I’ve been immersed in my novel writing journey, navigating the newness of it like a bumbling inept explorer, frightfully overdressed in all the wrong gear, blundering through an intricate landscape of which I have no concept. I am the mapless, hapless, rudderless, clueless rambler. Setting off in bad weather with a set of mad ideas and a backpack full of laughably ill-advised equipment. I love it. I have to say I’m having an exquisite time. I’m not lost; I’m on my way…

Much to do.

I received the hot tip to check out the Australian Writers Centre online. I was looking for short story competitions they have occasionally. And short story comps is obviously something I should try to get into, but—as a creature easily distracted by bright shiny things—I immediately began fingering the goods they have on their website, most notably their huge range of online writing courses. Courses on how to write short stories, crime thrillers, children’s novels, picture books, romance, memoirs, young adult, historical fiction, fantasy. Courses on plotting and planning, editing, character, dialogue, even grammar. It is my personal Disneyland of Australian writing studies. You bet, I’m salivating.

I’m a breath away from enrolling in their premier program, Write Your Novel, which takes 6 or 12 months to complete and costs $265/month. Ah ha! That’s precisely $265 more than I have per month. Interesting!

Then I’ve been listening intently to the Australian Writer’s Centre podcast, So You Want To Be A Writer, cheerful weekly broadcasts of which there are over 600 existing episodes for me to fill my boots. The format is so listenable, even when they are interviewing children’s book authors or vitamin entrepreneurs who’ve knocked out a memoir, I’m rapt. It is filled with all the answers I didn’t know I needed to ask questions about.

Of course, there is also actual writing to be done. I’ve reached a stage in my novel that I would consider to be the end of Act 1 (in technically theatrical parlance). It feels prudent at this stage to actually think for a few goodly minutes about how this entire narrative will unfold. So I’m working on an outline for Act 2. In plays, this is the tricky Act, the Act that makes up the bulk of a story, and you will probably find all story problems taking up real estate somewhere in it.

I’ve been using Scrivener to set up my novel, looking at Youtube videos because Scrivener is actually very complex. I’ve only ever used it to write plays. I’ve never used it for anything more than complicated word processor for writing plays. Am I having fun? Yaaaass. Do I know what I’m doing? Not so much.

I guess my point here is that you don’t need to be an expert to start. I’m going to make mistakes as a stumble through this. I may end up utterly lost. But oh the fun of getting lost. If you are an emerging artist at anything, I would encourage you to expect a lengthy period of not being any good at it and worse than that, feeling quite bereft of a clue how to correct course. That’s me at the moment. It’s a joyous place to be. To be a kohai, not a sempai. The greenhorn. The tenderfoot. The grasshopper in a field of gurus. And it’s perfectly okay to bound through the field and be excited.

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