Thursday, 8 January 2015

Recap of 2014

My highlights of 2014?    Too many to count, but for me I'd have to include filmmaking masterclasses, writers festivals, radio interviews, tweet yarns, new collaborations and seeing where experimenting with digital spaces could take me.

My goals for 2014 were simple and ambitious - to be published more, to get closer to seeing one of my scripts on screen and to become a better writer. I was also looking for reasons to travel. Social media was a constant companion but I needed to get out more. 

And how did it end? 

I won the chance to have my blog published. So I dragged everything worth putting in to a book (short stories, tweet yarns, brain dumps) off my blog for editing and you can read about the fairly chaotic* progress I made with that process  here
Just when I was seeing daylight, I pounced on an opportunity to pitch a TV script and get a chance to knock it into shape with professionals ... and was overjoyed when I was selected for that too.

* If someone said to you, those magic words... 'hey, want to publish your blog?' - is it ready for that? 
If I knew then what I know now, would I have done it differently? Probably not, it would still be the same methodology that goes into all my writing.
No, no, nooooo, no.

Here's some dot points of extracts, links and snippets of my year was a good year.

Building on the short yarns I had been telling in short series of tweets during 2013, I decided to plan a bigger tweetyarn for January 26th. Why this particular day?
One idea and a humble story would go on to see me part of a whole new series of work. I was now being referred to as an innovator because I was the first Indigenous writer to attempt ad libbed stories via Twitter. I was really more interested in being known as 'a writer' so I was caught up in other people's perceptions. As if writing wasn't hard enough.

 I revamped my brand:  digital technologies for an ancient culture.

Thanks to @RhiannaPatrick for this great promo!

Maisie May, the tweet yarn is storified here

And was published with a short story - "Epilogue to Maisie May' - in the new anthology Writing Black: New Indigenous writing from Australia iTunes free download

So I'll tell you a story.
Where I come from, we say our voices are on the wind. Old people told me this, so it must be true.  
I had gone home for a funeral. Very old, this one now, she had another name, but across the district we all knew her as Aunty Maisie May.

Extract 'Maisie May' #tweetyarn


Guardian Australia ~~ 
I won a spot on the Diversity Writers' Workshop, Sydney 
My Guardian Profile is here

Most popular blog posts of 2014

My Review of the 5-part documentary series 'Outside Chance' is here
We all know Aboriginal men are locked up at higher rates, and over represented in every jail in Australia. But if you were serious about arresting the warehousing of Aboriginal men, you’d want to know ‘why’?


Reflections ... the Emerging Writers Festival Melbourne 2014 ...
...back yourself, the power of twitter, the art of the short story, screenwriting masterclass, who can write black characters and the perils of being online.

"Beyond Unaipon: looks at the development of the Australian Indigenous literary sector, with a new generation of writers exploring new genres and forms."

It used to be big and where I come from, we still call it the wireless. Take Johnny Cash for example, if you need convincing. Two sounds as a young boy he heard at night - a distant train across the flat, and songs out of a bakelite box.
That's what you hear in those Johnny Cash songs - the driving, unstoppable, rhythmic steel of a wide gauge freight train, with a well timed warning blast, transformed into song that pierced the darkness. Radio, it still excites me. And I'll be on it, this Saturday night. 

The Aboriginal station workers; the domestics, the shearers and the drovers, all made an incalculable and significant contribution to Australia's prosperity.
They were not fully compensated for their labour, and they were working on lands that they had been dispossessed of.

  • The interview was followed up by another interview discussing Stolen Wages.
At the end of the day, out would come the tins of tobacco. The blocks of tobacco would be carved, and the shards turn to splinters when rubbed together between two work ready palms.  
The air would fill with the hollow pop of lips smacking on a pipe, and clouds of white smoke coating the deep, lush sounds of a radio playing softly in the night.

  • Tweet survey ...

My first memory of hearing black in reference to me is not a happy one. 

September ~ October
With Ivan Sen, Kelrick Martin, Stephen McGregor, Ramanh Allam & Kyas Sherriff

  • I was thrilled to learn that my blog was a joint winner of the 2014 Melbourne Writers Festival Blog to Book Challenge announcement
  • First stage - strip 44 blog posts from my blog for editing. My blog looks like a community store after a cyclone alert - most shelves are empty. But I created a new page to document the process here 


  • I was invited to the Emerging Writers Festival Roadshow Sydney - Storytelling in the Garden for a reading of my short story ‘Honey’ with illustrations from Sam Wallman.

I could tell his moods best by his silhouette in a dark street. He only had two speeds, alert or evasive.

Unwind to some illustrated readings from up-and-coming writers in our Indigenous mentorship program. Held in the Writers’ Centre garden with visual accompaniment provided by some of Sydney’s best comic illustrators. 

For more of Walkley Nominated illustrator Sam Wallman’s work please take a look at his website here

And in case you missed it, read the Serco story that created a buzz recently with illustrations by Sam Wallman: At work inside our detention centres: a guard’s story

Assessment of Episode 1: First Contact is must see TV. The personal testimonials have been compelling viewing. The 'event' - the staging with all the additional resources - has created a safe place for people to talk about painful issues.I'm interested in taking the conversation further.


... using new mediums for writing I launched myself as Australia's first Indigenous digital writer. Rather than limiting it has boosted my creativity into new genres; as well as leading to collaborations that are now across the globe.  None of this would have been possible if I had stuck to the path of the traditional publishing industry rather than look for a way to do more - not only write and publish, but be the change I want to see: Indigenous people truly being in charge of their own self determination.

  • And I finished 2014 with the most exciting news of all - after submitting a synopsis and a draft script, I was selected  for screenwriting mentorship with Screenworks Project Break Through to complete a 6-part narrative comedy


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