So much has happened since I last wrote. First of all, the PhD paralysis passed and I finished the semi-final draft of my thesis at the end of September – yes, even the exegesis! I had to spend a long time in the PhD isolation ward, where I swore profusely at my computer screen, googled things like: ‘How do I muster up the energy to finish my thesis?’, and listened to Bob Dylan’s Desire album … where he sings ‘The way is long but the end is near.’ Oh, so true. Strangely enough, I actually like my exegesis now and I can’t understand why it took so long to write. As I wait for my supervisors’ final comments, I can relax – take a breath – and re-enter the world.
I’ve just returned from a celebratory writing retreat at the coast with my dear friend, Edwina Shaw. After reading and commenting on Edwina’s latest manuscript – a gripping work of fiction based on a horrific true crime – I spent the remainder of the retreat walking on the beach, swimming, and lying on my swag under the trees. In the evenings, Edwina and I sat on the verandah of our cabin and drank whisky and chatted about writerly matters – like the best way to write bios of different word lengths and our next projects. I’m so fortunate to have a writing-friend like Edwina. Check out Edwina’s report about our retreat: http://edwinashaw.com/2014/10/08/retreat-by-the-sea/
Along with celebrating my ‘almost-finished’ thesis, Edwina and I also raised our glasses to … wait for it … my book contract with University of Queensland Press! YES! In July 2015, UQP are going to publish my memoir about my involvement with BackTrack Youth Works in Armidale. All of this came about through the efforts of Brian Cook, who is now my literary agent. Thank you, Brian, and thank you Alexandra Payne, the non-fiction publisher at UQP, who loved my manuscript and pushed it through the acquisitions meeting. Life can change so quickly – I signed contracts for a publisher and an agent in one week. After I heard the news from UQP, I rang Bernie Shakeshaft, whose work features in the memoir-manuscript. I could barely form coherent sentences I was so excited, and when he heard the news, Bernie said: ‘It was always going to happen … but good that it happened.’ Yes. What a relief.
Edwina now calls me her ‘poster girl for resilience’, and although it has been a long haul, my experience confirms that successful writers are the ones who don’t give up. Keep the faith.
Fantastic, Helena! Congratulations on all fronts – I’m so pleased to hear you’re doing so well, and in such an avalanchey fashion! I believe that’s often the way – a seemingly endless period of hard slog, knockbacks and self-doubt, before success bursts through. Also delighted to hear you celebrated in a such a lovely fashion, going on retreat with Edwina. Can’t wait for the book to come out. Good on you!
That’s wonderful news, Helena. You give us hope, those of us trying to get our manuscripts published. Resilience and perseverance are the key. Congratulations.
Thanks folks … just got to keep believing in yourself and your writing. I’m sure I’ll hear similar stories from both of you soon 🙂
Thank you for the encouraging comments, Helena. And hearty congratulations on the book. That is very exciting. I am almost there too – still at the shouting at the computer stage, but yes, the end is in sight …
I’m sure shouting obscenities at the computer is a normal part of the process, Linda – and it signals you are almost at the end. Go for it!