“I leave with most of a plot and 10,000 words of a brand new novel, plus a mind overflowing with possible twists and turns for this book. This has been a precious month of writing and thinking.”
From Ruth Massie at Seymour College: ‘This year the Year 11 Seymour students had the pleasure of having Western Australian author Amanda Betts as our Writer in Residence... Click See More to read all
I cannot overstate the positive impact the fellowship had on me and my writing. Having time and space to concentrate solely on the creative process is the greatest gift a writer can possess. The very existence of the fellowship validates both children’s literature and those who write it – and that validation played an important role in inspiring and motivating me to produce the best writing possible.
“Being able to reflect, rest and think in a quiet, uninterrupted and comfortable space certainly benefited my writing. I have had the most amazing kick-start to the year. I'm far ahead of where I expected to be and the momentum to keep going has been set firmly in place.”
‘The Fellowship is a living treasure that supports Australian authors and illustrators to continue producing valuable and significant literary works. In these very difficult economic times when opportunities are being squeezed from many facets of the industry, it is even more valuable and significant that this time is supported and encouraged. Creative individuals will always continue to develop their own bodies of work, but the Fellowship reinforces that other parts of the community value and want to promote creative works undertaken for the benefit of the broader community. The Fellowship upholds longevity, vision and forward thinking for our culture and the Arts as a whole. It actively supports and nurtures the creative voices of our time in Australian children’s literature.’
I found that my interaction with people from the Canberra CBC... provided me with valuable networking opportunities and an opportunity to expand my professional contact base.
I appreciated greatly the time to focus solely on starting my graphic novel project. It was doomed to the ‘one day when I get time’ drawer of life. The fellowship gave me the space to create a solid foundation and start the momentum of the project so that it can be easily continued at home between other tasks. It was a wonderful start to my new ‘apprenticeship’ in creating graphic novels.
Felicity’s journal entry describes how valuable the Fellowship was to her career trajectory as she had decided that she needed to reinvent herself. She says: Being here has given me courage and a belief in myself as a writer.
Artists get few opportunities to have dedicated time to work on their projects without distraction from work and life. At the Burrow I was able to draft 130 pages of my graphic novel memoir in just three weeks. Normally figuring out and editing that many pages would have taken me months! But the benefit of the residency was not only doing this work, but also to get a tonne of hard thinking done about the work. I was able to sit and think about the book and figure out the best way to write and draw the story. A luxury for any author!
‘Uninterrupted time at the studio was a welcome opportunity to complete a further draft of my new novel.’
The granting of the MGCT Fellowship was a godsend because it offered me an escape clause; a means of avoiding the daily interruptions and distractions and allowing me the opportunity to focus on the story I so desperately wanted to tell.
‘Having time away from home to write, while not thinking about the more mundane daily chores was great. Being in a new and previously unvisited location was inspiring and I really enjoyed walking everywhere and the café culture of Norwood. I loved the networking opportunities, making connections with many people I now consider friends.’
James was in residence at Scotch College prompting the teacher librarian’s comment: ‘What an incredible talent. I would recommend James to any school.’
Thank you for offering us such a fabulous opportunity. The students were enthralled by James’s storytelling and bewitched by his accounts of his literary (and other) adventures. I'm sure it's something that many students will remember all their lives. David Strempel, Teacher Librarian, Marryatville High School
“Words can’t express my appreciation to all at the May Gibbs Trust for giving me this opportunity of a lifetime. From the time of my initial application until now, I feel I have made giant strides.”
The fellowship provides a bubble of space where life’s responsibilities and pressures don’t exist. What was important was the project at hand. The time actually breeds and manifests creativity to the fullest, indulgent time, full immersion into the project.
‘It was a very interesting experience to take myself out of my normal life and live for a month in a place where there were no excuses not to write. I was frustrated with pinning down my ‘voice’ for the book during this period, but I did have time to explore the genre I was writing in, taking leisurely afternoons of sitting near the window in the sun and reading, while feeling only slightly guilty. This is what I enjoyed the most. Instead of having to squash my reading/research time into stolen moments, I brazenly sat with a pot of tea and explored to my heart’s content.’
I met with dozens of people in the children’s book industry & creative arts in Adelaide. Having barely been out of Newcastle in my 3 years since relocating to Australia this was amazing for me.
Best of all I had all that time to myself to quietly think and push ideas around without a deadline to pressure me. Sometimes time constraints are good in focusing the mind but on this occasion it was great just to drift and dream and then suddenly discover my head full of ideas.
She says: “The time aside to write was what was needed to push the book through…”
After four weeks in the Burrow, my newfound identity as an artist has deepened and it’s changed my every day habits for the better. I’ve made some incredible professional connections and friendships with some of Australia’s most talented artists.
While productivity is a very important part of the fellowship, it’s actually the journey of self-discovery that I went on over the course of the four weeks that was a true gift, and also very surprising.
There’s something about keeping yourself company, letting the planets in your own solar system of thoughts collide in to one another, that you begin to realise how different it is to write and draw with uninterrupted time. My writing was more lyrical, my characters deeper and more vivid, my drawing and painting looser and free. I had plenty of time to make (and correct) mistakes so the opportunity to really go off on a tangent and follow a thread to its end just to ‘see what happens’ was a true pleasure and it’s made a significant impact on the way I work post-Burrow.
‘As an emerging author, trying to balance full time work, writing and an addiction to HBO television, I am used to stealing time from my day, and working with distractions everywhere. … I was a fulltime writer with my only distraction being the occasional boil of the kettle – the opportunity to engross myself in my work so fully was not only a heap of fun, it meant I completed a manuscript (through 4 drafts) in 8 months as opposed to the usual 1-2 year slog.’
The flow of my ideas flourished in this environment and I found that as time went on, I became more and more productive and was able to write more quickly. It was joyful to be able to work for as long as I wished. There were plenty of times I wrote straight through at The Burrow only to look up and find it was 11pm. Unheard of! It’s so cliché to talk about ‘the gift of time’, but that what it was for me, an absolutely precious gift. It gave me time to slow down, to think, to reflect, to absorb myself completely with the task as hand, to delve deeply into my characters as I never have before.
“It felt so free to be fully immersed in my work. I found that random thoughts and funny lines came more freely than before… I found myself having a productive evening too. BONUS writing time. So it felt like 2 days for 1!”
“The Fellowship experience boosted my confidence as a writer. It’s tough starting out as an author, as it often seems like a select few, more experienced writers are always in the limelight, making you feel a little invisible. But while in Adelaide, as a Creative Time Fellow, this certainly wasn’t the case. I felt supported, encouraged and validated, which was a huge benefit to me.”
“The MGCLT Fellowship Residency was a marvellous privilege! Most authors have moments of self-doubt, but the Fellowship confirms and celebrates one’s ability, skill and professionalism as an author.”
“I cannot speak highly enough of the value of my Creative Time Residential Fellowship; having the dedicated time and space to work intensively on a new manuscript allowed me to achieve far more than I would at home in the same amount of time, and made it far easier to be truly absorbed in the work.”
“I was able to create and set in place better habits that I've maintained at home - less internet time, blocks of writing time, streamlining approaches etc. I have to admit, I wrote a list of goals before I left home, and achieved every one. I returned to 'normal' life creatively, physically and emotionally renewed.“
Visit http://www.readplus.com.au/blog_detail.php?id=5190 to read Fran Knight's interview with Sue for the Read Plus Review Blog
My life in Sydney is so hectic I have hardly any time to breathe, so nearly four weeks away in such a comfortable apartment in lovely Norwood was a godsend. I loved every part of my fellowship and am very proud to have a May Gibbs Literature Trust Fellow badge
“The vision and dedication of the founders and current directors and committee has given me what every writer craves – time and space to attend to the work. It is the greatest gift we can receive.”
“I would recommend time at The Burrow to any writer who needs space to develop or finish a project, or just needs thinking time to shape their future work.”
“There are many benefits to working as a May Gibbs Fellow in Brisbane. The most memorable is being provided with the opportunity to work in an interrupted mode for three weeks in a well-appointed and located apartment. The workshops I conducted in the fourth week were highly beneficial. The State Library arranged and managed them professionally and the teachers and schools that opted to involve their students did so because they wanted them to have a positive learning experience. The teachers had primed their classes with my books and historic fiction genre in mind, which allowed students to engage thoughtfully and positively. Discussions about a possible historic fiction set at the time of the 2010 – 2011 Brisbane floods, also provided me with insights into what 10-14 year old students saw as family and personal priorities during an emergency evacuation.”
Corinne made the most of her attendances at networking opportunities organised through the Trust’s support group. She acknowledged the support of this group, describing it as “perfect sprinklings of support and freedom.”
I thought that if I could get the main part of the research done during my residency and the plot outline for the books, I'd be well ahead. If things were going really well I thought I might get the first 30 or so pages written. I never dreamed that I'd achieve so much more. Not only did I complete the 56,000 word first draft of book one, but I also had so much time to read, meet with other authors and just enjoy being a writer.
‘Without (the) May Gibbs (Trust) I would never have had the creative space and time to develop this book, but rather I would have still have tantalising, but unrelated experiences swirling around in my imagination waiting to be developed into a story.’
"Without this important time I just wouldn't have completed the verse novel, which is now in the hands of publishers. Thank you to all involved in making these fellowships possible - the life blood of Australian children's authors, poets and illustrators."
“Without the fellowship, I would not have been able to write this book. I was able to hold the story together in my head without any of the distractions of home.”
‘The 2013 May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust Creative Time Fellowship has been much more than a residency. While the main aim of providing focused creative time to achieve a writing objective was important and also successful (as I completed a picture book manuscript); it also signalled a fresh and vibrant reflection my life as a professional writer. The award was affirmation by my peers and I was being entrusted with some funded time to produce something special.
As my first residency this was part of a long creative journey and I have felt remarkably privileged to have had the time to not only to develop new ideas and projects, but also to reflect on the roads less travelled and future options associated with my creative life. In many ways I have felt like an ambassador and I have proudly worn the badge of MGLCT Fellow throughout the year. The fellowship has also encouraged interest in and respect for my work and provided further opportunities for events, festivals and school visits – both nationally and internationally.
It has also provided terrific personal motivation to live up to the creative output expectations of awardees and I have greatly enjoyed the way it has provided further opportunity to develop relationships and networks within the children’s literature community'.
What a beautiful and precious gift the time of a fellowship is. I’m still amazed at my productivity! Having the time to focus single-mindedly on the project, without distractions, was invaluable. To see a project that I’ve worked on and around for so many years come together in this way, and to now have a clear vision of the finished project is unbelievably exciting! Also, being awarded the fellowship was a show of belief in the project, which helped to give me the confidence to throw myself into it.
“My Fellowship ... has shown me what I can achieve with support and the “mechanics” that allow total involvement in creative work.”
The fellowship was a godsend, a wonderful opportunity to avoid the distractions and disruptions of daily life at home. After thirty years of teaching and administration the permission to just ‘sit and write’ was an amazing gift - a chance to develop my sense of worth as an emerging author. I am certain I would not have achieved my writing goal without the dedicated time to plan, imagine and ultimately write over 35 000 words.
‘Just wanted to say thanks again for the wonderful opportunity you’ve given me this past month. Although half my time here was diverted into other activities than my novel, I did do some serious work on it. I also especially enjoyed meeting so many new and lovely people here, many of whom I think will be friends for life.’
The creative time in Canberra has pushed me in my illustration and writing. It was an incredibly productive experience where I had no distractions and could just tear into my drawing and storyboards.
“The main benefit has to be the concentrated time spent writing. I wrote every day and had uninterrupted swathes of time to think and create. This was perfect! The chance to meet local authors, illustrators and teacher librarians was also brilliant!”
Malcolm felt strongly that the rare chance for thinking and writing time – the essence of the May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust’s existence! – provided him with excellent professional development.
‘There is no feeling like waking up in the morning knowing that the job for the day is to get writing. I have never had that much time specifically for writing before and it was a great gift. Since returning to ‘normal’ life, with its full time day job and other dramas, it seems like a dream! But it has also made me plan for more dedicated time chunks for my writing as it certainly moves a project along when you have dedicated time to plan, think and write.’
“The research time at the Australian War Memorial was invaluable. I would not have been able to attempt the two historical novels I am working on without it. The time, and the quiet, and the lack of the usual responsibilities has enabled me to progress far further than I had expected with both novels.”
What a gift – a whole month of time to live inside the heads of my flying heroes – it was a blast and it’s all thanks the May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust.
To be given the time and space to create is nothing less than wonderful… I loved being able to clear my head of the clutter than defines everyday living and think of little else but my novel. Being in Canberra during the stillness and peace of autumn really aided this process. More than anything, though, the Fellowship reminded me that I am a capable writer; my work does have value, both intrinsic and extrinsic – and I can negotiate this often difficult and lonely path. The Fellowship went a long way towards reinstalling my sense of self-worth as a creator. For that I am particularly grateful.
An uninterrupted and concentrated period of time in which to really get to grips with my book
“Being away from the routine of home and being alone meant that I could slip into and prolong that zone of creativity much more effectively than I have been able to for many years. It was an amazing feeling to wake up in the morning and … think, well I’ve got nothing to do but write! And so I did. It was a real privilege.”
Solitude, concentration, relief from responsibilities, creation time. Absolutely invaluable and treasured time. Very grateful and appreciative of every moment.