Establishing a Popular Presence in the Poetry (and Writing) Community on Instagram

By Leeza von Alpen (aka leezajaydepoetry)

So, you’re interested in making an impact on the Instagram writing community, and in gaining more readers.

Here’s what you need to know.

I had the pleasure of interviewing some much admired, and highly praised, instapoets; I asked them what techniques they themselves have used, and recommend, to writers seeking to establish a platform on Instagram, and connect with other creative minds.

After interviewing each of these successful instapoets, I collated their valuable insights (and mine) into six helpful points of advice.

Here’s what we suggest that you can do:

  1. Engage with other writers

There are various ways that you can genuinely connect with other Instagram writers.

Firstly, I’d advise that you avoid being stingy with your follows; if a writing account follows you, and you like them, follow them back. But, if you follow merely to gain a follower—beware! Amaramalikpoetry explains that this is a short-term method; ‘…this will help you grow,’ she confirms, ‘But many will unfollow or not follow back.’

Secondly, if you admire someone’s post, comment on it. In fact, comment on as many posts as you can; like posts, and really connect with people. In the words of amaramalikpoetry, ‘Always engage with your readers. Never forget them, or take them for granted.’

And, please, for the love of the English language, reply to your comments when someone praises your work. People have taken the time to read your writing; you should take the time to thank them. Also, the more you genuinely engage with other writers, the more likely they will be to return the favour later when you post something.

Thirdly, consider doing shout-outs for shout-outs. This simply means that you take a screenshot of another writers’ account, upload it to your Story for your followers to see, and provide a link to the other writer’s account for followers to access. Sometimes, writers will return the favour with this too.

perrypoetry says that ‘Engagement with other accounts is the best way to gain followers. You need to engage with your following and your followers as much as possible. The Instagram algorithm will start to put your posts at the top of your followers’ feed the more you engage with them.’

mingdliu agrees with connecting with other accounts entirely; ‘I also love interacting with other writers and readers; they are the ones supporting you and we all want to relate to one another. Being personable definitely helps!’

So, amaramalikpoetry recommends opting for a long-term method, which is ‘… to engage! Read others’ work, give genuine feedback, and follow them. It may take longer, but it’ll be worth it to grow a loyal and engaged readership.’

Patrick Hart (aka workinprogress13, aka author of War Paint) also emphasises that this kind of authentic connection significantly matters; ‘I suppose I took every opportunity to communicate with other artists and respond to each and every comment.’ For Patrick, this ‘…definitely went a long way.’

  1. Use popular hashtags and tag reposting accounts

Did you just cringe?

You just cringed, didn’t you?

Well, don’t! Using popular hashtags is an invaluable way to gain attention on Instagram.

perrypoetry explains he ‘… find[s] that using hashtags is a great way to gain followers. One trick is to use hashtag rotation, so you are rotating your hashtags with every post to allow for more discovery.’

Some popular hashtags that I would personally suggest including in the body of your caption, or the first comment(s) underneath your post, are:

#poem #poetry #igpoetry #poetryofig #writersofinstagram #igpoets #spilledink #poetryisnotdead #poetscorner #omypoetry #poetrycommunity

(see below for an example from lillysparkswords)

in1

You can also be more specific to the theme of your written piece; for example, if it’s a passionate love poem, use hashtags like #love, #soulmate, and #inlove for an increased chance of being discovered. Patrick (workinprogress13) recommends using up to 30 hashtags per post.

Secondly, tag reposting accounts! There are plenty of good Instagram poetry-based pages that happily promote the work of writers if you tag them in your upload. Some of my personal favourites that myself, and other instapoets, use are: @omypoetry, @veinheartisans, @bymepoetry, @poets, @poetsdaily, @poem_wars, @silverleafpoetry, @word.bender, @tribeofpoets, @wordswithqueens, and @artlixirfresh. (Keep in mind that some require you to use their hashtag and follow them as well.)

P.S.

Remember to ‘…post when the world is awake!’, as Patrick says. Consider what times your favourite poets post by turning on post notifications for their account, and keep up with them.

  1. Have an (attractive) aesthetic

Never underestimate the power, and allure, of having a visually pleasing Instagram account. Instagram is, of course, about pictures; and if your images are pleasing to the eye, then your likelihood of gripping a potential follower’s attention increases significantly.

The Instagram algorithm is changing so frequently that it’s difficult now a day to establish a presence without following the status quo. Remember that IG is a picture-first platform, so if you’re looking to really establish a presence, keep the words legible, but the art that it’s on top of eye-popping and cohesive at the same time, without appearing “messy”.’ 

~ Patrick Hart (workinprogress13)


Indeed, 
perrypoetry favours the enthralling, and popular, accounts of @s.l._gray and @wilderpoetry not just for their creativity, but also for their stunning account visuals.

So what does this mean for writers? Well, I’m glad you asked.

It means getting creative and presenting your writings (i.e. your text) over, or alongside, attractive photography, illustrations, or even a simple blank, or black, background. Remember to draw attention to your words, however, and avoid falling into the trap of making the image in your upload more emphasised than your writing.

Also, remember to be consistent (unless, of course, your consistency is that you have none). You need to give your followers something to expect; a style that they can look forward to seeing.

It’s also important to establish an identity,’ says perrypoetry. ‘If you look at my account, you will see it’s very cohesive, and I stick to the same theme.’ (see the examples from perry’s account, and mine, below)

In2

In3

In4.png

In5

There are also apps that you can use to conveniently overlay text and apply filters to your photographs to insert your poetry that isn’t as convoluted as Photoshop. Textagram is one, but I favour CTDesign, and there are plenty of others as well.

  1. Write for you

We cannot emphasise this enough. ‘The one thing I’ve learned,’ highlights mingdliu, ‘is to remain true to your art and to yourself.’

Here are our top pieces of advice for what this means:

I have so many poets that I respect. If I began to list them off, I would barely scratch the surface, but the general theme throughout them mirrors my own-honest art! If you’re looking for some to check out, try the following handles: @Poetry, @poetryandprosebyk, @vintage.blue, @b.dani_west, @eleeborwriter, @nataliaxvela, @leah_jean_, @therosycrucifixion, @leahjstone, @dortomysoul, @vintage_cass_marie, @areadingwriter @mermaid.musings, @k.j.dunk, @leezajaydepoetry [aw shucks, Patrick!]

I guarantee I left a lot out, but the above write genuinely and viscerally, which matters more than glory.

The most important technique/strategy that I implemented was keeping my writing personal. I didn’t begin writing to gain an audience… I kept my writing as honest and revealing as possible in hopes that the community would rally around that.’

~ Patrick Hart (workinprogress13)

Write from your heart. Read others but don’t copy them, especially don’t plagiarise. Post only what you love and want to post because then you will improve if you receive negative feedback instead of feeling demotivated. Post only what you WANT to. Gaining followers means posting consistently, but you can’t force your creativity… My best and most popular pieces have come straight from the heart.

Oh, I have many favourites! @zeestkijusujoo, @alura_inspires, @lamiart, @avleenmusing, @duren_writing_stories, @breath_words, @heavensanar, @writerhashtag, and you [@leezajaydepoetry] [double shucks!] of course… Writers that write original and heartfelt pieces…who don’t copy other writers, who have their own unique voice, and speak about important issues in today’s society are my favourite writers.’

Amara Malik (amaramalikpoetry)

I adore @perrypoetry’s page and @atticus’s page. Their words are so relatable and magical… The only advice I can really give is to not be afraid to put your heart into words; there are so many people out there feeling the same way as you do. Your words can change someone’s day just by writing what’s on your mind and in your heart.’

~ Lilly Sparks (lillysparkswords)

  1. Promote Yourself

Promote, promote, promote yourself. Post on your Story regularly, and maintain your presence once you establish it. Comment frequently on posts so that people will see your name.

Moreover, I’d suggest reminding people to turn on post-notifications for your account so that they can stay up to date with your latest work.

Post your writing often, with those popular hashtags and those tagged reposting pages. Be consistent.

Also, if you are promoting yourself, I’d suggest you do it professionally and in a friendly manner. Spell-check everything (I cannot tell you how often myself and others cringe because we see a poem that is beautiful in nature but flawed in spelling). Have a professional, clean, interesting profile.

  1. Some other miscellaneous pieces of advice…

You might also like to promote other pages (selflessly, might I add; don’t necessarily expect anything in return; just spread some love!) by engaging in weekly mass posts like #followfriday. For this, you simply promote other writers’ pages. Often, they’ll do it back for you.

Also, you might choose to use other instapoets’ artwork and tag them; this promotes their artwork, and, often, your poetry through the Instagram artist’s tag. (Just remember to always ask permission first. Never use someone’s artwork without their permission. That’s, like, illegal. And rude.)

Also also, perrypoetry suggests expanding your potential readership by ‘…starting a Pinterest page… [because] it just gives your work more visibility and sometimes your work can go viral. I’ve had poems I’ve posted get up to 18k repins, which gives me a lot of visibility.’

Lastly, consider having writing-related words in your username (i.e. lillysparkswords, amaramalikpoetry, etc.); this is a clear indication to scrolling eyes that you might be a page that they are looking for.

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That’s all for now, fellow writers! Hopefully, these tips will help you on your way to making a genuine impression on the Instagram poetry community.

For now, here are some final words from perrypoetry and mingdliu:

My words of advice are to be patient and stay true to your writing. It takes a long time to get to 1k followers, but every 1k after that gets easier. Growing an account is a lot of work.

You’ll grow if you are putting the effort in.’

~ perrypoetry.

Interacting and being real to your readers and yourself is key. If you have a passion for art, don’t be afraid to take that leap and share it.

It can truly change your life, trust me.’

~ mingdliu

___

A word of sincere thanks to the helpful poets who kindly contributed towards this article. You can find links to their Instagram accounts (and Patrick Hart’s poetry book) through the links below:

Amaramalikpoetry

https://www.instagram.com/amaramalikpoetry/

(Amara also runs an adorable online stationery store: check it out at https://creativecutiee.com)

Lillysparkspoetry

https://www.instagram.com/lillysparkswords/

mingdliu

https://www.instagram.com/mingdliu/?hl=en

perrypoetry

https://www.instagram.com/perrypoetry/?hl=en

workinprogress13

https://www.instagram.com/workinprogress13/

You can purchase a copy of Patrick’s poetry book, War Paint, from Amazon.com.

(it’s also available on bookdepository.com! Cue squeals of utter delight!)

And, here is my account, if you’re interested:


leezajaydepoetry

https://www.instagram.com/LeezaJaydePoetry/


Words by Leeza von Alpen

Leeza HeadshotLeeza is an Australian poet and writer, as well as an English, History and Women’s Studies teacher. She enjoys reading paperbacks with milkless tea, star gazing, puns, and Studio Ghibli movies. You can find her poetry on Instagram under leezajaydepoetry, and writing-related tweets on Twitter under @leezajayde.

Taeghan Buggy: Writer/Editor

meet the team.-18

 

tiggyHow did you get involved with Tulpa Magazine?

My involvement really started with knowing Lisandra and Liam (Tulpa’s founders) through the Flinders’ Speakeasy Creative Readings club. When Lisandra mentioned that she and Liam were looking to start an arts magazine and wanted people, I jumped on board as a writer and editor. It was a case of right time, right place, right people.

 

What do you do?

I’m a writer and an editor for the magazine, though I’m more of a writer than an editor if I’m honest. I’ve contributed some things for #fictionfriday and Tulpa’s opinion articles. With the advent of Adelaide’s Fringe Festival, I’m also reviewing some fringe shows for Tulpa that I’m really looking forward to.

 

What’s your life like outside of Tulpa Magazine?

I’m facing my creative writing honours this year so I’m expecting a lot of reading, writing, and researching (yay). But I’m also a poet and a performer in addition to my writing, so I read at a few poetry slams and open mic nights around Adelaide city. I’m also a writer for the New Wave Audio Theatre podcast, which is an awesome collaborative project that’s gearing up for a second season.

 

What has been the most rewarding part of working for Tulpa Magazine?

I’d have to say that it was amazing to be able to see the beginnings of an arts magazine that’s so focused and supportive of emerging writers. Being involved in something that puts out creative works and articles that might not otherwise be published is truly gratifying. The fact that the magazine is a real collaborative effort only adds to this. I’m very excited to see how Tulpa grows, and that I can be a part of the process? Well, that’s exceptionally cool.

 

What do you see yourself doing in the future? Where are you headed after Tulpa?

In the near future? Graduating uni. After that? Hopefully, travel and writing, maybe even travel-writing. Backpacking Mongolia on the back of a yak (or at least the back of something) is my 2019 goal at the moment. And after-after that? Who really knows. I want to get involved in more script and screen writing, as one of my other loves is theatre and acting. But if I’m honest, life takes so many different directions and I have so many different interests that I’m willing to see what strange places it leads. I’m #keen.


You can find Taeghan on Twitter.

New Wave Audio Theatre: https://www.facebook.com/newwaveaudiotheatre/

Cameron Lowe: Editor/Writer

meet the team.-16

 

Meet-the-Team-Cameron2

How did you get involved with Tulpa Magazine?

I was a sub-editor at Empire Times in 2017 and got the opportunity to get to know both Liam and Lisandra well as they were editors at the time. I had heard from one of them that they were going to be starting up their own magazine after their editorships, so I liked the idea of it.

When I saw what Liam and Lis were doing in the flesh I decided right from there to help join in helping with them in Tulpa.

 

What do you do?

So far I’ve only contributed fiction and a feature about The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Due to being one of the 2018 editors at Empire Times, my availability to edit received pieces has been limited so far. Down the track though I will be discussing more about pop culture, video games, and fiction.

 

What’s your life like outside of Tulpa Magazine?

As mentioned before, I’m one of the 2018 editors at Empire Times, the student magazine of Flinders University. Alongside this, I’m also doing my third year in the Bachelor of Communication and Professional Writing at Flinders. This is my second degree after I attained a Bachelor of Creative Arts: Creative Writing in 2018.

I often like to spend most of my time reading, writing, gaming, and attempting to catch up on TV shows and films. My favourites include for each: reading (Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson), writing (speculative fiction), gaming (The Legend of Zelda series), TV (Doctor Who, The Simpsons), films (classic horror and sci-fi).

I like to travel too every now and then to different countries, primarily in Asia so far. What I love to do is go to other countries, seek out their museums, book and video game stores, and try all these new foods and beer.

Meet-the-Team-Cameron

 

What has been the most rewarding part of working for Tulpa Magazine?

I guess it’s just a great feeling to be a part of a magazine during its beginning times. To be part of a team and aiding in creating and contributing to a place that’s still new, it’s a wonderful feeling.

 

What do you see yourself doing in the future? Where are you headed after Tulpa?

How much water is there on Mars? By that, I mean I honestly don’t know at all. I would love to spend my life writing fiction (both novel and short story) and discussing pop culture, but it unfortunately won’t help pay off my university debts, or allow me to really travel anywhere at this moment. Depending on how Empire Times goes this year, I guess it’s really to see what opportunities come up.


You can find Cameron on Twitter at @cloweshadowking

He also does a monthly discussion on the books he’s read on his blog, entitled ‘Lair of the Shadow King’, which you can find here. https://lairoftheshadowking.wordpress.com/

‘Bleeding Hearts’ by Annalise Timms

A pleasant humming sound emitted from within Pots and Pansies, a small flower shop run by Vivian Finley. The store was filled with a wide variety of colour, in the form of tulips, peonies, gerberas, lilies, roses, succulents, carnations and much more. It was a Tuesday afternoon and Vivian had just finished sweeping the floor when the wind-chime on the door jingled merrily. She quickly wiped her soil-covered hands on her apron and brushed her messy brunette hair out of her face as she glanced up at the young man. The first thing she noticed was his warm smile, followed by his kind, shining, green eyes.

‘Can I help you?’ Vivian offered as the man looked around the shop, surveying the displays of bright floral bunches and twisting leaves.

‘Yes, please,’ he nodded. ‘Do you have any bleeding hearts?’

‘Yes, I got them in this morning, actually,’ she replied. ‘I’ve got a few different arrangements if you want to look at size and prices,’ she added, gesturing to one of the tables.

Vivian found bleeding hearts to be very intriguing flowers. They were perceived as a symbol of strong romantic love, and had a very unique appearance, looking nothing like the family of poppies they belonged to. Each stem was lined with dark pink heart-shaped flowers that hung down in a neat row. The small hearts folded up at the bottom, revealing a small white tear-drop tip that made it seem as though the hearts were bleeding.

It didn’t take the man long to decide which bunch he wanted before bringing it to the counter. He had chosen a small arrangement wrapped in baby pink cellophane and brown twine, tied in a small bow.

‘Could I please get a tag too?’ he requested, nodding to the small decorative tags for sale.

‘Sure, what would you like on it?’ she asked, picking up a pen.

‘To the most beautiful person in the world,’ he answered. ‘Love, Elliot.’

‘How sweet,’ Vivian said softly, tying it around one of the stems.

When she handed Elliot his change, he didn’t hesitate to drop the coins into the tin she had on the counter, collecting donations for cancer research.

‘Your family?’ he asked, looking at the framed photo beside the till. The photo was from two years ago, and showed both of her parents kissing her on the cheeks, while her younger brother, Eugene, ruffled her hair.

‘Yeah,’ Vivian replied quietly. ‘That was opening day.’

‘It’s a nice photo.’

After he walked out, Vivian sighed. Whoever received the flowers would be extremely lucky, indeed, and there was no denying the nagging sense of envy that filled her chest. She did not believe in love at first sight – no, that was preposterous – but as she thought of the goofy smile that lit up his face, she couldn’t help but hope that she would see him again.

__

The following Tuesday afternoon, Vivian was trimming the lavender roses, although she was struggling to concentrate properly due to how fast her mind was racing. Despite how quiet the day had been, she had been feeling anxious ever since the fight she had that morning with Eugene, now twenty years old.

Their parents’ recent divorce had put a significant strain on their relationship, causing fights to erupt between them over the smallest issues. That morning, Eugene snapped at her for using the last of the milk, and it had escalated to a shouting match, in which they ended up blaming each other for the divorce. Of course, none of it was true, but Vivian had not had time to make up with Eugene before she had to rush to work.

The argument had just been playing over in her mind all day, so when the wind chime suddenly clanged to life as Elliot entered the shop, she jumped, causing her fingers to slip, and instead of cutting the stem, she accidentally sliced her finger. Vivian swore loudly, quickly trying to find something to clean her finger with.

‘I am so sorry! Are you okay?’

‘N-no, it’s fine, my fault for being so clumsy,’ she stammered.

‘Here,’ Elliot offered her a handkerchief.

What millennial carries a hanky? Vivian thought to herself, biting back a grin when she saw a tiny rose stitched in the corner.

Elliot held Vivian’s hand closer to him so he could get a better look at her injury, causing her breath to hitch in her throat slightly as his warm touch sent tingles down her arm.

‘It looks pretty bad…’ he murmured. ‘I think you might need stitches.’

‘I’d rather a Band-Aid,’ Vivian laughed nervously.

‘I’d rather you made sure your finger is properly treated.’

‘Well… I’d rather you let me make poor choices to avoid my fears.’

‘Okay, fine,’ he gave in with an eye roll. ‘But, I’ll be back next week, so if it’s infected, I’ll have to chop it.’

‘My hero,’ Vivian snorted. ‘Thank you… do you want this back?’ she asked tentatively, holding out the bloody handkerchief.

‘You keep it,’ he laughed. ‘I’ll see you next week, Vivian.’

As he walked out again, she wondered how he knew her name, but quickly smacked herself as she remembered she was wearing a name badge. After realising she’d had a successful conversation with Elliot without making a total fool out of herself, Vivian did a happy jig, however, it was short lived when he burst back in, catching her off guard.

‘I was just, er, running on the spot – gotta keep fit, right?’ she chuckled nervously.

‘I forgot the flowers,’ Elliot laughed awkwardly.

‘Bleeding hearts?’ they asked in unison.

The two broke into bashful smiles as Vivian nodded.

‘Just over there.’

When Elliot returned to the counter with a small bunch in hand, he asked for another tag, with the same thing written on it as last time: ‘To the most beautiful person in the world, Love Elliot.’

Vivian tried very hard to ignore the sinking feeling in her chest as he walked out once more, knowing that that person was not her.

___

For many weeks, Elliot continued to visit her shop every Tuesday afternoon, each time buying the same flowers with the same tag. With each purchase, the two would get to know each other that little bit more and Vivian knew that, what once was a teensy little crush, was now a steady, throbbing ache in her heart, slowly swallowing her whole.

‘Who are they for?’ she managed to ask as Elliot placed another bunch bleeding hearts on the counter, many Tuesdays later.

Contrary to what Vivian expected, Elliot’s face fell, his green eyes immediately losing their shine.

‘My gran,’ he answered grimly.

‘Y-your gran?’ Vivian repeated in shock.

‘She’s in hospital… brain cancer,’ he sighed.

‘I- I’m so sorry,’ she breathed.

‘It’s not your fault,’ Elliot shrugged. ‘It’s looking a lot better though, they think the treatment is finally working.’

‘That’s great!’

‘Yeah… I told her about you, too… she wants to meet you, actually.’

In that moment, Vivian was struggling to breathe slightly, too overcome by a range of emotions to notice the pink blush that had coloured his cheeks.

‘I better hurry though,’ he added, glancing at his watch. ‘I’ll see you next week!’

__

But Elliot did not return next week, or the week after that, and the extra bleeding hearts Vivian had ordered were left to wilt and die when no one bought them. She worried what had happened to him, until he came in a week later, although he was hardly recognisable. His hair was a mess, he had large bags under his eyes and there was no smile on his face. Vivian didn’t even know what to say to him, but he spoke first, his voice hoarse.

‘I need more bleeding hearts… do you do funeral arrangements?’


IMG_4140Words by Annalise Timms

Annalise is a young writer and poet from Adelaide. She is in year 11 at high school. She enjoys reading, writing, being a social hermit and staying home with her pets. Last year, her work was published for the first time in the SAETA Spring Poetry Festival Anthology.

Lisandra Linde: Managing Editor

meet the team.-11

lizHow did you get involved with Tulpa Magazine?

Tulpa Magazine really started as this idea Liam McNally and I were tossing up back when we worked in student media. We both wanted to create a platform for writers that had a strong focus on ethical media and writer development- something that we felt was sorely lacking in student media. We didn’t want to go for anything corporate or marketing-focused but rather something really content based, something that lifted up both writer and publication.

So I’ve been a part of Tulpa since before Tulpa even existed. Liam and I got a lot of support from the arts community here in Adelaide and that really helped us to develop our magazine, get the website up and then really see what came next. We were extremely fortunate to have Kayla Gaskell join us as a third managing editor in March 2018.

We’ve been flying semi-blind, still figuring things out as we go but I feel like that’s what makes the whole experience so rewarding. The writers, the editors, the readers- everyone has really been a part of shaping Tulpa and I think that makes us a little different, a bit more down to earth than a lot of other arts and literary magazines in Australia.

What do you do?

I manage all fiction submissions at Tulpa Magazine. I allocate pieces to our editing team, talk to our contributors and put the final pieces together online. I also run most of our social media, design additional images and advertisements and make sure the website runs smoothly. I’ve conducted a few interviews and I do reviews from time to time, which has been a really rewarding experience. I love meeting authors and artists in Adelaide and I think that’s one of the biggest perks of the job.

What’s your life like outside of Tulpa Magazine?

I’m an honours student at Flinders University so a lot of my time outside of Tulpa is spent working on my thesis. I’m also a fantasy writer so, in true writer spirit, I have several unfinished and unedited manuscripts floating around. I’m something of a spoken-word fanatic and you can usually find me at local gigs in Adelaide like Speakeasy, Quart Short Literary Readings, The Hearth and anything else that pops up on the local radar. I’ve performed quite a bit and I’m the 2018 Vice President for Speakeasy. I also do a bit of work for Quart Short Literary Readings.

 

What has been the most rewarding part of working for Tulpa Magazine?

For me it has to be working with our contributors. A lot of our fiction comes from emerging writers who have never had their work published before. It’s rewarding to be able to work with them to edit and polish their work and then see it go up on the website. Being able to support writers as they start on their writing journey is incredibly rewarding. I love seeing them share their work and feel proud of themselves. I remember how isolating and emotionally draining it was to start out and struggling to find someone willing to read my work and actually tell me it had potential, that it was something worthwhile.

A lot of bigger publications simply don’t have the time or the resources to give new writers feedback and encouragement- and being able to do that at Tulpa is something that I really love. I hope that as we grow and expand that we don’t lose that writer-editor bond that we have right now. I’ve had a lot of ‘Dear-Submitter-First-Name’ style rejections in my life, the kind of faceless, unfeeling responses that really get you down. At least at Tulpa we can say with confidence that we have time for every contributor and are always happy to give feedback, even if we don’t publish a writer’s work this time round.

 

What do you see yourself doing in the future? Where are you headed after Tulpa?

That’s hard to say. I want to get my PhD and hopefully teach creative writing and English at a university but that’s still a few years away. I guess I would love to publish more, meet more writers and really engage with the writing community. To be honest, things look pretty grim for Arts workers in Australia right now but I’m hoping that we see some change soon. It would be a pity for us to lose such an incredible community of artists, writers and editors because of a government that devalues and defunds the Arts. Here’s to hoping all of us have a bright future ahead of us- one where we can push the boundaries of art and culture.

––

You can find Lisandra on Twitter and Instagram

For more information about her publications and qualifications you can visit her website.

Robin Hobb’s Rain Wild Chronicles (A New Year Suggestion)

Why the Rain Wild Chronicles? Answer: It’s a deeply engaging series and Hobb does wizardry with the cast of characters.

As a brief background, Dragon Keeper is the first of four books in the Rain Wild Chronicles. The series is a continuation from the events in Robin Hobb’s Farseer and Liveship Traders series, though with a different cast of protagonists. Chronologically, the Rain Wild Chronicles sit at the end of Hobb’s long list of published series in her ‘Realm of the Elderlings’ universe and it is most closely linked to events in the preceding Liveship Traders series.

For readers new to Robin Hobb: if this seems like an intimidating number of books to read before you start, never fear. While reading the Liveship Traders will give you a more rounded understanding of the setting, certain characters, and previous events, Hobb does a good job in grounding these world details within the Rain Wild books and even new readers will be able to enjoy the series fully.

The first book in Rain Wild Chronicles takes you on a journey of exploration up the acidic – and deadly – Rain Wild River. Unable to fly and incapable of self-sufficiency, an array of deformed dragons stuck near the Rain Wild city of Cassarick need to find a home that will support their needs. In a bargain struck with the Rain Wild council, the dragons and their keepers journey up river to find the lost city of Kelsingra; a place once home to dragons and their mysterious Elderling companions. The people who aid the dragons have an array of personal and political reasons for joining an expedition that is rife with uncertainty and danger. This is a journey of survival for the protagonists; of seeking the true self and true belonging against the background of the inhospitable Rain Wilds and the richly written political situations. These themes of belonging and discovery run throughout the entire series and are also mirrored within the plots of the novels – yet the strength to this strength to this series is not its plot, but the characters.

And what a cast of characters: girls, women, men who are explicitly gay, outcasts, and dragons. Outsiders, all of them, in one way or another. They are what I like most about Dragon Keeper and the Rain Wild Chronicles as a whole. From the smallest supporting player to the main roles, these characters are deeply complex. They each have their own goals and motivations, as well as corresponding strengths and weaknesses. What’s more, all the characters experience challenges and growth. None of them are flawless characters, especially the protagonists, and yet they are characters to whom we relate and even sympathise with. It is not easy to do that with such a sizable cast –  yet Hobb does it and she does it with ease.

I especially like the dragons as Hobb has written them. Often, draconic characters are written on extreme ends of a spectrum: from inscrutable wisdom and altruism to unspeakable malice and cruelty. Instead, Hobb’s dragons are deeply self-concerned with the issues of dragons – especially with their survival as the last remnants of a species in a world that doesn’t value them as sentient beings. Their tenuous survival wars with their awareness that malformed dragons should not live and yet live they do. Unhuman, aloof, wise, and malicious at turns; these dragons are protagonists that are fully rounded characters in and of themselves. They are an utter delight to read, especially since they are central to the series.

I’m recommending this series because I return to it time and time again. The world of the Rain Wild Chronicles is rich and detailed, whilst the story is immersive and the characters arresting. Following the progression of the protagonists throughout the series makes you feel good for them because they grow so strong. With an empathetic eye, you can see parts of yourself and parts of the people you know in these characters. Diving into the world of the Rain Wild Chronicles is escapism at its finest; dark and uncomfortable at times, but always with that edge of hope that fights towards the light.

 


Words by Teaghan Buggy.

‘How To Be A Writer’ by Emma-Lee Winters

 

  1. Sit at the desk with pen, paper and your preferred drink; wine is best.

    You do this step first because you believe this is how every author should work. From the second you wanted to be a writer, you convinced yourself that you needed a writing desk and some form of alcoholic beverage—like that man you saw in that movie once, where he set out to write an entire play, spending all day sleeping and all night writing—because that is how big, famous authors make their best work. Of course, you don’t have to do it in the same order as the man in the movie
    , but you have yourself convinced that you must conform to crazy alcohol-infused archetypes of well-known authors to be marvellous. You also need a wad of paper—about two inches thick—and a pen or two to last you the night, so you’ll be able to write an entire first draft. You kid yourself out of the idea of cramped hands, neck and back. You convince yourself that to become better you just write about the same thing repeatedly, until it works. Until you are satisfied. You tell yourself that sleep is for the weak and a full bottle of wine will get you through at least this first stage of writer’s inspiration. Until you realise that the idea you have… is fruitless. It won’t get you the Nobel Prize in Literature, or The Man Booker Prize, or even admiration from your parents, because you already know they will say you are wasting your time and that you’re really just a hopeless drunk.

  2. Stare off into space and think for a moment. Sip your wine.

    Take another sip as you ruminate over how your parents are going to greet you the next time you go home for dinner. Keep thinking about it as you stare intensely at the wall, the ceiling, that one shoe you cannot find the friend to, that weirdly shaped mark just above your little toe on your left foot. Look at anything until you believe that you have the right, just like anyone else
    , to create a piece of artwork, no matter how shit it may come out. Maybe you even start writing about a boy whose parents continually tell him that writers never get anywhere in life, that their only accomplishment is deterioration by alcoholism, drug abuse or starvation. Then you change the story up a bit and turn the boy into a cold-hearted man who spurns every love interest until one day he falls in love with another man who is dying. But he can’t profess his love because he doesn’t want to be more of a failure to his parents, he doesn’t want to be a vulnerable man with nothing but shame and a soured attempt at a woeful career. Ending up with nothing, like his estranged uncle. So, he finds a wife. Within a year his marriage dissolves. Three months after they divorce his ex-wife remarries, and he kills her out of blind hatred. Then, before you can really think about what you’ve just written, you scrunch every piece of paper up into a ball and chuck them at the walls. Start all over again. This time fill up your glass of wine all the way to the brim and take a big gulp because you are hell bent on making this work. You will not prove to your parents that you should’ve taken that university offer and given up this ludicrous idea instead of taking three months off work and spending all your savings on rent JUST SO YOU COULD WRITE THIS DAMN BOOK.

  3. Now put pen to paper; start writing. If nothing comes to you keep staring at the wall.

    Wait… You already did that. But start writing anyway. Scribble down every last scrap of dialogue, description and utter passion onto that page until you at least have a starting point. It doesn’t matter if you run out of paper: you can steal some from your roommate that you hardly see anymore. Keep writing. Throw away every pen that runs out of ink, just drop them onto the floor. It doesn’t matter; you’re not going to leave your desk. All the pen casings can wait until inspiration has dwindled and you have nothing left to write, but that will not happen because you are now sipping drunkenly on your third glass of wine, and it’s cheap wine too, and you feel like an empire has fallen at your feet, and you are now their ruler. With just pen and paper you can make them bow to your every whim. Just don’t stop writing. Whatever you do, whatever happens, you cannot stop writing now. This is it; this is your chance. Wait… Now what? You’ve run out of inspiration… Really? Stare at something with a really blank expression on your drunk face, until you feel like you can break down walls with a single word again, or until you faint.

  4. Continue process until you live up to the (often incorrectly attributed to) Hemingway quote: ‘Write drunk; edit sober’.You have nearly exhausted your paper pile, and you’ve only written on one side of each page. Don’t bother about that; keep going. Yes, your hand is cramping, well, maybe you should have written this all on a slow, grating computer that is full of old porn videos your ex-boyfriend downloaded before he decided to bugger off with your loving baby kitten. That doesn’t matter right now. You are going to make yourself into the best damn writer you can be. And, once you’ve finished this book, you can edit it yourself. Who needs to hire an editor, and waste their time running back and forth between tedious fucking meetings? No. Hey, don’t start editing; why are you editing already? Stop it! There is no point going back and rewriting that bit of the book if you haven’t even thought about the ending. Keep writing. Write until your fingers bleed, and keep writing until you reach the end of your characters’ story. That is how it is. Remember the man in the movie? The one who sat all night writing and slept all day? Who enjoyed the pain that writing brought him and the pleasure he got in publishing his work? Soon, that will be you. Soon you will be publishing book, after book, after book. Your parents won’t care that you never went to university or if you go to university and study some shit-ass degree that means nothing on a resume because you will be rich. You will have made it. You will have shown them. You know you can because, when you put your mind to it, you are the ruler of your own damn kingdom. No one can stop you.

  5. If all else fails, become a florist who talks about a lost dream with every customer.
    You tried. You went through ninety-six bottles of wine and two bottles of vodka to get to where you are today. The manuscript is tucked away and mostly crumpled in your desk drawer. You did it. You may have been told your novel will never be published, but you wrote it anyway. You lived up to Hemingway’s quote. You wasted three months of your young, boisterous life, and now you’re here standing behind the counter of a small florist in London, wrapped in a hideous cardigan two sizes too big for you, with your hair knotted and tangled in a messy bun at the nape of your neck. Droopy eye-lids and cracked lips: you look terrible. You sound terrible too, with your monotonous voice and your whingy complaints. That’s okay because deep down you feel kind of accomplished. Four years later, with no degree and a meagre wage that warrants you rent the small room above the florist, you are going to make it your mission to tell anyone who walks into this overly-scented shop that they couldn’t get any lower than you. You pull out a packet of cigarettes and light one, while standing behind the counter watching customer after customer pick out their favourite blossoms. You wrap them as the fag hangs from your mouth, and ash floats down to the waxed paper with every puff you take.


Words by Emma-Lee Winters

Art by Rhianna Carr

emma-lee

Emma-Lee is a university student by day, a writer by night and a professional tea drinker. She aims to finish her degree, become an English teacher and continue to dip her toes into the fascinating pool of editing and publishing.

You can find her on Twitter and Instagram

Relocation

The stuttering crawl of traffic arrests, and a terminal red line on the GPS tells Gerald he should settle in. He sits straight-backed in a collared shirt, top button still buttoned, in the driver’s seat of his car, in a line of stationary cars, a still frame excised from a zoetrope.

On the passenger side, an emergency stopping lane hints at escape. It runs clear, but only as far as the next overpass. There, a massive pylon erupts from the ground like a memorial. For any who made the attempt, it would mark an end.

Gerald’s spent a lot of time on this freeway, rolling slow in the dusk, but he’s never been held up exactly here, at the top of this low rise. He’s noticed the graveyard, of course, beyond the concrete wall that serves to divide the locals (dead) and those just passing through (ostensibly living). The other side has it pretty good, with their freshly mown grass. Their gated community. Until now Gerald had never noticed the graffiti scrawled against the barrier: If you slept here you’d be home by now.

The vehicle in front of him inches forward in a restless zombie shuffle. Ahead and to the right, a transit van’s indicator light blinks like a tic. Fumes from all these idling motors start to cloy, so Gerald recirculates the air in his cabin. There: he is sealed off from the others, those commuter vessels, also static. Steel cannisters for single occupants. When the traffic flows again, they will diffuse into the suburbs. For each car a garage; for each garage a dwelling. Is that what home is? That’s encapsulation, thinks Gerald, but it’s too transient. Home should be a place to stay and sleep sound. At this rate when he reaches his destination it will be time to leave again.

More than anything else, Gerald wants a shorter commute. So he pulls into the emergency lane. He is moving, picking up speed, tearing past the other cars. He can see his new address.


Words by Andrew Roff

Andrew Roff’s first novel-length manuscript was shortlisted for the Wakefield Press Unpublished Manuscript Award at the 2016 Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature. His short fiction has appeared in Antithesis Journal and Antipodean SF, and has been adapted for community radio. Andrew’s interests in crime, politics and economics inform his writing. He tweets at @roffwrites and you can read more of his work at roffwrites.com.