Archive for September, 2007


This is the end of an era for me. I started this course in 2001 and I am finishing my final unit in 2007. I had wanted to do a writing course for 15 years and 22 years later I have done it. In the process I have had two more children so life has been full and enlightening. It has been an escape really from the responsibilities of being a parent and a creative outlet that I would otherwise had not made time for. Just before starting this final unit Poetry II, I found myself writing poetry again.  I have had a few poems published now and due to this semester I have submitted 17 poems to 5 publications. It is a motivator and I will miss many aspects of my studies. The social intercourse, the creative stimulation and feedback from my fellow students. I thank you all for all your input during workshopping. It is the most invaluable part of subjects even though it can get laborious. I have enjoyed hearing other students creative works and believe that some of you will do great things in the writing world. Again, thanks for the memories.


Suzanne blears 


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It really does happen

Author signing!Late last month I did one of those truly inspirational things that all writing teachers love doing: I attended one of my past student’s book launches. Karen Simpson Nikakis studied Novel 2 with me in 2003, and this year, the book that she worked on in class The Whisper of Leaves, Book 1 of the Kira Chronicles, was published by Allen & Unwin. For writing teachers, there are many rewards for the time spent commenting on (any) students’ work: seeing students work hard on their novels, listening to workshopping comments — not just from the teacher but from their peers — reworking and re-visioning their work; seeing a student have a “light-bulb moment” and come to a new understanding that helps them improve dramatically; see a student make those improvements; seeing a student motivated enough to finish a draft (I think we forget just what a huge achievement finishing a draft can be); and finally, the most rare and most precious: seeing a student achieve publication, whether that’s in the hardest poetry magazine to crack (well done, Franki!) or in the fickle and notoriously difficult adult fiction market as Karen has done.

Karen sent her work to Allen & Unwin via Louise Thurtell’s Friday pitch sessions, and has the singular distinction of being not only the first author to have been picked up this way, but also the author chosen to spearhead Allen & Unwin’s new Arena imprint. Well done, Karen.

The other great thing about seeing a student achieve publication is the roll-on effect for other students. A light has come on, illuminating possibilities, showing that they truly are possibilities. Let’s not take anything away from Karen — to be published you need two things: talent and, perhaps even more important, discipline. I have seen talented writers who I know could make it if they were just capable of finishing a project, but sadly I also know they maybe never will. I know in class I harp on about writing contracts, and commitment and bums on seats, but it really is so important. If Karen had not had the discipline to finish her book, and the courage and fortitude to take the risk and send it out, she would never be where she is now. But she did have the discipline, the courage and fortitude, and now she can celebrate her well-deserved success. This year it was Karen’s turn; next year it might be yours — so what are you going to do to make it happen?

If you’re looking for more inspiration from Karen, perhaps some words of wisdom, or a chance to buy her book at bargain prices ($20, instead of the RRP of $30, which is what I paid) and get it signed, then come along to the Building 4 auditorium next Monday at 12.30 to hear Karen speak. In the meantime, you may like to look at her fabulous website.

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