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Journal

Funded by Copyright Agency, Department of Local Government, Sports and Cultural Industries, and our Founders Circle, Journal is an online column hosted on the Centre for Stories’ website showcasing writing by local, national, and international writers in support of the writers’ sector that has been heavily hit by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The column includes stories of creative non-fiction about real personal experiences. Stories of migration, daily life, sexuality, labour, family, and relationships. Journal serves as an immediate response, directly or indirectly, to the pandemic, and will provide a historical snapshot of those responses.

Read Journal here.

'Gingerly, I unclasp the diary and open to the first page. It’s titled: 2nd February 2003. And underneath: Today I had death by chocolate cake.'
'In navigating and surviving dating-app-dates (D.A.D.’s for short), it is entirely vital to have some sort of escape system – although not necessarily one this elaborate...'
"Writers are seekers. We seek out images, new thoughts, adventure, and tales to tell. We look for meaning in all that we see, hear and feel. Gatherers are both seekers and finders."
'If I sound cold, it is because I am. The minute I understood my trauma had currency, you stopped being my mother and started being material. This icy attitude is how I survived.'
'Since we’d left, and during any this visit ‘back home’, I would hear about things like this. It painted the picture of how we needed to be grateful for where we lived now, but also so careful. We didn’t know how quickly things might turn, again.'
'...I have notebooks and diaries dating back to several years crammed with such first drafts. Often these drafts are barely legible. But they’re there, at no risk of being wiped out by a virus. The flow of ink on paper is still an unmatched sensation.'
'Shame is the unwanted legacy I am learning to leave behind. It began with my nose, the nose I inherited from my father, and his mother, and who knows how many mothers and fathers before them.'
'Numbers can't explain willpower or the territorial mothering instinct that ignited the moment I held my son for the first time. My urge to nurture and protect my son continued to grow, and it required an abundance of willpower to set my mothering instincts aside.'
'I say moved, but we never really ‘left’ Hong Kong. My father still works there. My mother and brother live there as well. My sisters and I all have permanent residency. Before COVID-19, I could still safely say that I returned at least three times every year.'
'I painted my portrait. It didn’t look like me. Closer to the assignment’s deadline, I realised that the colour of the paint I was using for my skin wasn’t quite right. The more I worked on my self-portrait, the more unrecognisable I became.'
'But lockdown has caused nature to encroach upon my ordered world. Tendrils have creeped into the cracks. I crave daily walks with the family along the Djarlgarra river and at Piney Lakes Reserve.'
'The driver still furious, was chasing the Audi. I was still clutching onto the steel rod which had helped me unlike my fellow beings. A soundtrack of a war movie was playing in my head.'
'Writing is something we’ve spent years learning and refining, something that has formed our identities and how we understand ourselves; in giving up, we’re quitting before having the kind of success we might feel is warranted.'
'When we spend too much time looking at ourselves in the mirror, women are labelled vain, conceited, self-obsessed, and yet so many of us, if asked, I am sure would say that we don’t like what we see.'
'I spent a lot of my childhood in my own head, desperately protecting my squareness with aggression and confusion, ensuring depression as the world demanded more from me with each passing year.'
'As we have been taught to do by our Nyoongar friends, we pick up a handful of sand and introduce ourselves to the original owners and their ancestors and thank them for having us on the country.'
'The women worked in the homes of the colony while the men ran the illegal bootlegging operations, with full knowledge and tacit encouragement of the police.'
'I grew up hearing what we endured. Stories of a time that now seems oddly familiar with its parallels. Like being confined to your home, fear of the outside world, a threat lurking in the streets.'
'I’m in a nice, safe part of town, and anyway I’m a young man and my prefrontal cortex hasn’t quite finished developing, and I’m fast, so I have absolutely no fear of being assaulted.'
'I’ll share the Dreaming, as it was told to me, so that our babies can be true to Mother, themselves and Community, so that their hearts can be full.'
'I told myself I wasn't moving to leave heartbreak behind, the heartbreak was in the leaving itself.'
'After moving out, I experienced a sensation of fragmentation that I never felt before. An unreal sense of existing in two separate places, of belonging and not belonging wholly to each space.'
'Being raised bilingual, language was one of the main ways I expressed my comedic self; but as I lost my fluency in Spanish, my vibrancy regressed and I became isolated.'
'When a close friend asked me why I still wear my hijab when I no longer believe, I gave him a terse answer every time. “I’m just doing it for my family.”'
'The stories were passed down from one woman to another, and through them, you could still feel the embrace of someone who came before you; from here, from within yourself, the Mother said.'
'I didn’t realise it at the time, but these were more than mere words, they were a window into how she lived in the world.'
'Maybe there’s something in the act of return where you’re not just retracing your steps. You’re folding back on time too.'
'in the sleepless hours i look out my window, wishing on a star nestled between tree branches. i ask the star to heal me. in reply, it blinks out.'
'They had some skills, but mostly they had a good attitude: learners, not experts. Poor rural people do not want city boofheads coming to tell them how to fix their lives up.'
'It was always jarring to come back; the hand-drawn ‘I Can Do It’ poster on the ceiling above the bed betraying the anxieties of the insecure teenage girl that I was claiming not to be anymore.'
'I can close my eyes and hear it still – the patter and rumbling of the dialect in the cosy kitchens of my childhood village.'
'Of course there were hills and valleys, I think I knew, but as I go slower, go over old ground, unexpected views emerge around corners in un-walked lanes, as I ascend slopes barely noticed before.'
'But her passing was so sudden that she couldn’t glimpse her ‘flag of sky’ one last time. When eyes close without warning, who can tell what moment of beauty they freeze on?'
'After nine years of trying to make sense of what plays out at our nation’s borders, I am left with more questions than answers.'
'The problem came at night, usually after I’d spent hours watching or reading the news. In that space – after dark but before bed – silence became a vacuum that worries rushed to fill.'
'I want to write my own love letter to my heritage, to show that First Nations girls, Torres Strait Islander girls and African Australian girls, can be in fiction and have adventures and be very important to Australian literature on a whole.'
'I learnt how to be lonely again, and how to be good company to myself; how to notice, how to try and enjoy every moment of solitude and bustling city noise.'
'How to invite the moment into the span of the sentence, let the light of memory wash over the paper and the elliptical light print its shadow words on the page.'
'I learn early on that no matter where I live, I will always be too far away to make it home.'
'And every time I saw her, her arms parted for an embrace and the corners of her mouth stretched to call me sister.'
'I think of all the people with “weakened immune systems” walking miles and miles to reach home, without food, shelter or water.'
'I think becoming a writer means asking yourself again and again why you write, how to keep coming up with new ideas, how to trust yourself more, and how to keep falling in love with writing.'
'It’s pretty funny, I’ll admit, for there is always something ridiculous about trying to have things in your control, only to stuff it up.'
'Seeing how Australia dealt with this outbreak by putting people before profit made me slowly and gradually fall in love with a country that had started feeling like home.'
'My Vietnamese-speaking capacities recalibrate after a few lines but if she hears my messed-up accent, she’ll assume I’m a whitewashed Asian who doesn’t care about our culture.'
'My imagined child would spout endless questions, half of the words indecipherable, and squeal when we failed to understand.'
'Everyone has a home except migrants, for it is displacement and dislocation. They build a home for everyone but can’t own it.'
'I set about writing what I thought people wanted to read about; a certain ‘Aboriginal’ experience that was expected from an Indigenous author.'
'How are women not revered for this rather than being relegated to the sidelines? How did men manage to turn the creation of life against us? We are life itself.'
'Looking forward to the future can be a worthwhile endeavour. But, I have found that it can turn into an all-consuming practice that can have a debilitating impact.'
'"You remember Bansi Lal Babu?" asks my father, frowning down at me as I sit on the floor of our lounge, back against the wall, ginger cat purring on my lap.'
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