Posted on March 11, 2019 by ACT Writers Centre
Karen Wyld lives in SA but her grandmother’s country (Martu) is in the Pilbara (WA). She is a freelance writer, author and consultant. Karen regularly contributes op-eds for NITV and IndigenousX, and has been published in Al Jazeera, Meanjin, Junkee and Guardian Australia. She writes trade reviews for Books & Publishing, and has been published in Sydney Review of Books. Her debut novel When Rosa Came Home was short-listed for the 2015 SA People’s Choice Award, and her draft manuscript Where the Fruit Falls was short-listed in the 2017 Richell Prize.
Applications for HARDCOPY 2019 – nonfiction, close at 4pm on Friday 15 March. APPLY NOW
You were the inaugural recipient of HARDCOPY’s First Nations Australia Writers’ Network Scholarship, in 2018 – can you tell us about your experience of HARDCOPY?
I’d not have been able to participate in HARDCOPY without financial support, so I’m grateful to Nigel Featherstone and Dr Sandra Phillips for the vision to create this scholarship. I also acknowledge ACT Writers for supporting First Nations writers, and Australia Council for the Arts for funding the scholarship. Spending time with other writers and meeting more people in the literature and publishing sector was a good experience. Writing is a solitary activity, so HARDCOPY provides a space to share frustrations and successes. And these connections can continue beyond the program. A solo road-trip from Adelaide for the first block provided me with a few days of car-karaoke and time-out to think about my manuscript – I really needed that trip. The first block, titled ‘The Best MS’, was very skills-orientated as Nadine Davidoff took us through the nuts and bolts of writing. As a self-taught writer, relying on Google and how-to books, it was a surprise to discover that my writing was on the right track.
The second block, ‘Intro2Industry’, was presented in an entertaining format – three days of listening to expert panels and guest speakers. Some of this information I already knew but I appreciated the revision.
What was the most productive component of HARDCOPY for you?
HARDCOPY helped me recognise that I’m doing okay with building a career as a writer. Looking back at what I’ve had published (mostly non-fiction) since getting accepted into the HARDCOPY program, ‘writer’ is now my main occupation. Listening to Wenona Byrne, Director of Literature for the Australia Council for the Arts, in the second block inspired me to apply to be a peer assessor. Being a peer has given me more insight into the industry, and it’s another opportunity to support other writers.
Perhaps the most productive component for me was the third block, known as Round 2 [or ‘Going Public’]. Ten of the 2018 cohort were selected by application to participate. Over two days, we listened to industry panels, and had 1:1 session with agents and publishers who had read extracts from our manuscripts. Expert feedback is rare for new/emerging writers, so this was a valuable experience. There were mixed reactions to my extract, but some of the agents and publishers really ‘got’ me and my work. Whilst praise is nice, I also received concrete advice on areas that I needed to work on. Despite sparks of hope, that weekend didn’t lead to further communications. The roller-coaster of hope/rejection/hope is a big part of being a writer, but now I have more skills and confidence to approach publishers and agents.
What’s your advice for those considering applying to the program and specifically for the First Nations Australia Writers’ Network Scholarship?
I found applying for HARDCOPY fairly straightforward. My overall advice for anyone submitting an application would be to follow the guidelines on the ACT Writers website and give yourself plenty of time. If you can, ask someone with writing or academic experience to read through your application. Most importantly, kick imposter syndrome to the kerb and believe in yourself!
If FNAWN members are interested in applying for the First Nations Australia Writers scholarship, it’s a good idea to contact Nigel Featherstone, HARDCOPY project coordinator, to discuss what the scholarship offers and eligibility criteria. And I’m available if people have any questions about my experiences with the HARDCOPY program and scholarship, or need someone to look over their application.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Querying the manuscript I worked on during HARDCOPY is my priority for 2019. It’s been years in the making, and has undergone major re-writes. I’ve been at the point of abandoning this concept many times. However, Where the Fruit Falls was accepted into HARDCOPY parts 1 and 2, awarded a First Nations Writers/HARDCOPY Scholarship, and short-listed for the 2017 Richell Prize – so it’s a story worth fighting for. I’ve quite a few manuscripts in different stages of development. This year, I’ll probably finish my dark comedy Dingo Creek Literary Festival, before returning to more serious works. Later in 2019, I’ve a piece being published in a speculative fiction anthology. And I’m currently in discussion about working on a non-fiction book for children. While working on these creative projects, I’ll continue to write op-eds, articles, book reviews and short stories. Freelancing is not easy, so I rely on my wonderful patrons on Patreon to stay afloat, and for occasional boosts of encouragement. HARDCOPY has helped me believe I can do this! It’s now up to me to find more doors to open.
Website: karenwyld.com / Twitter: @1KarenWyld