Day 10 – Work Journals

Thursday 10th November 2016

Day 10:

800 words. Still not story? But it’s life, and there is story there.

I’m spending the weekend (including tonight) in other people’s houses, surrounded by discussion and conversations and relationships. This is part of the challenge of November: to retain the focus while I’m weaving in and out of physical space, mental space, emotional space, relationships. To remember to come back to the screen, to the keys, to the letters, and the words, and to construct the thoughts together. Weaving. It’s all a kind of weaving in and out.

Day 8 – Work Journals

Tuesday, 8th November 2016

Day 8:

5709 words today! Zendesk article, notes on an article, notes from text messages, and a few notes from my phone call with Ben. 

Tomorrow, I’m on a plane. Which means that Day 9 is actually like two days long for me! (and, in the reverse problem, I’m pretty sure I’m losing the 21st of November entirely). 

Feels good, but still feels hectic due to all the other things going on that I’m trying to simultaneously accomplish. Like packing. And work. And deadlines. And travel. On the phone with Ben last night, I promised him some epic email letters while I’m away. I’m also pretty sure they’ll be applicable to the NaNoWriMo I’m doing here, so I’m going to include them in daily writing too.

Does anyone else have this problem — as the Work Book is becoming more and more clear, there are other themes and other books arising too. I’m taking note, and getting all the thoughts down (because why not catch them and sketch them out while they’re coming through as well?). But it feels a little like my brain is trying to write 3 books at once. 

I’m not in the writing phase of the Work Book yet, so it doesn’t matter if it’s getting assuaged with other ideas. NaNoWriMo for me is just about getting the raw material down on the page. Thoughts, questions, reflections to articles and videos and other people talking about similar topics.

But still.. It’s very present. “It” being: at least 2 other books. And ideas and content and questions for those books.

Day 7 – Work Journals

Monday, 7th November 2016

Day 7:

My people. I only wrote 400 words. Tomorrow’s word count is going to be astronomical. I can feel it. 

I’m pretty exhausted. I’m still trying to get through Monday and Tuesday as the most insane days of this week. SO much work to pack in before I leave. And the writing. Always comes back to the writing. I’m realising it gets much easier to do all the other things if my mind gets the chance to unload all of the insights and questions and inquiries it’s hoarding and holding onto. 

Day 6 – Work Journals

Sunday, 6th November 2016

Day 6:

I need to be working on an article for Zendesk right now. Deadline is tomorrow (though, it’s actually in two days, because of US deadlines vs Australia deadlines). But, still. It’s due, and soon. 

This is a section from my 331 words today, mostly journalling (with some book reflections thrown in there): “I should be working on the Danielle Di Masi article to submit to Sarah Reed tomorrow. I’ll just have to edit it on breaks at work, and during lunch. Work will be hard for two days straight (with an info night in between for Annie Get Your Gun). And then, I’ll be out at the airport, and on a flight, and actually with quite a lot of time on my hands to write and reflect, and keep the momentum rolling.

Maybe that’s what most of life is: recognising the cycles and patterns of habits, time, circumstance. What we feel we can do, when, and how. Why we feel pulled out of sync. What happens to bring us back into resonance.”

Day 4

Friday, 4th November 2016

Day 4:

306 words today. I’m tired, overwhelmed with work. There’s so much I need to get done before heading to SF next week. Writing, on top of everything, feels like a challenge. A rich, rich challenge. Went to bed at 8pm today, and slept for 9 hours.

Day 3 – Work Journals

Thursday 3rd November 2016

Day 3:

Reflection as of 11am. I’m nervous that this day will run away from me, and I won’t write anything more than this meta-reflection in our NaNoWriMo document. I have a cocktail event after work tonight, and then a trivia night this evening with friends. I’m going to aim to write a few thoughts down at lunch, and leave my phone as the late-evening commute-home last-minute solution.

As of 3pm: I wrote 747 words over lunch. Sat outside in the sunshine, reflected on a conversation I had with my brother-in-law yesterday about why we like working with/for certain kinds of people. Started loosely discussing workplace strengths. I’m realising how many insights live in these casual conversations, just waiting to be mined, reflected on, and expanded upon. Jumping-off points, for sure.

By later in the evening, I ended up writing 1626 words in total! I think I’m getting the hang of this getting-reflections-down-wherever-and-whenever-they-happen thing.

Day 2 – Work Journals

Wednesday, 2nd November 2016

Day 2:

I wrote 250 words responding to a Prince Ea video about “Do you live to work, or work to live?” Made me think: if I can articulate the premise of my book concisely and clearly enough, maybe I should write to Prince Ea via his business site and ask if I can interview him.

(One of my writing partners responded: I’m all for getting it articulated well, but if it’s not, don’t let that stop you from contacting him!”)

November is for writing: NaNoWriMo

Tuesday, 1st November

Last year, I finally found a copy of John Steinbeck’s writing journals during The Grapes of Wrath. It’s a book called “Working Days.” I was in Davis, California at a used bookstore when I finally found it, just sitting innocuously on the shelves — seemingly unaware I had been searching for a way to buy it for months.

Oh, the complex nature of relatively obscure books and international shipping fees.

Working Days is a complex journal of how the days passed for Steinbeck while he wrote one of the most influential books of his repertoire. Of course, there’s no way he could have known that at the time, but I find it incredibly therapeutic to see what he was thinking of when he sat down to write. Most days, he was thinking of everything but writing. Most days, he was focused mainly on how to get himself to show up.

Quite a few of the entries are unfinished, like he lost his train of thought in the middle of the actions of the day.

For the next month, while doing National Novel Writing Month (or, NaNoWriMo for short), I’m going to share my Working Days. My daily reflections. Not the writing, just the observer of the work.

First, here’s my favourite Steinbeck entry. Then, away we go!

June 8 [1938] – 10:45 [Wednesday]

This is the longest diary I have ever kept. Not a diary of course but an attempt to map the actual working days and hours of a novel. If a day is skipped it will show glaringly on this record and there will be some reason given for the slip. Yesterday the general and now back to the particular. I find I am not satisfied with the numbering of these chapters. It may be that they will simply be numbered with large numerals for the general and small for the particular. The reason is that I want the reader to be able to keep them separate in his mind. Today Joad and Casy come home and find the house deserted. They meet Muley Graves and he tells them where Joad’s parents are. They sleep in Muley’s deserted house. Background for the moving comes in here. This is followed by the general [Ed. — Chapter 7] of the old cars, of the equipment, of the moving technique, and then the Joad family enters and the book really gets moving. Well, that’s done but only a little into this chapter. I think maybe two or three more days on this chapter [Ed. — Chapter 6] I think. And tomorrow will be

– from Working Days by John Steinbeck


What does success look like for NaNoWriMo?

  • I have no daily minimum word count. Well, I guess I do. Let’s say a 10-word daily minimum word count. 
  • November seems like a contemplative month ahead:
  • I’m travelling a lot, which brings out a lot of thoughts
  • I’ve got a new iPad, so I can write on the go
  • Systems and routines help to ground me, so I’m looking forward to being consistent in writing daily
  • I’m meeting a lot of new, amazing people, and having a lot of deep discussions. Which feels like fuel for the writing fire.
  • I have 3-4 editorial deadlines coming up, and all of the topics are applicable to my book.
  • I want to solidify my daily writing routine
  • I want to get some really interesting thoughts down on paper, and get some research done, before I leave for the writing retreat in Thailand

Day 1

Wrote 1393 words for an article for Zendesk about the value of showing up to work as a full human being. What does it look like? What are the symptoms and negative effects of continued segmentation of our lives/interests/passions?

Debut poetry collection: What Slight Gaps Remain

What Slight Gaps Remain by Emma Sedlak

What Slight Gaps Remain by Emma Sedlak


Monday, 24th October 2016

I’m excited to announce that my poetry collection What Slight Gaps Remain has been published by Blue Hour Press!

The collection is a combination of poems selected from my PhD portfolio (titled The Origin Stories), poems from my Masters’ degree collection (titled Of Water and Light), and new writing.

What Slight Gaps Remain by Emma Sedlak

This is a real book. How crazy is that?

I haven’t gotten my hands on a physical copy yet, but my editor sent me photos. I’m taking them as real-life evidence that my words tangibly exist, sewn together and bound, in the world. I’ll pick up a bulk-order during my upcoming trip to San Francisco to bring back to Sydney. Until then, the book is still only present on my computer screen.

It’s a strange feeling to know this can exist on bookshelves. I’m not unfamiliar with my words being read (30 poems from this collection have been previously published online and in literary magazines). But I send them off into the world, they get adopted (or returned, returned, returned, and eventually adopted), and when they’ve found their new forever home, I let them be. I don’t really return to them, unless to refer someone to a line or snippet that might help to describe an experience they’re going through.

This is a collection. Here, things are collected and kept. That feels so different.

I was very lucky to have three wonderful early reviewers, consisting of Alan Gillis, Jane McKie, and Kirsten Kaschock. Enjoy their reviews below, and pick up a copy. (Expert tip: reading poetry in public is making a comeback. I’m sure of it.)


Reviews of What Slight Gaps Remain:

Alan Gillis, author of “Scapegoat” and “Here Comes the Night”:

“These are poems that address the heart of the matter – what it means to live, to love, to want to do good; and which also probe beyond the periphery of things and of thoughts. With wit, intelligence and dazzling linguistic prowess, this book examines what we hold before us, and what slips between the gaps. Scrutinizing places and relationships, memories and happenings, fictions and myths, the collection is marked by its copiousness and range. From high lyricism to chatty intimacy, objective imagism to fluid yet surreal streams of consciousness, Sedlak’s curiosity and talent recognise few limits. This is a trailblazing first collection.”



Kirsten Kaschock, author of “Sleight” and “The Dottery”:

“Emma Sedlak’s debut book of poetry is a hymnal to the impossible work in front of us—to be open to this world and to one another while reaching for something beyond it. Throughout this remarkable collection, she moves in and out of a broken story—Icarus’—and rewrites the wound, stitching with words a path towards wholeness. Sea and stars always unmoor us, but in Sedlak’s poems, they also provide the expanse that, as Rilke writes, allows us “each to see the other whole against the sky.” The poet trusts readers to lay their lives upon this map in palimpsest, to seek, among strands of love and pain, the golden thread—a middle way. This book vibrates. Its resonance thrums deep because Sedlak moves forward “… [as] though any of these difficulties could be told.” This is the good work, the core work, the necessary work. Enter into it alongside of her. As you dip in and out of its depths—note how the sun warms your shoulder-blades, how the wind sustains you.”



Jane McKie, author of “When the Sun Turns Green”:

“What Slight Gaps Remain, Emma Sedlak’s debut collection feels imbued with earth and air: it skillfully marries a humane concern with the fabric of our lives with a questing and philosophical acuity. Icarus is here, testing the elements, but work is here too in a pervasive lyric attention to community and ordinary labour that feels suffused with love. Like the foetus visible through the skin of a mother’s stomach that she describes, delightfully, as a ‘lima bean’ steadily taking form, the light in this collection unfolds in the mind long after setting it down.”



Shipping costs within the US will be $5, and international shipping is $12. For orders within Australia, please email