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Monday musings on Australian literature: Writing WA

April 20, 2020

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?

Dervla McTiernan, The ruin, book coverThe 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.

2019 Highlights

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!

For Readers

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!”

Donna Mazza, Fauna, book coverUnderneath 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?

For Writers

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.

COVID-19

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!

Writers Centres covered to date: the ACT, New South Wales, the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. April 21, 2020 6:37 am

    I probably should take more notice, don’t you think, especially their readers’ page. I (loosely!) follow KSP Writers Centre and Westerly magazine, which at least potentially keeps me up with what’s going on.

    • April 21, 2020 7:19 am

      Probably Bill! Particularly if you are interested in keeping up with WA writers. I learnt some things. But then, it’s impossible to keep up with all the potential sources of information, isn’t it?

  2. April 21, 2020 7:13 am

    Had I known back then .. but back then, what was there to be known ?!
    My publishers certainly didn’t know anything.

    • April 21, 2020 7:21 am

      I think there was probably a lot to be known, M-R – you just needed to know where to go to know it! Like, you know, the unknown unknowns! (I suspect a lot of first time authors wish they knew then what they know now?)

      • April 21, 2020 7:34 am

        Today’s resolution: I SHALL SHUT UP WHINGEING !!!

        • April 21, 2020 8:27 am

          Did anyone say anything?! Haha!

        • Neil@kallaroo permalink
          April 21, 2020 9:47 pm

          Please ditch this resolution. It is bad for your health. There’s nothing quite like a good whinge, and if you whinge just to yourself, by definition it is a bad whinge. A good whinge needs an audience. Of course, there is a quid pro quo. You’ll need to be prepared to listen to other people’s whinges. But this will give you the opportunity to learn how to improve your own material!

        • April 21, 2020 10:15 pm

          Haha, Neil, love it – particularly the last line about other people’s whinges giving you the opportunity to improve your own material.

        • April 22, 2020 12:35 pm

          Heh heh ..
          Thinkin ..

  3. April 21, 2020 6:15 pm

    I get regular newsletters from them, where they introduce what’s new from WA authors… you won’t be surprised to hear that I’ve bought a few books thanks to hearing about them from the newsletter.

    • April 21, 2020 10:14 pm

      Haha, Lisa, no, I wouldn’t be surprised at all. I’m amazed you can keep up with all the newsletters. I receive a lot but I have to admit that I read them randomly.

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