Mitch Lewis: From IT Systems Manager to published author

Mitch Lewis, 34, was working as an IT Systems Manager when he first discovered the Australian Writers’ Centre.

Mitch knew that he enjoyed writing but he didn’t know how to take this interest further. At the time, Mitch says he knew that he liked writing his cricket team’s match reports, complete with umpires in black coats with sharp, pointy teeth.

“While I really enjoyed it, I realised very quickly that I had no idea what I was doing. A friend at work had done the Australian Writers’ Centre PR and Media Releases That Get Results course, and she suggested I get in touch with Valerie (Khoo) and that's how it all started.”

Mitch's ‘A-ha!' moment

Mitch’s first course was the Australian Writers' Centre Creative Writing Stage 1 course. After 15 years working with computers, writing was a welcome change. Mitch says the creative writing course equipped him to turn his writing potential into stories.

“The big things I learnt were the importance of structure, fleshing out a character and finding a voice,” says Mitch. “The zero draft was a real ‘A-ha!' moment for me. I knew stories went through drafts but it was refreshing to learn my utterly hopeless, rambling story was just going through an important part of the process.”

Getting published

The course certainly paid off for Mitch, who says the impact the course has had on his life is impossible to overstate. “Since taking the course I've won an Australian Society of Authors (ASA) mentorship, an Australian Horror Writers mentorship, I've also had a double-page spread in Madison magazine,” he says. “I've published four short stories and been shortlisted for minor awards for children's writing and comedy writing and I've seen my Little Red Ute series (published by Omnibus/Scholastic) released.”

Mitch says he'll never forget the day he heard of his publishing deal from Scholastic. “I had an inkling it was going to happen for a week or so,” he says. “The email arrived when I was at work. I smacked my desk with my fist and my stationery caddy fell over. Pens and paper clips went everywhere and everyone looked up from their monitors to see who was having the tantrum.”

Mitch is still working tantrum-free, in IT but with a twist. “My IT role has expanded to include internal communications and copy editing,” he says. “I can't think of any other IT Systems Manager who writes newsletters or edits magazines but I guess that makes me unique!”

His every spare moment is spent writing. He is currently working on a novel for which he won the ASA mentorship. He is also writing a novel for kids (10-12 years) as well as a pair of horror novellas and a couple of short stories. He believes that a wide range of work keeps him inspired and focused. “I don't have to write every day but getting words on paper is good for my mental health,” says Mitch. “I can't go for any length of time not writing without feeling an odd kind of guilt.”

His advice for other aspiring writers

Mitch absolutely recommends that people do a course with Australian Writers’ Centre. “The Australian Writers’ Centre has fantastic presenters who are truly generous with their knowledge and a livewire owner who offers the best after-sales service I've ever seen,” says Mitch. “I asked Valerie for advice earlier in the year and she spent 45 minutes on the phone with me, on the night of the Telstra business awards which they won. You can't top that!

“The Australian Writers’ Centre also understands the value of connections and community-building – not everyone gets it but the Australian Writers’ Centre does.”

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