I’m off to Australia next week, to speak at the annual teachers’ conference, Brave New World AATE/ALEA, to spend a day visiting QUT – Queensland University of Technology - and to run a workshop for the Queensland Writer’s Centre. As well as that, on Tuesday 9 July, I’m participating in a day-long live writing event, in collaboration with if:book Australia, and QUT, called Memory Makes Us. We will be harvesting short and long term memories from the good people of Brisbane and anyone else anywhere in the world online via social media. If you are in Brisbane, pop down to the State Library to say hello and lend us a memory or two. If you are not in Brisbane, watch out for a flurry of activity online, centred around the hashtag of #memorymakesus. You’ll also be able to watch me write, live, via a url that we’ll be sending out on the day. Live typing! Live deleting! Maybe even some live procrastination if you are really lucky.
This will be my second visit to Australia; I was at the Melbourne Writer’s Festival in 2011, again with if:book Australia. On that visit, I took the tram from downtown Melbourne to the beach at St Kilda, but that was the extent of my exposure to the physical landscape of the great island-continent. This time I will see a tiny bit more of the country, a small stretch of the coast north of Brisbane. Here’s hoping I won’t be bitten by an enormous spider or attacked by a jellyfish or thumped to death by a kangaroo. Hooray!
Apart from that, I’m seriously enjoying my new job at Bath Spa University – I figure I can still call it a new job, as I’ve been in it for less than a year. I’ve been able to involve myself in a bunch of exciting things, including teaching undergraduates on the remarkably innovative Creative Writing and Publishing programme, teaching on the wonderful Creative Writing MA, and generally enthusing about things digital. My colleagues have been hugely welcoming and I’m involved in a couple of new research projects as well as developing a cohort of Digital Writing PhDs, via the fee waiver studentships the university has created for October this year.
And my new novel, Landing Gear, is moving toward its May 2014 publication date. I’m very excited to be working with Doubleday Random House in Canada, and Simon & Schuster in NY. I’m working on a final edit of the manuscript, and am hoping to have a digital strategy worked out in collaboration with these publishers, working with ‘Flight Paths’ and other digital assets around the novel. One of my goals is to get my backlist in working order, available as e-books as well as print editions, before that May 2014 publication date.
In Canada, my publisher for many years, Kim McArthur, has ‘ceased trading’. For the past year and a half all my Canadian publications, not to mention all of my Canadian royalties, have been in a state of limbo as McArthur & Co struggled to sort itself out financially. I’m not going to say much about that here, apart from noting that, when it comes to publishers and their financial difficulties, writers are the first to lose. Much has been made of the struggle to pay printers, to pay tax bills, to pay creditors; little is said about the fact that writers do not get paid. McArthur published a host of terrific writers; the company’s demise is not good news for anyone.
And so it goes. Onward. If you are interested in the digital transformation of reading, writing, and publishing, take a look at The Writing Platform; I’m Editor of this site which is just coming out of Beta – if you have any ideas for pieces you’d like to write on matters digital, get in touch with us.