Prove your humanity

Grok Magazine sits down with Abbey Carson, a third-year student who’s currently studying a double major in Creative Writing and Professional Writing and Publishing, as we begin to learn more about her role as the Editor-in-Chief of Curtin Writers Club, followed by the many career opportunities that the committee position has brought her so far.

To start things off, we question Abbey about when she first started writing and editing, as well as whether she perceived these hobbies to be a career aspiration straight away. “I can vividly remember that during one of my NAPLAN tests in either Year 7 or Year 8, I finished pretty early and had nothing else to do. So, I just started to write a story on the back page while I waited, and kept on going until the tests were collected.” Recalling one of the earliest examples of her demonstrating her passion for writing, she explains that her love for books was one of the main influences behind her motivation to write. 

“Editing was something that came a bit later. I would help my friends out by reading through and editing their assignments during high school, and from there I realised that I really do enjoy helping people figure out what they’re trying to say.”

Since having a career in the creative arts field can often be stigmatised due to the instability of financial income, we ask Abbey about the initial response she received from friends and family after telling them that she was determined to work in the writing industry. “I was met with very mixed responses. My parents are both very supportive, as they don’t mind what I do for as long as I love it. My mum was actually the one who helped me find my course at Curtin University and made me feel comfortable going into it.” She confirms. 

“But I also received negative reactions from acquaintances and distant family members, as some of them viewed my passion as a hobby and nothing more than that. Of course, it still doesn’t deter me from studying creative and professional writing, but sometimes it can be hurtful depending on who’s saying it, especially if it’s coming from someone close to me.” 

Image Credit: Abbey Carson

As we desire to learn more about Abbey’s inspirations behind wanting to work in the writing industry, we ask her if there’s a specific form or genre of writing that she prefers engaging with. “I am pretty diverse in what I read and engage with. However, I tend to favour novels, despite reading comics quite often.” Explaining how she originally started off with reading novels as a child, Abbey also brings herself to describe her intricate feelings towards poetry. “I like to dabble in reading poetry, but I do struggle to get into it, as it’s not necessarily something you can read in one sitting and feel satisfied at the end. Some poems can come off as pretty pretentious too – almost like they’re trying too hard to be poetry.”  

Remaining on the topic of inspirations, we inquire Abbey of whether there was a particular author or piece of media who or which fuelled her desire to pursue her career aspiration. “I really love Margaret Atwood’s writing, as she’s honestly such a fascinating person.” She says. “I’ve read The Handmaid’s Tale and Hag-Seed, and one of the things that Atwood said which has always stuck with me was that she only writes about things that have happened historically. Everything she included in The Handmaid’s Tale were events that had actually taken place during a certain period of time, and I really admire her as an author because of this.”

As our inquiries begin to focus more on her role as the Editor-in-Chief of Curtin Writers Club, we question Abbey about how her experience as a club committee member has benefitted her over the past few years. “I started as an editor for CWC during my first year of university back in 2020, and since it was the beginning of the pandemic, most of my club duties were done online.” With this being said, Abbey affirms that her main reason for joining the club in the first place was to meet and make friends with people outside of her course, especially since they all shared a similar passion. 

“Transitioning into 2021, I became the Deputy Editor of CWC, and from there I started to make connections beyond Curtin University through students who I knew from the club. I quickly noticed how engaging with clubs and other publishing opportunities that Curtin offers helped a lot with launching the careers of several authors in WA.” She remarks. “Now that I am the Editor-in-Chief of CWC for 2022, I’ve been given a lot more tasks and responsibility, and it’s been amazing to work with so many different people – whether they be editors or writers – and provide them with the opportunity to network, polish their skills and increase their work experience.”

Image Credit: Abbey Carson

Striving to learn more about what the role involves, we ask Abbey about what sort of tasks she’s expected to take on as Editor-in-Chief. “The main task is publishing Coze, which is Curtin Writers Club’s yearly publication that is created in collaboration with Curtin Illustration Club. There are plenty of responsibilities which go into publishing Coze such as creating timelines, getting editors on board, running club events, recruiting writers, handling submissions, managing stock, supervising and assigning editors, and much more.” Taking us through the list of duties an Editor-in-Chief is expected to undertake, Abbey begins to define what she likes and dislikes about the role. 

“I have a love-hate relationship with being the Editor-in-Chief, as there’s a lot of small things you have to do on top of all the important things I’ve just listed off.” She admits. “Although I’m capable of juggling a lot of things at once without losing track of it all, my role relies heavily on maintaining relationships with a lot of different people – whether they be the typesetter, head designer, or even the editors of our club. I need to help others by underlining what their responsibilities are and keeping everyone on track, and it’s especially hard since everyone has their own life outside of university.” 

Since Abbey recently began her internship at Portside Review, we ask her if she experiences any difficulty with balancing her new job with her club duties and studies. “Yes and no. I’ve come to realise that if I’m working in an environment that I’m really enjoying, while also working with people who I love working with, I find it a lot easier to get things done and I’m less likely to procrastinate.” Believing that being in a healthy work environment encourages her to complete the majority of her tasks, Abbey gives us some tips on how to balance a massive workload. 

“Write it all down.” She advises. “If you’ve got deadlines or tasks to complete, and it’s all starting to clutter in your head to the point where you’re forgetting or mixing up important dates, it’s always best to write everything down on either a calendar, notebook or to-do list. It also helps to let others know that you’ll be very busy, just so that they are aware of your other responsibilities, and won’t get annoyed if you are unable to take on extra work or attend events.”

Image Credit: Abbey Carson

As the writing industry is known to be very competitive and financially unpredictable, we inquire Abbey if she has any concerns about working under these conditions. “Not particularly. I never entered this industry with the expectation that I’ll be earning a lot of money. I am aware that it’s not the highest paying job in the world, but I really don’t mind.” Due to the fact that her family isn’t necessarily materialistic in terms of spending, money has never been something that’s influenced her career aspirations. “I don’t want to pursue something just because it’s going to make me more money – I’m not going to have a happy, fulfilled life if I do that.”

Reaching the conclusion of our interview, Grok Magazine asks Abbey if she has any advice for Curtin University students who intend to work within the creative writing industry. “I think students should take all the opportunities that are given to them.” She answers. “If you start looking, you’ll find that there’s a lot out there. Whether it be going to events held by Centre for Stories or Fremantle Press, joining Curtin Writers Club, or even following Western Australian writing and publishing corporations through social media, engaging with the industry is extremely important.”