Today’s dreamer is one of my gorgeous besties in Melbourne. She stumbled home with me after a night of tacos, dancing and cider and the rest is history. She is kind and caring and I’m dying to try and get some piece of writing from her, even when she thinks that she’s not great with fiction (I think you are!). She is an amazing editor and even managed to edit my questions ha! I love her for it. So without further ado I introduce today’s Fully Awake Dreamer: Megan Hanson.
Tell us a little about yourself and what you write.
I’m an editor at an educational publisher and a sporadic freelance journalist. I mostly write for publication in the realms of arts and lifestyle. I review a lot of theatre, mostly because I like free tickets and having a platform to share my feelings about a show afterwards.
I burnt myself out after a pretty hectic few years studying, writing and generally being ridiculously busy — it did pay off, but I had to grant myself a six-month writing hiatus to recover.
What is your burning writing desire about?
I used to write purely for the experience; I hoped that being published and having a solid portfolio would increase my chances of getting a job (it worked!). I guess the reason why I want to write is to explore other people’s worlds, and to share this with readers.
My writing desires have always come down to exploring real people and real places. So far I’ve the opportunity to do this by writing feature articles and profiles. However, I think I’m a still a while away from finding my niche.
Are you working on anything right now? Can you give us a little bit of a sneak peak?
I’m actually just about to start writing a review on a show I saw last night called The Rap Guide to Evolution. So far I’ve written the title, copied out my notes and put my name at the end of the document. Winning!
I’m hoping to start writing more for myself though, to see if that’s any more fulfilling. I’m hoping to start a blog before the year ends, and maybe even get stuck into some more long-term projects.
What nourishes your dreams besides writing?
Cooking, swimming, visiting new places, family and friends, yoga, watching cheesy sitcoms and making lists. (My edit here: Megan is the Queen of Making lists. It puts me to shame!)
What inspires you?
Seeing regular people doing exciting things, people taking risks and having it pay off and people who are intentional about their work.
What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned from writing?
Argh where to start? I’ve learnt a lot from having my work edited, especially by professional editors. It’s been great to write for good editors with the time to occasionally give feedback; this has been super helpful because they’ve pointed out mistakes I regularly make in my writing.
I’ve had to develop a thick skin because, even though being published is often good for the ego, people may write negative comments about your work, which makes you feel bad. Being rejected or ignored by an editor can hurt. Seeing old work online that you’re not proud of sucks. So does having work published with mistakes in it. All these events helped me to build up a resistance and accept that everyone is human and no one produces perfect work the first time around, if ever. This attitude has helped in other areas of my life, which is basically one of ‘feel the hurt, suck it up, move on and do better work next time’.
What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome when it comes to your writing?
Rejection! It’s not a new one, but it can be debilitating. However, it turns out that the fear of being rejected is worse than actually being rejected.
Most of the things I mentioned in the above answer apply here too. Having things published that I’m not 100 per cent proud of is crap, and it’s always due to tight deadlines and life getting in the way. Constant deadlines have helped me to be less of a perfectionist and to let go of my work, and they serve as motivation to write better because I know people will see it.
What advice can you give to budding writers?
Regardless of the kind of writing you do, put yourself out there as soon as possible so you can get used to rejection. Everyone has to face it at some stage so if you’re putting off, say, pitching an idea to a magazine or journal, don’t hold back for fear of being rejected. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, because the sooner you get those out of the way, the closer you’ll be to success!
Take yourself seriously, and never wait until you think you’re good enough to be published because that day may never come. (This! Yes! This is perfect) Even if your priority is to finish your novel, keep submitting to journals, enter competitions and start a blog. If you’ve made a name for yourself you’ve got way more chance of being considered by a publisher than if you’ve quietly slaved away on the same thing for years. Also, working on different things will keep your writing fresh.
Try and get yourself involved with different circles of writers. The best kind for me were the ones doing bigger and better things than me, or ones whose writing I admire. It helped me to keep things in perspective and reminded me that I can always be doing better. If it fits into the type of writing you do, get involved in workshopping, get a writer’s group and/or send your work to a friend for feedback whenever possible.
As far as advice on the process of writing, I’d say to spend more time editing than you do writing (even though it can be painful and boring). My favourite, though, is from George Orwell: ‘if it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out”.
Are you dreaming fully awake and how did you get there?
I think so? It’s more than possible that I’m too ‘awake’ and not dreaming enough. I’ve always been super cemented in reality, and I could afford to be more whimsical and dream bigger sometimes! For the past few years I’ve been striving for financial stability in a job that is somewhat satisfying (check!) so now is the time for me to start considering writing as a hobby and explore other areas of the industry.
About the Dreamer
Megan is an editor and occasional freelance journalist who, one year on, is still savouring post-uni life. She has a Bachelor of Writing and Publishing and a Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing and does not plan on studying again anytime soon. She likes her possessions in miniature when possible, and her lifelong dream is to own a dachshund or two. She tweets @Megan__Hanson and her work can be seen at megan-hanson.com.