Back in May, the Emerging Writers’ Festival hosted a panel talk about writing in Melbourne’s west. That same week, 13 children ran into a room above West Footscray Library to get started on the second issue of a literary journal called early harvest. So it’s not only young writers emerging in the west, but young editors, too.
Right from this first workshop, the editorial team were making decisions about what this edition of early harvest would be. Assisted each week by different publishing professionals, the young editors learn about all aspects of creating a literary journal, from concept to design, commissioning to editing, printing to marketing. This creates some interesting discussions about their own journal. One editor was very keen for the editorial team to write all the stories in early harvest, which led to a debate on how one assesses story quality when you’re friends with the author. Some very complicated methods were mooted before the proposal was voted down and the team decided they couldn’t submit individually.
This decision-making process is what makes the Early Harvest project special. The editorial team hail from five different schools, and the editors talk about teamwork, cooperation and meeting new people as being the best things about the project so far. Just like in the real world, sometimes this collaborative process works really well, at other times it results in compromise. But the outcome is always authentic and driven by the young editors themselves.
The Early Harvest project also aims to celebrate the contribution that young people make to their own creative learning, and empower them. Emma Hewitt, co-founder of the project, sums it up:
A lot of the time children’s writing exists in school and exists in the home but doesn’t get out there. Giving kids the chance to create a publication they can hold in their hand, that looks smart and has beautiful illustrations, is a really amazing way of acknowledging their writing. And young people get really excited about reading other young people’s writing in a space they’ve only seen adult authors writing for them.
This year, early harvest has two themes. Or a theme and a sub-theme. The first one is science fiction. The second one is zombies. We’re not clear yet on how these are going to manifest themselves, but we agree with Huz, one of the young editors, when he says it’s going to be ‘different, better and awesome’.
The editorial team have decided to target their call for submissions to local schools, and to commission authors. But you can still support early harvest by purchasing a copy of Issue 1, with all proceeds used to sustain the Early Harvest project.
And the final word will go to Huz, who has a unique marketing proposition for you.
‘If you read early harvest and if you want to make it better than us, challenge me.’
Early Harvest is a collaborative project run in partnership by 100 Story Building, Davina Bell of harvest magazine and Emma Hewitt. Early Harvest gives young people the opportunity to develop new skills in writing, publishing and editing, as well as confidence in themselves as creative individuals.
Follow the Early Harvest project here.
This project is made possible by funds from St George Foundation.
100 Story Building is a centre for young writers, opening in Melbourne’s inner-west in 2013. They increase opportunities for young people to foster their creative voice and to have their ideas shared and respected. They bring together young writers and members of Melbourne’s creative community, and encourage them to share in their skills and understandings through creative writing excursions, publishing programs and after-school activities. Volunteers who work one-on-one with the children are an important part of the centre's daily workshops.
100 Story Building's mission is to provide opportunities for the most marginalised children and young people in our community - to build the literacy skills, confidence, and a sense of belonging that are fundamental to future success.
To support their work with children and young people, the centre runs 100 Story Studio creative writing workshops for adults and 100 Story Holidays school holiday workshops for kids.