From all of us who work at the Australian Writers' Centre – thank you.
Thank you for making time for yourself. Thank you for investing in your creativity. Thank you for believing that you can change your life. Thank you for being an inspiration to us all.
And you are an inspiration. You inspire us every day.
Whether you've enrolled in one of our courses, participated in Furious Fiction, or engaged in our online Facebook community, you have motivated us to provide the best writing resources in Australia. (Maybe the world.)
If you've ever emailed or called us, chances are you've spoken to Abby, Nic, Amy or Sarah. They're the lucky ones. They get to hear directly from you. Sometimes it's to fix an email address or clarify a due date. Sometimes, it's to provide guidance about the next course. But it is always someone who is doing something constructive to pursue their dream.
Age is no barrier
One of our favourite moments this year was the 93-year-old student who connected to Zoom for the very first time. She wasn't the only student who learned how to use new technology – lots of you pushed yourselves and did your first online course. And better yet, you actually enjoyed it.
There have been parents who have carved out time for themselves while having school kids at home. And people isolated from friends and family who have made connections with other writers in our online classrooms. Somehow, you managed to fit your course into your life and prove to yourself that you really can write.
We've also been blown away by the teenagers in our Teenage Creative Writers’ Program who have produced outstanding work and posed thought-provoking and intelligent questions. And the children in the Creative Writing Quest for Kids who write amazing stories that give us all (especially tutor, Allison) such joy.
Kindness of strangers
Within our Facebook communities, we have seen countless examples of writers helping each other with opportunities, suggestions, advice, support and general good cheer. Facebook groups can be notoriously toxic, but you make our jobs easier by being kind and generous to each other.
One student even went so far as to donate her place in her course, after she found she couldn't attend. She gifted it forward anonymously to someone else who, you can imagine, was delighted (and spent the money she saved on… books!).
Furiously writing fiction
Throughout the year, thousands of people took part in Furious Fiction, challenging themselves creatively with our free short story competition. It's not easy to push procrastination aside each month but you did it, and produced some amazing flash fiction. Our judges devote two weeks each month to read your submissions and it's always an inspiration and a joy.
Igniting your creative fire
And then there are the countless students who have finally written something other than a work email after years of neglecting their creative side – and who have been surprised and delighted to know that yes, they can!
Like Brittany Browne, who completed Creative Writing Stage 1 and found a new love of writing.
“I hadn't really written creatively prior to this course but have always wanted to. This has kickstarted this passion for me and has provided me with the basic structures on how to craft my stories. I loved it! I had so much fun.”
Of course, it's not just creative writing that people have tapped into. Many of you took the lemons of this year and turned them into freelance or copywriting lemonade.
Like Selma Papapavlou, who completed Copywriting Essentials and was, well, mildly excited about it.
“I found my calling! I want to further pursue copywriting. I am kicking myself that I DIDN'T DO THIS SOONER! I wish I did it in my 20s! Or even a few years ago! There's no time like the present and NOW I want to further develop my skills and eventually work as a freelancer. I have a LOT to learn! I have never felt more certain and excited about what I want to do for a living.”
When we receive feedback like this, you bet that we all (virtually) high five each other.
Dreams come true…
And of course there are those of you who achieved your dream and published a novel – only to be hit by the restrictions that have marked 2020. It has not been an easy environment to release a new creative project, with events cancelled and libraries and bookstores closed. But you rallied to new technologies, turning to Facebook live, Zoom, and all sorts of other platforms you never would dared to try before. We hoped we helped you where we could, interviewing debut novelists on our podcast, shouting about you from our social media platforms, and featuring lots of new authors in our giveaways and competitions.
The IT crowd
Our behind-the-scenes team doesn't often get a chance to interact with students, but that doesn't mean they haven't also been touched. When our online learning hub had a short outage a few weeks ago, we had dozens of emails and calls by students who couldn't access their course. Our tech team, led by Rah, got right on it, and fixed it as quickly as possible. But those emails – and the many afterwards thanking us for getting the courses back up – showed us how keen our students are to learn. It was Monday morning and people were excited to get cracking in their course! It was genuinely heartwarming.
Did you know that we read every course review and survey response? We share the glowing feedback with each other with delight. And we act on suggestions for improvement right away. If someone emails in to report an error or bug, we fix it immediately. The reason our behind-the-scenes people work hard is because they never want to let any of you down.
To a brighter 2021
We've been uplifted by everyone who has held on to hope in 2020 and followed their passions. Some people smashed their goals, others may not have quite reached their targets – but everybody certainly had fun trying.
Each and every one of you, whatever you went through this year – you are amazing. We are so lucky to work for you, our students.
With love and writerly camaraderie,