PWE was the first time Kate realised there was a body of industry professionals who can work together and have each other’s backs, rather than being secretive and panicky all on your own. As well, the course didn’t shy away from revealing the inner workings of how the industry actually works and encourages talking about it.
‘Skylarking was written in class, most of it. It started with novel-writing teacher Michelle Aung Thin and then it was Clare Strahan. ‘We had a great community. My long-time writers’ group is all PWE.’
Kate remembers in the first novel class Michelle drew numbers on the board and said, ‘People who finish a manuscript are so few and far between. If you actually finish, you’re well on your way.’ That lit a fire under Kate right at the start.
Olga Lorenzo brought in writers each fortnight as part of the class. Kate was the nerd in the front row going, ‘And then what happened?’ She recalls thinking, ‘I’ll never get my book published … but what if I do?’
Those classes showed her the possibility of how you get from ambition to actually getting the thing done. The course was pitched with respect and an open engagement between staff and students, never precious or patronising. Kate experienced a focus on excellence combined with a warm community. She says you can be proud of how PWE is received in the wider book industry. You’re part of this extraordinary network of people.
The podcast The First Time is with Katherine Collette, another PWE alumni. The course fuelled their curiosity to learn about process and practice, and this fuelled the podcast. The desire to keep on asking writers all the questions: Then what did you do? And how did you do that?’
This profile was written and researched by Ann Bolch from A Story To Tell.