I recently went to hear Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner talk about his writing journey. Matthew endured countless rejections before he finally landed a gig as a scriptwriter on sitcoms before moving on to writing for The Sopranos and then creating the uber-successful series Mad Men, centred around characters in the advertising world in 1960s New York.
I loved the way every episode was crafted, so it was such a pleasure to hear him talk about the art of writing.
One thing Matthew said really stuck with me: “There are times when people want to see sophisticated culture and sophisticated art. And there are times when people just want to see sh*t blown up.”
His point is that both are okay. And I agree.
I love reading classics and critically acclaimed literary novels. But I’m not a literary snob, either. All genres of writing are valid and worthwhile. You need to pursue the kind of writing that gets you excited, that you are truly passionate about, regardless of whether it’s considered popular, vocational, literary – or anything in between.
You need to write in whatever way fuels your soul. Because that’s where you will find your joy and purpose. As Matthew Weiner also said: “If you can write, you can change your life.” Believe it.
Have a great week.
What our graduates are saying:
Laura Ogden “The Australian Writers’ Centre is a wonderful place to advance your writing skills and get to know other writers, both published and unpublished. I loved every second of it, and the fact it was online was fantastic. I would never have been able to do the course otherwise.” Advanced Fiction Writing Techniques (online)
“It is nice to know you can access courses even if you don’t live in a big metropolitan centre! I now have a greater understanding of how to structure and pitch strong feature articles, making them relevant to the publications I want to focus on.
“The mode of delivery was seamless – you can access the modules at any time and replay them at your own convenience.”
Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1 (online)
Winter at Australian Writers’ Centre
Want courses? We’ve got ’em. For the full list of courses that are currently on offer, check out the very end of this newsletter. Here are three to kick things off…
Caption competition winners
Last week, we wanted to see what you could come up with for this bridesmaid pic, preferably without getting your feet wet.
Congrats to our three winning entries:
For the last time Richard, there are no more fish in the sea; please don’t throw this one back!
Overjoyed on his wedding day, Bryan was nonetheless still nervous at the prospect of tying the knot in his wedding tackle.
Hook line and “stinker” more like it. I will never be lured to be bridesmaid again, no matter how much I’m baited by others.
You have each won a copy of Lindsey Kelk’s Always the Bridesmaid, with thanks to our friends at HarperCollins.
Q: Hi AWC, I keep hearing kids say “versing”. As in, “our team is versing your team this weekend”. Surely that’s not a “thing” is it?
A: Haha, welcome to the English language! Take a seat. Q: I’d prefer to stand.
A: Okay, well what you’re hearing is slang and apparently very common with kids these days. It is thought to have been picked up through video game terminology, but also through the ambiguous sound of the word “versus”. Q: Don’t you mean “verses”?
A: No way. “Verses” doesn’t refer to “against” or “in opposition to”. Q: Right, sorry about that – I’m clearly not versed in all things language related.
A: Aha, so you’ve just used the one legitimate way to say “versed” – when referring to learning something, e.g. “I’m not well versed-in this subject” or “I’m versing myself in the complete works of Shakespeare”. Q: But kids say “when we versed your team, we won 14-nil”…
A: Yes they do, and no, it isn’t proper usage. What they are doing with this and “versing” is thinking that the original “versus” is a verb, when it’s in fact a preposition. Q: A preppy what?
A: A preposition is a word that shows a noun or pronoun’s relationship with another word in a sentence. The common ones are things like: on, in, above, through, below and before. Q: Australia versus New Zealand. Okay, so that is easy enough. Why would they think it was a verb?
A: Imagine a reporter saying: “coming up, Australia versus New Zealand”. Now, to read it, it’s clear. But it’s also possible for those still learning the language (i.e. children) to mishear it as “coming up, Australia verses New Zealand” just like it could be “coming up, Australia plays New Zealand”. Q: Ahhh. Okay, so they think that if “play” can have “playing” and “played” then so can “versus”.
A: Yep, and probably explains why many grow up thinking the base word is “verses” because that’s how it would go if that were possible. Q: But it’s still wrong for kids to say “versing”, yeah?
A: Absolutely. And typically they will grow out of it. Worryingly, it does seem to be appearing in adult usage more and more. Q: Must be just a fad. I’ve only heard it in the past few years.
A: Well, I hope you’re sitting down for this. Q: Nope, I decided to stand, remember?
A: Okay, well the incidence of “‘versing” has been around for over 30 years – first documented in the early ’80s in New York. Q: Wow, who knew…
A: We did. Q: True. So, one final thing, when using it as an abbreviation, is there a correct way to write “versus”?
A: Great question. Of course writing it in full is fine, but if you feel it would be better shortened, then there seem to be four options – or just two that depend on where you live. So if it’s related to an actual legal case (i.e. Roe v Wade) then just “v” is the method – Americans will put a full stop after it, British (and Australia) tend not to bother. For everything else – i.e. sports or elections or gangster rapping, then it’s “vs” – and again, the Americans go with “vs.” while it’s more common in Australia to just go with “vs” without a full stop. Lower case throughout is fine. Q: Thanks for the explanation. I wasn’t feeling all that versed, but now it’s the reverse!
Got a grammar gripe or punctuation puzzle that you’d like our Q&A to explore? Email it to us today!
A NOTE ABOUT LAST WEEK’S “GOT/GOTTEN” Q&A:
Pam writes “It’s my understanding that ‘gotten’ is not an Americanisation. Charles Dickens uses this in his novels”
Excellent point, Pam! The word “gotten” has been around since the Middle Ages and comes from Old English. At one point, it was used commonly everywhere. However, it’s usage in Britain fell away in the past century, while America grabbed it and ran. So while it was all the rage in the 1850s, in modern texts and contexts it is now considered an Americanisation. Thanks for chiming in.
Competition: Win 2x Becoming Steve Jobs
This week’s Australian Writers’ Centre competition prize is the latest biography about the late Apple founder, Steve Jobs. As the book’s publicity states, it’s “a business book like no other – written by the journalist who knew Steve Jobs best, and containing exclusive new material.”
If you love products that start with “i” or want to know the business lessons behind Apple’s turnaround, this prize is definitely worth winning!
We have two copies of Becoming Steve Jobs: The evolution of a reckless upstart into a visionary leader
(that’s the full title!) by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli to give away, with thanks to our friends at Hachette.
To enter, simply “invent” for us a new Apple device – something you think they should get into next. The crazier and funnier the better. (e.g. “the iPlod – new range of shoes”) The two entries we like best will each win a copy of the book.
To enter, reply to this email, changing your subject line to STEVE. Entries close midday on Monday 15 June. GOOD LUCK!
(NOTE: If you win, we’ll contact you via email. Winners must acknowledge their win and provide a postal address within 7 days of notification or they will forfeit the prize and a new winner will be chosen.)
I want to… write for magazines
Our Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1
course is where it all begins – an excellent place to learn the ins, outs, ups and downs of the industry and how you go about choosing a topic and getting it into a publication. Our next Sydney classroom course kicks off on Monday 13 July
with The Guardian
’s Alexandra Spring – running for five consecutive Monday evenings. Meet like-minded people, learn loads and become a more confident writer! We have a handful of places available, so enrol ASAP.
“As heard on our podcast!”
We are constantly told to keep different passwords for everything. As writers we love coming up with new and exciting ways to use letters and numbers. But with great power comes great responsibility and trying to remember your passwords, or more importantly the NEW one that you changed it to, is rather painful.
LastPass wants to “simplify your life” and remember all your passwords for you. And if you think the idea of a website holding all your passwords sounds dodgy, then consider the fact that you’re currently using “fluffykitty1” for everything. It’s either the best thing ever, or an evil mastermind’s clever plan for world domination. Either way, check it out!
(And we hope you don’t find the following list of all our current courses annoying. Check them out today!)
Overseas writing tours – 2015
When: Sunday 21 June to Monday 28 June 2015
Australian Writers’ Centre
Sydney and Online: (02) 9929 0088
Melbourne: (03) 9005 6737
Perth: (08) 9468 0177
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Australian Writers’ Centre | National office: Suite 3, 55 Lavender Street Milsons Point, New South Wales 2061 Australia 02 9929 0088