Amy Anshaw-Nye (she/her) is a queer writer and a student majoring in creative writing at Western Sydney University. Amy is a current WestWords Academian and recipient of the 2023 WestWords-Varuna Emerging Writers’ Residency.
Amy’s prose can be read in various literary publications, including Flash Fiction Magazine and Verandah Journal. She’s currently working on a sapphic romantic suspense novel, Ebb Tide.
I think many writers have this internalised artistic integrity that feels quite shaken when the ‘business’ of writing pops up. That’s definitely been my experience. My advice would be to recognise that all aspects of writing and publishing are part of the journey, and working with a publisher, agent, or editor is a collaborative experience; they’re not there to senselessly tear your work apart; they’re there because they love books. If they’re working with you, they’re super excited about your book! We all want the same thing—to share stories.
As I said, I worked on the structure of my novel at Varuna. I think now, when I draft new stories, I have a structure in my mind and the ways in which structure is in conversation with the genre.
These are things that most writers do intuitively, especially if we read widely and read often, and they’re things I have learned in university creative writing classes, from podcasts, etc.; but I needed that little boot to get me to fully apply all that knowledge to my own process, which was already so very established by the time I started learning about these things. I think having that extra intentionality behind how I structure my stories has been a big change for my process.
Since Varuna, I am far more optimistic about my writing career going forward and far more optimistic about the future of my novel, Ebb Tide. Sometimes publication can feel like an impossible dream, especially when you’re just starting out alone in your bedroom. Learning about the publication process and, most importantly I think, being spoken to as if Ebb Tide’s publication is a given, re-framed how I think about it all. I’m very excited for the future.
I’m going to steal Stephen King’s advice and pass it along: “Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.” I’d recommend not thinking about anybody else while writing. I’m a bit of a hypocrite in this because I do send chapters as I go to two of my friends … and my brother … but I have a strict rule of fanfare only in this period, but I’m confident I won’t let that go to my head for the editing phase, which is the most important thing.
I think writing with the door “closed” means that you’re not ready for criticism in this vulnerable stage of creation – the drafting stage, and thinking about readers, journals, publishers, etc., will only stifle you.
Also, read as much as you can and as widely as you can because this is the best way to learn.
Build community (I know we’re all shy here, but I can’t overstate how valuable community building is for writing), let them encourage you, and you encourage them.
Don’t write to a market; it all changes too fast for you to keep up anyway. Figure out what you’re trying to say and say it as best and as truthfully as you can. If you do all that, you’ll create something you can be proud of.
My short story The Anniversary Dinner was published this month in Verandah Journal 38: Intertwined.
The editors were fantastic to work with, the whole process was a great experience. I was excited to share this short story; it’s this really fun and devastating (my favourite combination) story about traversing trauma and the complexities of family relationships, particularly sibling relationships. I know that doesn’t sound very fun, but there’s a good dose of humour. I love sitting with a family I’m not related to and seeing them interact, there’s so much shared history behind every joke and jab, and I felt like I was sitting with Rhiannon’s family while I wrote The Anniversary Dinner, transcribing everything.
I hope people enjoy it, and enjoy the other wonderful works included in this volume.
I’ve been published in online literary journals before, but there’s something about your words being in a bound book. I’m excited for my mum to have something to hold and to keep.