Month: August 2022

Spark extinguished. . . . sort of

Rejection is all part of the writing game. At least it is if one is prepared to put it out into the public sphere in the hope a publisher or editor is impressed enough to print it, and ideally pay the writer for the privilege. That’s the life of a freelance journalist, jobbing writer, or just a hopeful beginner who’s plucked up sufficient nerve to test their lovingly crafted article, story or poem in the court of public opinion. It’s a truth universally acknowledged that every writer serious about their craft eventually decides to take the plunge, and send off their work in hopeful anticipation it will be read, enjoyed and accepted for publication or a competition prize.

I know I was exceptionally fortunate when I finally took this step. My very first foray into testing my writing against that of other hopeful scribblers was a competition. I didn’t win it. I wasn’t even placed, but I did receive an ‘honourable mention’. It was enough to give me the confidence to keep going. My confidence received another boost when I sent off another piece to a small press publishing opportunity, and it was accepted. There’s nothing quite like the thrill of seeing words you’ve written on the pages of a published magazine, journal, or book. It’s a thrill that doesn’t fade with time or more success. At least it hasn’t done for me.

That’s not to say I’ve not had my fair share of rejections. Like I said, they go with the territory. And despite what anyone says to the contrary, they hurt. It’s hard to get your head around the idea that the rejection isn’t of you personally. It’s just that your article, story, poem or whatever, isn’t the right fit for that particular publication, or publisher at that time. It doesn’t mean you’ve written a load of rubbish or that you’ve suddenly lost the ability to write well. I know the advice is often to rewrite the piece and whizz it off somewhere else, and it’s sensible advice but I confess to not always following it.

The background to this blog entry though is because I have just received, not a rejection as such, but confirmation my entry into the Hardie Grant Spark Prize 2022 didn’t make the shortlist. So the book I’m currently working on, and that’s already many thousands of words long, failed to stack up against those few who made it to the top of the pile. How big was the pile? Who knows. Maybe my entry missed out by a whisker, or maybe it didn’t make it past Round One. I will never know. And that’s fine because I shall just keep working on my magnum opus, and keep in my head the lovely affirmation from my friend Shirley, who encouraged me to enter the Spark Prize in the first place. When I emailed her the news she said, ‘You know you can write and this [result] doesn’t change that one iota’.

So best of luck to the chosen few, and to the eventual winner, but for me it’s onwards and upwards.

Roadkill madness

Have we reached a tipping point I wonder, in a realisation and an awareness – as well as hopefully a collective horror – about the staggering number of wildlife being exterminated on our roads?
It’s not like the issue of roadkill is new. Some of us have been urging drivers to slow down on Tasmania’s roads for years, especially between the hours of dusk and dawn when our mostly nocturnal wildlife is active. There have been multiple letters to editors over the years, from both locals and tourists, appalled at the number of roadkilled bodies lining the roadsides. There have been multiple pleas from wildlife champion Greg Irons from Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, begging people to please show caution, and to slow down, especially when driving at night or early in the morning.

It seems that people are finally waking up and finding their voices. Certainly I hope so. Suddenly there seems to be an explosion of community groups forming around the state determined to halt the carnage. Primarily in their own locality, but also more widely. Facebook pages have been established. Tamar Valley Wildlife Roadkill Initiative and Friends of Summerleas Wildlife are just two of them. Posts are being shared. The ‘likes’ are increasing. While the graphic photos being posted can be confronting, (they’re meant to be) they are also having some success in mobilising people to be more aware. And to encourage them how to be involved.

Letters to editors are good, and Council road signs reminding drivers to ‘slow down for wildlife’ are also good, but a relatively new and effective strategy being promoted by a southern Tasmanian group is posters. They have a range of different ones to choose from and they’re popping up on fences and gates across the island. Thanks to a committed team of volunteers and wildlife carers these posters are being ferried around the state. They all have a photograph of a pademelon, a wallaby, a wombat, a masked owl, a Tasmanian devil etc and a simple message that asks drivers to slow down because everyone deserves to arrive home safe and sound at night. And the cost is modest at only $16 each. Order from Friends of Summerleas Wildlife

It’s a fantastic initiative and already there are three along our road. It’s certainly not the only strategy to help protect our vulnerable wildlife, and I cannot say in truth that it’s proved 100 per cent effective yet in my area, but it’s a start and will hopefully prompt more people to be alert to our furred and feathered friends when they’re driving along regional and rural roads, because as the posters remind us: we all deserve to arrive home safely.