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March 9, 2021

Big publishers ‘have lost control’

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I first met Phil on a rain-soaked day outside my house in Brunswick Terrace, Mullum. It was an accidental encounter, but we soon got stuck into a conversation about the parlous state of Australian universities.

Alex-cropped-300pxVeteran journalist Alex Mitchell believes that the big publishing houses have lost control of the book market and that modern technology is providing a more level playing field for people who want to write novels, poetry, essays, novellas, scripts, plays and biographies.

‘If the internet has shown us one thing it is that we can all write and that we enjoy communicating with each other,’ Alex said.

‘We send emails and Facebook messages to one another on a daily basis. It’s the 21st century way of diary writing.

‘These days when people travel within Australia or abroad, they write almost daily reports to family, friends and workmates. And they send photographs as well.

‘My message is simple: Learn to use your computer and the internet and start writing, either fiction or non-fiction. Find an authentic voice to express your thoughts, feelings and your story.’

Alex has worked as a crime reporter, Canberra press gallery journalist, foreign correspondent, war correspondent, editor and columnist, and regards his best years as working on the London Sunday Times for the legendary Insight investigative team on exposés of Soviet double agent Kim Philby and corporate crook Robert Maxwell. He is the author of Come The Revolution: A Memoir (NewSouth Books 2011)

Alex will share his 50-year experience in newspapers and television at a workshop called ‘Don’t write crap, it can’t be that hard’ with budding writers at the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival today, Tuesday, July 30, from 1.30–4.30pm at the Byron sports centre.

He will also take part in two panel events: on Friday 2 August, 4–5.15pm at the Feros Marquee and Saturday 3 August, 11.30am–12.30pm at the SCU Marquee.

Alex says the key to a successful writing career is overcoming the demon called writers’ block.

He believes that ‘we all have to get over our insecurities and find the confidence to express ourselves in the written word’.

Alex will share his professional insights with the festival audience and suggest ways of accessing a writing career and making it both interesting and satisfying.

Today’s workshop details: Tuesday 30 July, 1.30–4.30pm, Byron Sport and Cultural Complex, Ewingsdale Road. Book online: www.byronbaywritersfestival.com.au

or call 1300 368 552.


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