Do you have found your writing voice yet? Finding your voice is the hardest part of writing (in my humble opinion).
This week’s writer Anna Spargo-Ryan has a voice like no other.
Strong. Distinctive. Raw. Thought-provoking.
More importantly, Anna’s editing of her own words are second to none. When I read one of her pieces, I often wonder what Anna has deleted in the editing process. She has chosen each word for a reason. What she doesn’t say is often as striking to the reader as what is on the page.
I am so excited that Anna agreed to share her writing thoughts with us today. Yes, I am having a fangirl moment.
Keep your eyes open for Anna’s new Anxiety Shut in Hour podcast with her friend Erin in early May.
Can you share 4 words that describe your style of writing?
Wishes it were poems.
The book that you wish you had written and why?
Romy Ash’s “Floundering”. It is so perfectly executed: exactly as long as it needs to be, with exactly the amount of story that needs to be included, and with perfectly developed characters and setting. It’s as though she spent her time lightly dusting the keyboard to ensure only the essential words made it onto the page. I wish I could do that.
Share your “career game-changing moment”. Please share an experience which propelled you to step up your game or which made you change your perspective on your career.
In 2012, I decided to apply to do a mentorship with Writer’s Victoria and Bethanie Blanchard. I guess I wanted to see if I was capable of producing anything of value. Bethanie’s feedback on that piece (which has since become my first novel, to be released later this year) turned me upside-down. It was glorious: kind, constructive, guided and overwhelmingly encouraging. It gave me permission to take myself seriously as a writer, to believe that I had something to contribute. If it hadn’t been for Bethanie, I suspect I’d still be miles away from finishing that story.
Name a writer mentor/friend/colleague/partner who you think deserves a shout-out and why are they so special to you, how do they assist you with your writing?
I asked Allison Tait to be my mentor before I really knew her, because she’s so knowledgeable and pragmatic and accomplished. Luckily, she is also a poor judge of character and so agreed. Now I just occupy lots of her time with my fretting. She has assisted me with every part of writing – from the hard slog, storytelling end of it right through to the agenting, selling, business end of it. I would absolutely not get through without the frankness that comes from her world of experience.
One piece of advice for the all the aspiring writer types out there (eg. journalist, copywriter, blogger, editor, creative etc) who are yet to be published or starting on their writing journey or freelance business.
Published writers aren’t wizards. Before I had anything published, I imagined “publishing” to be a kind of secret club that deliberately excluded new members. It’s not. You can literally go to a magazine and say “here’s my idea, would you like to run it in your magazine?” and sometimes they will say yes. Don’t be discouraged from writing because you’re worried about your legitimacy. Successful writers are the ones who stand up for their work. Back yourself. No publisher will exclude good writing. On the contrary — they rely on it.
What would you call your autobiography and who you would dedicate it to?
It would be called “Some Bees”, and be dedicated to my dad. The earliest piece of my writing that I have is a picture book I wrote/drew in kindergarten. It opens with a drawing of a swarm of bees, and the caption “some bees” (the next page is a beetle (the caption is “beetool”)). My dad kept so many bits and pieces, and I’m so grateful to him for always believing I could achieve something terrific. I can sit in his study and watch my writing develop from the very early crayon stages through to the Angst in Sharpie era (that one might still be in progress).
How important is your blog/website platform to your writing success?
I wrote a piece for Writers Bloc about this the other week (thewritersbloc.net/author-platforms-how-build-one-and-why). My blog has helped me enormously in terms of putting my writing out to an audience, in being recognised as a writer, and in being exposed to people who make decisions in the writing industry. Through blogging and social media, I’ve met my both of my mentors, my agent, publishers, editors, other writers, writing groups, festival staff critics, and other writers. I cannot overstate the value it has contributed to me, as an emerging writer.
Thanks Anna for sharing your kind advice for aspiring writers.
Have you ever had a writing mentor? Is so, how did they help you?