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working like a boss

It’s twelve months since I accepted the gig of fiction editor at Overland and I’ve just finished co-judging the second Short Story Competition – the shortlist will be announced soon and the winners with the publication of issue 213. The quality was excellent once again – I’ll be writing more in my judge’s report. I’m proud to be a part of Overland, and proud of its ongoing commitment to nurturing emerging writers.

I’ve also been hard at work putting together volume 8 of the Review of Australian Fiction, a plucky journal which is building quite a strong following for itself and will be turning two at the beginning of next year. As a guest curator, I set a 50% Indigenous quota for the volume and consulted with my friend Ali Cobby Eckermann to ensure it reached its target with some emerging writers – and I’m very pleased with the results. I won’t give the whole list of contributors away just yet, but there are some great new stories from Ali Alizadeh, Tara June Winch, Alice Melike &#220lgezer, and more, and I hope you all subscribe to the journal over at the website: http://reviewofaustralianfiction.com/

It’s only $12.99 for twelve stories if you subscribe, and because it’s on a royalties model, more subscriptions = more pay for the writers. WIN/WIN!

In other news, I’m off to Tassie for the EWF roadshow at the end of October, where I’ll be delivering a keynote at the Digital Writers Conference. Very excited to be heading down to a writerly gig at MONA and catching up with some art, not to mention some lovely Hobartians. And hopefully find time to wander up Mt Wellington again.

All of this work has been wonderful, especially in terms of honing my skills as a reader and editor and critic, but it’s also swung the pendulum far far away from the book I’m trying to finish – the one that’s about time and responsibility. The one that’s taking twice as long and being three times as difficult as I thought it would be (I think they all are) and the one I think I’ve been trying to psychically escape from by working on other projects. Not writing is always harder on me emotionally than writing, so I’m looking forward to saying no to things for a while and freeing up some time. It’s a wavering balance of self-care and financial management. Before long I’ll swing back to penniless and lonesome and say-yes-to-everything mode. But hopefully not before I finish the book that will be my fourth.

As a full-time writer, it’s hard to gauge how hard you’re working. I quite often feel I’m not achieving anything at all for long stretches, especially when the writing feels sluggish, or I haven’t updated my blog in a while, or been running around at events. Then I look back at the work I’ve done and how much I’ve been learning and think ‘when did I write three-and-three-quarter books?’ and feel a bit tired. Being your own boss is great, but I have to remind myself to be a good one: to encourage mental health days and celebrate when things get done.