Melanie Edmonds and her Brisbane Creative Writing Group
Writing has long been one of the most questionable and unstable career choices. Many of those who choose to endure the trek of becoming an established writer get caught up in the glamour of it that television and film bring us. Think writer. Think Temperance Brennen from the crime television series,Â Bones. Think Carrie Bradshaw fromÂ Sex and the City. And the vision your university lecturer for creative writing might give you while giving the, â€˜you obviously donâ€™t like money,â€™ kind of speech â€“ a grown adult living in a share house, working atÂ WoolworthsÂ to pay their bills and food while vigorously writing at any chance they get to prove that they can be one of the few that actually make it. Well you know what I say to all those thoughts? Forget about it.
Melanie Edmonds, originally from the UK and now residing in Brisbane is a technical writer by day during the week and a creative fiction writer at all other times. She is a writer. She has a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. She is passionate about all things to do with writing. And, drum roll please â€“ she is unglamorously successful.
Each week she publishes a new installment of her fictional web serial,Â Starwalker.Â Melanie has completed three books of theÂ StarwalkerÂ series and the fourth is just around the corner.Â Previous toÂ Starwalker, she wrote theÂ Apocalypse BlogÂ series, which are now available as eBooks. On top of this, Melanie is currently working on her novel as well as running her own personal blog,Â Adventures In Text. Oh, and did I mention she runs a Creative Writing Group in Brisbane?
Melanie was kind enough to shed some light on her own writerâ€™s ventures and share some of her well earned knowledge.
CD: What gave you the idea to create your own Creative Writing group in Brisbane?
Melanie:Â After a year of running my own writing group in the UK, I was really eager to get involved in a writing group here in Brisbane when I moved. I looked around but couldn’t find something that suited me. So, I started my own.
CD: Was is harder then you expected to get the group up and running and people aware and interested?
Melanie:Â I’ve set up a group once before (back in the UK), but that was different. There, I had contacts and support from a major bookstore.Â Â Here, I was new and didn’t know anyone or where to go! It took some time to figure out where and how to get things up and running. I started with what I knew – bookstores – and found one that was willing to let me use their space for a writing group. Getting the word out was a different challenge. The bookstore helped me by putting a notice up on their website and in the store. I found a couple of local advertising sites that would let me put a notice up. It was a lot of searching at first! Luckily,Â National Novel Writing MonthÂ (NaNoWriMo) rolled around not long after I started the group, and I’m heavily involved in writing-related events during the challenge. That put me in touch with a lot of local writers and helped me spread the word. I didn’t have any problems getting people aware and interested after that! Now that my writing blogÂ has a sufficient Internet footprint, I get walk-ins who have seen the page on there, too.
CD: Could you give us a quick run down of, ‘a day in the life of a writer’?
Melanie:Â I get up at 6am every morning and head into the city for my day job.Â Â It’s an hour-long commute on the train for me, prime writing time! So I plug my earphones in and settle down with my netbook. Then it’s off to the office, and a day of working on technical documentation for a software company. After a full day of software-related shenanigans, it’s back on the train and another hour with the netbook. More writing for me! (Or reading, or editing, depending on where I am with a project or the web serial.) Once I get home, it’s time to sort out dinner and settle down for the evening. That’s when I switch off and put my feet up, and indulge in whatever TV show has taken my fancy that week. If it’s a web serial posting day, I’ll make sure the post is sorted out and put up on the website. After all that (and being walked over by the cats), it’s off to bed, ready to start it all again the next day.
CD: What do you have to say to those that say you can’t make a career out of writing?
Melanie:Â They’re wrong. I am a technical writer by day, so I have two careers in writing:Â Â fiction and technical documentation. Only the technical writing is supporting me right now; my fiction writing is a work in progress but I have a steady income from my eBook sales. Writers should be realistic about the kind of money they can make from fiction. It’s a rare writer than can live purely on their fiction proceeds; every writer I know – including bestselling Australian authorsÂ Â – supplements their income somehow, whether it’s with a day job or a supportive partner. Many use their writing skills to provide that income, through teaching, coaching, editing, etc. There are many ways to make a career out of your writing and your writing skills. Be inventive. Think outside the box. And then go for it.
CD: Do you have any advice for those who want to succeed as a writer?
Melanie:Â Keep writing. Keep improving your skills, honing your work, and crafting better stories. Look around and see what opportunities appeal to you.Â Â Get in touch with your local writing community. Get advice – writers are a very open and sharing kind of group, and I’ve always found them willing to help others succeed. Get feedback on your work. Submit everywhere your stories fit. Get involved! But most of all: don’t stop writing.
CD: How will writers benefit from attending your group?
Melanie:Â I hope they gain some new perspectives on writing and tools they can use to improve their craft. I hope they make some new friends in the groupÂ Â (we all head off to dinner after the meetings, so it’s not hard to do!).Â Â I hope they go away enthused about their stories and wanting to write more. I hope they have learned something they didn’t know before. I hope they try something new. I hope they write better and brighter stories than before. I hope they have fun! And I hope it helps them know that they’re not alone. It’s so easy to view writing as a solitary activity, but it doesn’t have to be. We understand! We get all those things that writers do, or need, or want, or fall down at, or get frustrated by, or get excited by. There are lots of us out there. Come find us!
Melanie and her Creative Writing Group meet on the third Friday of every month.
For more information, visit theÂ website.