Ashley Kalagian-Blunt: 'as wonderful as I’d remembered.'
Ashley Kalagian-Blunt stayed at KSP Writers' Centre in June 2022 as a writer-in-residence.
I first stayed at KSPWC in 2017, and that experience stands out as two of the best weeks of my life. I was delighted to return five years later and find the place as wonderful as I’d remembered, even under Perth’s grey winter skies. Of course I worked on manuscript revisions – I arrived with a plan and a partially completed draft, and I followed it through scene by scene, entirely reworking major sections as needed. I left with a fully revised draft. I worked hard on this, and of course the dedicated time and quiet contributed to better writing and deeper insight into my process.
More. A highlight was the chance to deliver a workshop on crafting narrative tension. I met a room full of engaged, clever, dedicated writers who soaked up the concepts. It was a joy to share their energy. Another highlight was the opportunity to connect with local writers I’d previously only known online. I was able to organise a dinner with authors including Louise Allan, Laurie Steed, Jay Martin, Monique Mulligan, Josephine Taylor, Mark Keenan (who I met during my 2017 fellowship) and more. It’s an enormous benefit to exchange ideas with and provide and receive support from writers across the country, so I’m grateful to KSP for providing the opportunity for these meaningful connections to flourish.
To be honest. I live with chronic illness and much of my time during the Fellowship was hard. Although I still completed the work I needed to, and was able to deliver my workshop and attend the writers’ dinner I’d organised, behind the scenes I struggled. I missed out on a lot of the peripheral joys, such as sinking into long conversations over dinner and drinks with my co-fellows, joining the KSPWC writers groups, going for bushwalks, and getting to see more of Perth. Some days it was hard not to be disappointed. Some days it was hard, physically, to sit at my desk. But then the 28 parrots would land in the tree branches and waggle their butt feathers, and my co-fellows would text to check in. Despite my illness, despite the pandemic, I was there, engaged with my work and the writing community, aspects of my life and the world that matter most to me.
Ashley's top 10 tips:
The hardest part really is right before you start. Know this, start anyway.
Don’t wait for inspiration or the ‘right’ moment. Sit down and write.
Make a plan, fit the writing into your schedule, commit to developing a practice.
So the plan fell apart, and your life got turned upside down and dumped on the front lawn. Sit down and write anyway.
The suffering artist is a toxic trope. If you want to sustain a writing practice, it helps to find solace, even joy, in your creativity.
And creativity, in turn, can be healing. Embrace and nurture yours.
Get up, stretch, go for a walk, sit in a proper chair instead of hunching over a laptop. Download one of those programs that reminds you to look away from your screen every 15 minutes. Writing involves spending thousands of hours at a desk (I’ve counted; 8759 to date). Take care of yourself.
Writing really is rewriting.
Our hyperconnected world feeds anxiety, and writing worries can too. Seek help to deescalate anxiousness. It’s possible.
Feeling confident? No? Sit down and make a mess of things. All sentences can be rewritten. All projects can be re-envisioned. Explore. Surprise yourself.
~ Ashley Kalagian-Blunt 2022
You can follow Ashley on Instagram.