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29 September, 2020
Welcome to the Write-ability newsletter for September! We have a lot of updates and writing for you this edition – news about our new city-based program Storm the City, new writing from the Stories from Home project, updates on published writing by Write-ability alumni, and information about using your NDIS package for our writing programs.

You can navigate the content of this newsletter from the following table of contents:

Storming the City

Writers Victoria are delighted to announce our new city-based program for writers with disability which will run in the City of Melbourne in 2021-22. Storming the City will build on our trail-blazing Write-ability Goes Regional and Online program and aims to return Write-ability to its city-based roots, encouraging the next generation of metropolitan-based writers with disability. The program will provide professional development, commissioning opportunities and new writing groups for writers with disability.

Stories from Home

Writers with disability are continuing to write their way through the pandemic through our collaboration with Valid. You can find selected writing from our August call-out here. And you can read Laura Pettenuzzo’s beautiful entries reflecting on four days of window-gazing here.

Work With Us

The Writers Victoria programming team has openings for two Online Learning Administrators to help with our expanding, exciting digital program. As these are casual and mainly online positions, they may suit people with disabilities, people with caring responsibilities, and/or people in rural and regional areas. Applications are due 9am Monday 5 October. For more information, and to apply, click here.

The Victorian Writer

Writers Victoria welcomes pitches and submissions to our in-house print magazine ‘The Victorian Writer.’ Themes for our next two issues are ‘Recovery’ due 26 October and ‘Wordsmith’ (due date to be confirmed). Find out how to submit here.

Writers at Work

Congratulations to Write-ability alumni Maribel Steel and Alex Creece for recent publications. Alex published this article on Eureka Street, reflecting on the way autistic people are represented on the ABC reality show Love on the Spectrum. And Maribel’s audiobook, Blindness for Beginners has been extracted on the UK podcast Read On -The Audiobook Show. You can hear Maribel’s extract at 0:34:28.

Jessica Knight is a Melbourne-based writer and performer who was awarded a Write-ability Fellowship in 2016. We are delighted to share Jess’s evocative dissection of teenage friendship, Bjork and Human Behaviour, here.

Gail M Shell is a Geelong writer and 2015 Write-ability Fellow. This month she writes for us about her own ‘new normal’ experience. More time at home sees her reflecting on some of the simple pleasures of her life:
Covid-19, Coronavirus, Lock-down…

They are all new words that will leave indelible scars in our memories. When I thought of things to do at home a ‘natural’ flew to the top of my list. I am a self-confessed cupboard sorter; someone who will search for an area that is perfect for a quick attack, after which nothing or nobody will dare to invade.

This fetish has been part of me all my life. When I was a child it was important to me to place stuffed animals neatly in one row, and dolls in another. I didn’t change even when I was a teenager, living at home with my parents and socialising at night. Now, after having my own sons at home, I can sympathise with my father when in desperation he asked one morning, ‘When you get home do you have to put absolutely everything back into all the correct drawers or onto those rattly coat hangers in the wardrobe that gets opened and shut a million times?’

Not much later I commenced my new job after finishing school and my true self came to light. Fresh at the desk, I found it impossible to tolerate a system that had been in existence in this office for years. I saw flaws and was forced to question how many TV receivers had been delivered to homes for trial (that was the sort of thing that happened those days) and had never been invoiced or paid for. My boss was impressed with my acuity (just love that word) after I discovered more than one TV had remained in a home ‘on trial’ for years. He took me, still sixteen or seventeen, to other branches of the company where I installed, taught, or lectured endlessly, the advantages of my system. My chances of recovery from extreme embarrassment would have been slim if I had heard the names I must have been called by disgruntled staff.

It had to happen. There remained one branch that had not received my assistance and the situation was fraught with complications. It was a further distance away and it would necessitate an overnight stay. My boss rang my father to ask, ‘Could I please take ‘clever clogs’ with me and stay overnight?’ The answer was a quick ‘no’. I did not argue, but quietly thought the decision to be a little unreasonable. 

Many, many years later when on holiday with my husband and three very young and active sons we ran into - these words are only ‘literal’ of course - now where was I up to? - that’s right – we ran into my once boss who kept laughing. He saw the confused look on my face and explained. ‘It’s just that I never thought you could possibly have ‘normal’ children - and not a serial number in sight.’          

That’s enough of all that, there remains a task I am yet to complete. I have finished with cupboards and drawers, and just for the moment I am getting a cup of tea for my husband to help him settle. I have assured him I will return to the task in the backyard soon. But, how could I have possibly known? Now it’s raining and everything I dragged out of the garden shed is sadly wet. Nothing to do but to wait I suppose.  

My husband is so lucky that I keep everything in such wonderful order.

Gail M Shell

Other News

The National Awards for Disability Leadership 2020
Nominations are now open for The National Awards for Disability Leadership 2020.
In 2020, The Disability Leadership Institute is acknowledging the work undertaken to support our community through the pandemic, bushfires and other major disasters. There are seven categories, reflecting what is important to disabled people. Nominations close at midday on Friday 16 October. Find out more here.
Hachette Australia Paid Internship
Hachette Australia are offering a Paid Internship Program this summer, and applications are welcome. The program provides both a broad understanding of the trade publishing business and a deep dive into how the various departments within a commercial publishing house work together. No formal qualifications are required. Applications close Wednesday 30 September. Learn more here.
Arts & Disability Forum
Singapore’s Arts & Disability Forum 2020, goes online 7-9 October this year, with speakers from Australia, India, Malaysia, Singapore and the United Kingdom sharing their diverse experiences and best practices. Arts Access Victoria CEO, Caroline Bowditch, will be speaking on Day 2 and leading a workshop on Day 3. Check out the program and register here.

NDIS

If you are an NDIS participant, and your funds are self- or plan-managed, you may wish to use your package to support your writing goals, which could include covering the cost of membership to Writers Victoria, mentorships, assessments or writing workshops. Writers who receive an aged care package may also find they can make use of their funding to pay for membership, attend online workshops or support their writing project.
For more information, contact Program Manager Lyndel Caffrey at writeability@writersvictoria.org.au or call 0422 647 725.
Lyndel works Mondays to Wednesdays. Due to COVID-19, Writers Victoria staff are working remotely and flexibly, and may not respond as quickly as usual.
"Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer."—Barbara Kingsolver
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Writers Victoria · Level 3, The Wheeler Centre · 176 Little Lonsdale Street · Melbourne, Vic 3000 · USA