CREATE South 2012: Keynote – Philippa Ballentine’s Reckless Optimism

She’s the first podcast novelist in New Zealand, and has 3 novels being published this summer.
Optimism has carried her through.  [What a good point…you can’t be pessimistic & create, can you? – A]
4 million New Zealanders?  40 million sheep?  Wow.
She’s from Wellington.  Wellywood, you know, because Peter Jackson owns it now.
The Young Creative
-Always writing: the green notebook
-Her Dad read her LOTR was what got her started on reading
-Always dreaming: about dragons, swords, and adventure
-Resistant to what people say
-Happy to take your own path
In NZ, she had no fantasy/SF role models.  It’s so far from NYC where publishers dwell.  And there was no genre community.  Lit’rary, but not genre.
Her plan?  Wait.  She was waiting to move.  (I’ll get brilliant & they’ll find me.)  She was waiting for tech.  Meanwhile, she worked on her craft.  She kept at it.  Writing, researching the market.  She studied Lit & political science.
So…reckless optimism?
-isn’t blind
-determined & based in knowledge
-based on faith in your own abilities
-know that success comes with time & experience
-first book = apprenticeship, in her view
How to remain optimism
-build a force field of confidence around yourself, despite what others say ( acknowledge them, tho)
-listen to the voice in yourself
So she ALSO became a librarian (corporate, tho) to stick around the books, tho she found the net and the “joy of new things”:  podcasting, epublishing, and blogging.  Discovery: writing & publishing are 2 different things.  She did these tech things with work, too.  The upshot of all this: she created her own community.  (Book 1 was Weaver’s Web.  Also others published with Dragon Moon Press)
BREAKING THROUGH (the wall)
-2 sides: creative & business side
-had a book with an agent for 18 months.  Got an offer for the second book she’d given her agent.  She was stunned because she’d been trying to be published for 10 years.  She thought, oh, I’ve broken thru the wall.
-There’s just a hole now.  What you actually do is find the other wall.
-2 book deal Geist & Spectyr to Ace.  Geist won the Chelsea award at WorldCon.
-Collaboration?  Lead to Peculiar Occurances novels…you know, the one in my bookbag?  That we bought at the BN last year because I recognized Tee from CREATE South 2012?  Yeah, that one.  This is to Pip one of the most exciting things about writing.  Has worked with musicians, film makers, artisans & writers.
Now that we live in the future….you can have friends & fans all over the world.  The first person she met in the US was Scott Sigler.  (woo!) 
You never know who’s around you who can help you out via collaboration.
Tales from the Archives – short stories from others set in the Ministry universe.
Q&A:
Where to find the steampunk community? [link to come]
Podcast contents? Fiction, Shared Desk (she & Tee talking about writing)
What’s her writing process?  Start with the end scene in mind, and then pants it.  [yes, I mean that as a verb. -A]
Characters for her are melding people.  In Ministry, they’ve included friends, like Brandon Hill, who loves to then get dressed up as Brandon Hill. =)
For her, the writing is about the characters.  Description depends on what they’re seeing.  Let the characters lead you in the description.
Transition: she tried to do it as gracefully as possible, dropping back to part time library work, but once she had contracts & needed the time to get the writing done, she had to jump.  [There’s always going to be a cliff to leap off of, I bet. – A]
What does she find the most fun that she does?  Collaboration!  Night’s Plutonian Shore – Archives tale.  His fave collaborated work.  The House of Usher takes down Edgar Allan Poe [ooo!  Find this! -A]
Podcasting has informed her writing…find mistakes, fix weird sounding dialog, etc. It also keeps creativity flowing, the collaboration factor can keep you writing when you begin to flag.
They found it easier to collaborate via distance.
Lack of community – how does she do this then & now?  The Internet created a zone b.c there was not much in N.Z.  Skype.
Creatives Know…
-Creativity is in your bones
-Living without it is simply not an option
-Giving up would lessen your life
-So what have you got to lose?
So….find a community.
Find advice.
Find your audience.
Welcome to optimism
pjballentine.com
ministryofpeculiaroccurances.com

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