Aspiring Young Writers’ Group: Ignition



Writing is something that’s only become a dream of mine quite recently. Goodness, it’s not like I was five years old wanting to publish my own novel, that ambition came a lot later. Often a lot of people say they never thought of being a shop manager, barista or personal trainer, yet a lot of people still become those.


I’d like to hope I’m not too naïve about the difficulties in my desired field, but the writing industry in its many forms is very competitive and punishing for those who ain’t up to it.


This is often a consideration during writers’ room discussions. While Amy’s more quiet confidence routinely keeps me guessing, Jim often gives the impression of being a lot more hard-nosed than me, though he’d probably profess to not feeling nearly as in control as he looks. Still, it’s a bit hard to get that impression from his introduction into this week’s talks.


“I think at this stage guys we need to look a lot harder at how serious we are about this stuff in the longer term,” He states. “Not just the immediate future but also a good deal further ahead than that.”


It’s not something I often like to think about myself, but I guess it can’t be avoided indefinitely.


“I already know I’ve got to seriously jack up the daily word count with my work ethic going forward,” I say. “I want to have my first draft done and be editing before the middle of the year.”


“Ambitious, but if it gives you the drive you need I ain’t going to criticise.” Jim responds. “It’s not just the stuff we’re doing in the writing I’m talking about here though guys. There’s a lot going on outside and around it to focus on too.”


What he’s talking about here and now is credential building, be this ether in the portfolio of stuff that’s published and out there getting exposure or in more in-field, recognised and respected experience.


“That stuff isn’t as easy as it sounds for people like us,” now says Amy. “What annoys me a lot is how hard it is to find places that offer experience in the kind of thing I’m looking for. I do a lot of looking for internships and the like in writing, but mostly its stuff in ether journalism or editing. These unfortunately just aren’t my cup of bubble tea. TV writing, I especially like the look of, but that’s damn near impossible to find anything for.”


“I really hate the thought of it,” I now say. “But is this just like any other field, where it’s always about who you know not what you know?”


“There’s always that,” says Amy. “But often a lot of the attention and recognition you rely on comes from exposure getting the right people’s attention. Building the right connections is important too.”


“This is why I want to make a point of stepping things up in this area people,” says Jim. “Getting more connections happening, sending things off to assessors or competitions, publishing stuff wherever possible, finding and submitting to publications and just getting more involved with bigger groups and such for this stuff.”


“You’ve at least got the right idea with your online writing,” Amy now says to me.


“Yeah, and you’re the only one of us who’s got something of theirs in an actual book,” adds Jim. “That always makes me jealous.”


I know it’s only one little article, but my friends’ appreciation is always a confidence booster.


“But yeah, this and a whole lot else is all part of the credential building I’m talking about here,” Jim continues. “If I want to get people hiring me in the future, I’ve got to be throwing examples out there into the world for people to see what I’ve got.”


Looking yet further ahead than the immediate has me even more scared.


“Publishing,” I now bring up. “It’s tough, and there’s inevitably going to be a lot of rejection.”


“Yeah, and funding it all needs to come from somewhere too,” says Amy. “Then there’s also agents. They’re important, but again there’s the cost.”


“Ah well, I guess it’s just like that cat proverb says,” I now add. “If you want to each tuna, expect bones.”


Truthfully, who knows where things will go for each of us. Maybe some of us have bigger dreams, but when your desire is so strong, it’s better to chase it instead of brood over what could have been. Lucky or not, we’re all choosing to do what we love.


“Let’s all agree then,” I finish. “We’re not just going to leave this all as plans but instead make a point of seeing it happen, ASAP.”


“Absolutely,” is the in-unison reply.



Read Ben Kirkby’s Aspiring Writers’ Group columns HERE.


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About Ben Kirkby

Ben moved to Melbourne at the start of 2016 from country NSW. Shortly after declaring his intent to live in Melbourne permanently, his uncle Sam suggested "If you're going to live here you've got to get along to the footy at some point". After seeing his first football match (Hawthorn vs Sydney, round 9 2016) Ben's interest in AFL took off in a way highly unexpected by both himself and his extended family. Ben's team alignment was uncertain for a time, seeing an interest taken primarily toward Hawthorn during much of the 2016 season, but during the finals series he declared his intent to follow the way of his cousins and uncle and become a Richmond Supporter, primarily on the grounds of them being the team he most wanted to see win, among a long list of other reasons. Needless to say the following year saw him very happy with his choice.


  1. Yes, I'm that Amy says

    *cliché alert*
    Keep following those dreams Ben. You are well on your way to making them a reality. Jim and I have seen just how much you’ve grown in your writing. We’ve loved reading these articles and hope you keep things like this up as you start your career. You’ve brought to light just some of the behind the scenes issues writers face today, something not so often talked about, especially from a group perspective. You should very proud of the work you’ve produced.

  2. I have enjoyed reading your weekly column Ben, to you and your fellow writers, never give up doing what you all love, who knows where it may lead

  3. “Hear, hear” to the comments above, Ben.
    I’m sure the Almanac community would be interested in knowing what you’ve learned from the process of publishing these regular columns. It’s a hard grind at times but I reckon your writing has improved as a result. Well done!

  4. Ben The Artist says

    Thanks Amy. It’s a real confidence booster to hear that, especially from another talented writer like yourself. The part you and Jim played in the creation of these means a lot as well.
    The same goes for you too Stainless, and SK. Very appreciative of all the support. And Yeah, more stuff reflecting on the practice of writing still yet to come.

  5. Yes, I'm that Jim says

    SK – Thanks so much for the kind words. They mean quite a lot, especially as we try and take these first few baby steps into legitimacy.

    Ben – its been a pleasure and an honour reading these columns and witnessing your success. You may offer Any and I some credit, but yours is the butt on the chair in front of the keyboard. You did the work. Be proud of yourself – we sure are.

  6. That Rob guy who’s sometimes there says

    Awesome job Ben man, so great to see your body of work grow and to see you mature as a writer. Could use some more me though, but that’s my only criticism!

  7. Ben The Artist says

    Thanks as well to you Rob. Though it’s only a small number of writers’ sessions you’ve been able to join in on, your presence is always a massive boost to our morale.

    Also in further response to your comments Amy and Stainless, yes the topic of writing and what one comes to the awareness of from having it as a consistent practice is certainly a wide and dense field. I’ve found through these columns, as well as my other writing that there’s a lot of learning by doing that goes on. Plus, writing all of the lessons and tips down in an ongoing way has worked wonders for building a memory/info bank on all the handy stuff to keep in mind.

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