INKlings far and wide!
Gather round, for I’ve a tale to spin.
Once upon a time, before the INKubator was even hatched, one of our founding members told the others of a wise and elusive fairy. She was his fairy godmother and from time to time, she’d sprinkle his stories with fairy dust.
For a long time, we conspired about ways to lure her in but the fairy could not be tempted into our spaceship. Over time, we began to despair and feared she’d never join our journeys through space and time.
Then, one magical morning, news came of the fairy. She’d run out of fairy dust and asked if we could lend her some INKdust for a story of her own. A tale of conspiracy, intrigue and murder on distant shores. As we allowed ourselves to be pulled into her tapestry of words, we discovered that the lure works both ways.
And so, Rowena came to us. We grew to love her as she loves us. Most days, we forget that she’s a fairy, but every now and then, her magic rears its head.
After years of weaving tales in the hopes of finding her magical grail of publication, her quest has come to a resolution. Her story has appeared in the literary magazine she’s been striving for years to gain acceptance into.
In honour of her success, we’ve asked her for an interview, so we can learn from her experience. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
INKling Wall of Fame: Rowena Harding-Smith
Rowena Harding-Smith is a cross-genre writer. She has been publishing short stories in various magazines and literary journals since 1993. During 2017 she received six awards for her short fiction. She has published two non-fiction books and many articles about learning and memory. She lives in Sydney with her dog in a small timber cottage by the harbour. She has just finished a crime/mystery novel set in 1979 on the waterfront in Sydney.
Rowena’s creative nonfiction “I Love Lucy:1957” appears in Southerly Volume 78 Number 3.
A young child is subjected to an outdated form of medical treatment for her eczema.
What inspired you to write this piece?
I am interested in the themes of responsibility and helplessness.
Do you have any advice based on your experience so far for other writers still struggling for acceptance?
Never give up.
Don’t get depressed when the story you have laboured over is rejected by a magazine. Everybody’s stories are rejected. Have another look at it, improve it, and send it somewhere else, to someone who will love it. Keep a spreadsheet so you don’t resend it to the same place (because that’s embarrassing).
If you do feel depressed, turn to chocolate (dark only for weight control).
Is there a technique or structure or resource you found especially useful in getting your accepted piece ready for submission?
I’ve found that peer review is vital to getting published. It’s very hard to see the mistakes in your own work and everybody makes mistakes. A good writing group is essential to extending your skills.
Which books are your favourite?
I’m someone who will read anything if it stays still for long enough.
I don’t have favourites but if pushed, the poet who made me want to write was Gerard Manley Hopkins because I loved his words, and the novel that made me want to read was The Silver Brumby by Elyne Mitchell because it transported me into another world.
How long have you been writing?
I won a writing competition when I was ten and bought myself a bicycle (red and yellow, great bell, no gears). It was such a buzz I’ve never stopped writing.
I published my first piece of fiction in 1993. From 1998 – 2009, bending to family and work constraints, I mostly wrote and published non-fiction (articles, a column in a women’s magazine, a monthly industry journal, and two books). I began writing and publishing fiction again in 2014.
What advice would you give a writer just starting their journey?
Don’t be afraid. Write it down and edit it later. You can’t edit a blank page.
Don’t listen to the opinion of (non-objective) family members. Just tell them it’s fiction.
What is the most surprising/interesting thing you discovered while writing?
Writing is exciting. If you combine it with eating chocolate, it’s the most fun you can have.