Hey cHEwY gum gums

I’m writing this from my AirBnB in Adelaide, for my first interstate author visits of 2020. What should have been a busy schedule of schools has been clouded with uncertainty. Yesterday, I found out that the school I was meant to be today have stopped any visitors coming, so they’ve had to postpone my visit. Another school is still considering their position. Meanwhile, there has been one school who has kindly offered to let me present in front of small audience, and stream it to the rest of the grade. Of course, this is if the some-may-say inevitable closure of all schools and unis doesn’t kick in by then.

The Coronavirus response has affected every industry, and it only begun to hit mine as a whole bunch of festivals and conferences were being postponed or cancelled.

So how I do feel?

Kinda bummed out, to be honest. I mean, I get it. If this helps to stop the spread then I’m all for it. Besides, the last thing you want is any anxious vibes when you visit a school. But I’m still feeling devo. I feel for those authors who were supposed to hop on a plane to Gold Coast for Storyfest, one of the biggest and greatest schools-based literary festivals. Hours after I announced my appearance at Sydney Writers Festival, ticket sales were halted as new measures on social gatherings were announced. Last night, they made the decision to cancel the whole thing.

So how does this affect writers like me? Well, when it comes to purely writing books, not much. My original blog post was supposed to be about the joys and pitfalls of working from home (more on that next week I guess haha), because I’ve been doing that for awhile now.

I suppose if you had a book out now, promotion will be a tad tricky with no public appearances like book signings. But the stores are still open, and if you’re fortunate to have a following, then they’ll buy it online.

However, when I tell people that I’m a full-time writer*, there’s an asterisk attached to that tag: I have a secondary source of income that comes from author visits, writing workshops, festival appearances and conferences. I often joke that I’m actually a touring author, I just bring out books so I can keep on going visiting schools…so what happens now?

In the short term, a few cancellations isn’t the end of the world. But as the weeks and months go on, who knows if we’ll truly shake off this coronavirus anytime soon…imagine if Book Week/Season was canned altogether? That is still months away and we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. Even if the schools do want to postpone until a later date, nothing is certain.

Look, I’ll still get moolah from my books. But as many authors and illustrators know out there, it comes in random drips and drops. The school visits allow me to have a steady and regular flow of income.

Yeah, there are alternatives. Skype author sessions and workshops have become viable options. I could be a Youtuber (ha!). But when is all said and done, not every school has the resources to make that happen. And if schools do shut down, having an distant author talk is probably down at the bottom of their lists as they scramble to organise e-learning and remote-lesson plans.

Finally, as you may know, I love being a social butterfly. I love to travel. I love meeting fans and new people alike. Even when you take work-stuff aside, I’m going to miss going to the footy, the Sydney Royal Easter Show, Vivid and yeah even seeing Fast and Furious 9 in the cinemas haha.

Yet, I’ll take this measure seriously, because it could be a lot worse. I’m okay with waiting this one out. I’ll keep on writing at home, working on What About Thao? and some other future projects to keep me busy. We may be isolated, but at least we’re all in it together.

How does everyone else feel? Let me know 🙂


About the author

I'm an author, stand-up comedian and teacher. My books include Thai-riffic!, Con-nerd, Punchlines and The Other Christy. I'm a massive Nintendo fan and love eating burgers. Follow me on Twitter or Instagram @oliverwinfree


  1. Tristan Bancks says:

    17/03/20 @ 9:03 am 

    Hey Oliver

    This captures much of what I’m feeling at the moment. We’re very lucky in that half of what we do involves self-isolation and it’ll mean our books for 2021 will be extraordinary with the six extra drafts they’ll enjoy. But it’s very difficult to get books into readers’ hands without touring, which is a tough one for kids’ literacy and for authors. I think ScoMo’s suggesting people re-skill in other industries, although I’m not sure anyone would want me nursing them. My stitching skills are a little rusty.

    Anyway, onward. Let’s keep pooling ideas on this. My feeling is that Skype talks are so tight now with good web speeds that it’s possible to deliver a talk or workshop that’s pretty much as good as being there. It’s a lucky time in terms of online education and I think this’ll force us to get creative, which is what we do best.


  2. Oliver says:

    17/03/20 @ 10:20 am 

    Thanks for reading and sharing mate, yeah I’m sure the industry and writers community will adapt during these times, we’re quite resilient and I’m impressed with how others are promoting and launching new books via social media in creative ways. I was hoping to see you at the end of this month, but we’ll catch up another time…stay safe TB!

  3. Liz Anelli says:

    17/03/20 @ 8:26 pm 

    Hi Oliver – I was looking forward to you MCing us draw at the SWF Illustrator Battle! I know exactly what you mean with this post. Hoping Tristan’s right and we can be more creative with online workshops. On the plus side I get to have my husband working from home keeping me company for a change while I draw my latest picture books…and now I’ve even got time to write them!

  4. Oliver says:

    18/03/20 @ 9:36 am 

    Thanks LiZ, I hope that we can resume the illustrator battle at a latter date 🙂

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