To all the artists

Kia ora fam,

Last week, we all found out who received the hallowed nod from CNZ to pursue their art without penalty of starvation or insecurity. I don't think I'm alone in saying that I thought that the freshly revamped application process would make it easier to get funded. But two days out from the announcement, CNZ sent advance warning, whether kindness or cruelty it's hard to know:

It seems even more miraculous, reading that, that I should be one of a tiny number who were successful. I can't believe it - it means that I can write full time, finally focusing on a project I've wanted to do for so long. I'm so relieved and so grateful, and yes I did jump up and down like an idiot and snot-laugh-cry, but at the same time it feels stink because I know how many brilliant people and projects missed out. I hate that as artists we're pitted against each other this way. The process feels so one-sided and secret, even more so under a Government that makes no apology for how little value it places on what we bring. If the process stings, the overall lack of investment is like a gut-punch.

So I guess I wanna say, if you applied and weren't successful, don't let it stop you. Don't. The day I received the CNZ email warning us the fund had turned into a lottery, I sat down with myself and said: fuckit, I'm gonna do it anyway, whatever the outcome, somehow I'm going to find a way.

I re-read the poem: Time to Write is always Stolen, and reminded myself that creativity is like a weed, no matter how much concrete gets poured over it, creativity will always find a slip of light through which to spring up. Be like that weed. Tenacious as fuck. Ask: is there another way I can still do this? I really think that there are some seeds that don't need external validation or cash to take root. Some ideas even benefit from a bit of extra time to sink down and spread out and go slow before going up. It means that those ideas will have a better grip on the soil so that when they do emerge, anyone who tries to rip them out is just gonna mince their knuckles on the concrete. Yeaaaaah.

I know it seems easier for me to say this as someone who got funded, but this was the line of thinking I was running before I knew the outcome. The biggest positive I could see was being able to maintain complete creative freedom and independence over what I decided to do and how and when. It's costly, freedom, but it's priceless, too. It reminded me of a quote from Patricia Grace about feedback, which is often how an application process feels:

"I came to understand that I must not allow myself to be influenced by the opinions of others, negative or even positive. I had to put all that aside. I was interested in myself being a writer and becoming a better writer, always striving to be better at what I did and thought, this is a real lesson for me, this is some great piece of learning for me because I know what I want to do and it doesn't matter what anyone thinks. It doesn't matter if nobody publishes my next work. I'm just going to be keeping on writing, and I'll do it the way I want to do it."

I also re-read Audre Lorde, Poetry is Not a Luxury, and reached for Ben Okri's 'A Way of Being Free' and Kei Miller's 'Writing Down the Vision.' All writers driven to interrogate and improve, tasks that don't require permission, just a willingness to use whatever scrap of day left over to us to switch off the phone, close the laptop, go for a walk or read a book or collage a politician's face or scribble another sub-average poem about what hasn't crushed us this week.

People have asked what's the project I'll be working on, and it's a collection of essays unpacking colonisation and climate change with a storytelling lens. I'll be re-working a bunch of previously published essays, plus some new ones, with interlinking narrative to become a coherent whole. I've got a contract and everything EEEEEK!~ I'll be working with BWB who, not gonna lie, are legends in my mind. I love everything about what they publish and how they work. It's a dream come true, literally, and even writing this feels terrifying and "not the done thing". I'm sure there's an unwritten writer's rule that says that you don't tell anyone you've got a book until you post a picture of you with the cover and announce a launch???

Well, I'm breaking with convention because it only seems fair. I'm sorry we all didn't get the funding. Fuckitall. But let's not stop our tenacious little hearts from creating, anyway.

In other also terrifying news, the podcast is out today! I can hardly believe how momentous this week is and it's only Monday. Fuck.

Melody Thomas and I, back during ep 1 when I still thought making a podcast was gonna be "so fun!"

** and massive congrats to all the other artists who were successful xx