On The Table is an interview series with emerging writers from the 2019 Centre for Stories Inclusion Matters Hot Desk Fellowship. Here, writers reflect on their Hot Desk experience, the changes to their practice, and the connections they made.

Kim Lateef is a Perth-born emerging writer whose work has appeared in Southerly Journal and Voiceworks Magazine. In 2019 Kim participated in the Saga Sisterhood project through the Centre for Stories and in 2016 Kim was selected to take part in Express Media’s Toolkits Program. She is passionate about uncovering the hidden stories of marginalised individuals and groups within mainstream historical narratives.

A photograph of Kim Lateef. Kim is standing in front of a bright orange wall and is smiling directly at the camera.

Can you tell us about your writing practice?

As much as I love words and jotting down ideas, my writing practice has never been a formal routine but more so a passion project and a creative way to sift through my thoughts/feelings/observations. I usually write better in the early morning before my day starts but with juggling full-time work and other personal commitments, I find that I’m most often writing at odd hours in the day or a few hours per week when I am able to carve that time out. I found “Hot Desking” at the Centre to be really helpful in creating a sense of routine when it comes to writing. In particular, I enjoyed the workshops offered as a part of the Fellowship since it provided helpful advice on the craft of writing and publication opportunities.

Looking back, your Hot Desk began before COVID, before some changes in your life. What changed in your practice and what did the Fellowship allow you to do during these strange times?

It’s interesting but I’m still trying to reflect on how my life and even society has changed as a result of COVID. I found that I was finally getting through my “reading list” and writing more. It’s almost as though the pressure of always being “switched on” melted away and I found a sense of flexibility when it came to creative writing. Perhaps, it helped that I was working away from my corporate office and I felt I had “acquired” more time. In any case, the Fellowship definitely helped as it allowed me to stay on track with my writing goals and was a positive distraction during these strange times.

In the time that you did spend at the Centre for Stories, what was your experience of the people and physical space?

The Centre for Stories is such an inviting space where the many book-filled shelves and indoor plants radiate this peaceful warmth that is a creative-inducing environment. In comparison, I felt I could only write at home in the early morning or in the late evenings as there are often distractions!

A photograph of Kim Lateef. Kim is standing in front of a bright orange wall and is smiling directly at the camera.

What relationships have you developed from your Hot Desk Fellowship and involvement with the Centre for Stories?

I gained new friendships with emerging writers who helped with their insights into the craft of writing and offered helpful feedback on my own writing. I also gained a deeper awareness and appreciation of the local writing community in Perth. But importantly, knowing that there is a safe space such as the Centre where you can share your stories with and for likeminded people.

Now that you’ve completed your Hot Desk Fellowship. Where will you take your writing?

I hope to complete a few short stories that are in different stages of the writing process. My plan is to submit them to magazines and journals so that my writing journey continues. At the same time, I want to stay open to where this writing journey will take me. 

Can you briefly describe the piece of writing you submitted to the Centre for Stories at the conclusion of your Hot Desk Fellowship?

It’s a short story composed of two parts titled My Grandfather’s Beard and Khakh-e-wataan, Dust of the Homeland.  This short story fuses fiction with memoir and reflects themes that are of interest to me such as family history, immigration, identity and homeland.

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