Dragon’s Diary: Too much of a good thing?


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I’ve read a lot of posts over the past couple of weeks in which friends have reflected on 2014. For most of them it has been a pretty shitty year.

I feel somewhat guilty and very humble because the year has been good to me, particularly professionally.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in recent years it’s to be thankful for the good things in life.

And so I’d like to acknowledge 2014 as a good year, and recognise the people who made it that way. This is me, giving thanks for 2014…

The Hoopla

This has been my first year as a full-time freelance writer, during which time I’ve been honoured to have weekly columns at The Hoopla and The Drum.

I owe a debt of gratitude to Jane Gilmore, my very first editor (and also the first to pay for my work), for generously suggesting one of her own King’s Tribune writers (me) when Wendy Harmer was looking for a new one late last year to write for The Hoopla about federal politics.

It’s a big deal to take on a barely-known writer, particularly when it comes to those who cover politics, and I am not only grateful to Wendy as The Hoopla’s Editor in Chief, but also to Lucy Clark the editor and Jane Waterhouse the publisher for taking a chance with me then and being so supportive of my work since.

One of the things I’ve loved about writing for The Hoopla this year has been the challenge of crafting articles that not only explain politics but do so in a way that is accessible and entertaining for people who don’t live and breathe politics like I do. There’s a lot more skill involved in writing a good colour piece than I first thought, and I have appreciated the opportunity to pretty much learn this skill while on the job at The Hoopla.

The Drum

Drum_newMy association with The Drum goes back as far as my relationship with The King’s Tribune, which is late 2010. The then editor of The Drum, Jonathan Green, started publishing my work from around that time, and Jonathan’s wise counsel contributed to me dropping the pseudonym in early 2012.

But as any freelance writer eventually comes to know, commissioning editors move on and you essentially have to start afresh with a new one who may or may not like the way you think or write. So it was with some trepidation that I started pitching to Chip Rolley when he became editor of The Drum in 2012.

Since then, Chip has provided me with some undreamt-of writing (and learning) opportunities, including a weekly column during the 2013 federal election campaign. Even so, I was still completely floored – and thrilled – when he invited me at the end of 2013 to join The Drum’s regular columnists to write a weekly column on federal politics.

This has given me the opportunity to write weekly analysis for a national audience of political junkies, and to unashamedly try to emulate the scene-setting think-pieces that Katharine Murphy used to write every Monday for The Age. I’m not only very grateful to Chip for this chance, but also his guidance in helping me find new ways and things to explore and explain.

And not least of all

In addition to the weekly columns I have at The Hoopla and The Drum, I’ve been given many more opportunities to write this year that I’d like to acknowledge.

The-Guardian-logoI was honoured to have an opinion piece published in the inaugural edition of Guardian Australia, and loved that their comment editor, Jessica Reed, continued to call me this year when she needed posts that offered a more right-wing perspective (which was often more than many Guardian readers were comfortable with). Now that Jessica has followed GA’s former editor Kath Viner to the Guardian’s New York post, I’ve started again with new comment editor Adam Brereton, and my former colleague from The Hoopla, Gabrielle Jackson, who is Adam’s deputy.

Thanks to a referral from the Guardian’s editorial staff, I also started writing on an ad-hoc basis this year for the online news site The New Daily. My first editor there, Brigid Delaney, moved to GA and I lost touch with TND for a while, but now I’m getting to know the news director Patrick Elligett, who’s invited me to write a few more articles for them in the past few weeks. Political profiles seem to be my niche at TND!

Regrettably I only wrote a couple of pieces for SBS this year, and even then it was because editor John Bergin requested them. I hope to pitch more pieces to John next year because their comment site is excellent.

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 6.06.06 pmMy other writing experience this year has been quite different to anything else I’ve experienced. ABC Innovation has developed an (award-winning) multimedia news magazine for tablets called The Brief, and instead of publishing an 800 word column it tells stories in bite-sized pieces made up of anything from 320 to 50 words each. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of explaining three months of politics in 320 words or profiling a politician in 50 and I’m grateful to The Brief’s editor Matt Buchanan for giving me such a tremendous opportunity.

You

twitterbirdAs far as I can tell, most writers are wracked with feelings of inadequacy or plagued by the imposter syndrome. I’m no different, and so I’m grateful for the confidence that editors have shown in my judgement, analysis and writing this year.

I’m equally grateful for the trust that you, the readers, have conveyed in my work this year, by retweeting and plugging the posts, actually reading them (!), and for engaging in what has sometimes been pretty vigorous discussion about the topics at hand.

It’s all very well to be a writer, but without you I am nothing.

And so it is to you that I turn for guidance as I head towards the conclusion of this post. I’ve written almost 150 columns and articles this year and you’ve been subjected to emails and tweets about all of them. If I’m going to be able to live entirely off my freelance political writing, then there will likely be more columns and articles than that in 2015, and at least as many tweets and emails.

This isn’t so much an issue for readers who aren’t on Twitter (a lot), but it is a lot of broadcasting for those who are. And so, dear reader, what do you think? Can you cope with a similar volume of articles and PR-tweets in 2015? Or does something have to change?

Over to you…..

24 thoughts on “Dragon’s Diary: Too much of a good thing?

  1. And thank you, Paula, for the analysis and insight. I may not always agree with you but your knowledge of what motivates people behind the scenes has helped make sense of all the insanity and inanity of this parliament.

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  2. Keep them coming Paula. I have enjoyed reading you articles on all of the sites you mention. Always factual or with a reasoned argument and analysis.

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  3. Hi Paula,

    Thanks for your thoughtful and insightful analysis of contemporary Australian politics. You have a knack of cutting through the claptrap and spin to get to the heart of the issue. I look forward to reading your articles in the coming year.

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  4. Oh yes, I certainly can. I love your work so please keep it up. Happy New Year to you & best wishes. As a follower of you on Twitter I love the way you interact with your followers, it makes one feel good.

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  5. Hi Paula, Happy New Year! Like your work, over all publications, and especially that you bring your own (reformed right 🙂 ) perspective. Not a big fan of one sided arguments, and a lot of progressives spend too much energy preaching to the converted, instead of working on how to change things and what shape those changes might take.

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  6. Hi Dragon Lady,
    while the Guardian may have wanted ‘a more right-wing perspective’ to my mind you have more often provided a more centerist and nuanced conservative perspective leavened with humanism.

    For mine you are at your best when you explain the Liberal mindset and how the LNP has come to the conclusions (delusions?) it has.

    Keep up the good work and, yes, keep plugging it cos if you don’t let us know who will?

    Maybe a challenge is in order I reckon you are up for a good thinky piece for The Saturday Paper or maybe The Monthly on how the current Liberal National conglomerate has lost its’ way and how it needs to reinvent itself so that democracy and good governance may be better served and achieved. Someone else probably needs to do the job on Labor but either way both majors need to understand that democracy is still evolving and as more people learn and understand that they actually do have power the more the people and organisations that practice the democracy of ‘yesteryear’ will be sidelined and eventually become redundant.

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    1. Thanks Mick – I agree that I’ve moved more to the centre since this blogging thing commenced! Thank you also for saying that you value the explanatory stuff, for it can often be dismissed as being too insider-ish. However, there’s no point us railing against politics and trying to improve it if we don’t truly understand how it works.

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      1. ” I agree that I’ve moved more to the centre… ”

        I’m not so sure. I think you were always there.

        Then there is the question of the possible relocation of the centre…..

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  7. Yes, please keep it up! I’ve really appreciated your columns and was thrilled when you became weekly on The Drum. I’ve found twitter a great way to interact with people who I don’t always agree with politically. I also subscribe (and pay!) for your No Crap App which I find very handy. I know that was probably a bit hard to keep with everything else.

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    1. Thanks so much Michelle. I think you were the very first person to sign up to sponsor The No Crap App and I am very grateful for that. It’s been difficult this year trying to get it out on a Saturday, but tweeps still seem to get value from it on a Sunday. However my goal in 2015 is to get it back on track for Saturday mornings.

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  8. I’m happy to be able to say I was a fan before you were famous. You were anonymous on Twitter, if I recall – I certainly didn’t find out your identity for some time.

    Now we get more of your great work in more places, too many places for me to catch all of your work, but I try.

    More please!

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  9. While I’m more than a *little* to the left of your perspective Paula, I’ve always found your work well worth reading.
    Even though I might rage and blow smoke through my ears as I rant at the screen. 🙂
    A bit of sanity coming from someone on the “coherent right” is a rare and precious thing.
    Please keep up the good work.

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