Image - EWF / Francesa Rendle-Short

If you wanna be an author

by Max Stainkamph | @maxstainkamph

Slice Girls is a tiny pizza joint on Little Lonsdale, next door to Thousand Pound Bend. The smell of pizza mixes oddly with speakers blaring TLCs Waterfalls as you enter. It’s a small, worn and seemingly familiar pizza shop.

But for two weeks, it had some very unfamiliar visitors. As part of the Emerging Writers Festival, nine writers, nine editors and nine graphic designers were trying to create a whole book in nine days.

“It’s a labour of love,” Francesca Rendle-Short said. She oversaw the project undertaken by students from RMIT. “But that said, it’s a big challenge.”

Writing, editing and designing a 200 page book is a big undertaking in and of itself, let alone in nine days in the distracting and loud vicinity of a pizza shop. Francesca said most teams worked until midnight to complete their section.

“It’s absolutely frightening,” Tresa said.

She was one of the writers for the project, hailing from California and doing her PhD at RMIT in creative writing.

“I’m a lot more comfortable with an editor here, but it’s still completely scary.” Tresa loves writing in a pizza shop, however.

“It’s great. I love it. I felt like all I could smell was pizza. It takes me back to working in a café, when all you could smell was pizza, in your clothes and your hair,” Tresa said.

“I’m writing about my home town, which is beautiful from the outside but has a strange undertone. Basically it’s about an inn in the centre of town and the folklore that surrounds it.”

The nine ‘slices’ of the book – which will be called 9 Slices – aren’t connected, but Francesca hoped the place will connect the stories.

“Everyone is reading what has been written as it comes through and feeding off it,” she said.

Helen MacLeod edited the second day of the book and popped in when I visited. She compared it to artists making their first album.

“They’ve saved enough money to book a studio and write all the songs, they’ve just got nine days to throw everything at it.”

“They might have a more polished second album, but it will never be the same as the first one.”

Creating the book wasn’t without its challenges. The first day I visited, I opened the door to find a typewriter clicking away, with scrolls of text over multiple tables, in various stages of editing. Most writers were using Google Docs or the project’s hard drive.

“That was the craziest afternoon,” Francesca said. “That was one day where we were pushing every second until midnight. But aside from that, there haven’t been many unexpected challenges.”

The Emerging Writer’s Festival is planning on releasing 100 copies of the book at the end of the festival. For more information, visit the website.

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