Penning today’s story has been a little more anxiety-inducing than most. Imagine a trek across town into the den of a kinda-competitor… to interview an ace interviewer, and then pen a story about that same wunderkind storyteller.
The brilliance of Mia Timpano, assistant editor and online editor at frankie press, does reach intimidating heights. But, she’s also as welcoming and easy to be around as someone you’d, say, have a beer with at a festival!
In her current role since May 2016, Mia’s career path is a lesson in pursuing your passion with grit and genuine dedication. Freelance writing since finishing high school, she started out submitting stories to street press and continued to write while she undertook a BA, focusing on French and Linguistics at Latrobe University, as well as studied Sound Engineering at North Melbourne Institute of TAFE. As Mia’s trajectory highlights, the pitches and submissions do all add up, plus volunteered hours grant you all kinds of opportunities and fulfillment.
While you’ve likely witnessed Mia’s way with words on many a page/screen, read on as she finishes some sentences off for us below!
The most important verb in the get-your-dream-job lexicon is…
Could I please trade my verb in for two nouns? I believe in patience and courage.
Patience, as in, not giving up when it gets hard. Because it often does get hard to do your job, even when you are successful at it. But ultimately, the path before you is unknown, so just keep going. With courage, I’m talking about sticking up for your ideas.
With these traits combined, you become not only awesomely powerful, but a better person and true to yourself.
I landed this job by…
…writing for anyone who’d publish me since I was 18; writing regularly for frankie since I was 22; then having a beer with our Editor-in-Chief, Jo Walker, at the Rolling Thunder metal festival in Coburg in 2016. That beer was crucial.
Jo and I have had a long-standing friendship. At this festival, she mentioned that Sophie was moving from Assistant Editor to Editor. I asked, while casually picking at the grass, ‘So who’s your new Assistant Editor?’ She said she didn’t know, and was surprised when I said I’d be interested (read: intergalactically excited) to take on the role.
Interestingly, she assumed it wouldn’t be creative enough for me, as she knows I also write fiction in my spare time. In fact, the role is abundantly creative, and feeds my other creative outlets – so, I’m not saying Jo was wrong, but… actually, no, that’s exactly what I’m saying. Sorry, Jo!
There was a lot of happenstance involved. But before that, for the most part, I’d been a freelance writer. My clients have ranged from a soft toy company in Singapore to The Guardian. I’ve also taught French; been an artist’s model; and, if you live in Melbourne’s inner north, I’ve probably served you a coffee, while pretending to care deeply and utterly about everything you have to say.
A typical day for me involves…
I work five days per week, and it’s pretty much nine-to-five, but sometimes other things can pop up at strange times, like interviews for example.
Depending on what phase of mag cycle we’re in, my focus will be: researching story ideas; interviewing people; writing stories; agonising that I’ve shared too much of my inner life with the readers (again); realising that the readers always appreciate when I’m honest, so I don’t have to stress as much as I do, and that worrying in that way is actually a form of self-indulgence (I think); or workshopping puns with Sophie. At any given time, I’m also creating and commissioning all our online content, which is two articles per day.
And, a typical day for me when we are working on a project involves… Projects – like the frankie podcast series I recently produced, or our new coffee table book, Look What We Made – happen alongside all my other work. My ability to craft stories while cooking up endless creative ideas and managing countless other miscellaneous tasks has improved exponentially since working here. I wish there was a Masterchef equivalent reality program for editors. I reckon I’d make the top 12, for sure (and probably be cast as the “eccentric one” on account of my hair and penchant for metal music).
The most rewarding part of my job is…
…telling great stories. Frankie and Smith Journal (Frankie’s brother publication) are among the best publications in the world in this regard – not to mention darn nice to look at and hold.
On the other hand, the most challenging aspect is…
Staying on top of my inbox. The volume of unsolicited emails I receive is biblical.
I think you need to feel ok when you don’t get to inbox zero. Remind yourself that everything hasn’t exploded and that it’s ok to walk away. This is important internal work that we must all do. I’m not at a point where I can offer strategies. I keep trying new ones and they keep falling by the wayside!
my ideal workplace is…
…this, but more metal.
The culture at frankie is collaborative and thoughtful. We discuss every creative decision, which sometimes feels like it’s slowing the process down, but on the other hand, it means we consider everything deeply. The result is a better product, higher quality and, for me personally, a level of excellence in my work that I’m extremely proud of.
I’m also the editor of Triple R’s print magazine, and I fill in on the show Respect The Rock over the summer and any holidays, as well as present metal specials every couple of months. These are very specialised, so it is an opportunity for me to pursue a very specific interest (like Post Soviet Post Metal). Heavy music is a big passion for me, so it is good to have that outlet.
A couple of bands to check out if you’re curious: Zeal and Ardor (one-man Black Metal crossed with American Spirtuals, a very curious historical project) and Meshuggah (a real classic Djent band, technical math metal, very experimental and intense – I really enjoy that for relaxing, for me it has a calming effect).
On Job Day at school, I dressed up as…
…a journalist. I actually decided to start a publishing empire at seven. I’m well on my way.
The best piece of advice I’ve received is…
In the frankie podcast series, Marc Fennell passed on a piece of advice that Andrew Denton gave him: the best opportunity is the one that’s right in front of you – which means that you shouldn’t go dreaming of the jobs you don’t have. Nail the one that you do have, and people will notice.
From what I’ve learned as a freelance writer, I encourage people to just go for it and don’t stress about it. If you’re writing something that is good and relevant for a publication, then they’ll be interested.
I think people stress unnecessarily about their work being perfect. It’s never going to be perfect, it just has to do the job. And if you can do the job, they’ll love you!
…listening to metal and hardcore.
Over the years, frankie has…
…become more multi-platform. We produce podcasts, videos… But we’re also producing world-class print magazines. And beautiful books. Which is the best of everything, really.
In the next five years, I’ll be…
It’s very hard to be specific because I think this industry is changing pretty radically pretty quickly. So if I was to set my sights on a particular goal, that place might have transformed in that time. I think it is key to be adaptable and flexible. Even in terms of the medium itself.
I’d like to see where the best stories are being made. I’ll be there. Making them.
Keep your eyes out for Mia Timpano’s debut novel, a love story set in Melbourne (she’s currently writing her second draft). While you wait, you can read her work at Miatimpano.com and frankie.com.au as well as in the print mag, and in frankie press’ new book Look What We Made.