Centre for Stories

Meet the Intern – William Huang

"The biggest surprise was finding out how vast the literary ecosystem is, even just digitally. There are a plethora of websites hosting great writing, both in Australia and overseas."

December 21, 2021

We consider ourselves very lucky to collaborate with and work alongside talented and dynamic interns at the Centre for Stories. In 2021 we welcomed several interns through our doors who each, in their own way, made their mark and we, in turn, celebrate them!

William Huang is a writer and aspiring musician living in Boorloo/Perth. He is fascinated by how physical spaces can be conduits for imagination, enjoys the process of creative exploration and is prone to daydreams. On his days off, he enjoys meeting new people and going for walks in places he hasn’t been before.

William interned for Centre for Stories’ digital publication Portside Review. This hands-on editorial internship gives emerging editors like William the chance to really experience what the world of publishing is like in Perth. Read below to find out more about William.

A portrait of William Huang smiling at the camera. He is wearing a funky and bright 80s style button down t shirt

Tell us a bit about yourself! Where have you come from, where are you going, and which people and what experiences have shaped you in between?

Hey, my name’s Will. I was born in a coastal city in China, and moved to Sydney when I was two, although I did most of my growing up in Perth. My extended family is scattered, and I consider myself somewhere between a first and second generation migrant. As a little kid, there was a time when my Mandarin was stronger than my English, but now I find myself wanting to learn Mandarin again, since I only really speak it with my parents and grandparents.

As I was growing up, my parents would often take me for trips to China, and I remember loving the experience of reconnecting with some of my extended family. I think these holidays have made me feel more connected to where I was born, but also introduced a sense of wanderlust. This feeling has only gotten stronger recently.

I think a lot of my current friends have really shaped me, as well as some of my cousins, Chloe and Livia, who live in Sydney. Joining the creative writing club at uni, I met so many hardworking, understanding people. Watching them grow alongside me, I feel that my life has been enriched. The friends that stuck with me from high school have also been important in my life, because we’re friends for a reason.

So what brought you to Portside Review at the Centre for Stories?

I’d been to a few events at the Centre for Stories here and there, and was following them on Instagram when I saw the callout for new editorial interns. Reading some of the pieces, I really felt like Portside had a sense of both contemporary urgency and a distinctive tone. Plus, I’d just graduated, so I felt like I wanted to take my writing/editing further (these were very fused in my mind at the time). Everyone I’ve met at the Centre has been so lovely and genuine that I’ve often found myself coming in more than once a week.

You’ve been coming in weekly to work on many aspects of Portside Review, including editing and copywriting. How have you found it so far? Has anything surprised you?

I’ve found it very enjoyable to be the first pair of eyes on a new work and to pass on feedback to Logan and Robbie. I’m not just saying this because I know Logan will read it, but she really is a fantastic supervisor. I’ve always felt that the work I’ve done is appreciated and that any boundaries between interning and life outside of interning are respected.

The biggest surprise was finding out how vast the literary ecosystem is, even just digitally. There are a plethora of websites hosting great writing, both in Australia and overseas. Reading some of the interviews on Portside, I’ve started to recognise more specifically how everyone gets to where they are, and that’s made it feel more achievable to continue making steps in writing and editing.

We know it’s hard to pick favourites, but what is one of your favourite pieces from Portside Review?

Unabashedly, Catherine Huang’s Altenbraker Straße, which comes out in Issue Four. It’s lucid and honest about the narrator’s time while in Berlin, in a relationship that feels both patiently held together and always on the verge of breaking.

What can readers expect from Issue Four? 

There are a lot of exploratory essays which tie in history, personal identity and family to make sense of who we are in the world. There are also some very earnest pieces about what it looks like to live in different places in the world, such as Indonesia. In general, this Issue feels very warm and introspective.

Like most young people making their way in the world, you’ve got a lot of interesting commitments on your plate. Can you tell us more about your interests outside of Portside Review

I love having a try at many new things, so that’s ended up producing a very eclectic year. I participated in a poetry mentorship program run by Maddie Godfrey, which was spectacular and also opened my eyes up to contemporary poetry. I volunteered with the WA AIDS Council, did a lot of reading and figured out more specifically what I wanted to do now that I was finished at UWA.

Here at the Centre for Stories, we love sharing stories (I know, weird right?). Can you share a brief story about an experience that has stayed with you?

When I studied Events at TAFE, we got to throw our own gig, from planning to the event day. And it was open to the public. I remember the distinct mixture of dread, uncertainty, excitement and hope that accompanied me as the day dawned. As the event was underway, and I started to settle after both friends and total strangers arrived, I was in this heightened state, on alert but enjoying how things came together. At the end, we took a photo and the energy lingered in the room and my body. Especially after the readings and deadlines of uni, it was a novel experience.

What are you reading at the moment? 

Two people have recommended me Normal People. It’s sitting on my desk, and I plan on reading it on the bus home. However, I’ve just gone through an intense phase of reading Ottessa Moshfegh, and plan on reading Han Kang’s The Vegetarian next.

What are you listening to?

I’ve been revisiting Vanishing Twin, who are an international band stylised after Surrealism. A lot of their songs are very uplifting, and have an air of magic and mystery to them. At the moment, my favourite is You are not an island, which is more sombre, but when it’s paired with the animation on Youtube, it feels like you’re wandering through another world.

What’re you looking forward to in the coming months, or in 2022?

Over the summer, I’m working at Fringe Festival, so you might see me there! Next year I’ll also be doing an Honours project at Curtin, centred around Surreal RPGs and experimental writing, which is bound to be lots of fun.

I plan on continuing to get better at piano and getting a bit more into playing the guitar, since I’ve gotten rusty since I stopped taking lessons. Aside from that, language learning and travel feel like an important personal commitment. I love learning languages, and plan on getting a lot better at German, which I did at uni. I’ve also become particularly obsessed with going to Moore River recently.

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