Published 24 November 201020 July 2012 · Writing / Main Posts Writing: community and culture Koraly Dimitriadis For my Overland Subscriberthon post this year, I wanted to raise and discuss the importance of writing community. Here at Overland, I have always felt a sense of community; a place where I can share my thoughts and engage in hearty political debate. A place where I can learn, make mistakes, reflect. We may be a small group, but there’s a community spirit, and we are all contributing to Melbourne’s political landscape and culture. But what about novel writers? We are so isolated, in our little offices, typing away. I’ve been writing novels for six years now and I have to say, it does get pretty lonely. You procrastinate a lot. Surf the net. Watch the walls. That’s why I was ecstatic when my friend told me about National Novel Writing month. The basic principle is to start a new novel and update your word count progress throughout the month on the NaNo website. The total of each region, in my case, Melbourne, is ranked against other regions from around the world to determine the NaNo winner for 2010. You can work on your new novel anywhere you like, but for those writers craving a sense of community, organisations from cafés to corporate businesses have opened their doors and allowed writers to gather on their premises, network and write. Every day there is a NaNo gathering so it’s as simple as logging on and checking where to go to for the day and off you go. What’s great about NaNo is a writer has a place to go, for a set amount of time, say three hours, where they have no other choice but to write. Not only that, but being in the same space as other writers, and watching them frantically type away on their laptops motivates you to also do the same. At the first NaNo event I attended, in an office building, complete with ergonomic chairs, kitchen and snacks offered by other NaNo participants, I wrote five thousand words in three hours. Five thousand words! There’s no way I would have been able to write that many words in my home in three hours – three weeks maybe, not three hours. I have only been to four NaNo gatherings this month, but in that time I have written ten thousand words of my new novel. (Ten thousand!) Writing at NaNo gatherings reminds me of trips I have taken with other writers for a few days to the coast with the sole purpose of writing. From morning to night, we sit and write and write and then have readings in the night. On those sorts of trips, I always got a lot done, and I felt a very strong sense of community. Participating in NaNo has really highlighted, for me, the importance of community in writing; how by nourishing and supporting community, we are, in a way, contributing to culture. NaNo is free to take part in, and organisers volunteer their time. But wouldn’t it be great if NaNo was an ongoing thing? If not NaNo, something similar? Being the UNESCO city of literature, surely some funding could go into holding a writing day once a month. Maybe on the first Saturday of every month, the Wheeler Center could open their doors and allow any writer to come in with their laptop and write all day. That way, writers were not only motivated to write, they would feel a sense of community, while at the same time, contributing to Melbourne’s vibrant literary culture. What I’ve realised through writing for Overland and, more recently, with NaNo is that community is not only motivating, it’s powerful. One person doing something alone isn’t the same as a group of people doing something together. So get on the phone, log on to your computer and subscribe to Overland, so we can keep the Overland spirit going years into the future. Koraly Dimitriadis Koraly is a widely published Cypriot-Australian writer and performer. She is the author of the controversial Love and F**k Poems. Koraly received an Australia Council ArtStart grant. She presents on 3CR radio and has a residency at Brunswick Street Bookstore. Her 2013 La Mama show is Exonerating The Body. She is mentored by Christos Tsiolkas. More by Koraly Dimitriadis › Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 10 November 202311 November 2023 · Subscriberthon 2023 On the final day of Subscriberthon, Overland’s most important members get to have their say Editorial Team BORIS A quick guide to another year of Overland, from your trusty feline, Boris. I liked the ginger cat story, though it made my human cry. I liked the talking cat, too, but I’m definitely in the “not wasting my time learning to talk” camp. But reading is good. And writing is fun, though it’s been challenging […] 1 First published in Overland Issue 228 9 November 20239 November 2023 · Subscriberthon 2023 On the second-last day of Subscriberthon, Overland’s co-chief editor Evelyn Araluen speaks truth to power Editorial Team To my friends and comrades, I’m not sure if there’s language to communicate how this last month has utterly changed me. This time a few weeks ago the busyness and chaos of bricolage arts and academic labour had so efficiently distracted me from my anxiety about the upcoming referendum that I forgot to prepare myself for its inevitable conclusion.