This article was originally published in May 2019 on our ‘Writers on Writers Vic’ page, for our 30th year of operating.
Shivaun Plozza is an award-winning author of books for young adults as well as a freelance editor and manuscript assessor. Her debut novel Frankie (Penguin, 2016) was shortlisted for the Inky Awards, got Highly Commented at the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards and won the YA Crime Novel category of the Davitt Awards. Tin Heart (Penguin), her second novel, was inspired by her brother’s kidney transplant and was released in 2018. Shivaun’s short story ‘The Point’ is part of Where the Shoreline Used to Be, an anthology of YA fiction, and her footy-themed children’s story ‘The Challenge’ was part of Speccy-tacular: AFL Stories. She holds a Masters in Creative Writing and a Masters in Publishing and Communications from the University of Melbourne and first joined Writers Victoria as an intern.
Tell us about your involvement with Writers Victoria.
My relationship with Writers Victoria started with an internship. I was completing my Master of Publishing and Communication and was looking at different ways I could engage with the publishing world and thought that an internship with Writers Victoria would offer me a unique experience. This led me to complete a number of the short courses, all of which helped me improve my writing craft but, perhaps more importantly, connected me with community of like-minded people, helping me to feel supported in ways I hadn’t previously.
What difference did this experience make to you?
The support from the staff and fellow members buoyed my drive and commitment to finishing my novel and submitting it for publication. Writers Victoria offered many ways for me to hone my craft but also offered other helpful experiences and services, such as being published in their magazine, fellowships for dedicated writing spaces, writing competitions and of course the wonderful short-course program. Most importantly, I pitched my first novel, Frankie, at the Literary Speed Dating event run by Writers Victoria and the ASA and that was my first step toward being a published novelist.
What kind or support or resources are most helpful to you as a writer?
Definitely the courses – not only do you get to drill down into a specific topic but you get to meet other emerging writers. I met my writers’ group through a Writers Victoria short course and they have been invaluable to my writing journey.
I’ve never used the service myself (because I am one of the assessors) but I get so much positive feedback from writers who use the manuscript assessment and mentoring services that I firmly believe it is a real asset to the organisation.
Based on your own experience, what advice do you have for aspiring and emerging writers about engaging with their local writers’ centre?
I would say to focus not just on the services it provides but the community – find people who might be in a writers’ group with you, learn from your peers, commiserate and celebrate with them, learns tips and tricks for improving your writing and getting published, etc. Surrounding yourself with people who know what it’s like to write – the ups and downs – is invaluable.