The Writing Life

Information, inspiration and insights into the writing life

It was a Saturday night in Sydney, and twelve of us Asian playwrights were wandering around looking for a place to drink after the Lotus workshops, sponsored by Contemporary Asian Australian Performance and Playwriting Australia. A drunk white man teetered between us. He looked in at one Chinese girl’s face and said, ‘You’re Asian.’ He then looked at the rest of us, ranging from a dark-skinned Singhalese to a pale-skinned Vietnamese to an Indonesian Muslim wearing the veil, and exclaimed, ‘You’re all sorts of Asian!’

I hold my one-year-old daughter in my arms, waiting for her to fall asleep while she suckles at my breast. I wait for her mouth to release and her breathing to settle before I put her in the cot and go downstairs to work on my writing. I feel grateful, at ease.

Stories to escape

Before computers, when we used pens, I had a boil-like bump on my fuck-you finger from pressing the pen too hard. That was even before I wrote my first piece of fiction, a runaway story where I took shelter in a Brotherhood bin.

A photo of Dulcie Stone Writing Award winners Jessica Tomkins (left) and Jennifer Tomkins (right) with Dulcie Stone. Photo: Paul Dunn

Six writers hve been named as the winners of this year’s Dulcie Stone Writing Awards at a recent ceremony at The Wheeler Centre in Melbourne. The awards for writers with intellectual disability are presented by VALiD and Writers Victoria, and in their second year attracted more than sixty written and illustrated stories on the theme ‘Community – Here I Come!’

Judges Paul Dunn from VALiD and Writers Victoria’s Write-ability Project Officer Harriet Gaffney were impressed by the ability of the entries to draw the reader into the authors’ worlds.

The transition from ‘writer’ to ‘author’ is strewn with rejection emails. Being proactive, resilient and willing to learn from your mistakes will serve you well on your path towards publication. A healthy dose of optimism doesn’t hurt either. I have just completed my first career plan at an age when some of my friends are considering retirement.

We are pleased to announce the finalists of our recent Pencilled In Commissions call-out.

Christine Sun with her essay 'On Asian Australian Writers and 'Own Voices''. 

Attendees at Adelaide Tracks

Calling all young storytellers in the Bendigo region! We're delighted to be partnering with our friends at Express Media to bring a travelling pop-up program for young writers to you in August. 

Back in July 2012 a group of disparate strangers gathered at Writers Victoria to start a six-month novel-writing course taught by award-winning author Carrie Tiffany. We were to varying degrees anxious and excited, waiting for the first words from our teacher. Carrie’s unhurried and considered teaching cultivated our skills and knowledge, inspiring us to develop something more meaningful.

As the daughter of a writer, I know all too well what a writing life is like – full of impressive highs and lows, years of determination and grit, the monotony of writing, writing, writing and the constant fear of failure. Readers’ letters inspire joy and make a writer remember why they do this job. Royalty payments! Short-listings! Awards! And then, bad reviews. Goodreads. Slow sales.

I was twelve when I first held in my shaking hands an envelope postmarked from a writing competition I had entered. I can still remember unfolding the letter to see those words I have coveted ever since:

Dear Kate,

Congratulations!