As a valued stakeholder of 'Kathryn van Beek: writer', please find your copy of my 2019 Annual Report below. The report is structured as follows: submissions, disappointments, successes, a tribute and a summary.
My goal was to make 100 submissions to journals, competitions, funding bodies etc, and I came close this year with approximately 81 submissions made.
These 81 submissions yielded 9 successes and 38 declines. Twenty-three submissions still await their fates, and I withdrew 11 submissions after the stories were accepted elsewhere.
Of those 38 declines, I would say that 35 were 'oh well' moments, while the other three led to full-blown 'what is the point in going on I should just impale myself upon my pen' crises.
I am also disappointed in myself for not finishing the illustrations for the second Bruce the Cat book (working on them now!).
A tribute to David
Writing the 'Best Book in the World' piece was one of the highlights of my year, and a real testament to the wonderful man behind the series - talented journalist and really nice bloke David Loughrey. Unfortunately David passed away recently. I don't know what to say except David, in the short time that I knew you, you really enriched my world. Thank you.
Summary ... and hopes for 2020
Though I didn't get the exact feather in my cap that I really wanted this year, I did pick up a bunch of other very nice feathers.
In 2020 I hope to publish both Pet and Bruce Goes Outside (my second children's book), and get a little further along on my doctorate of professional practice.
A huge thank you to everyone who has supported me this year. I love Aotearoa's literary scene - everyone I've met has been so generous and kind. Wishing all of you a happy and successful 2020.
I've finished Pet, my manuscript of short stories! Next steps are yet to be determined ... but I'm sure I'll get it out into the world somehow.
In the meantime, I've been getting back into my Bruce the Cat children's book series. I"m working on the second book, Bruce Goes Outside. And in a stroke of perfect timing, I was part of the Wild Imaginings National Children's Writers and Illustrators' Hui this weekend.
Notes from the hui
I co-presented this with the inspirational Fifi. I talked about my early illustration (rock band posters) and how finding a kitten on the footpath changed the course of my writing career. I also talked about my crowdfunding journey. Fifi talked about an extraordinary career that spans illustration, writing, costume design, wearable arts, mascot-making and more! The incredibly talented Fifi lives a courageous and creative life, and I think everyone was uplifted and energised by her talk.
Kate de Goldi in conversation with David Elliot
Different routes to market
We heard from a range of authors and publishers.
Gathering images with Robyn Belton
The incredible Robyn Belton shared her life's work in this extraordinary session. Robyn puts heart, soul and magic into her beautiful images. Robyn is an absolute genius ... and also the nicest person you'll ever meet.
Pathways to imagination
I was a bit late to this session after sticking around after Robyn's session with all her other groupies to get my books signed, but I did turn up in time to hear Kyle Mewburn ask why everyone is trying to climb Mt Everest, when we could be getting pleasantly lost in a forest. Melinda Szymanik then freaked me out by saying that the imagination is a muscle and you have to use it regularly and train yourself to spot ideas. Yikes! I haven't used my imagination for at least a week - it's probably gone soft!
The dinner was wonderful. We heard from several past recipients of The University of Otago College of Education/Creative New Zealand Children's Writer in Residence (try saying that after a few drinks). Professor Tony Ballantyne gave a moving account of what reading, writing and children's literature has meant to him. At the other end of the emotional spectrum, Kyle was hilarious as the MC and should be the MC for everything, ever.
Writing for the classroom
I don't know anything about writing educational books and early readers, so this session with Fifi, Maria Gill and Dame Wendy Pye was really useful for me.
Our journey to publication
With Stacy Gregg and Rachael Craw, chaired by Kate de Goldi. Stacy and Rachael have very different working styles, which made for an interesting session.
Otago gold slam - place and creativity
The final session was a fun session with several Otago authors and illustrators who gave Pecha Kucha-style presentations about place.
All in all - a truly wild and imaginative weekend. A huge thank you to the organisers for an inspirational event.
I'm on holiday!
Which means - over the next two weeks I'll be writing and sending away a submission or two, continuing to fulfill my custom Kickstarter rewards (I've done the custom videos and have just got the custom illustrations to go), trying to squeeze in as much reading as I can, and preparing to go to the Storylines Hui in Auckland this weekend!
Storylines is a network for children's book authors and illustrators, and at the Hui I'll have the opportunity to hear from legends like Tessa Duder, Joy Cowley, David Elliot and more. I'm also going to meet some local publishers and pitch a new idea to them. Wish me luck!
2023 Burns fellow Kathryn van Beek has an MA from Victoria University Wellington - Te Herenga Waka’s International Institute of Modern Letters. She is a winner of the Mindfood Short Story Competition and the Headland Prize. Her collection of short stories, Pet, is available as a podcast, and her work has also appeared in Overland, takahē, Newsroom, and the Sunday Star-Times. She lives in UNESCO City of Literature Ōtepoti Dunedin with her two rescue cats.