30 October 2023

Four celebrated South Coast authors to guide writers through NaNoWriMo

| Kellie O'Brien
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AL Tait NaNoWriMo workshop

A.L. Tait (Allison Tait) will be one of four South Coast authors running workshops in Gerringong and Kiama for National Novel Writing Month. Photo: Supplied.

For the second year, Kiama and Gerringong libraries are hosting four widely celebrated South Coast authors for a series of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) workshops.

Gerringong Library branch supervisor and co-host of the popular Good Librations podcast, Lauren Watkins, said each Tuesday across November, a different author would conduct a one-hour writing workshop at the libraries.

NaNoWriMo began in 1999 as a challenge to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days and now involves hundreds of thousands of people around the world each year.

“We use NaNoWriMo as a base because obviously that’s what happens in November – writers do that all around the world,” Lauren said.

“But, of course, everyone coming wasn’t actually doing NaNoWriMo,” she said of last year’s event.

“Maybe they weren’t even writing anything at all at the time, but were very interested and very engaged, and were getting skills they could then use to write if they wished to from then on.”

She said the South Coast authors chosen provided variety for participants, with well known music biographer Jeff Apter focusing on biographies and ghostwriting.

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“Even though it’s a novel writing month, we like to have one non-fiction session because then that’s giving the attendees a different type of skill,” she said.

“This year we’ve got A.L. Tait as well who writes for middle grade, but already does a lot of writing workshops both with a middle grade group who are learning to write but also with adults who are wanting to write middle grade stories.

“We thought that was a really nice counterpoint to a non-fiction writer.”

She said other authors included historical fantasy and fairytale author Kell Woods and contemporary food and family author Tori Haschka.

“We want that difference across all of the authors and we also like to, if we can, use authors that we know have been involved with the library before,” she said.

“So A.L. Tait launched a book here this year and Tori Haschka launched a book here last year.

“Jeff Apter has done a big author talk at Kiama Library with the Friends of Kiama Library.

“These authors, they know us, they’ve worked with us before.

“Kell Woods is a debut author, getting great reviews for her book that just came out and it’s so nice then to be able to give her that exposure as well.”

Gerringong Library NaNoWriMo workshop

The author display at Gerringong Library for the NaNoWriMo workshops in November. Photo: Supplied.

She said last year they attracted a diverse range of writers and ages, some of which were already published authors.

“Maybe they had only published one book themselves, but were in a specific genre, and then they came to see other authors that do it in different genres to improve their skills across the board,” she said.

“The main thing we want to do is support our local community, make the library a place that our local authors want to come to and remind them too that we’re here and if they want to launch a book or hold an event, they can approach us at any time.

“Building those relationships with our wonderful local authors is really important to us.

“It’s the kind of community where people come for retirement or come for vacation, and think, ‘I might write a book.’”

Having taken part in NaNoWriMo in 2019 herself, Lauren said there were many challenges authors faced when attempting to write a book.

“It’s a massive job and it’s such a nice thing to have a frame to work within,” she said.

“I had this idea for years and I wanted to try it and having something like NaNoWriMo it really pushed me to get that first draft done.

“We’re hoping if there are others like that out there who are in the exact same situation, that they are like, ‘OK, well, this is a thing that happens that a lot of people try to do. Here is a group of workshops that can assist me in doing that and give me a good skills foundation.’”

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However, she said even those not part of NaNoWriMo would gain skills for future writing projects.

“A lady that is a regular in our library, she asked me recently about a writing group, so I’m hoping that during these sessions, I can ask people whether they would be interested in one,” she said.

“If they are, then it’s something we could run on a monthly basis next year and be able to have that sharing.”

The NaNoWriMo workshops are Writing Through The Messy Middle with A.L. Tait on 7 November at Gerringong Library, The Art of Atmosphere and The Perfect First Page with Kell Woods on 14 November at Kiama Library, Biography and Ghost Writing with Jeff Apter on 21 November at Gerringong Library, and Write What You Know with Tori Haschka on 28 November at Kiama Library.

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