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Khai Virtue: It is Important to Talk About This

It is difficult to talk about my second fellowship as a part of the 2022-23 Four Centres Emerging Writers Program (First Edition) when it was not what might be considered ‘successful’ in terms of quantifiable output.

Unlike my previous stay, in which everything just seemed to fall into place, this time was anything but that. But I think it is important to talk about this, as it might help take the pressure off another writer who is struggling.

For clarity, I have been struggling with my writing for a few months now. I won’t go into the reasons here, but let’s just say that I did not arrive eager to smash out thousands of words of my manuscript. This was my fourth stay at KSP and the first time I did not stay overnight. I treated my cabin as a work office, arriving every morning, working throughout the day, and then leaving in the early evening. This was ideal because it allowed me to help with school runs and other commitments in what was the first week of school term for my children.

This time around, the highlight of the retreat was the workshop run by established writer-in-residence, Julienne van Loon, in which we learnt to articulate our projects as a series of questions, and to draw energy from those questions in a manner that genuinely motivates. It was good for me to look hard at my project and work out what I was trying to achieve. I hope to push on with it when life settles down a bit more.

I would definitely recommend other writers apply for this program. It is an incredible opportunity for writers to achieve significant progress in the work, network with other writers and industry professionals, and learn more about the business of writing across two years.

Top 10 Tips

I have a document in my Scrivener project called ‘Rules’. These are not hard and fast rules; rather, they’re a combination of hints and reminders that sometimes helps me face the blank page. Perhaps you would like to create your own list? But remember, nothing is set in stone.

1. Work in small daily increments

2. Keep workspace and documents organized

3. If stuck, simply ask: ‘What happens next?’

4. Focus on the story and add details later

5. Leave notes if necessary

6. Expect setbacks and interruptions

7. It’s not going to write itself

8. Improve by doing the work

9. Believe in the work

10. You’ve done this before

Khai Virtue, KSP First Edition Fellow 2023


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