Miranda Luby: 'forever grateful'
Miranda Luby stayed at KSP Writers' Centre in May as Writer-in-Residence.
'One thing I think all writers learn, usually after many years of striving for publication or even after a book deal or two, is that it’s the creative work, the act of dreaming and thinking and writing, and not the end result of that work, that must sustain you. As a debut author I’m already coming to see that while publication is wonderful, the happiness it brings can be fleeting and is, somehow, very separate from the quiet, private satisfaction that comes from what you spend most of your time doing in order to get published—writing and editing.
That’s why I consider opportunities like a KSP Fellowship, two weeks in a beautiful cabin in the bush to focus on my work, as some of the highlights of my writing career. The thing that gives me the deepest sense that I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing. That, publication or not, this right here is what it’s all about. Writing as an expression of living. A daily practice, like meditation, that is complete in that very moment. That is enough all on its own.
Of course it’s when I feel this way that I usually produce my best writing, which is just what happens at magical places like KSP.
During my two-week Fellowship I was working on the third draft of a new Young Adult novel, while finishing the final edits for my debut YA novel Sadie Starr’s Guide to Starting Over. Thanks to the weird jetlag that comes from a two-hour time difference (I’m Victorian), I was up most mornings before sunrise. As I worked, I watched the world of KSP come to life through the enormous windows in front of my desk. The first rays of sunlight on the gum trees, wattlebirds and parrots waking up, pink-tinged clouds hovering over the distant city. There aren’t many greater gifts than having an entire day stretched out in front of you in which all you have to do is write, go for a walk among the wildflowers, eat the lasagne you bought from Swan Galley Gourmet Deli and maybe read a few chapters of your favourite Aussie author’s latest book. Pure bliss.
While I was very productive during my time at KSP, I’m taking away so much more than a solid word count. KSP gives a sense of belonging, more confidence in your work, and, most of all, an opportunity to live and breathe the practice of writing for two whole weeks. I will be forever grateful.'
Top ten tips:
Beat the self-doubt to the desk by writing first thing in the morning. The earlier the better for me. Writing in a half-dream state allows me to be my most creative and least self-critical.
Be brave. Write from the heart. Write about your great loves, fears, challenges, and triumphs. These are often universal, and the reader will relate.
Read, read, read. Widely, critically, and for pure joy.
Remember that publication isn’t everything. Your mental health and happiness in the present moment are more important than any book deal.
Craft books and classes are great, but the best way to learn is to write and edit your own words. Lots and lots and lots of them.
Try to figure out what type of writing you’re really good at and do that. It might not be what you want it to be, or what you love to read, but that’s okay. I will never write a literary fiction masterpiece.
Save your small milestones. Emails of encouragement, the day you wrote that one great sentence, the moment you came up with your book title. Take a photo or screenshot and put it in a folder. You’ll thank yourself later.
Put your work away for as long as possible in between drafts. Work on something else for a while. There’s no rush. Distance and time will improve your editing eye tenfold.
See feedback (from a trusted source) as a gift. It’s not personal criticism, it’s an opportunity to allow the heart of your work to shine.
Ask yourself: do I love what I’m writing enough that if it were never published, I would be okay? If the answer is yes, it’s probably going to be some of your best writing.
~ Miranda Luby 2022