I forgot to post about this anthology when it was published in August 2021. When this was published I was knee-deep in emergency communications for COVID-19. At that time words for me were all about persuasion – convincing people to wear masks, to contact register and to get vaccinated. It wasn’t all about the language, but one wrong word could dissuade, or (god forbid) confuse an edgy and flustered audience. This pandemic has made the power and potential of words clearer to me than ever before.
It’s now six months later. I’m still working with COVID-19, but I’ve stepped back to 4 days a week. This is partly to focus on writing. But also, like many who work with the pandemic, I’m burnt out and ready to think about anything else. So for 30 hours a week, I support people managing the crisis. Outside of that, I’m immersing myself in writing, and in the writing community in Australia.
So it’s a worthy time to look back at this anthology, which was dedicated to Aiki Flinthart, an author who died of cancer in 2021. Like many Australian writers, Flinthart was little known outside the writing community. But in that community, she was well known and respected. Testament to this, before she died, she organised an anthology called Relics, Wrecks and Ruins, which features all her favourite authors including Neil Gaiman and Garth Nix.
The writing community is a strange world. I attended my first convention last weekend (Genrecon) and left feeling energised and motivated. It’s a million miles away from Friday press deadlines, and the immediate pressures of trying to save lives with the power of words. But the world of writing has its own pressures. The struggles of self-motivation, the terrible pay and the nature of waiting a long time for positive feedback – what veteran writer Marianne DePierres calls ‘a long time between dopamine hits’. The writing community helps alleviate those pressures and serves as a reminder of why we do what we do.
My inclusion in Stories of Survival is dedicated to my father who died of cancer. Writing it helped channel my grief, so it’s a melancholy little thing, full of longing and sadness. It’s was the story that I felt best represented the kind of writer I wanted to be at the time. But of course, that was before the pandemic. Something the writing community has taught me is that writing fiction is a lifelong pursuit, and motivations may change and waver with time.
This was my last published piece of work. Since then I’ve completed my first novel, an urban fantasy about a succubus fighting uncontrollable powers. It feels good to have a polished sixth draft. It feels good pitching to publishers and agents. It feels hard to ignore the imposter syndrome. To combat that, I’m drafting my next project, a paranormal romance, and appreciating the support of my newfound writing community.