Fiona Levings is our guest blogger this week and she provides details on a wonderful informal group of authors, illustrators, and those testing the waters in this creative field, that gather in Hobart. It is heartwarming to see such a vibrant network of Tasmanian creators that enrich the children’s and young adult publishing palette. Read on and learn about the vibrant Hobart Children’s Writers and Illustrators (CWIlls)
We all know the feeling. The one where you have to take a long walk into a room of people who all know one another but whom you’ve never met. Once or twice in life I have come across enlightened souls who genuinely consider strangers as nothing more than friends they haven’t met yet. For the rest of us, though, turning up cold to a group gig is hard to do. When I arrived at the State Theatre Café one Tuesday evening a few years ago to my first meeting with the Hobart Children’s Writers and Illustrators (CWIlls), I was worried. Not having met any of these people before I didn’t know which group in the Cafe to approach. How embarrassing if I tried to join the wrong table! It was a minefield. I had to grit my teeth.
I am really glad that I did.
The world of writing and illustrating can be opaque if you are standing on the outside looking in. There is plenty of information out there but many things come at a cost and how do you know what investment is going to best meet your needs? What are your needs? There are sharks in these waters, too. Success is rarely straight-forward and, even at it brightest, it does not cure the isolation of the role. This is not the kind of job where you can vent to your colleague in the next cubicle; there are no team-mates to lean on. The relation between anxiety and creativity is a topic too broad for this post but it lies at the heart of why groups like CWIlls can be so important: because creators need colleagues too.
The Hobart CWIlls is an informal group that meets once a month to chat, slurp warm beverages and eat cake while exchanging information, ideas and opportunities. Occasionally, we extend to other events – such as hosting the Children’s Book Nook at the Tasmanian Writer’s Festival in 2017. Our group has no formal membership; there are no required qualifications, no fees to join and no obligation to attend. We have evolved over a decade to boast a contact list of over 40 participants and now include a number of established (and award-winning) authors and illustrators, emerging and aspiring creatives as well as a broad group of artists, hobbyists and folk with a passion for the art form. Most importantly, CWILLs is a group of humble, good-humoured, generous people who genuinely support each other in their creative endeavours and who whole-heartedly welcome new-comers. If you care about writing or illustrating for children or young adult literature and you are looking for a forum to share your experiences, extend your contacts in the Tasmanian writing community, to ask for advice (or discuss frustrations) then this is the group for you. Grit your teeth and give it a go. You will be really glad that you did.
Fiona Levings is the co-ordinator of the Hobart CWIlls. The group meets regularly on the third Tuesday of the month, 5pm at the State Theatre Café in North Hobart. For more information, or to add your name to the mailing list, please contact Fiona at firstname.lastname@example.org.