In 2019, the Centre for Stories selected a number of emerging writers to be involved in a 12-month mentoring program. The Inclusion Matters Mentoring Program, funded by the Copyright Agency and the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, allows writers to improve their craft, to work in a supportive community, and to be paired with a well-established mentor. Both programs are designed for people living in Western Australia who identify as culturally and linguistically diverse.
Maya-Rose is a writer and storyteller. Maya’s involvement with the Centre for Stories first began with her involvement in the Saga Sisterhood project where she developed a story called ‘Eat Pray Work‘. Today, she is embarking on a journey with writing expert Rosemary Sayer to refine her craft as a writer and shed feelings of self-doubt and “internal cringe”. Ge to know Maya-Rose below.
Please introduce yourself.
My name is Maya-Rose, I grew up in Bunbury, and was born in Northern Ireland to Irish and Indian parents. When I left high school I wanted to become a writer but I decided that I needed to learn about the world so I studied social sciences with a couple of creative writing and journalism units. After some time away being with both sides of the family in the UK, and having gone through some tough times, I figured I wanted to help people and so studied a Social Wcork Masters. Now, as a 30 year old, I’m finally re-cultivating that part of me that is a writer-at-heart.
What have you been working on during the Mentoring Program?
I’ve been working on a series of personal essays covering themes of connection, alienation, and family. I’ve toyed with the idea of writing a memoir during the mentorship, and have also showed my mentor some fiction work that I’ve done, but ultimately I’ve decided to stick with the personal essays which are a short form way of saying something personally meaningful to an audience.
What has it been like working with your mentor, Rosemary Sayer?
My mentor, Rosemary, has been incredible in many ways, firstly in helping me see that facing the blank page and then also looking over what I have written is always going to be stressful and provoke self doubt. I somehow thought that published writers who have had long and successful careers don’t suffer this affliction. Not the case! Carrying on despite what I call the “internal cringe” is really important for me to produce work.
Rosemary has also been great at providing feedback about my strengths as a writer. She has encouraged me to play to these strengths and helped me to recognise my writer’s voice (which I didn’t know I had).
Just generally, I’ve enjoyed spending time with Rosemary—her warmth and kindness have bolstered my efforts to forge a path as a writer.
Has your writing style, practice, or vocation changed since the beginning of your Mentorship?
I’ve loosened up a lot since the beginning of the mentorship. I try not to be so precious about the things I write. My writing has stayed the same in its style, as I think I have a distinct voice that comes through naturally. But in my practice, I try and do journalling or “morning pages” most days of the week. I’m still struggling with the internal cringe but with the help of my mentor, that’s easing up and I’m starting to enjoy the process rather than find it stressful.
When you’re not writing, what are you doing?
Swimming in the Indian Ocean, deep and meaningfuls with friends, watching minimalism videos on Youtube and spending time with my 92 year old grandma!
What have you been doing to get involved with the writing community?
I’ve been involved with some theatre projects in 2019 and early this year and am loving the theatre as a place where my writing has potential to become dynamic. I’ve recently been accepted into Deadline Gang through The Blue Room Theatre and Rorschach Beast where I’ll be writing a full length stage play with a group of five other writers over 12 weeks. I’m really excited about this opportunity!
What are your goals for 2020?
Goals are to complete the Inclusion Matters Mentor Program with four to five personal essays at hand; to continue to write about intercultural connection, alienation, and family life but perhaps in another format—I would love to write something longer; I’d love to read more—many contemporary writers, some more Isabel Allende and would love to read a Dickens novel or two!