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…
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.
My 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.
I 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.
My 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.
As 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…..