The other day, I had the opportunity to attend Queensland Writers Centre’s workshop on Arts and Entertainment Writing. As a freelance journalist with a keen interest in the topic, I have been honing my skills and talents writing and interviewing artists voluntarily through publications such as AMNplify, The Australia Times and Outlet Magazine.
Given that the workshop took place in the aftermath of Fairfax’s cuts to their arts and culture staff, you would be forgiven for assuming that such an event would be filled with doom and gloom. Happily, such was not the case, particularly when its headed by the Sunday Mail/Courier Mail’s Arts Editor, Phil Brown.
From an unfinished journalism degree and heading up an arts section for the Rockhampton newspaper to finally taking up his current position in Brisbane, Brown’s experience knows no bounds. To just be in the same room as a man of such remarkable achievements is inspiring to any writer, regardless of where you’re at in your career, and it made for an enjoyable experience.
For me, the workshop was a lot of reiteration, further evidence to keep plugging away at writing the articles and interviews I love in the hope of one day making my mark (however small) on the industry. Brown provided us participants with the little tips and tricks I have inadvertently picked up along the way: things like the need for research when approaching a new subject or event, be conversational in your writing whenever possible, and obtain as many quotes as you can. But when all is said and done, the workshop was invaluable.
As a writer, you can often feel lonely and cut off from the world, particularly as your pile of rejection slips stacks higher and higher as the months progress. The chance to give another, more experienced journalist an insight into how I approach a story, and what things I might look for when embarking upon a new topic was more than I could have asked for.
Furthermore, Brown’s passion for the subject on which he was speaking was contagious. While this sector of the industry may be going through something of an existential crisis at present, it will never truly be dead, so long as there are creatives willing to pour their heart and soul into it. Rather than feel dejected by the state of arts and entertainment writing in the industry (as I feared), I left feeling invigorated and ready to take on the next challenge, whatever that may be.
It’s times of uncertainty such as these that we all need a friend, a mentor, some form of support in which we can take comfort when things get rough. In Phil Brown’s Arts and Entertainment Workshop, he provided us with this, regardless of his own surety that the industry would survive. So too, QWC should be praised for offering a workshop of such high-calibre encouragement and fortitude. I look forward to attending the next one.