Heartlines

Camila Egusquiza

"Moving to Australia has inspired me a lot to continue writing. I’ve come to realise how much representation is still needed in Western culture, how much suffering and injustices continue to be unknown by the world, and also how hard it is for many Peruvians (or Latinx) to find a place where they can talk freely about their culture and struggles."

Heartlines explores what it means to write – from the heart and soul – and where that writing takes us. Every writers’ journey is different, so we invite you to take a moment to read, pause and reflect on what it means to shape stories for the page.

Camila Egusquiza is a writer and aspiring journalist. Her work dives deep into postcolonialism, the migration experience, and reconnecting to culture. Her work has appeared in The Collective Magazine, Pelican Magazine, and Amnesty International UWA’s periodical. Camila previously interned for PEN Perth, housed at Centre for Stories, and now works for Pelican Magazine and a co-editor. Get to know more about Camila, her experience hot desking at Centre for Stories, and her inspiration for writing below.A portrait of Camila standing in front of a refletive window. She's looking directly at the camera with a calm expression.

Centre for Stories: We know you as Camila the writer, but when you’re not writing, what are you doing?

Camila Egusquiza: I do quite a few things outside of writing. I am in my third year at UWA completing my Bachelor of Arts in Politics and Communications. This year I have also taken the role of co-editor for Pelican Magazine, which has allowed me to gain more experience in the field I want to work in. I am also a big film and musical theatre kid so you might find me quite often watching a movie or belting out to the soundtracks of my favourite musicals. Another fun fact about me is that I love reading romance novels to unwind.

CFS: What are you currently reading and why? What drew your attention to it?

CE: Surprisingly, right now, I am not reading a romance novel (well… kind of). I am re-reading my favourite book of all time, which I read at least once a year. The book is called Podemos ser Héroes by Martín Roldán Ruiz. It is a collection of short stories all based in Peru during the 80s. The stories tell different realities from cruelty to love and to regret. I think what drew me to it were my parents and the stories they shared when I was growing up, about the hardships they experienced amidst the internal armed conflict that occurred in Peru in the 80s.

CFS: Why do you write?

CE: That’s a difficult question to answer. I think a part of me has always been writing since I was little. I am an only child whose parents worked a lot, so I spent a lot of time on my own, coming up with stories and ideas to entertain myself. Somehow those stories in my head turned into something more and it gave me a place to tell stories not many people have heard before. Moving to Australia has inspired me a lot to continue writing. I’ve come to realise how much representation is still needed in Western culture, how much suffering and injustices continue to be unknown by the world, and also how hard it is for many Peruvians (or Latinx) to find a place where they can talk freely about their culture and struggles. So, that’s why I write – I want to tell the story of my people. I want to tell my story and give hope to others.

A black and white photo of Camila. She is looking off into the distance and has her hand on her hip.

CFS: Now that you’ve completed your hot desk, what will you be working on next?

CE: Right now, I have to focus a lot in my work at Pelican, which is really exciting. I feel like I am learning a lot, not just about the field, but also about me as a person and a future professional. Outside of work, I have some ideas for a story I’ve been developing for a while. I want to branch out a little and perhaps dive into different genres such as historical fiction and even (maybe) fantasy. I also want to learn more about documentary production and videography.

CFS: Best writing advice you could give or that you have received?

CE: I read a book a while ago by Neil Gaiman called Arts Matters. In it, he talks a lot about the challenges people face when it comes to making art and the things he wished he knew when he first started. One thing really stuck with me and it is how we tend to not enjoy the ‘journey’. We are always so worried about how perfect our work is and the next deadline that we often forget the amazing things we are actually building for the community. It is okay to have a break from time to time to admire our work and be proud of the legacy we are constructing. It is also okay to have fun.

CFS: Has the hot desk fellowship influenced or challenged your writing? If so, how?

CE: I think it has led me to reflect a lot on the type of writer that I am and the priorities I have. I had to think really hard not just about the stories that I wanted to tell but how I wanted to tell them. When I first started the fellowship, a part of me thought some of the problems I had encountered as a Peruvian immigrant in Australia were not as important or serious enough to discuss compared to other immigrants, because there are not many of us in Perth. But now, I feel like my entire story, the story of my people, deserves to be heard and taken into account just as much as any. This has let me, in a way, take a more realistic approach when it comes to my writing. I focus on issues that seem simple on the surface, but that are also deeply complex on the inside, and now I am not afraid to do it.

CFS: What is one thing you’ve learnt that you want young writers to know?

CE: Just write. I know it doesn’t sound that easy. I feel like we tend to be very overcritical of our work, but writing, just like any other discipline, takes time and patience. It takes time to get to a certain level and there is no shame in not being the best at something, especially if you have just started. That’s one thing Centre for Stories has taught me. I tend to isolate myself when it comes to my writing and constantly torture myself with problems I encounter. But going to writers’ workshops, or simply having an honest chat with the others at Centre for Stories has helped me a lot. Being part of a community is important. So, don’t feel like you shouldn’t ask for help. If anything, asking for help is a sign of how much you value your work and the stories you are telling.

A portrait of Camila. She is standing in front of a red brick wall and smiling. Camila is wearing all black. Behind her on the left is pink flowers.

CFS: Walk us through an ‘aha’ moment while you were on the hot desk.

CE: I think my biggest ‘aha’ moment happened when I let myself be more flexible with the form I used for my writing. I knew what I wanted to talk about and the themes I wanted to explore, but it didn’t feel right to build a fictional story around it. I am also not clever enough to dive into poetry, so that wasn’t an option. I needed something that was emotion-heavy, but not in the form of a poem. Something that I read in my first year of uni came to mind about combining different forms, and that’s how I started to write prose-poems. I guess the lesson that I learned from that is that we shouldn’t be afraid to experiment a little with our writing.

CFS: What did you work on while hot desking?

CE: I worked on quite a few pieces while hot desking. They are all centre around this question of what is ours? What are we entitled to? Growing up in a country that suffered and still struggles to reconcile with colonialism, it has made me wonder why – specifically Indigenous culture and its people – continues to be denied the same level of importance and privilege as the Western world. And also, where does culture appropriation fit in to all of that? Colonisation has created a wound that continues to bleed for many Indigenous people. It has taken so much from us that we struggle to understand what we can still claim as ours. Although this seems quite pessimistic and discouraging for the future, I also like to recognise in these stories that there is hope. There are so many Indigenous people fighting for their culture and for their rights. They have built communities and outlets to assert their existence in a society that does nothing but ignore them. So yeah, colonialism took a lot from us, but we are still here trying to reclaim what belongs to us.

Camila smiling and looking up to the sky. The camera is looking up at her, she is beeming with light.


Camila Egusquiza is a writer and aspiring journalist. Her work dives deep into postcolonialism, the migration experience, and reconnecting to culture. Her work has appeared in The Collective Magazine, Pelican Magazine, and Amnesty International UWA’s periodical.

Writing Change, Writing Inclusion is Centre for Stories’ signature writing program for 2021 to 2023. Generously funded by The Ian Potter Foundation, Australia Council for the Arts and Centre for Stories Founders Circle, this writing program features mentoring, hot desk, and publication opportunities for emerging writers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and/or Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander backgrounds.