For Creswick-based children's author and teacher Jodi Toering, life in the time of COVID-19 has had its fair share of frustrations.
After the success of her debut book Mallee Sky last year, Ms Toering was on the verge of receiving a second publication off the presses last month.
However, that project, a collaboration with another author, was put on hold as the book world retreated from the long economic shadow of the pandemic.
Ms Toering has found some consolation with the success of a new manuscript, Night Watch, which won first prize in a recent nationwide competition - a result which took her by surprise.
She said she only entered the CYA Conference contest because of the detailed feedback the judges give.
Instead, the hitherto-unpublished story - which features a tawny frogmouth owl as well as a cast of other Australian animals - took first prize in the Primary School Picture Book category.
"I was really shocked to be shortlisted," Ms Toering said. "To actually win it was really phenomenal and gave me a bit of hope."
She said the result would encourage her to send the manuscript - which she described as "fusion" between a spotting book and a bedtime story - off for publication when the book world was on steadier ground.
The new work follows the same broad themes of Australian nature as Ms Toering's first book, which featured the striking illustrations of Sydney-based artist Tannya Harricks.
"Everything I write, I seem to write about landscape, and nature or flora and fauna," she said.
"I've often said to people that I am a bit of a landscape artist but I paint my pictures with words."
You have to be in a really good frame of mind to write and at the moment I think people are concentrating on just getting through these timesJodi Toering, author
The competition success aside, the Grade 1 teacher at Wendouree's Forest Street Primary School has had her work cut out carrying on with any of her writing as she adapted to a new, online schedule.
"I have had to slow down with my writing because, being a teacher and a literacy specialist, it's so much more demanding teaching remotely," she told The Courier.
"It's about three times as much work and it's really tricky.
"You have to be in a really good frame of mind to write and at the moment I think people are concentrating on just getting through these times."
"I have had to put a few things on hold, but that's okay because I know things will open up again."
In the meantime, she said she has been pouring her energy into encouraging her students with their own writing work.
We've got to look for the positives in things - not what we can't do but what we can do, and that's definitely feeding into my teaching at the momentJodi Toering
"Some of the pieces my Grade 1 children are doing would absolutely blow you away. I am teaching remotely every day - we do author masterclasses, which they really love."
"I am actually blown away I can make a difference remotely, I really am.
"We've got to look for the positives in things - not what we can't do but what we can do, and that's definitely feeding into my teaching at the moment."
IN OTHER NEWS
When Mallee Sky was published, she said she had fulfilled the second of her childhood dreams - one being to teach, and another to be a children's author.
Ms Toering has also found some recognition for her singing, another of her long-held ambitions. Last year she performed the national anthem at the Ballarat Gift.
And no matter how successful her own writing may become when the shadow of COVID-19 fades, Ms Toering says she cannot imagine life outside of the classroom - remote or otherwise.
"I think I have found a good balance, and am able to juggle my writing with the teaching," she said.
"Teaching will always be my first love.
"I don't know if I could ever give it up - I am just so passionate about it."
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