TUMBY BAY - I like to write. I don’t really know why. Sometimes it’s easier to write than talk. Perhaps it’s because I find writing is a way of mustering and sorting my ideas. Maybe it’s just a way of blowing off steam. Who knows?
I’m nosey and I’ve got a wide range of interests and I write about most of them. I published my first piece in 1970 and haven’t stopped since.
What continues to surprise me is that, despite the demise of many traditional outlets like magazines and journals, I can still find people willing to publish what I write.
These days I like to write books. Writing books, both fiction and non-fiction, is an amazingly leisurely way to explore ideas.
Lately, the emergence of print-on-demand has meant that if I can’t find a publisher I can do it myself. That’s a wonderful freedom.
I don’t get many readers in Australia but do reasonably well in the USA and Europe. I can’t explain that either.
One of my principal interests is Papua New Guinea. This is because it has occupied a big chunk of my life. It helps a lot that it is a captivating place with a fascinating people.
Writing about Papua New Guinea is a little different to writing about my other interests. This is because it is essentially a two-way street. It is a two-way street mainly because of PNG Attitude.
PNG Attitude is more than just writing. Writing for PNG Attitude is actually like engaging in a conversation.
I don’t know whether Keith intended it to be so or whether it simply evolved that way. I suspect it is a combination of both.
If you write for PNG Attitude you are liable to get extensive responses in the Comments section. Sometimes what you write will attract article-length rejoinders, themselves worthy of considered responses. Some topics can extend for days and weeks. Some even find reactions years later.
I can write an article and then engage in the comments process and end up with a contrary view to the one I originally presented. That’s a liberating experience.
I haven’t seen many other places where this happens, either in digital or traditional media.
In most digital media, responses to essays and articles are usually short and often vituperative. Playing the man and not the ball is common. Keith will have none of that. Neither will he allow the sort of profanities common to social media to intrude unless they possess some literary merit.
Very few topics are disallowed. As long as they have some relevance to Papua New Guinea, the editor will entertain them.
This is something you don’t see in other media outlets. Generally they only have a limited range of interests and subjects they will publish.
Keith is left-leaning but he doesn’t discriminate against opposite views.
I like to use this freedom to occasionally present provocative and unorthodox ideas. It is a way of laying a trap to elicit responses that would otherwise remain hidden but which I think need exposure.
Keith goes along with this because he knows what I am up to and is also probably interested in the responses. It is a great way to generate debate on important issues.
The multiplicity of ideas and topics on PNG Attitude also provides other opportunities. One of these is the recording and sharing of Australian and Papua New Guinean history, both as it has been and as it is happening.
If you flick through the PNG Attitude archives you’ll come across a great deal of history. I can’t think of anywhere else where such a treasure trove exists.
It has created an abiding interest among many Papua New Guinean readers. I sometimes find it remarkable that younger Papua New Guineans have never been exposed to the history of their country and are ignorant of it.
Sometimes PNG Attitude reports history as it is being made. Just like it attracts writers like me, it attracts writers, academics, journalists and first-hand participants from Australia and Papua New Guinea who are much more erudite, informed and expert who can shed light on events as they occur.
Another major contribution of PNG Attitude is the publication of Papua New Guinean writers who would otherwise have no outlet for their work.
This process also gives outsiders a great view of what people in Papua New Guinea are thinking. If it wasn’t for PNG Attitude where else could you consistently read work by Papua New Guinean writers?
PNG Attitude has ‘discovered’ a remarkable number of talented writers from Papua New Guinea. A few of them have become legends in their own right.
I was reminded of this power when Keith recently published some excerpts from a soon-to-be published high school anthology from Bougainville. The response of those students seeing their work on PNG Attitude was heartening. Maybe one or two of them will emerge as great writers later on. Who can tell?
I could go on and on but if you are a writer who needs an outlet you should consider PNG Attitude. I’m sure Keith will accommodate you and it’s a great way to hone your skills.