deskSo… that ‘big announcement’ I’ve been banging on about!

On 15 March I start a Doctor of Creative Arts through the University of Western Sydney. I’ll be working on fiction, more than likely a novel, alongside a great deal of reading and research (which will inform the fiction). I’ll give you a brief outline of the topic in a minute (as it stands now) and let’s see if crowdsourcing a reading list works!

The DCA at UWS puts in me in a department with amazing publishers, scholars and authors such as Ivor Indyk, Gail Jones, Alexis Wright and more. I’ll be supervised by Hazel Smith, and will use her book The Writing Experiment for some prompts early on in the doctorate. I’m not sure how much I’ll blog about the work itself – that may interfere with the process, but I’ll share insights from what I’m reading, and will continue to read and review other books for you on here, and am already attending more festivals and conferences this year, so stay tuned for more commentary.

As I received a scholarship, this means I will unfortunately be leaving my wonderful job as acting editor at Bookseller+Publisher magazine. My last day is 12 March. This has been the best job I’ve ever had, and I’ll miss my colleagues very much – particularly the immediate editorial team: the incredibly lovely, hardworking and supportive Matthia Dempsey; my friend in Friday giggles, the warm and genuine Katie Horner (who is leaving, too, to have a bub); someone I really look up to, the clever, stylish, great-taste-in-music watch nerd Tim Coronel; and the super-hardworking, fun, gorgeous designer-extraordinaire Silvana Paolini. (And I’ll miss my desk, pictured above!) Not only have I had the chance to work with great people, I have learnt the ropes of writing copy, proofreading and eventually editing a print publication. The team have always shown me so much support and allowed me room for growth. I have made incredible contacts and met great people in all areas of the publishing industry. And I will continue my relationship with B+P as an freelance writer/reviewer. After all, B+P was the very first place I was published in print – a review circa 2006. (I began LiteraryMinded in May 2007.)

So would you like to help me with my massive reading/viewing list? I will still have to narrow down the focus, of course, but any books, films, essays and articles on and around these subjects (fiction and nonfiction) I’ll be willing to have a look at:

  • Misfits and outsiders (more specifically, of and within consumer society. Someone who springs to mind is Lester Burnham in American Beauty). Or, if you’re familiar with Camus, characters that could be describe as having had an ‘absurd awakening’.
  • The treatment, pathologisation or institutionalisation of misfits/outsiders (in real life and in fictional texts). The rise of such things in consumer society. The history of these things. Individual experiences of these things. Yes, I’ll be reading a lot of Foucault, in case anyone was going to suggest that. Janet Frame’s works are a good example of ‘experiences’ of this.
  • Texts about or engaging with issues of and around consumerism, capitalism, materialism (specifically post-WWII and Western society).
  • Related themes of: commodification, alienation, disconnectedness, obsolescence, surface culture.
  • Speculative texts, particularly ones that explore the impact of current political and economic models of society on individuals and societies in the very near-future or in an alternate society (think Orwell or Kafka).
  • Australian literature and films that deal with all of the above.

For those of you who’ve read my published short stories like ‘Birds’, ‘Kids’ and ‘Obsolescence’ – you will see how these themes have already begun informing my work. I want to get into it deeply – I’m so excited to have a chance to. I want to write something which is in a way about my generation, from its time but not necessarily of its time – original, all-encompassing, meaningful. Yes, I do aim high, otherwise, what is the point?

This will actually be my third novel manuscript (and actually, I’m open to it becoming short stories, a film script, a play, whatever form it needs to be, though I’d prefer to write a novel). The other two are semi-retired but may yet resurface if the ‘key’ presents itself down the track – but it’s the new thing for now. Thanks in advance for your help!

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