Time for a change from COVID-19 inspired Monday Musings, methinks, so I’m returning to something more straightforward like continuing my little trip around Australia’s writers centres. Today, we travel west to look at Writers WA.
Unfortunately, I cannot find anything on the Writing WA website about its history. I do find it disappointing when organisations don’t provide a basic history of themselves on their sites. I did, though, find under Some Highlights from 2019 a reference to a “new brand identity”. How much change did this involve? A name change like several other writers centres have done in the last few years?
The Writing WA About page is brief, starting very nicely with an Acknowledgement of Country, followed by a quote by the successful author Dearbhla (Dervla) McTiernan in support of the Centre. This is followed by a vision or mission statement, though it’s not labelled as such:
Writing WA is working between the lines and behind the scenes to build a state of opportunity in Western Australia for writers, publishers and other practitioners in the writing sector – not just for the benefit of practitioners themselves, but for the immense social value that great writing brings to individuals and communities.
It’s a lovely aspiration, but not exactly punchy. The About Page’s banner is punchier with its “We’re working to build a state of opportunity”. However, this could be pretty much any organisation?
Oh dear, I’m sounding a bit critical, and this is not the aim of my writers centre series at all, so let’s move on … because, despite what I’ve said, the site is clean, clear and easy to navigate.
I enjoyed reading about the centre’s highlights for last year, which included:
- launching two writers festivals, both (sensibly) in partnership with other organisations: Confluence Festival (Mandurah), partnering with the producers of the Jaipur Literature Festival, and Quantum Words Perth, partnering with Writing NSW.
- publication of an anthology of short stories from Singapore and Australia, In this desert, there were seeds. Conceived and funding by Writing WA, it’s the result of an international co-publication between Margaret River Press and Ethos Books.
For Readers and Writers
A lovely clear thing about the website is the way it distinguishes between services for Readers and for Writers. If you know which one you are you can find what you want pretty quickly!
The banner at the top of this page is, appropriately, “We love to read local”. Their main service here is to support book clubs. They offer a free monthly Love to Read Local Book Club e-newsletter that people can subscribe to. Each issue contains “detailed information about our selected ‘Book of the Month’ with accompanying notes to prompt discussion in your group!”
Underneath this is the current Book of the Month, with a link to more information suited to reading groups, complete with discussion questions and “if you like this book…” suggestions. Check out the info for the March book, Donna Mazza’s Fauna, if you are interested.
Following the book of the month are a number of “What we are reading” books, with links to brief reviews. Below these is a “more book reviews” link which brings up the first of many pages of books reviewed. There is a search box in the side-bar and a broad genre list (biography, children’s, crime, etc) that will help those with specific interests. I wonder how many readers use this resource?
The resources for writers are divided into five areas:
- Find your people: this helps writers find writing groups and workshops (though it doesn’t actually list workshops being offered)
- About publishing: explains in simple, straightforward language, the main publishing options available to writers.
- Resources for writers: the say, here, that “Great books are the product of successful collaborations at every stage of the process, requiring effort and expertise from the writer, the editor, the publisher, the book designer, the printer and, eventually, the bookseller and librarian.” This section contains commissioned articles helping writers understand these. Clicking on I want to know about competitions, awards and other professional opportunities will take writers to the Noticeboad, which is also visible on the Home page. Here is where you find the guts of the Centre’s programs – the workshops, masterclasses and other events (most of which, if you look now, are of course cancelled due to COVID-19 – but they look varied and interesing)
- Other resources for writers: a list of links to all sorts of relevant organisations including other writers centres; organisations providing say, legal or copyright information; and organisations supporting Indigenous and CALD writers
- Rates of pay: a general statement about advocacy on payment for writers.
Not surprisingly – but pleasingly given not all organisations are doing this – the site has a tab on the Home Page for COVID-19 information. Clicking here will take members (and others) to a wealth of information including government policy, ways to keep working and reaching readers, and ways to stay healthy. Really nice to see.
And that’s about it for Writing WA. It’s probably not the best time to highlight an organisation in terms of showing off what it does, but the link is now here for anyone to follow up whenever they like!