Five years ago Mandy McKeesick completed the AWC Freelance Writing Stage 1 course with the aim of showcasing the Australian bush. Today today she has a successful business working with both magazine and corporate clients doing just that!
“My writing home, however, is the magazine RM Williams Outback and in the current issue I have a whopping 27 pages of words and photos spanning two major stories.
“Today if someone asks me what I do, I proudly say I am a freelance writer and photographer. I still live and work on a cattle property – something I do not want to change – and my husband is dragging me, somewhat kicking and screaming, into a third business as an opal miner, but writing is my career.”
How it all started
“Prior to doing the first course I had had an article published with R.M.Williams Outback, a publication I have always admired for its positive portrayal of the bush. Looking back I am not sure how that happened, such was my inexperience. I spoke to the editor and asked about the AWC course. He was high in his praise of Valerie Khoo and that was all I needed to enrol.
“For a writing career I had the words and stories, the experiences gained from a life in rural and regional areas, the love for the land – even in the hard times – and its people. I did not, however, have any idea of how to go about it. So I turned up at the doors of the AWC in Sydney and the presenter Sue White gave me an education. That was the Freelance Writing course and I have been a professional writer ever since.”
What’s so good about Freelance Writing Stage 1?
“The Freelance Writing course was mind-blowing and Sue White exceptional as a teacher. I learnt the jargon, the pitch–commission–filing process, pay rates to expect, the number of editors to work for to build a business, the need for bullet-proof armour when dealing with rejection, and so on.
“I think I absorbed all Sue said into the pores of my skin!”
Hard work and dedication paid off
Mandy always knew she would be a published writer one day but knew it would not become a reality without a lot of work and dedication.
“An editor once said: ‘We like you, you don’t go away’. And I don’t. I’ll put in the time to review a published article and see how it has been edited. I’ll research how writing styles differ from one publication to another.
“I also did an online photography course and invested in camera gear because a bush writer will make more money if she can provide images as well as words. And you know what? I love it. I love the challenge. I have developed that essential thick skin and realised relationships are as important as words and photos. I know the challenges will keep coming, and I relish that. And best of all is I get to showcase the Australian bush with almost every word I write.”
Mandy maintains that she gained valuable insights with all the courses she’s done with AWC but the Freelance Writing Course was the most influential.
“I grew wings after that and have never looked back; and now I run a successful business that supports the farm – even through drought.”
“To all the newbies, don’t give up, keep pitching and keep believing. It will happen.”
OPAL HEART MEDIA: www.opalheartmedia.com.au