Camdenville Public School Creative Writing Competition

Last week I had the plea­sure of attend­ing the last assem­bly of the term at Cam­denville Pub­lic School in New­town. On the invi­ta­tion of Prin­ci­pal Sue Smith — a fel­low lover of fan­ta­sy lit­er­a­ture — I had the hon­our of pre­sent­ing prizes to the win­ners and run­ners-up of the school’s annu­al cre­ative writ­ing com­pe­ti­tion. It was such a joy to vis­it, and to have an oppor­tu­ni­ty, not only to con­grat­u­late the best writ­ers of 2015, but also to address an assem­bly of stu­dents from K‑6, along with staff and par­ents.

As well as intro­duc­ing my own work to the stu­dents of Cam­denville, it was won­der­ful to have the chance to reflect upon what it takes to be a writer, and I sug­gest­ed to the school that per­sis­tence, dis­ci­pline and dili­gence are just as impor­tant val­ues as cre­ativ­i­ty.

In many respects, my own jour­ney as a writer began thanks to a com­pe­ti­tion in Year Six, the sad­ly now defunct “Write Around Aus­tralia”. As I pre­pared my speech for Cam­denville, I came across this won­der­ful arti­cle about that com­pe­ti­tion from the pen of Judith Ridge. It seems I was far from the only writer to have received an impri­matur from “Write Around Aus­tralia” at a for­ma­tive young age.

Of course, the val­ue of such com­pe­ti­tions is not in the win­ning, but in the encour­age­ment offered to young writ­ers. Not only to the win­ners, but to every­one who enters. Thanks to my own small vic­to­ry in “Write Around Aus­tralia”, I had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to attend a writ­ing mas­ter­class with Diana Kidd, and it was there I realised, per­haps for the first time clear­ly, that writ­ing was not only a “real job”, but some­thing I could do myself. I hope I was sim­i­lar­ly able to encour­age the writ­ers of Cam­denville. They were cer­tain­ly a bright and engag­ing group of sto­ry­tellers, keen to share their ideas with me, and with each oth­er.

Per­haps one day some will look back on this moment as one where the pos­si­bil­i­ties of writ­ing as a pas­sion for life opened up before them. And per­haps one day I will be read­ing their nov­els too.

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