I Do, I Know

Mistaking Motion for Action

The other day, I read this blog post from my dear friend, Faustina. Currently in LA, Faustina is stumbling upon some life lessons that are making me nod my head and ‘ah’ in agreement:

One thing that I’ve become far more aware of, particularly in the last couple of months, is that lessons in life will keep on presenting themselves to you until you learn and understand them wholly. The lesson I’ve consistently been presented with is to stop rushing aspects of my life when making transition.

That paragraph sums up the last few months of life, for me. There are lessons, and thoughts, and feelings that keep on presenting themselves; sometimes weekly, sometimes daily, that make me think, ‘Ah, I’m back here again.’ Thoughts and feelings and lessons in waiting that I cannot shake, that keep peeking around and popping up in so many aspects of my life.

Then I read this, and it made so much sense I felt it with every fibre of my being:

When I wake up in the morning I think about what I feel like doing that day. Not just what I should – cause then the list goes for days. And then the pressure sets in.

We hardly ever give ourselves enough credit to follow what it is we want to do.

Granted, there’s things we should and need to do, but if we fail to put the want into our day, we’re just cheating ourselves.

And sometimes, we needn’t worry about what we should do. Some days we should pack the car, go for a drive, hit the beach or the mountain and breathe, or, go wherever it is we feel like going and do whatever it is we feel like doing.

I’ve been following my gut feeling over the past few months and it has lead to some discoveries and realisations. As well as some of the most relaxing and fulfilling moments of my life.

I’m sick of the should-dos. And the can-dos. The up-and-gos. And the to-dos.

I’m sick of rushing.

I know too many people who are too busy getting very little done. There’s been some great work written on busy lately, of which I entirely agree, and I say that as a person who’s spent the best part of her twenties being busy – and fulfilled, and happy, and full of life.

I still want to be fulfilled and happy and full of life, but I recognise that in order to do so you don’t need to be busy. We are constantly bombarded with messages of ‘life is short’, ‘make every day count’, ‘live each moment like it’s your last’, but the reality is, for most people, life is long, full of many days and moments, and I feel like all this ‘make every moment count’ hoo haa is just another way for, as Faustina says, ‘the pressure to set in’.

We’re so obsessed with making each moment count, we try to have multiple moments in one. We’re no longer satisfied with one thing at a time. We’re no longer satisfied by simple moments.

Social media, for all its brilliance and blessings, has allowed us to develop a behaviour where we feel as though we can’t miss a moment, so we need to be plugged in and switched on all the time, but not only that; we also can’t miss out on the opportunity to capture a moment. Our computers and laptops and smartphones, gadgets that bing and ding and ring and ping, are pulling us from the very moments we’re supposed to be enjoying because we’re so afraid we’re not capturing it all, or, that there’s something going on that’s more important or interesting than what we’re currently doing.

We can no longer watch a TV program without vomiting opinions about it – in real time – online. We can no longer watch a movie at the theatre without a screen lit up in our palm (I’m about one movie away from picking up someone’s phone and throwing it). We can no longer capture a beautiful view in our minds, we need to Facebook and Instagram and Twitpic it.

The constant need to share has started to make me a little ill. I actually don’t want everyone to know what I’m doing, all the time. And I don’t really want to know what other people are doing all the time, too.

I don’t want to have conversations with people that are multi-tasking. I expect undivided attention.

I stopped using Foursquare weeks ago, because I realised I didn’t want people to know where I was enjoying a coffee, and it’s become more and more apparent that I care less and less about where other people are having one too.

I love gaining insights into people’s lives via social media, I love the banter, the humour, the connections and the links sharing great writing. I don’t love the negativity. I don’t love the opinions – particularly those that are degrading or rude or judgemental. I don’t love the links sharing bad writing.

So I use social media in my own way now, in a way that suits me. That means taking in 10% of what’s going on, sharing 15% and using the other 75% in more positive and productive areas of my life.

I don’t run to social media first thing in the morning anymore, or last thing at night. I switched off my notifications. My phone rarely pings and dings and bings anymore. I only answer calls if it suits me to answer them. Ditto emails. I check social media when I want to (some days, I forget to check it at all – it’s surprising how quick and easy it’s been to detach). I find myself enjoying social media more, when I do use it, because I’m using it less. I find myself less affected by people’s opinions and negativity. I find time to read more good quality blogs, online magazines and newspapers. I still connect with people. Online and offline. And I’m getting more done. I read more. Yes, books.

I’ve written about the farce that is multi-tasking before, and I kind of feel that way about online activity now – not that it’s a farce, but that you can spend a day flicking between websites and social media profiles, feeling busy and rushed, but achieving very little.

When online activity started to make me feel rushed and pressured, when I started to feel like I had to have something to say, and share things in my day, that’s when I decided to change my approach.

Life may be full of moments, but I don’t think each and every one of them has to count. I’m reminded of a quote from one of my favourite films, The Age of Innocence, when Newland Archer played by Daniel Day Lewis, replies to a question of how he’s going to spend his day, by saying, “I’m going to find a way to save my day, rather than spend it.”

That, I believe, is what we should focus on. Not the ways to make each moment count, as though the more we do, the more we have to accumulate, thus making our lives more worthy, but rather, focusing on how to save and cherish moments, acknowledging that sometimes, whittling away the hours doing sweet nothing is far more meaningful than rushing in the pursuit of something.

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I Do, I Know

Why Multi-Tasking Is A Farce

I’ve stopped multi-tasking in my job.

And it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.

I’ve realised – after several years of thinking that doing too much all at the same time is a good idea, and with thanks to business coach Marie Forleo, whose B-School course I have just completed, that multi-tasking is a complete farce.

Yes, a farce.

The past week, I have focused 100% on exactly what I’m doing at any given time – and on that task alone – and I’ve noticed a huge spike in my productivity, concentration and quality of work.

This might all sound very simple. And you may scratch your head and wonder if this ‘lesson’ I have learnt is really that much of a discovery.

But easier said than done.

The truth is, working in the online space is often erratic, frenetic and involves having 82 tabs open, 10 programs, 12 social media accounts, 6 email accounts, one landline, one mobile phone and a partridge in a pear tree.

It’s overwhelm, on your senses, and in every sense of the word.

And sometimes you get to the end of a long day, back away from the computer and think, ‘Wow, today was so busy, it was go, go, go.’

Which it most likely was.

Go from phone call to email, go from Facebook to Twitter, go from YouTube to online magazines, go from writing to editing, go from here to there and repeat.

I have done this long enough to know that a busy day might not necessarily equal a productive day.

So, after reading the stats and research on the importance of banishing multi-tasking, after learning and evolving, I have stopped multi-tasking at work.

And I get so much more done. I now schedule like a mo-fo, I map out my week before it’s even begun, I break tasks down and I set aside sufficient time for them to be completed in.

And I’m smashing it.

Not being pulled and stretched too thin means I’m not worn out at the end of the day, but more importantly, it means what I’m doing during the day is great work, as opposed to good work. There’s order to my day and that order has brought a certain clarity with it that’s so new to me, I do feel a little bit like a new person.

This is a huge shift for me. And whilst I certainly won’t stop multi-tasking outside of work (the washing, cooking and cleaning trifecta is best left alone), I don’t think I can go back to multi-tasking at work again.

Parts of my day still involve tab-jumping and serial mouse-clicking, but I’ve allowed time for that to happen. It’s not my whole day. Whole timeslots in my day are now blocked out and dedicated to just one task.

If you think it can’t be done, or if you’re scoffing at the thought, give it a go.

Don’t make excuses. I used to all the time. All of the reasons as to why I needed this open or that at my fingertips.

The world will not stop spinning if you spend an hour devoted to working. Your client will not die if you call them back 45 minutes after they leave you a voicemail message. You can take four hours to email someone back. That tweet can wait.

We’ve created this idea that we need to be on top of everything, all at the same time; but that’s not only impossible, chances are it’s also damaging your working life (and maybe life beyond that). As I’ve looked around this week, I’ve noticed people declaring how busy they are, how much there is to do, but then at the end of the week, their to-do list barely has a tick on it. And so they go into the next week with the same list and the same thing happens and then a month has passed. And they’ve somehow kidded themselves into thinking this is how work is supposed to be done.

I should know. I’ve been there.

What we need to do is be clear, focused and on task so we can get the job done. And if you can do that with 82 tabs open, 10 programs, 12 social media accounts, 6 email accounts, one landline, one mobile phone and a partridge in a pear tree, then all power to you.

But I have finished a week where I’ve given multi-tasking the flick and it’s been the best working week I’ve had in a long time. Even though I worked late into the night twice this week. Even though there were some minor frustrations.

So goodbye, multi-tasking, and hello, clear to-do list.

Let’s rock this.

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I Am, I Do

This Sort Of Thing Has Never Happened To Me Before

A couple of weeks ago, I completely forgot my PIN.

Well, I thought I had it right, except when I entered it the ATM read back ‘Incorrect PIN. Please try again.’

So I did.

And it was incorrect for a second time.

At which point I decided not to go for a lucky third, out of fear the machine would swallow my card.

Instead, I hit cancel, then wandered around in a daze trying to remember what the damn number was and why oh why couldn’t I remember it?

‘This sort of thing has never happened to me before,’ I muttered.

Earlier this week, walking back from a meeting, I couldn’t resist the SALE sign out the front of Country Road and decided that yes, another knit dress was exactly what I needed because gosh darn it they’re so comfy and warm and stylish and I better get another one before they stop making them forever.

So I tried on four but settled for one and bought it and skipped out of the shop with the bag swinging and swaying off my arm.

Then I walked past Myer and couldn’t resist the SALE sign at the Cue section and decided that yes, another top/shirt/pinafore/jacket was exactly what I needed because gosh darn it they’re all so comfy and warm and stylish and practical and Australian made and I better get them all because I love supporting our industry and I need to be warm and they might stop making them forever so quick, swipe the debit card, swipe it.

So I skipped out of Myer with the bag swinging and swaying off my arm.

Then I got home and wondered why I only had one bag swinging and swaying off my arm when I should have had two.

Then I walked around in a daze trying to remember where I last was when I held the Country Road bag, trying to retrace the steps in my head.

As I suspected, I had left the Country Road bag containing my lovely and necessary knit dress in the Myer fitting room and after phoning the Cue counter (and bemoaning how long it takes anyone to answer a phone in a department store) it was thankfully still there. So I breathed a sigh of relief because whilst I love paying for knit dresses, I only love them when they end up hanging in my wardrobe and not when they’re left as a gift for the lucky person who ends up in fitting room seven and believes it’s part of Myer’s new customer service strategy to provide free knit dresses to anyone trying on their clothing.

‘I’ve never lost a shopping bag anywhere, not ever, this has never happened to me before,’ I muttered, several times to no one in particular, then several times again the next day to the lovely girl at Cue when I picked up my knit dress and gaffa taped the Country Road bag to my hand.

This morning, I put the kettle on (or, at least, I was sure I had) and poured a cup of green tea only to discover the water was cold and I hadn’t flicked the little lever on the kettle, the one that actually makes it boil.

‘This sort of thing has never happened to me before,’ I muttered to the dog. ‘I don’t know who I’m becoming.’

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I Couldn’t Make This Stuff Up

As the Editor of Onya Magazine, I receive a large number of emails each week from people pitching articles and ideas, as well as those seeking internships, work experience and full-time or part-time positions.

Many of these emails end up straight in the trash.

I used to feel obliged to answer all emails I received but then I decided that if some people couldn’t be bothered putting in the effort when sending an email – you know, things like spelling and grammar – then I couldn’t be bothered replying.

On the one hand, it’s kind of disrespectful to send an email to an Editor that features spelling mistakes or one that doesn’t even make sense. On the other, it’s kind of hilarious.

I love it when people approach me with pitches and ideas. I love people that are bursting with enthusiasm and passion. With energy and talent. Those people get published. Those people get internships and jobs.

It’s not about being perfect – everyone makes mistakes from time to time. But someone that makes a genuine, honest mistake is not the same as someone who just doesn’t have it.

Editors are savvy and switched on – we’ve usually worked with a lot of people and a lot of words. We know what works and what doesn’t. And, usually, who works and who does not.

Below you will find a small selection of screenshots from emails I’ve received – along with my exact first thoughts after reading them. I only recently decided to capture some of these excerpts from emails to bring my point home. Part of me wishes I’d been doing this for years; there’d be a veritable treasure trove of errors to share.

Hmm, might need a little rethink.

First up, it takes two clicks to discover whether it’s a Sir or a Madam that heads up Onya Magazine. Use those two clicks to discover the name of the person you are emailing. I don’t take well to Sir/Madam or To Whom It May Concern. If you can’t find the name of the Editor, or the person you think you should be emailing, you probably shouldn’t be a journalist or a writer. Basic research skills are a must.

Herewith, go away.

Mixed font sizes and colours. Buh bum.

To Whom It May Concern. Buh bum.

Wittingly obvious this person is no writer.

It’s really sad when people seem lovely and say nice things about your publication but it’s even more sad when they’re three years into an expensive journalism degree and still miss the fundamentals.

What?!?

It’s definitely S-I-E-G-E-R. Maybe the old  ‘i before e, except after c’ game would be handy.

Dear blank,

I don’t care.

What some people fail to understand is that it doesn’t matter where you work or what you’ve done, what matters is that this is your first point of communication to an entirely new audience or person that isn’t aware of your background – so write accordingly.

Excelled? Clearly.

That’s lovely. This is actually Onya Magazine.

I cannot tell you the amount of times I have received an email asking for an internship at Vogue or work experience at Beat. I like to reply to these emails like so;

‘Thanks for your email. If you’d like to undertake work experience at Frankie Magazine, may I suggest emailing them with your request.’

I understand that people tend to copy and paste the same submissions to Editors around the country. I really get it. But carelessness and laziness is exactly that; careless and lazy. Two things a good writer is most definitely not.

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Social Media, We Seem To Have A Problem

Working in social media is, for the most part, incredibly fun.

Except when people think that’s about all there is to it – fun.

Whilst it’s enjoyable, and exciting, and ever changing and growing, it comes with a serious amount of bashing-head-against-wall moments.

Or is that just me?

The thing about working in an industry that isn’t fully developed or established is that – besides everyone thinking they’re an expert – there’s no blueprint. There’s no formula. There’s no X, Y and Z. Most elements of social media are dependent on a variety of things; the client, the type of business, what service/product is being sold, the market, the tone, the platforms being used – I could go on and on and on – so every approach to social media needs to be different. Tailored. Customised. And yes, there are common features and patterns, but every day is different, because, shock horror, social media is driven by people, and you can’t always predict and categorise people.

None of this bothers me. It’s actually the thing I most like about social media – that every day is different, that a new skill needs be learned, that there’s always a challenge, because not every day is identical.

Working in social media actually requires a skill set that is incredibly varied – some of which can be learned and some of which is pretty inherent. Hence the reason why there are social media agencies that are thriving and those that are dragging the name of social media through the winter mud – because they’re lacking in most of the fundamentals that are essential to any basic campaign or community.

It’s frustrating having to witness that kind of behaviour. Sure, it’s wonderful when my phone rings and people say, ‘We want a piece of what you’re doing,’ but I’d rather all parties involved in social media pulled up their socks and acted in accordance with the titles on their business cards.

And, if we can manage it, it’d be great if clients employing the services of social media agencies and community managers and companies et al. could also act in accordance with the parameters set by the people they’re paying to do a very skilled job.

Let me share an example.

If I employ someone to build a website for me – something I have done before – I certainly don’t tell the web designer what I want, then monitor their every movement, then edit, alter and change code on them whilst they are developing what I am paying them to do, then tell them all the ways they could be doing things because ‘I read on this website somewhere that…’

Or how about this one?

If I call a tradesman to come to my house and fix something that is broken, I would not hover over their shoulder, incessantly tapping it and asking them what they are doing and to please justify every single step. I probably wouldn’t tell them how to do their job, either, nor reference some DIY handbook, extolling my knowledge on the very thing I called them and am paying them to fix.

I would, instead, make the tradesman a cuppa and gather some biscuits for them to enjoy after their hard afternoon of work. I’d probably say thank you, too.

Truthfully, I understand clients with complaints. In many cases, they’re bang on. Especially if they’ve been overcharged for a service that has been well and truly under delivered.

What I don’t understand is why social media managers, agencies et al. need to bear the brunt of a businesses frustrations – and why we’re expected to be the answer. To everything. But I also cannot understand why a business or person would pay money for someone – or an agency – to manage their social media profile, and then feel the need to check on their every movement and click.

Mostly, I can’t understand why it’s acceptable to treat the social media industry with the level of disdain and distrust that it’s currently experiencing in Australia. Businesses cannot group all agencies and managers together in the one basket – sure, there are some rotten apples – but we’re not all mouldy.

And because I’m the kind of person who cannot keep anything inside for fear of self-combustion, and because my fingers are typing without my brain even needing to kick into gear, here’s a list I’ve titled:

Things I’ve wanted to say in meetings or to clients, and some things I really have*…

*because if no one tells it like it is, how will anyone know what it’s like?

Social media will not solve all of your problems. It will most probably amplify them. Unless you are prepared to deal with your problems honestly and politely, avoid the social media space because I can guarantee you will not like what you read, hear or see.

Oh, you read Mashable? You must be an expert in social media.

Have a little faith. Sure, there are less than brilliant social media agencies out there. Chances are, though, most people you encounter that are working in social media on a day-to-day basis have a fair idea of what works and what doesn’t. If they offer you some advice, you’d be best to take it, then make your own mind up from there.

Oh, you have a Facebook profile? You must be an expert in social media.

If you aren’t happy with the agency/person you are paying to manage your social media presence, find another agency/person that meets your requirements.

Oh, you’re on Twitter. You must be an expert in social media.

Social media managers are not like Jesus. We cannot turn water into wine (although I guarantee some days at our desk we truly wish we could), we cannot walk on water or perform any other such miracles. We do, however, have something in common; we don’t appreciate being crucified.

If your social media plan involves clicking delete and block, on repeat, you’re doing it wrong.

Social media managers are not mind readers. Keep that in mind next time you expect them to read yours.

Oh, you’re on Pinterest? You must be an expert in social media.

Social media doesn’t switch off. Measure that.

When I was at University, my lecturers told me I’d be working in a job that hadn’t even been invented yet (at the time). They were right.

If your social media plan involves screaming HIT LIKE on Facebook, you’re doing it wrong.

I’d rather poke myself in the eye with a fork than go to most of the social media networking events or conferences. Most of the time, they’re full of back-patters – and wankers – that have very little idea about social media, spruiking things people definitely don’t need. While you were there schmoozing and feeling all ‘industry’, I was working.

Oh, you’re on Instagram? You must be an expert in selecting filters.

You cannot treat social media, or approach it, in the same way you do your traditional marketing plan or other forms of advertising. Sure, it’s got to correlate, but a carbon copy it is not.

Oh, you want a schedule of everything I’ll post for the next month? Sure, please provide me with a schedule of every event, current affair, issue, discount, special, promotion, offer and thought you’ll have in the next month, and I’ll be sure to jot it down.

My chow chow actually gets it more than you do … yes, that’s a dog.

You are paying me for a service. But doing so does not mean I will ask ‘HOW HIGH?’ when you request for me to jump. Do you ring your mobile provider every day, requesting service from them? Do you email your energy provider every day, reminding them you are paying for their services? You don’t? Well, I never…

Change your attitude. Arsehole is unbecoming on you.

If you think social media is easy, and that you can do it yourself, I suggest that you do.

Oh, you don’t like my tone? (Insert finger gesture here).

If there’s something that shits you about social media – working in it or dealing with it – I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

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I’m a Guest Panelist at the Emerging Writers’ Festival!

Come see me chat on the panel at the Emerging Writers’ Festival Signal Express: Indie Publishing Primer tomorrow Wednesday 30 May at 5PM. The session is free but bookings are required.

This Express Media workshop will introduce you to independent publishing.

Independent publishing is a much bandied about term. What is it? Do you want to do it? How do you get involved? Independent publishing might seem like a license to publish what you want when you want it, but is that the full picture?

Come along to this Express Media conversation where we will pull back the curtain to talk about those first steps in the independent publishing world.

Signal Express events take place at Signal: Flinders Walk, Northbank, Melbourne – behind Flinders St Station towards Sandridge Bridge.

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Sincere Forms of Flattery

I’m very excited to announce that O&S Publishing will be launching its first e-book this year.

It was the idea that started it all. An anthology that drew together a cluster of top notch young writers and asked them to write a short story in the style of their most beloved writer. Accompanying the story would be an essay on why their chosen writer is so important to them and how their own craft has been affected by this wordsmith. The anthology would be an homage to writers of the past and those who continue to enthrall today. A volume of love and appreciation.

Originally, we were going to print it, but when the idea for O&S Publishing took hold, we decided to make Sincere Forms of Flattery our first title, and try e-publishing. We would have complete editorial and aesthetic control and the book would be instantly and globally available.

SFOF brings together a handful of some of the most exciting voices we know, honouring some of the most terrific voices literature has ever known.

Get ready for a seriously good read.

Illustrated by French artist Amandine Thomas, O&S Publishing’s first e-book will be available for download in 2012.

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I Do, I Write

Why I Started The Melbourne Writers’ Club…

First published at O&S Publishing on February 27th, 2012.

Last January, I was sitting on the couch, laptop resting upon my knees, searching for some sort of writers’ group – a collection of people in Melbourne, my hometown, that shared a love of writing and words, and caught up every now and again to talk about that very love.

I wanted to find such a group because I love chatting with likeminded people; I like sharing stories and ideas, and I find inspiration in people – their insights and experiences, their journeys and choices.

My search, however, wasn’t terribly successful.

To continue reading, please click here

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I Do, I Write

South Australia, Sieger Style: Introduction

First published in Onya Magazine, on February 23rd, 2012.

A week before Christmas last year, my husband Kaz and I spontaneously decided that we would road trip to South Australia, just after New Years.

The conversation, that took place whilst we he was driving and I was in the passenger seat, fiddling on my iPhone, went something like this:

Kaz: I really want to go away somewhere these holidays.

Me: Ok. Where?

Kaz: I don’t know, somewhere near the beach.

Me: How about the holiday house?

Kaz: Nooooooo. I want to go somewhere different.

Me: Different, different, diff…what about Adelaide?

Kaz: Hmm. Why Adelaide?

Me: Because I’ve never been anywhere in South Australia.

Kaz: I haven’t been since I was a kid…

Me: We could drive there!

Kaz: Yes! Where would we stay?

Me: Near the beach!

Kaz: Which beach? What would we do?

Me: I’m sure there’s an app for all this!

Three days later, we’d booked a unit by the beach in Glenelg for a week.

Two and a half weeks later, at 4.30am, with 87 espressos pulsing through our blood streams, we jumped into our car and hit the road, ready for the long journey ahead.

On the road, somewhere in South Australia…

What I discovered during that week in South Australia – a week spent by beautiful beaches, visiting the Barossa Valley, the Adelaide Hills, the cities of Adelaide and Port Adelaide, and lots of tiny towns in-between – was that half of what I’ve ever heard about it (boring, dull, a place with nothing to do) was utter rubbish.

I learnt that South Australia is home to some of the best food and wine in the country, if not the world. That it’s actually far more switched on, in many areas, than my home state of Victoria, or other states I have visited in Australia. I learnt that the people of Adelaide are lovely. That they’re not afraid to support their local industries and businesses, in fact, they do so proudly. I learnt that Adelaide isn’t at all that different from Melbourne and that its wide and diverse program of events, and its focus on arts and culture, in fact rivals it.

And I learnt that if I had to or chose to live anywhere else in Australia, I’d probably pick it.

Join me over the next five weeks as I deliver a day-by-day (weekly column-by-column, for you) breakdown of my time in South Australia – the things I did, ate, saw, enjoyed, experienced, as well as all the things I learnt – Sieger style.

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O&S Publishing

Last Wednesday, I launched a new venture with my dear friend Olivia Hambrett, our love project – O&S Publishing.

O&S Publishing is a hub for literary events around the world, industry news, expert advice, interviews and quality e-books. It was born out of a shared love for words, the online and digital arena and good, quality, engaging reads.

It started, of course, with an idea. Quite a humble one, really. We wanted to gather together a handful of top notch writers and have them write a short story in the style of one of their key literary influences. The idea being to publish an anthology that was as much a homage to previous and enduring greatness as a display of undervalued talent. We duly gathered the writers, they duly wrote their stories and then something happened. A bigger idea took seed.

What if we didn’t stop at just one anthology? What if this anthology was just the beginning, the launch of something ongoing, innovative and nurturing? So we asked ourselves, over a flurry of across-the-seas emails – what can we do in order to be able to continually publish collections and titles? Create a publishing platform, naturally. And make it elecontric – everyone has an iSomething or a Kindle or a laptop. Publishing electronically would give us full control over each title – and would make the reach of each title so much further – e-books that can be accessed from India to Italy, Australia to America.

Fantastic. Wonderful. Perfect. Let’s do it.

But what if, we asked ourselves, what if that platform could also act as a hub for writers and readers alike? A place where one can not only buy brilliant, quality titles from original voices, but also read author interviews, industry news and expert advice. Where hungry readers could follow writing and publishing journeys? What if our publishing platform could act as a warm, cosy, inviting bookshop and provide the communal, shared atmosphere of a cafe? What if, what if.

So we did it. Or, perhaps better put, we are in the process of doing it. We aim to build an e-library of quality literature from writers we believe in. Alongside publishing these titles – at a rate that reflects time, effort and quality, so not a particularly speedy one – we will feature interviews with writers, tips and advice, literary happenings around the globe and a blog that tracks each title’s progress.

We hope you are along for the ride.

Please stop by, give us a like or a follow, and let us know what you think. 

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I Do, Press

The Hills Collective Project

A few months ago, I was thrilled to be involved in an initiative called The Hills Collective Project. Celebrating artists and creative talent in the Dandenong Ranges, the project was founded by Bianca Lentini and also turned into a book, which I was asked to edit. It was a great experience for me – being involved in a project that celebrates the talent and creativity of my local area and showcasing what the hills really has to offer – right from initial meetings, through to shortlisting artists, to then editing the book; the process was incredibly rewarding.

My favourite featured artist? Axel Axelrad – a puppeteer and the creator of Ossie the Ostrich, not to mention many other iconic Australian puppets.

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I Do

I Work From Home. It’s Not That Weird.

I work from home.

The assumptions and connotations associated with that are countless. To set the record straight, here’s what it doesn’t mean: that I’m lazy, antisocial, unqualified, a lady of leisure or a daytime TV watcher.

Working from home wasn’t a distinct choice I made but simply a matter of circumstance –  I was a freelance writer who got a job as an Editor of a magazine based in Sydney  – one that required me to stay in Melbourne to attend events, meetings etc. This happened at the same time the online media and digital world started to boom, and working from home made perfect sense.

I often get asked if I get lonely, bored or unmotivated.

No, no and no.

I’ve never had a problem with motivation or discipline (of which you need both to work from home). And if you love what you do, then doing it shouldn’t be a problem. If anything, the one thing I have struggled with is switching off. Learning when to put an end to the working day. Not being tempted to answer that late email.

I do not get lonely or stir-crazy – social media, the telephone and Skype all mean I have constant contact with colleagues. In fact, I’m convinced I communicate more effectively, openly and frequently with colleagues that what would occur if I was in an office with them. I know many people that don’t communicate with colleagues two cubicles away and employees that only speak to their boss once every third day. I know exactly where my colleagues are and what they are working on in different states across Australia. I think it’s the distance that results in putting extra effort into communicating.

I’ve been working from home for a few years now, and it has only been in the last year that I’ve developed a strong routine that works for me.

I usually wake somewhere between 6am and 7am. Then, it’s a cup of tea, quick check on Twitter and Facebook, catch up on the morning news, walk the dog, have breakfast, a coffee, a shower and do any housework, washing etc. that needs to be done. My cut off for all of the above is 9am. It doesn’t matter if I’m halfway through something else, or haven’t got around to doing everything I wanted to, when 9am comes I switch off from ‘being home mode’, and enter ‘work mode’. I jump in front of the computer and work, work, work.

Somewhere between 12pm and 1pm, I stop. Have lunch. Maybe go to the post office, if required. Maybe hit the supermarket. Maybe go for a run. Take the dog for another walk. Chat to some friends. Read a magazine, or continue with a book. I never take more than an hour for ‘lunch’ – and it doesn’t matter what I do in that time, all that matters is that it’s not work.

After ‘lunch’, it’s back into the work – whatever that may be and whatever that requires (no two days are the same). I try to knock off from work somewhere between 5pm and 6pm.

I find that, when I am working, it’s without distractions and I get so much done.

Of course, there are variations on the above. If I have meetings, then I work around those. If I have an event on in the CBD, then I may finish up for the day at 4pm.

What I am thankful for when it comes to working from home is the flexibility – as long as I get my work done, it doesn’t really matter what timeframe that’s in or what I’m wearing behind my desk.

What I have learnt, however, is that a routine, much like one I’d have if I physically went into an office building each day, is the most effective way for me to work.

The routine above is a far cry from what I used to do – roll straight out of bed, jump in front of the computer and start work. Then look up and realise hours had passed and I was still in my onesie.

I stick to the routine above because it works for me. I need to set timeframes. I need to get dressed properly. I need my desk and home office to feel like one. I need that distinction between work and home.

Sure, it is a luxury not having to battle with a daily commute or share coffee mugs with co-workers, but it’s also taken me – and those around me – a while to figure out how to best make working from home work for me.

Some friends used to think I could dash off for a long lunch or half a day of shopping because I was home – something I was guilty of doing in the past. But I can’t afford – not with my workload – to be losing precious working hours on a weekday shopping or lunching.

Some friends still don’t get it. Often their idea of what I do is so far removed to what I actually do it’s hilarious.

The reality is, I get my job done.

Do you work from home? What’s your routine like? Do you work outside of 9am – 5pm hours? What’s the funniest assumption someone has made about your ‘not-the-norm’ working life? 

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I Do

Losing My NaNoWriMo…

This November, I signed up to participate in NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month.

The premise?

Write a 50,000 word novel in the 30 days of November.

It doesn’t have to be brilliant, it doesn’t have to be perfect; it’s about quantity, not quality. The act of writing and getting the words out there.

I’ve never had a huge urge to write a novel. I’ve never even attempted one. I’ve always been more focused on articles, or feature stories, or opinion pieces. Or starting magazines.

Novels are scary. They are big and require serious literary commitment. All that time, on the one subject. They involve creating characters. And stories. Plot.

I’ve never created an outline for anything. Not an essay or a business plan, let alone a novel. I don’t map things out.

So, what better way to get over all of that, to conquer those fears, than to pledge to write a novel, what will essentially be my first novel, or attempt at one, in 26 days*.

I signed up to NaNoWriMo because I want the challenge. I want to know what it is like – even a hint of what it is like – to work on something that doesn’t end after a few pages. And writing a novel in a month is a good timeframe for a commitment-phobic writer like myself**.

At the end of this month, I’ll report back and let you know how I went – what my word tally is, along with my verdict on the Sandi Sieger v. Novel Writing trial***.

*I haven’t started yet.

**I don’t even know if this is true, but I’ve always been somewhat afraid of starting a writing project that I knew I couldn’t comfortably complete.

***No, I will not be writing a crime-thriller. Although…

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