Update from Dr Kylie Boltin, 2021 Creative Writing Fellow

In this guest post, our 2021 Creative Writing Fellow, Dr Kylie Boltin, discusses writing her novel and the experience of her fellowship.

Update from Kylie

What an incredible opportunity the University of Queensland Creative Writing Fellowship is. The program has enabled me to revisit a deeply personal project that I had set aside for many years. The fellowship provided the funds, the scaffolding, and the opportunity, to work on my novel [to be titled Snakebite] full-time. It has enabled me to be a writer again, after many years making films and other creative projects.

I write to you from deep inside a draft that has a beginning, middle and end. The fact that this project will be finished is a dream that I couldn’t quite see for myself in the past. It was a reality that my mentor, Matt (Matthew Condon), assured me of when we first met as part of the Fellowship. He said, that if I write 600 words a day, I will have a draft. And now I do.

Desk with laptop and keyboard, papers, notepad, coffee cup and snacks. Desk has a view out a window.
Kylie's writing desk, January 2021.

You see, part of writing is practical in this way. Most is a leap of faith and discipline. Of solo focus and deep research. All of which this Fellowship facilitates. The foundations are set. The rest is up to you.

I began my 2021 fellowship with a Varuna residency in the Blue Mountains. This week allowed me to review the large amount of research I already had.  Some of this material I hadn't seen for a long time and the advantage of that was that I could review with fresh eyes.

As a writer, time is a strange bedfellow. It doesn’t work in the way it might out there. When it is just you and the words on a page; just you and the research material, time bends and stretches. On a good day, time flies. On a bad day, it drags. Yet, there is a great reward in the effort - in the chip, chip, chipping away at the greater task of the book. In the deep access one has to one’s own imagination. To the act of communicating through words. This review period enabled me to identify what research I would need to undertake, and the process of writing and research stood side by side throughout the Fellowship.

Eight writing journals of various colours, 3 fanned in the foreground, 5 in a pile at the back.
Kylie's journals from many years ago that she revisited during the Fellowship.

The residency at Varuna was brought forward, given the fact that so many writers from interstate couldn’t travel. I benefited in this case, but I did not benefit when it was time to travel to Queensland.  I couldn’t travel to the university in person due to the extended COVID restrictions and travel bans, but I was able to work remotely and engage with the Fryer collection, as well as with Matt.

Matt and I had regular zoom meetings to discuss key scenes in the book and explore the deep moments that I would need to express and explore further. It was a strong irony, to say the least, that my book begins in India in 1957, travels through Melbourne under the White Australia Policy, moves to North America, Jamaica and circles back again. Writing these scenes during lockdown was indeed a great escape!

I’d like to thank the University of Queensland and the Cultural Fund for this extraordinary opportunity and will keep in touch with more news as I continue to refine the work done to date.

More about Kylie and her project

[13 January 2021] Announcing the 2021 Creative Writing Fellow.

Dr Kylie Boltin.

Change to this fellowship for 2024

The 2024 Creative Writing Fellowship provides an early career Australian author with the opportunity to write a new creative work using the special collections in the Fryer Library.

The fellowship is offered by UQ’s Centre for Critical and Creative Writing in the School of Communication and Arts in conjunction with the Fryer Library and with the support of the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund. 

Applications for the 2024 fellowship close at 5pm on Monday 13 November 2023.

Copyright agency cultural fund logo

Thank you to the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund and library donors for their generous support of this fellowship.

Last updated:
20 October 2023