Year 12 student Christiana Palella recently spent time at the Queensland Writers Centre at the State Library as a Workplace Learning Participant after receiving Highly Commended in the Young Writers Award 2018. As part of her work placement, Christiana wrote an article that was published in the Queensland Writers Youth Circle (Digital) Magazine about the Young Writers Conference she attended, which you can read below. The Writers Centre said that they loved having Christiana at the Centre, and they really enjoyed her article that provided an insight into the Conference through her eyes. Congratulations on the publication of your article Christiana, what a tremendous achievement!
You have an idea for a story or article. It’s revolutionary. Perhaps a little too revolutionary. What if you can’t write it to be perfect? What if you show it to someone and they don’t like it? Or worse: hate it. I know these things run through my mind, at least. Yet, after attending the Young Writers Conference in Brisbane earlier this year, I started questioning whether these thoughts were actually worthwhile. Perhaps there wasn’t anything to worry about after all?My main takeaway from the event — besides the delicious mini cheese cubes from the buffet (highly recommended 10/10) — was that no one should be hesitant to write something because they’re afraid they might fail, or because they’re worried about what people might think. I learnt that perfection is a scam.The Young Writers Conference showed me that not only are there so many people who love to write, but that I could connect with those people over the same experiences and issues I was having as a writer.
When we first walked into the conference auditorium, there was a scattering of free seats, one empty place between each person or group. What I should have done was sit down right next to someone and start a lively conversation. So naturally, I didn’t. As you could expect, this caused mass confusion when the presenter instructed us to “turn to the person in the seat next to you.” I, along with everyone else, slowly locked eyes with the person on the other side of the expanse that was the geometrically patterned blue chair. And it was at that moment that I realised, we didn’t have to be closed off from each other at all. We were all there for the same reason: we loved to write and wanted to improve and share our ideas with others.
These were people who could appreciate the charm of a well-developed character, the beauty of an engaging plotline, or the twist of a turn of phrase. At school, I’ve often felt disconnected from the rest of my class as the only person who really loves writing. I’ve met many other school-age writers who’ve felt the same way, too. So, I was incredibly inspired to discover that there was a whole community I could be a part of and relate to, just in Queensland alone.The best part of the Young Writers Conference was how it brought people together to show the numerous and individual ideas of young writers. With people of various ethnicities, cultural backgrounds, genders, locations, and interests, it was clear that everyone would write differently, and about different things. I realised that diversity in writing was a strength, and thus that being hesitant to write something for fear of being different or disliked is redundant.
Together, we all attended workshops hosted by a myriad of professional writers, editors, and publishers. We learnt that no published work has ever been perfect the first time around and that editing and learning from critiques are just as important as the writing phase itself. Writing can only get better the more it’s revised.
When I think of festivals, I usually imagine vast fairgrounds, pressing crowds, loud music, and the intense heat of the sun. What I’ve not often considered is festivals like this – the exchange of ideas, the instant comradery, the whisper of pages turning, the scratching of sharpened pencils on thick paper, or the furious clicking of keys as ideas take form. Letter by letter, the stories emerged – flawed first drafts with the potential to become great.The conference really helped me to become a better writer. Not only from the plot design tips but also by helping me feel less anxious and isolated. Although I still question my writing sometimes, discovering the supportive writing community in Queensland, as well as the knowledge that writing will always be flawed, has allowed me to write more freely.
I feel comforted that no book has ever been perfect and that none ever will be. Society is pioneered by those who are willing to pick up a pen and express an idea without shame. Perfection is a scam.