Amy Anshaw-Nye (she/her) is a 32-year-old writer and poet living in unceded Darug Country. Majoring in Creative Writing at Western Sydney University (WSU), her works explore themes of love, madness, intergenerational trauma, and queer identity. She’s a WestWords Academian and has recently been awarded the Westwords-Varuna Emerging Writers’ Residency. Amy is working on a queer romantic thriller novel, and her short story ‘The Anniversary Dinner’ will appear in issue 38 of Verandah Journal.
Amy will take us through her journey with WestWords, and the incredible journey of her debut novel, all while juggling her degree and kids …
WestWords is a writing centre based in Parramatta, and the WestWords Academy is an annual program that supports a group of writers and creatives’ career development. Academians get to attend seminars on the “business” of being an independent artist, an individual mentorship, and every month we have a live event where academians and alumni perform our work.
Being awarded the WestWords-Varuna Emerging Writers’ Residency means that I get to spend six nights at the Varuna Writing House in Katoomba. I’ll be using that time to work on my novel. This opportunity comes with a mentorship as well.
The Academy was the first “big” opportunity I got. I had one or two small publications to my name when I applied. They took a chance on me, and I’ll be forever grateful. And getting a place at Varuna is absolutely incredible – I nearly fell over when they rang me with the news!
I think the main thing I’ve gotten from these opportunities is being part of an amazing community of writers; many of them have become good friends. The whole thing also gives me a confidence boost. I feel like a “real” writer now.
It’s extremely close to my heart. I wrote the very first version of Ebb Tide in 2015. I was working on a fantasy novel at the time and wrote Ebb Tide for fun during a break between drafts. After I finished it, I realised it was something I really, really loved. I sat on it for a few years, then in 2018 I rewrote it completely—it’s almost nothing like the original now.
I had a kind of weird writing journey. From literal Kindergarten until my early thirties, I wrote purely for myself and my friends. I knew I would publish something “one day”, but never thought much about what my debut novel would be.
I’ve written over ten novels and hundreds of short stories that only a handful of friends and family have read. I always knew I didn’t want to publish anything in my teens or even in my 20s. I’m in a place in my life now where I feel like I have the skill and the confidence to pursue publication. And because I’ve been practising for over twenty years, I look very impressive for a “new” writer.
I don’t sleep. I write at night and suffer from exhaustion during the day. I’m also a very fast writer. My record for completing a first draft is 12 days—that was before kids, of course! But I am a quick writer, and that helps a lot.
My emerging success has made me more confident but also more insecure at the same time. I know that sounds weird. I think to myself, people are paying attention, they’re reading, they’re liking it, so I must have talent! But then there’s that insidious imposter syndrome that tells me that I’ve actually tricked everyone, or I’ve gotten lucky, and I’m not talented at all.
Write, write, write! Don’t think about publication while you write, just do it. You can’t publish if you have nothing to submit, and you won’t get published if you don’t practice and improve. And read lots! Read widely. Rip other writers off while you’re learning (but don’t publish that, because then that’s plagiarism), and try not to take yourself too seriously. Have fun with it.
I’ve noticed the pieces I have the most fun with are the pieces that get accepted for publication the quickest.
A social media presence is absolutely essential. I think most young people know this, it’s second nature to them. I think a lot of older writers resent it. I’m lucky in that I love social media. I’ve been online since MySpace and I’ve loved moving along with each metamorphosis of the social media landscape. I got on Threads immediately. I love Threads.
There are also things I don’t like about social media too. I recognise all the ways in which it’s toxic. But I curate my feed and guard my mental health with the block button and by muting words, stuff like that. I just love connecting, and I love showing off.
Starting the Substack newsletter was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I love writing personal essays, but I don’t necessarily want to pitch them to publications. Limerence has been a great way to talk about the process, connect with other writers, and just get stuff off my chest. I recently wrote an essay for my Substack about imposter syndrome, which I was just talking about in my previous answer.