Naomi Hart had spent several years preparing her debut memoir and was thrilled when it was picked up for publication. While going through the publication process, she decided she would take the opportunity to add to her writing skillset, so she enrolled into Freelance Writing Stage 1.
“My book was being readied for publication and I knew I needed more knowledge and skills if I wanted to venture into the world of freelance writing in addition to hoping to write more books,” she says. “Enter the Australian Writers’ Centre, a course I could do online, from home, and with three kids meant to be learning from home around me.”
Naomi’s memoir Life at the Bottom of the Blender is out now with Bad Apple Press. It’s a tale of rising fortune and misfortune, resilience and persistence, offering a real behind the scenes look at what it takes to make it as a dancer on the stage, as well as survive in the dog-eat-dog restaurant world. Naomi based the New York section on notes and emails she had written at the time – so essentially, she’s been writing it for 20 years! Some of the stories had appeared in cabarets she wrote and performed in Australia.
Even though her book had already been picked up for publication, Naomi found her Freelance Writing Stage 1 course at the Australian Writers' Centre useful. “It taught me how to tighten my writing, how to make that first paragraph really sing and how to interview people more forensically so as to really find out their cool stuff!”
A blended life
Naomi has had a colourful life, working in musical theatre, as a restaurateur and a drama teacher. She spent her twenties living in New York where she worked as a dancer, making money on the side at a Mafia-run restaurant.
“Mayor Guiliani and his posse would come in regularly, so did Sly Stallone, and the people who owned the New York Giants,” Naomi recalls. “It was colourful, slightly intimidating, BUSY and the most interesting job I’ve ever had.”
Initially, she planned to tell the stories of the fascinating people she had met. But when she met with Bad Apple Press, they asked her to address the elephant in the room – how she had gone bald.
“I had glossed over it deliberately – the book was always intended to be about all the people I’d met and adventures I’d had over the years, and not about my journey specifically,” Naomi told us. “I can see, however, how it made much more sense structurally (and is easier to market commercially) as a ‘memoir’ so I went back and wrote the really tough chapters about my husband’s ADHD diagnosis, our daughter’s autism and ADHD diagnosis, the resultant stress for me and my consideration of a breakdown that I thankfully didn’t have to have!”
Her path to publication has been a worthwhile experience. Naomi also says: “The Australian Writers' Centre has SO many courses on offer. Zero in on what it is you want to work on and go for it. If you’re committed to the task, the course will deliver and the Australian Writers' Centre, and its resultant community, are on hand to help you turn your hard work into a career.”
Course taken at AWC: Freelance Writing Stage 1