My desk in Phillips cabin at the KSP Writers Centre (c) Marisa Wikramanayake
Blog,  Writing

Day 3: So many emotions Day 3 of the Inaugural 2018 KSP - Varuna Foundation Fellowship

Day 3 and I am just grateful.

I didn’t get to sleep until five am because I was just so thrilled that I had met my goal. You get a high after you write and type everything in.

But I did sleep in bursts till about noon. I would wake up, do some work related things, sleep a bit, write a bit and so on.

I woke up at noon and went over to the main house and the office to meet Shannon who is the director here at KSP Writers Centre. I gave her some things from Sri Lanka and she offered to do a pharmacy run for me.

I am currently struggling with an ear issue that is laying me low and I keep thinking I could write more if I didn’t lose so many hours to it. We will see though. For now I am glad that the goal of 1,666 words per day seems doable and that things are flowing.

Will the story make sense? I don’t know. I am trying to trust that it will.

So on Day 3, I also walked around Katherine Pritchard’s main house. It’s a kitchen, a living room area, a library like room and a bedroom. The laundry and the toilet were separate and outside when she lived here and I can see why she built a cabin to write in. It’s a small cosy space and I am half wondering if they managed to fit a bigger bed into the bedroom for her and her husband Throssel. I took some pics. I even found a photo of Katherine and Eleanor Dark.

So KSP is where Katherine used to live and write in Western Australia. And now there is a writers centre operating out of these buildings. But Varuna House in NSW is where Eleanor Dark, her friend, used to live and write. And Varuna House is a well known writers centre now. Which is why they started a foundation fellowship this year in honour of their friendship. Which is the one I won. I get to go to both places and write about two sisters trying to solve crime.

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I came back to the cabin, left the door open to entice this cat in and curled up in bed and wrote.

Marisa Wikramanayake writing at KSP (c) Marisa Wikramanayake
Marisa Wikramanayake writing at KSP (c) Marisa Wikramanayake

If you are wondering how I am going about all this:

  1. I write by hand in a notebook which allows me to get down all the main things I want to remember and sometimes it isn’t even in complete sentences.
  2. I then type it into yWriter6 which is an amazing and free program by Simon Haynes. At this point I add more scondary stuff like description because my brain remembers as I go along “ooh I wanted to describe that, etc.”
  3. I then check the word count for the scene in yWriter6 and scribble it down in the notebook near the end of the scene and write “TYPED” across the top of the scene. yWriter6 keeps a total word count for the entire project and how much you wrote each day and per scene but I write it down because sometimes I am typing stuff in after midnight and it counts it as the next day’s total instead. And I have written bits in before the KSP Fellowship started and want to keep a clear tally of how much I manage to get done during this KSP stay itself.
  4. I then go back into yWriter6 and change the scene status over to “Draft” rather than “Outline”.

yWriter6 has all sorts of nifty things. It can help you calculate word counts but it also helps you workshop your story as you go. It asks you to enter a goal, a conflict and an outcome for each scene which is fantastic if your brain works that way but I have no idea what my brain will even come up with half the time.

I have an outline of sorts which is to say I have a scene list but whether it works or not I have no clue. I am not quite pantsing it, I am just trying to get words out and on a page. If most of them are rubbish in the end, oh well.

I wrote, called my partner to check on how he was and my cat purred at me through the screen. I had a sandwich, caught up with the infamous whatsapp group of friends. And then got in an Uber to go to the pharmacy to get some pain relief for my ear issue.

I got back, wrote some more, typed things up and then checked my email because I wanted to use some pics I had sent myself for this Day 3 post.


So for those of you who are new to all of what I do – I am also a journalist. I have taught people journalism, I have worked for national papers and my Masters is in journalism and I have reported on science news before for a looooong time.

So a fellow journo let a bunch of us know that a particular place was looking for writers. In due course, I emailed off my CV and a few brief words saying hey this is what I do and what I have done etc.

I got an email back saying in just one line that they were looking for people with news and science writing experience and offered to keep my details on file for other projects that may come up. Which makes no sense because as I told you, and as I told them in my initial email, that is very much my thing.

Which made me sad. Sad because it felt like they had just seen my name and discounted me immediately. That they had not looked at my clips or my CV. Admittedly, the publication I used to write for has not made its archive accessible so it is hard to get proper clips to send to people. But I was discounted immediately.

And it felt sad and insulting. It’s entirely possible they made some sort of error but also given the sort of racist and discriminatory rubbish I have faced here, it’s highly likely that they saw my name and went “I DO NOT WANT! SHE WILL KNOW NOTHING!”

Or that they got confused because I write books, I edit things and I also do journalism. And apparently someone who does all three and reasonably well is highly unlikely to exist.

In the end, I emailed the friend I got the info about the job from to ask her what I should do. I don’t mind if say they wanted five years and I only have four and therefore I miss out on a job or if they had a lot of people apply that were obviously way more experienced and better suited for it than me and they filled all the spots – that is perfectly fine. I have been rejected for many jobs before. But that was not stated clearly at all so I would like to know for sure what the hell is going on.

The hard part is that things like this derail me. I start to think that maybe they are right and I am wrong. I start to worry that people like our mutual friend will also think less of me.

This isn’t the only thing I have going for me. This wasn’t my one and only chance at something. In fact, earlier today, I realised that I have to tell you all a lot of things about upcoming events and stuff that is happening.

But it does make me sad and make me doubt myself. Which then sucks up time I could spend doing something more useful or interesting so in that way I get very annoyed about such things.

But whenever this happens, I want to double check and make sure that the person didn’t just make an error, that they aren’t just being racist or sexist. Because if I find that they are, I tell the world. I decimate their chances in the field. And the reason I do this is that I feel that if they want to deny someone a livelihood on a racist/sexist basis, they don’t get to have a livelihood or a reputation either and I want to protect my fellow writers from having to deal with any such rubbish from such a person.

So I have not told you their name. I will wait and see.


So onto the awesome things from Day 3 instead.

Here is my desk in the Phillips cabin. Is it not lovely? Look at my scribbling.

My desk in Phillips cabin at the KSP Writers Centre (c) Marisa Wikramanayake
My desk in Phillips cabin at the KSP Writers Centre (c) Marisa Wikramanayake

I beat my goal of 1,666 words today and wrote 2,039!

So far I have written 3,986 words while at KSP. Only 6,014 more to go to have written 10,000 in one week.

In total, including what I wrote prior to the KSP stay, I have 6,670 words. If I want to hit 50,000 words by the 31st of July, I will have to write 710 words a day till then. But I don’t know if it will need 50,000 or more. I know I will need at least 10,000 so let’s work on that and if I manage that, see if I can manage another ten thousand next week or the week after.

But June is very busy.

June 8 – I am at Continuum on the So you want to be a book reviewer panel

June 9 – Still at Continuum on the Breaking the Mould panel I believe.

June 10 – Three panels at Continuum. I might be hoarse by the end of it all.

June 21 – I am teaching people how to freelance as an editor via Writers’ Bloc’s new online courses. Please go sign up soon. You can get me and two other courses as a bundle deal as well.

In between I have meetings and other things as well. So we will see how well I manage.

And now I am tired. This cat has not shown up by the way and even Shannon seemed very perplexed as to where it came from. We think it is a neighbour’s cat.

DAY 3 WORD COUNT: 2,039

TEA DRUNK: ENTIRE KETTLE!

MEALS EATEN: 2 sandwiches, 2 kit kat bars, 1 ramen noodle packet. I need to go eat something. I missed chating with Allison and Nikki today even though they were kind enough to come call me. Sorry!

CAT APPEARANCES: none. This is false advertising. The other two are allergic to cats. Does this cat not know who has the yummy food? Do I need to give it chicken?

THINGS LEARNT: I know what hansi putuwas are. Yay. Teak easy chairs with rattan weave. I was trying to describe them in English today and struggling a bit. Thanks to the Ymen Whatsapp group for verifying that for me. Also I am warming to my former villain. Cos he isn’t the villain any more though he doesn’t necessarily do himself any favours.

SMALL ACTS OF KINDNESS: my friends for listening to me at two am, Shannon for offering to go get me meds, my fellow writers for calling me out to join them, the Uber driver who waited and the pharmacist who was just as confused as I was as to what it could be.

Marisa is a globetrotting freelance writer, journalist and editor with cat for hire (her, not the cat). She is usually based in Melbourne but is currently flouncing around in Perth for a week for the Inaugural 2018 KSP - Varuna Foundation Fellowship. She will be at Melbourne's Continuum and online running a Writers' Bloc course in the coming weeks.

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