The Miles Franklin Award for literature has been handed out in Australia almost every year since 1957. Stella Miles Franklin herself stipulated that the prize was “to be awarded for the Novel for the year which is of the highest literary merit and which must present Australian Life in any of its phases …” Over the years, there have been many takes on that brief, each memorable.
Last month, the 2015 shortlist was announced – five authors and their works. One of those to be selected for the top table is Sofie Laguna, author of Eye of the Sheep – a story told through the eyes of a boy (no, not a sheep) as his family deals head-on with issues surrounding domestic violence.
Last year, we interviewed Sofie, and her advice for aspiring authors stuck out as particularly noteworthy.
“If you are really serious about writing, write as much as you can, and read as much as you can. Studying writing is great in that it can give you a writing community, it can give you some structure, a place to share your work, a place to be validated until your writing takes off and does it for you.
“Keep a journal, tell the truth in it, and allow yourself to really explore with courage. Get hold of some good writing guides and use their tips and exercises, take part in masterclasses, prioritise writing in your life, share your work with friends, send it off, push.
“But if you are a true writer, you will do these things anyway – you will be tenacious, determined, and probably obsessive about your work. You need to have a degree of faith in yourself I think – the faith to keep going and keep pushing and to put writing at the top of your list. There won’t even really be anything else on that list if what you want is to write for your life.”