I was lucky enough to have recently had my story ‘Orbiting’ read on BBC Radio 4 as part of their Stories from the Southern Cross series. Success like this comes occasionally from luck, but more often from hard work, and not just mine. In that respect, I’m indebted to friends, colleagues and fellow professionals, all of whom helped either take Orbiting to a necessarily high standard, or, in the case of Alex Adsett, could read a contract without going cross-eyed. All are excellent writers, editors, or publishing professionals, and I’m lucky enough to be able to call them friends. So, here I go:
Brigid Lowry: Brigid has been writing for longer than me, and lives with the patience and serenity of a well-loved labrador. She’s wise, strong and not willing to tell me when a story needs more work. In this case, I was lucky enough to have her read over an earlier draft of ‘Orbiting’ and tell me where it sucked, and where it didn’t.
Paul Mitchell: I first met Paul when he ran Writers Victoria’s ‘Year of the Short Story’ a few years ago. He’s a funny, friendly, down-to-earth guy who writes with heart and knows an incredible amount about the craft. Most of what I’ve learned these past three years has been due to either him or Brigid.
Steven James Finch: If you live in Perth, arrange a catch-up with Steve. He is the guy I would be if I could go back in time, such is his appreciation for the small joys of life. I love him unreservedly, and he does a killer karaoke version of Whitney Houston’s ‘I Want to Dance with Somebody.’
Johannes Jakob: Johannes (or Jojo to his friends) is the fiction editor of The Lifted Brow, a former editor of Voiceworks and The Victorian Writer and a hip-hop loving, cardigan wearing bear of a literary advocate. I walked past him every day when I worked at the Small Press Network. Sometimes, I didn’t even need anything from the kitchen. I just wanted to say hello.
Brooke Dunnell: Brooke and I share stories. I’m lucky that we do, as she’s an absolute gun. Her feedback on ‘Orbiting’ was, as always, spot-on.
Zora Sanders: Zora Sanders is the editor of Meanjin and first accepted ‘Orbiting’ for publication. From there, she whipped it into shape like a literary chef, tossing in ingredients here, getting rid of unnecessary garnish there. Were that not enough, she helped me again when it was selected for the BBC on a day when she wasn’t at work, and was otherwise indisposed. Zora, I salute you.
Alex Adsett: Having accepted my story for the BBC, the producer then said he’d, ‘send the contract through to my agent.’ I said, ‘that’s fine,’ hung up the phone, and frantically rang Alex to help with this particular contract.
Have you met Alex? If you have, you’ll know she’s awesome, just this bubbly, enthusiastic, can-do force-of-an-agent. Without her, I would still be reading that contract…
I also want to thank Les Zigomanis, Ryan O’Neill, Zoe Dattner, Louise Swinn, Nicola Redhouse, Terri-ann White, Phill English, Annabel Smith, Tiggy Johnson, Sam Van Zweden and Natalie Book for their help either with this story, or with life and writing in general.
Talented, funny and generous people surround me; thanks to those who helped ‘Orbiting’ make it all the way to the BBC, and those who helped keep a smile on my face. I try to give back when someone needs my help, as best as I possibly can. In the meantime, I’m grateful to everyone who was there for me, supported me through tough times, and helped me realise this dream. Thanks again.