The Writing Life

Information, inspiration and insights into the writing life

When asked about their thoughts on Eddie McGuire’s comments last year about Adam Goodes, the most frequent response I received from my Aboriginal friends was: “Well, you’ve got to laugh”. To an outsider, this might be interpreted as simply laughing the incident off – but there is something very serious about laughing in this context.

What was your training for writing comedy? How did you get started, and how did you get your first big break?

Well, this is embarrassing. My comedy writing training all came from using Twitter. I’ve written nearly 15,000 jokes and observations on it since I started my account five years ago. Though, I’m pretty sure that’s how Mark Twain started too.

I view social media in the same way I view flossing my teeth; I understand the benefits but most of the time I can’t be stuffed. I regard online crowdfunding with even less reverence. In fact, I can often be found screaming at my computer screen, “I just don’t think a Veronica Mars movie needs to be made!” or “I’m not interested in funding your online homeopathic/dog hair reading business! You still owe me money from Christmas!” But last year one of my internet-based dreams came true.

I’ve been wearing my actor hat of late, having spent the past few weeks rehearsing a play. In keeping with an almost accidental trend in my career, it’s a comedy. And it’s my favourite kind: lots of laughs served with a generous dollop of heart.

When I released my first book, ‘The Floatation Tank’ in 2007, I thought I’d send it to some of my favourite writers. I can’t say that first effort was art; it meandered for half a book before it hit its straps and is – if anything – a bit of fun involving cults, nympho­maniacs, the media and (of course) the Collingwood Football Club.

Of the writers I know, few make a living from their work – or not much of one. No holiday pay. No super. Precious little savings. No shouting the bar at Christmas. They write to be published, but it rarely happens. They write to assume their modest place in the palace of arts and letters, but the doors are often closed or no one answers when they knock.

 “Where you from?” In the 16 years that I’ve been writing for publication I have had the opportunity to work with various editors. When I embarked on co-editing the anthology ‘Coming of Age: Growing up Muslim in Australia’, I understood the process of editing a book, but I didn’t realise the way it would transform my view of the publishing industry. I would soon find out that there is a reason for the saying, Wait until you walk in someone else’s shoes.

headshot of Mohamed Abbas Omar

Mohamed Abbas Omar from Somalia, writes about the migrant experience.

headshot of Fatema Ahmed

I’m writing about diaspora, because I’ve lived in different places, in Bangladesh, Kuwait, India, Burma and now here in Australia, and because of that I don’t feel like I belong in any one particular place anymore. So I don’t feel all that Bangladeshi, nor do I feel all that Arabic, or Indian or whatever. I don’t feel like I belong to a particular place anymore, because I’ve lived in so many different places.

headshot of Heidi Everett

Heidi Everett was one of five writers with disability who received an inaugural Writeability Fellowship in 2013.