Day 7: Kelly-Lee Hickey


Welcome to Day 7 of the totally unofficial EWF Book Club.

We’ve featured some great writers, writing, tips and encouragement so far.

From the dynamite/useful tips of Shaun Tan (illustration) and Belinda Weaver (writing a column) to the laugh-out-loud honesty of Walter Mason’s adventures in South East Asia.

And there’s more wonderful people and ideas to showcase this week…


Today we discuss Kelly-Lee Hickey’s Smarter than your average bogan.

First of all, bonus points to Kelly-Lee for wangling in a Hanna-Barbera reference into the headline. Makes my own pitiful headline attempt in the book cry in the corner.

My word, KLH packs a lot into five pages. She was really impressive onstage at the ELF Book launch, and again she’s impressive in print. Her ‘middle-aged woman with mousey brown hair’ story eases you into an interesting look at the realities of being a writer in regional Australia. Here’s a couple of quotes I liked..

  • “Contrary to popular belief, writing is not a lonely game..” [use social networking]
  • “Let the work speak through you. Don’t try to be something you’re not.”

She mentions Voiceworks magazine and Newcastle’s This is Not Art festival – two things that many EWF Writers have participated in. And rounds off by giving regional writers a special shot in the arm – by pointing out the literary and commercial advantages they have over their more numerous city-based cousins.

Kelly-Lee writes:

The writing of Smarter than Your average Bogan was reflective of the article itself.

I’d pitched the article months prior, when I was working at the NT Writers Centre and hyper aware of the isolation and inferiority that regional writers can feel. In the call out for submissions Andre had stressed that he was looking for voice from the fringe literary community. I have a lot of respect for EWF and the previous Emerging Writers books, so I thought it would be a good platform for me to explore some of these ideas.

I’d just been at Kumuwuki – regional arts Australia’s biannual conference and was full of inspiration about the importance of regional art making and making in Australia, particularly in the context of increasing polarity between urbanisation of populations and the exploration of regional and remote resources. I’d also had great networking opportunities, including meeting artists from my own state who I’d only had digital relationships with.

I had a two week writing residency on Kangaroo Island, which gave me the headspace to distill some of the thoughts. A writer friend of mine recommended Scrivener, writing software which I find useful to organise what is often a chaotic brain. From there I just had to nail myself to the computer and write it. I don’t know why this part of the process is so universally hard, but there’s no way around it other than discipline.

After a few drafts I was filled with my usual profound sense of insecurity about the work. I sent it to an editor friend, who gave me great feedback, and suggested a few changes. Andre also suggested some changes when I sent the final copy to him. It’s important to note that I didn’t take all of them on, but kept an open dialogue with the editor about why. Editing is a collaborative process, it’s important to respect your work, but don’t be an arsehole – most editors are just trying to make your word shine!

I funded myself to go to EWF this year, which is a tax deductible expense as professional development and performed at the launch of the Emerging Writer. There has been a lot of discussion around the importance of writers getting paid, which I wholeheartedly agree with. I did perform at the launch for free because I wanted to share some new poetry with Melbourne Audiences, and was really excited about the opportunity to work with Auslan It’s important to understand your motivations with your work, including around payment. This enable you to act with integrity which is as fundamental to writing as grammar. All we have in this industry is our reputation.

What did you get out of Smarter than your average bogan? Please – hit the comments below!

Come back at midday tomorrow and we’ll feature…


For an easy no-spam reminder, just scroll ‘up and to the right’ and subscribe via email or RSS. Or follow me on Twitter. I’ll be tweeting the latest post each day with the hashtag #EWFbookclub.

Would you like some more people to talk to?   Help spread the word!

Smarter than the average bogan? @kellyleehickey is! She’s featured in today’s #EWFbookclub #EWF13 <click to tweet this>

If you’re not a Twitter user, a quick link to this post on your Facebook, blog or similar would be appreciated.

Thanks for joining the totally unofficial EWF book group – see you tomorrow!


About Gabe McGrath

Freelance writer, radio creative, retro gamer and a dad. Gabe's writing has appeared in , My Child, Retro Gamer, , & more. Editor in Chief of JustOneMoreGame
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