by Nigel Featherstone
It’s not the sort of secret your friends spread around like…well, best insert your favourite simile here. Their secrets are about who’s seeing who, who had an especially rough night, who’s quit which band and is now playing drums – drums! – with that band. Meanwhile, you’ve kept your secret to yourself. For months. For years, if the truth be told. Which is such a long time to keep anything to yourself. But it’s now starting to burn a hole through your skin and your clothes.
You’re getting desperate. To tell people that you’ve been working on a story, as in a novel, as in you really seriously want to write good words, good sentences, create characters, put them through the ringer – you really want to be a writer. It’s the first thing you think about when you wake, it’s the last thing you think about when you go to sleep. When people ask you to join them on yet another nocturnal adventure, you’re at home having your own nocturnal adventure – in the world of this manuscript. The one that you’ve been crafting and caring for and loving like nothing else, the one that started life on a cafe napkin, which made its way to a notepad, which is now boiling in the guts of your laptop.
What do you do? What hope is there?
The good news – and quite frankly it’s friggin’ fantastic news – is the ACT Writers Centre is here to save the day. Save you and your manuscript at the very least.
The brainchild of the Centre’s unstoppable director Kelli-anne Moore, HARDCOPY 2014 is a new initiative that has been designed to provide all the support an emerging Australian fiction writer needs. ‘We’re pretty damn excited about delivering this program,’ said Kelli-anne, her eyes lighting right up. ‘It’s a tough environment out there for fiction writers at the moment, and we’re keen to provide the best possible professional development opportunities. And a fair bit of nurturing, too.’
In essence HARDCOPY is a six-month program of masterclasses and seminars.
It starts with a three-day workshop in May with professional freelance editor Kevin O’Brien, who will be coming all the way from South Australia to present everything he knows about how to produce an excellent fiction manuscript. Participants will then disappear to their suburbs and hometowns and their garrets (or bedroom corner, or pub, or garden shed – however it has to be done) to bring their work up to speed. In September, the writers will come back together for three days of seminars covering everything from how to submit manuscripts and what do agents bring to the party to knowing your audience.
The kicker in this whole HARDCOPY thing is that a handful of the participating writers will be invited to return in November to spend time with literary mover and shaker Mary Cunnane, and – here’s the place where you can practice your drumrolls – a panel of Australian publishers.
Does all this float your boat? Yeah? Because you just can’t keep this secret manuscript of yours under-wraps for any longer?
Best you head to http://www.actwriters.org.au/ for all the information.
Applications close Friday 4 April 2014. Places are strictly limited.
HARDCOPY has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body. The ACT Writers Centre is supported by the ACT Government.