Writing, illustrating and publishing a book in less than a week can’t be done. Everybody knows that!
Everybody except for 7 students from Tiwi College in the Northern Territory and their mentors. In late November, the 16-18 year old women travelled from the Tiwi Islands to a boardroom at Penguin Random House in Sydney to discover it could be done.
Their journey was the sixth organised by the Indigenous Literacy Foundation’s (ILF) Create Initiative program which connects Tiwi College students with publishers and writers.
The goal is to produce a book within 5 days but the aim is more profound; to build creativity, knowledge and self-esteem.
For the past 2 years ILF ambassadors, author David Lawrence and author & NITV presenter Shelley Ware have been the workshop facilitators for the Create Initiative.
Publishing partner Penguin Random House enables a program of writing and illustrating workshops over three intensive days. The designing and editing takes place in the background with student input. The finished story is off to the printers by the fourth day.
But it isn’t all hard work. The students were able to soak up the sights and sounds of Sydney including Bondi Beach and Circular Quay. The budding authors spent the day at Taronga Zoo while their book was being printed on the Thursday of their visit.
At all times they were accompanied by their college teachers, Dianne Moore (Tictac) and Ashlee Healey.
“Through this week, I’ve seen their confidence, their self-belief and their literacy skills grow and improve,’ Ashlee said.
‘I’ve watched them build each other up and I’ve seen their creativity not limited by anything. This has allowed them to get excited with reading and excited with writing again, something that’s a challenge for many of our students back home.’
That same excitement filled the room when the students saw their book for the first time on Friday. Their faces lit up as they read Japarrika Rises* the sequel to last year’s book, Japarrika – Storm Bird.
An official launch ceremony was held to acknowledge each of the students for their achievements, energy, creativity and contribution.
‘[With] the growth that occurs during this week, stepping up and becoming an author, they return to their communities as role models and leaders; that’s in the school and in their home communities,’ Ashlee said.
‘There’s no doubt there are future generations of people and young students on the Tiwi Islands that are looking up to these girls and wanting to be part of something so wonderful like this.’
There will be a community launch of the book at Tiwi College early in 2019. Students there and those from other schools on the islands, will be gifted with this new book written and illustrated by Tiwi people which represents Tiwi people.