• Valerie Miller

I’m here for my half year performance appraisal



I received the latest newsletter from the Australian Writers’ Centre (AWC) this morning and there was an invitation for ‘a meeting with ourselves.’ The meeting? A half-yearly performance review to reflect on what we have achieved so far, what is still to be done, and a plan on how to get there.

I am inviting you into the little office space in my head to watch my performance review unfold. Please note that I will be talking to myself and I can assure you all that I have not taken a tittle of gin and that my mind is healthy and balanced.

Valerie: Welcome. Sit down. How are you?

Me: Fine thank you. A little nervous.

Valerie: No need to be nervous. It’s all about helping you. To reflect on your accomplishments. To assess them and to help you to move forward so you can continue to achieve the goals you have.

Me: Thank you

Valerie: Great. Let’s begin. What have you ticked off so far this year?

Me: First of all, I got through my third semester on Creative Nonfiction of a Master of Letters in Creative Writing, while working full-time as a high school English Teacher

Valerie: How did you go?

Me: I got a great result. I wrote a slice of a Memoir, about me growing up in an Italian family in inner Sydney during the 1970s. It recently got published in an online literary website. It was great. Getting my writing out there is one of my goals. To be published as a writer.

Valerie: Congratulations. What else?

Me: Thanks. I finished the AWC Short Story Essentials course and submitted it for appraisal. I also started a women’s writing group for women here in Brisbane. Membership is growing steadily. This was my other goal, to start to expose my writing to more feedback and build resilience.

Valerie: How have you found that?

Me: I’m actually embracing it and I can feel the fear dissipate. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still scary, but I feel stronger. It’s actually empowering me as a writer and as a person.

Valerie: You mentioned wanting to be published as a writer. How’s that going?

Me: I just finished the pre-draft.

Valerie: Pre-draft?

Me: I know, sounds strange. I started writing a novel off the back of Nanowrimo, National Novel Writing Month, back in 2018. I had the story ready to go and used it to get me started. Although I got to over 65,000 words written across that month, it was disjointed regarding the structure and plot points, but I kept going and pushed to the end. The process was great, though messy, but it helped me to think about what I wanted in the story, it’s actually now got a thriller element to it. I’ve just gone back and begun working it into a first draft. It’s helpful that I have a lot of material to work with, over 110,000 words. I’m reshaping it and removing a lot of unnecessary narratives. I’m loving it and discovering so much about the characters and the story. I’m working on the draft at least 5-6 times per week.

Valerie: That’s a good plan. Anything else before we move onto your goals for the future?

Me: I started my writer website and social media accounts. I just completed the AWC Build your Author Platform online course and it was extremely informative. I truly do recommend it to other, emerging writers.

Valerie: I’ll pass that on. So where to now. What are your short term and long-term goals?

Me: Short term; to complete the AWC Freelance Writing Stage 1 course and start pitching articles to get experience, so when I finish my dissertation in creative writing at the end of next year, I can focus on my freelance writing. This will help me supplement my income as I work towards a writing career. My aim is to complete the first draft of the novel by October so I can start writing a children’s chapter book I have mapped out. I’m actually planning to have that manuscript ready by mid next year.

Valerie: And long term?

Me: To get my novel manuscript ready and to it submit to publishers, maybe an agent. I’m also going to write another six to nine short stories to complete an anthology of work that I will be publishing as an Indie author. To give self-publishing a go. I’ll need to hire an editor to make sure it’s in great shape.

Valerie: How do you plan to get there?

Me: That’s easy. Keep writing, developing my craft by doing courses, going to conferences, connecting to other writers, getting feedback and to keep believing that I can do this. I also draw on strength from listening to Podcasts on writing. The So You Want to Be a Writer Podcast always has great advice and support. Quotes help a lot too.

Valerie: I think that’s all for now. Remember, always ask questions and seek help when you need it. There are a lot of resources out there. Anything else before we finish up?

Me: I think being organised, planning my days and scheduling what to focus on, is proving to be helpful too.

Valerie: I couldn’t agree more.

Source: the questions asked in the interview were provided by the Australian Writers' Centre where you can enrol in world class writing courses.

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