I've been thinking about writing a new post for ages, but I've put it off as per usual. It's just felt too nuts to put my own two cents out into the world. I can only hope if you're reading this, you and your loved ones are safe and well.
My new year's goal for writing at least one post a month has beckoned and I'm leaving it all to the last minute, but it still counts as April so I'm taking it lol.
I've been sick for over a month now. My doctor even sent me for COVID-19 testing, which thankfully came back negative. He now thinks I've been really unlucky and caught something new every time I exited the house. Since then I've just not been going out at all. This has left a lot on my partner's shoulders, poor guy, but we're managing.
On top of that, myself and all my colleagues at the University of Canberra had to shift to online teaching delivery. It's been really hard to adapt, and I feel so much sympathy for all the teachers and students out there. I know we've all been trying to support our students in this difficult time. My own nieces and nephews are finding the whole thing really tiring.
Despite all that's been happening, I've had the most amazing nightly ritual with my older sister's kids. A bit of context: I wrote a book for her two eldest children a few years ago, and we did it as this amazing letter exchange experience. I ended up submitting the work to black&write last year and I won a writing fellowship. It's currently being considered for publication (I'll keep you posted), but in the meantime, I wanted to check the editing changes with the girls as they are literally the two main characters. So every night at 8pm, they set me up on a Bluetooth speaker, everyone crowds into a room, and I read to them. We get about two chapters in before at least one person starts snoring, usually their grandmother. The two youngest are convinced that I'm trapped in the speaker somehow, and they want me to come out lol. I live for these nights. And I'm thinking it might be time to write a book for the next two eldest ones.
If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you'll know I've also had some really amazing news - Ghost Bird has been shortlisted for the CBCA's 2020 Book of the Year: Older Readers, and the 2019 Aurealis Awards! The cover now has this beautiful stamp on it. I'm not sure if there'll be one coming for the Aurealis Awards.
Thanks to COVID-19, we've seen so many important literary events cancelled. Which also means I've unfortunately had all my speaking events cancelled as well. People are adapting as best they can. I've done a few interviews and sent some recordings off to schools and universities who asked for me to do a reading. It's a matter of banding together and trying our best right now.
The exhibition that I've been helping develop with the multi-talented Marissa McDowell and the Belconnen Arts Centre was also cancelled. But we're hoping not indefinitely.
Around this time, I also stumbled across people looking for pirated copies of my book. Not to be overly dramatic, but it kind of wrecked me. I know we're all struggling right now, but doing this is stealing. Not just from the publisher, but directly from the writer. From me. This is not a victim-less crime guys. If you want people to be able to keep writing, then show them some support by buying their books. And keep in mind, publishers aren't these huge profit-making machines either. With all that's happening, sales for books are miserable, profits are way down for everyone in the book making and selling game. If you don't want your local authors, publishers and bookshops to disappear, you have to support them.
Thankfully, some people have asked me where to buy my book. I ask them first and foremost to please order from your local independent bookshops. I just did this myself by ordering some books from Paperchain Bookstore. I got a really lovely email from them thanking me for supporting them. If you don't have a local bookshop you can support, then please go to my publisher UQP's site and show them some love.
It's not just through books that we can do this for each other. Before my sicknesses took hold, all this lock-down stuff had me craving some awesome gin and tonic. A good friend of mine got me hooked on a Melbourne distillery, Patient Wolf, and I cannot recommend them highly enough to all you 18+ people. Just before the lock-down happened, the owners opened a bar, and you can imagine how hard this has hit them. I know for a fact ordering direct from them is a huge help.
Before COVID-19, I know a lot of people were talking about heading to the fire-effected areas to help out, even if only through an injunction of tourism dollars. If we've needed anything, my partner and I have made efforts to search out a local or at least Australian-made option. If you have any recommendations for locally owned products, please let me know in the comments.
We can get through this together as a society, we just need to support each other. As we're hopefully all discovering, there are so many ways we can do that.