Daily Archives: November 17, 2021

Novel November: what does work look like?

Reminder:

If you haven’t already – go and have a look at the overall info for Novel November, my FAQ blog and the original announcement about my Fellowship. I’m going to assume anyone reading those blogs has read all of that already so that I don’t have to keep repeating background details.

You can also see the world details starting to develop here and all of the writing I’ve done so far here, with other updates on my FB & Insta.

Fellowship Process

As mentioned in last week’s blog I spent Thurs & Fri in Adelaide attending Reset, with two fabulous emerging artists, Kirste Jade and Jess Weidenhofer, who have both been part of Novel November (and have worked with me on other projects in the past). Lots and lots of food for thought and you can scroll through and have a look at my reflections during the two days over on my Twitter account, and see a wider cross-section of insight via #ResetArts.

Attending conferences and gatherings like this has always been an important part of my practice/creative career for a bunch of reasons, most of which I’m terrible at articulating but if you’re twisting my arm to pull out some key reasons:

  • a sense of connection to the wider industry (I talked about regional isolation in my first blog of this series).
  • I’m really aware of my lack of formal training and the professional development and informal learning from these kinds of gatherings is really valuable to me.
  • the general opportunity to be exposed to new ideas, new professional crushes, new networks and new projects. I always go away with a handful of people/projects/organisations that I want to find out more about.
  • I feel a sense of responsibility to be an active participant and contributor to the sector/industry/community, and that means showing up, listening, reflecting and adjusting what/how I’m doing things where relevant. For example there were some really thoughtful and direct calls to action at Reset about divesting from mining companies (ie. don’t take money from resource corporations because it’s implicit support and “artwashing” the damage these corporations are doing to our communities and planet). I’ve always had mixed feelings on this because all of the money we accept is “dirty” and has strings attached, but the conversations at Reset have asked me to revisit the absolutionism in some of my earlier mixed feelings. Context does matter and there is nuance and I don’t want my work to directly or indirectly contribute to the success of companies and individuals who put profit over community. I’m always learning. Always.
  • as I’ve moved further into my career and developed professional networks and friendships, gatherings like Reset have also become mini reunions, which links back to the first dot point, but also has a value in itself. Relationships matter and the relationships I have sustain me and inspire me. All of my work starts with and is founded on relationships (*side note, if you haven’t already read it, please go and read Jade Lillie’s The Relationship is the Project. A fab book that resonates with so much of my perspectives.)

Attending Reset was good timing for Novel November, because as mentioned elsewhere, this residency project is a starting place to explore and start building the foundations for a much bigger long-term project, so thinking about sustainability, about workplace practices, about collaboration and advocacy and community building is very much on my mind. It was valuable to have some outside provocation to keep stirring and stretching my own thinking. It was also personally meaningful to me to have Kirste and Jess there with me. Both acknowledged that some of the content was difficult for them to connect to and understand and I remember that the first conferences I went to often felt like gibberish, but I know how each opportunity kept opening up new learning and new opportunities for me and I hope it will be the same for them. I’m still unpacking all of the conversations and ideas presented at Reset – I’m a slow thinker – but you can find out more about it here.

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If you’ve been following along in the g-doc, you’ll know I haven’t popped in any new writing since last week’s blog, which is why I’ve named this week’s blog: what does work look like?

I hear a lot of writers berating themselves for low word-counts and not producing enough content. I don’t do this (though I used to!) because I know that I produce a lot of work in lots of different ways across the many threads of my practice/work life anyway, but also because I know that “work” and “writing” doesn’t always look like sitting at a computer typing words into a document. Sometimes writing looks like taking a walk to process ideas and wrestle with a plot point, sometimes writing looks like planning out a practical schedule to give you more writing time and breathing space, sometimes writing looks like professional development and networking, sometimes writing looks like day-dreaming, sometimes writing looks like scrawling scraps of ideas onto serviettes while out to lunch with friends, sometimes writing looks like admin and the business side of making it all work, sometimes writing looks like research, sometimes writing looks like being out in the world and living your life, sometimes writing looks like rest.

This past week has included all of those things and more.

This coming weekend there are no community workshops because I’m lucky enough to be heading to Pichi Richi very early tomorrow morning to be part of an Artist Retreat with Country Arts SA and Performing Lines until Sunday afternoon. I’ll be working on my bigger picture ideas for Novel November during this retreat and connecting with other wonderful South Australian regional artists.

Next week I’ll be back to writing in the g-doc each day before wrapping up the Novel November residency with a little sharing celebration on Sunday 28th November.

Novel November Progress

Content note: grief, death, death of a young person, suicide.

As I mentioned in last week’s blog, a young person I know died recently and that informed some of my writing in the world of Novel November last week. Sam responded with this illustration to some of that writing:

Grief tastes like salt:

Too small in worlds too big

Mouths open with no words 

The children hide in Tael

Beneath the surface of the sand

The children hid in Tael

Beneath the watchful eye of home

The children die/d in Tael

Beneath the echo of a lie

Sam has also created this beautiful rendering of Tael and folk headed to the library:

Sam’s illustrations are beautiful and I’m going to share more of them on Insta & FB across next week so stay tuned for that and my next update on Wednesday 24th Nov.

xx

A.


#novelnovember #myriverland #riverlandSA #riverlandstories #riverlandvoices #riverlandideas #bepartofthings #creativeriverland #speculativeaussiefiction

Alysha Herrmann’s Novel November Residency in 2021 is supported by the Australian Government’s Regional Arts Fund, through the National Regional Arts Fellowship Program, with additional support from Writers SA through Alysha’s role as Writers SA Riverland Coordinator.