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Depth of field photo of a long shelf of library books disappearing into the distance

Dear 16-year-old me: advice from UQ's Associate Professor Kim Wilkins

UQ people
Published 18 Aug, 2020  ·  3 minute read

“If you had the opportunity to write a letter to your sixteen year old self, what would you tell her?”

This is the question we posed to Associate Professor Kim Wilkins.

Find out what she wishes sixteen year old Kim could have known.

Associate Professor Kim Wilkins is successful novelist, as well as a researcher and teacher in the fields of creative writing and publishing at UQ's School of Communication and Arts.

Dear Kim

Boy oh boy, are you going to mess things up. I mean, if you wanted to pass your senior subjects it might have been a good idea to spend more time in class and less time on the jetty smoking with boys… Oh, except for your outstanding result in English, because Wuthering Heights was a fabulous book and, in your typical fashion, if you love something you’ll give it 100% of your easily-bored brain.

But does it really matter how much you mess up senior? No, it doesn’t. You’ll be okay.

After those few years mucking around in rock bands (and yes, you do marry the guitarist in The Vampigs… your kids will be really tall like him), and then those long, unrewarding days working in fast food and then in a government office as a typist (120 words per minute at your peak… that’s something to be proud of), you’ll find your path.

It was there waiting all along.

You love books; you love writing (and you can type really fast). Lean all the way into that and you’ll end up at UQ (I know! With the middle-class kids!) and fall so deeply in love with Old English elegies and Victorian poetry that the words will start spilling out of your head and your fingers and somehow you’ll publish your first novel (witchcraft! reincarnation! rock bands!) in your third year as an undergraduate.

There’s more, so much more. More than I could tell you in this short letter. You’re lucky: you figure out early that life is not a single track safely through the woods; it’s a vast, undulating sea, stretching to the horizon in all directions.

And you are the ship. You are built to leave the harbour and sail to impossible climes, through good weather and bad.

There’s no reward without risk.

Set your sails.


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About Kim

Associate Professor Kim Wilkins from the School of Communication and Arts is the Deputy Associate Dean (Research) for the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

She researches and teaches in the fields of creative writing, publishing and book culture, and is lead Chief Investigator on the ARC Discovery Project 'Genre Worlds: Australian Popular Fiction in the 21st Century'.

She is also the Publishing Director of the small press publisher, Corella Press, an innovative work-integrated learning project in the Master of Writing, Editing, and Publishing.

Kim is a highly successful published novelist, with 30 book-length works of fiction in print, translated into 21 languages.


Portrait of Kim Wilkins
Kim Wilkins
Associate Professor, School of Communication and Arts

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