No Easy Options and focused on what it takes to be a successful writer in New Zealand, touching on publishing options, fiction and non-fiction work choices and the experiences of a number of experts in those areas.

Author and TV personality Emily Perkins spoke about writing in New Zealand as compared to her experience as a working writer in London and her path to becoming a published author.  She spoke passionately about the ability of writing to connect one human to another, help us transcend our lives and empathise with others in a way no other art form can.

What stood out for me, was her emphasis on the need for writers to take on whatever, and as much, writing as they can.  Even if the job seems totally unrelated to your writing journey, grab it and make contacts, diversify your skills and improve your scope.

Author and columnist Steve Braunias spoke next.  I’ve recently reviewed his latest book Smoking in Antarctica for my writing group.  As a writer, his social commentary on NZ life and people continually hits the nail on the head.  In person he is irreverently funny, endearing and a Barry Manilow lookalike all thrown in to one.

Last to speak was long time publisher and octogenarian, Dame Christine Cole Catley.  Her lengthy history in publishing is fascinating and she is in the process of writing her memoirs.  She remembers kiwi writing icons like Janet Frame, Frank Sargeson and Michael King in detail. 

A certain amount of focus on your writing project is essential but as all three industry experts summed up, there are no easy options and there never has been.  So diversification makes sense.  Put your head down and write, write, write.

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