Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Writing non-fiction: a workshop for veterinary team members

The Vet Cookbook, spotted on a bookshelf in the UK!

If you’re experiencing low morale, you’re not alone. This blog is coming to you from Sydney, Australia, officially in week 8 (or 9, I am losing count) of hard (and getting incrementally harder) lock-down, but essentially week 12 because of a voluntarily lock-down preceding the official one (somehow it just didn't feel right interacting closely with people socially while COVID was re-emerging in Sydney).

The hard lock-downs necessitated by the circulation of the COVID-19 Delta strain seem to be taking their toll on everyone I know, in profound and sometimes heartbreaking ways.

One of my personal coping mechanisms is reading, usually whilst acting as a human hot water bottle for a certain cat in my life. There’s nothing like a gripping story – whether fiction or fact-based – to take your mind to another place. And reading is COVID safe!

Which brings me to the big news: the Vet Cookbook Committee has secured a brilliant author/teacher to run our second ever writing workshop for veterinary team members.

The first online workshop was taught by award-winning author Tracy Sorensen, who, among other things, is currently writing a cancer biography from the perspective of her abdominal organs. If you missed the workshop on creative writing but want to learn more, I recommend Tracy’s novel The LuckyGalah. A beautiful, richly evocative novel, both uplifting and surprising. I am waiting desperately for it to be made into a movie or series.

Our second online workshop, this time on narrative non-fiction, will be taught by author and school teacher Brendan James Murray. Brendan has twice received National Literary Awards from the Fellowship of Australian Writers for his short stories, and his first book, The Drowned Man, was joint winner of the Ned Kelly Award for Best True Crime in 2017. His second book, the critically acclaimed Venom, was featured on the ABC's Conversations program as part of the 'Best of 2018' series (it is, along with the Lucky Galah, on my personal list of best Australian books of all time). His third book, The School was released by Picador Australia in 2021 and proved a gripping read.

This workshop is on narrative non-fiction.

Brendan James Murray, author of The Drowned Man, Venom and The School.

So, if you feel like you have a story – or a book – inside you, consider enrolling. And if you don't feel much like a writer but you enjoy a good read, the books by both of these authors are outstanding.

As I am sure I have mentioned, when we compiled the Vet Cookbook, it became clear that many members of our profession are terrified of being negatively judged (even about a recipe). This workshop is a safe space where veterinary team members are free to express themselves. 

There are 23 places left in the two-part workshop, to be held from September. The not-for-profit workshop is subsidised by funds raised by the Vet Cookbook to promote the well-being of veterinary team members.

For more information and to enroll, check this page. Enrollment is open to all veterinary team members, regardless of their writing ability.