I used to think that NZ was the worst place in the world to be a writer. I remember looking around for places to submit when I thought I’d finished my first novel (Ha! It was so not good enough!) and finding that I could count the number of agents on one hand, and none of them represented fantasy. There were very few publishers to submit to directly and at that point in time it felt pretty much like all the ‘good’ kiwi authors were living in Australia. Or further afield than that.
By this point in my writing career I’d been a member at Kiwiwriters for several years, but I was trying really hard to move from just writing, to getting something published, and when Ripley asked if anyone was interested in creating an organization for NZ speculative fiction writers, my hand was one of the first raised and I had the pleasure of jumping into the Core of SpecFicNZ.
In the years since then, I’ve come to realize that there are a fair few perks to being a writer in a small country. For instance, when you get involved in the writing community you can get to know a huge range of really talented writers. It’s pretty inspiring to learn of all the exciting things that they are up to (a good way to keep track of this is via the SpecFicNZ site which often posts news of what it’s members are doing).
Because we are small, it means that when competitions are open (of which SpecFicNZ runs many throughout the year, as well as other venues), there is a better chance of getting feedback from judges, or in fact of placing/getting published.
One of the highlights of my small writing career was being published alongside one of my all time favourite authors, Juliet Marillier, in the Foreign Country anthology put out by Random Static. It was something I never even imagined could happen (and then it happened again in Tales for Canterbury!). In fact, there are so many wonderful, published authors in New Zealand, and through getting involved in the community, I’ve actually got to know some of them. And I don’t feel like that could have happened in a bigger country.
I even think that our success in putting together Tales for Canterbury was in part because we are small. There was very much a sense of people wanting to pitch in and take part because everyone knows someone in Christchurch. Many people have lived there, or have had personal experiences of the city and region. I love this reach out and help mindset that kiwi’s have, and I appreciate it now more than ever.
This is a great country, one rich with creatives who are friendly and open to ideas. Sometimes it can feel as though we’re writing in isolation, with New Zealand being so small, and set apart from the rest of the world geographically. But we’re not. Not really. All you need to do is look around to see that we might be small but we’re capable of great things. We might be small, but we have a thriving creative community of which you can be a part if you want.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the posts from this years SpecFicNZ Blogging Week, as always there have been some good ones. I love this time of year as it gives me a chance to reflect on what it means to me to be a New Zealander, and a writer of speculative fiction and explore the ways in which those things work together. And amazingly, I managed a post every day for the last week! Hopefully this means you’ll hear from me more regularly again from now on 😉