David McCooey

Tell us a bit about yourself (education, career, hobbies/personal interest, etc.) 

I have worked at Deakin University in Geelong since 1995. I grew up in Perth and did my PhD at the University of Sydney. As well as being a poet and critic, I am a sound artist/composer. I am also a keen hobbyist photographer.

What is your involvement with Verandah? 

I am one of the Geelong-based staff reps on the Verandah Industry Board. I have been a member of this board for a number of years.

What are the steps that you took that lead you into being involved with the publishing community? 

I started publishing poetry and reviews in the late 1980s. That was no doubt largely a consequence of the degree I undertook at the University of Western Australia. From there, I became involved in academic publishing (my PhD thesis was published as a book) and various editing projects.

What are your favourite parts about the publishing world? 

Seeing new work being brought into the world is terrific. I also like the connections that you can make with other writers, publishing professionals, and readers.

What are your least favourite parts about the publishing world? 

Hmm. Tricky. I guess I’m not a fan of things being in train for months or years, and then being asked to get proofs back in a couple of days!

What do you think are the important to-do-lists that an emerging writer should do to start their career in the industry? 

Read, and get to know the people and the market/s you are aiming for. Don’t be in too much of a hurry to get published; generally speaking, you only get the chance to make a splash once. 

Do you have any tips to cope with common writing problems such as writer’s block/lack of motivation/etc?  

Reading always helps me. Deadlines and commissions (if you can get them) are great. If someone else is relying on you, then you will come up with something.

In the current climate, especially throughout the pandemic, digital realms are thriving more than traditional means to publish our work. How do you think this will affect the writing and literary industry? 

It’s hard to say. Digital spaces are becoming more and more important, but I think that it’s also pretty clear that print isn’t going anywhere.

Where do you look for inspiration when starting a project? 

It depends on the project. For scholarly work, once you know what you are researching you get on with the reading in the first instance. Creative projects are not so different. I find that if I’m engaged in reading (or watching or listening to) things, then I will be more productive at writing.

Are there any projects that you are currently working on? 

I’m trying to finish my next collection of poems. As part of that, I am trying to find a way of bringing my interests in writing and photography together.

Home

By Amin Rajbanshi

A simple graphic inspired by the quote ‘Home is where the heart is’. Just wanted to remind everyone that staying home is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a great time to take a break, spend time with your family and most importantly to remind yourself that home is where you find all the love and support you may need in your life.

By Jordan Ross

In my piece I wanted to capture the feeling of coming home—the escape from mundane workdays, gruelling 9-5’s to a place of expression, comfort and serenity. To strengthen this idea, I included the text ‘WELCOME HOME’. My initial inspiration came from the concept of doors, the entry into our escape. Finally, I wanted to highlight the contrast between the home and the outside world through the use of colour and black and white.

By Luke Martin

Home has felt like the only place that exists recently—spending all my days inside, communicating via technology from the comfort of your home. I took inspiration from the idea that everything you’re doing is within a house. I created this neon lights imagery because it seems like things are turning on and off all the time, and wanted to reflect the way we are doing so many things without ever leaving our 4 walls.

By Zeth Cameron

Home is a place where I go to see you (see also; us, them, it). Vacating bodies, occupying space. The comfort in your presence, no stillness in stillness. ‘We go’, but sometimes we don’t. Some nights, in fact, we order in. I look in the mirror and I see you, seeing me. I look in the window and see someone (a ghost who drops by since December, seemingly friendly). Laughing under the stairs, out of the laundry. Spending time happily in clothes worn by others that were once designed to be pyjamas.

Kate Cuthbert

Tell us a bit about yourself (education, career, hobbies/personal interest, etc.)  

I’m an editor by training and worked in publishing across a number of areas: non-fiction, children’s, mass market, magazine, academic, fiction, and genre fiction. My most prominent role was running Escape Publishing, a genre romance imprint for Harlequin Australia. I started the imprint in 2012 and ran it as Managing Editor for almost 7 years. Since leaving publishing, I’ve been working in arts administration as Program and Partnership Manager at Writers Victoria. In my spare time, I like reading and swimming and I’ve recently started diving. I also have a podcast called What Would Danbury Do? about Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series.

What is your involvement with Verandah 

I’m very happy to be involved with Verandah as one of the industry experts. 

What are the steps that you took that lead you into being involved with the publishing community?  

Working in publishing wasn’t really on my radar through my undergrad and I originally thought to go into academia, but I came across the Writing, Editing, and Publishing graduate degree at the University of Queensland and it felt like a very obvious choice. I graduated in 2007 and started my first publishing job in 2008. 

What are your favourite parts about the publishing world?  

The community and the creativity. 

What are your least favourite parts about the publishing world?  

The conservatism and the genre snobbery.

What do you think are the important to-do-lists that an emerging writer should do to start their career in the industry?  

Get involved with the community and start building your network: writing is a very solitary endeavour and having people around you who understand will help immeasurably. 

Do you have any tips to cope with common writing problems such as writer’s block/lack of motivation/etc?   

Get into the habit of writing a little bit every day, rather than planning for large chunks. Being in the habit means that your subconscious is always boiling away in the background. It’s so much easier to set a goal of 250 words 5 days a week that keep those muscles warm than try and start cold. 

In the current climate, especially throughout the pandemic, digital realms are thriving more than traditional means to publish our work. How do you think this will affect the writing and literary industry?  

Digital publishing has been a mainstay in genre fiction for more than a decade. The rest of the world is just catching up! But look to your genre fiction peers who are incredibly savvy and know a lot about building a digital presence and community. 

Where do you look for inspiration when starting a project?  

I like to build projects from very personal places, smaller stories that can have broader applications, rather than writing from the top down. I start from what excites me and hopefully that comes through in the writing. 

Are there any projects that you are currently working on?  

I’m in the last stage of my PhD and it’s taking over everything! 

Karen Le Rossignol

Tell us a bit about yourself (education, career, hobbies/personal interest, etc.)  

  • Did an English Language and Literature honours degree so I can officially read Beowulf in its original Anglo Saxon. 
  • Did a Diploma of Education and have taught in high school, TAFE and university.  
  • Did a Graduate Certificate in Enterprise Management in an Engineering department, quite different style to my very humanities focus. 
  • Did a PhD in digital storytelling based on virtual world scenarios I’ve developed at Deakin.  

I have a great interest in all sorts of creative ways to engage in story making. My career has included freelancing as a writer and editor full time for about fifteen years, developing about 12 texts in communications, running an arts business plus developing resources for training across making helicopters through to making beer through to sorting letters automatically and setting up traffic management systems for the railways.  

I also write poetry and have done a lot of acting over the years, plus set up as a small print publisher to support poets with printing small books for selling at readings (CP Publishing).   

What is your involvement with Verandah 

I was introduced to Verandah by Judith Rodriguez, who was a leader in writing at Deakin when I arrived in 2000. She more or less told me I should look after the project with another colleague who also had publishing experience. We have seen it grow in so many different directions since then, greatly encouraged by Judith. 

What are the steps that you took that lead you into being involved with the publishing community?  

When I was teaching in TAFE, I first undertook a year’s mentoring at Viking O’Neill publishers, which was bought out by Penguin when I was there. Then I introduced publishing at TAFE as a study program, while developing and maintaining the curriculum and resources for the Diploma of Writing and Editing over 12 years. This involved lots of meetings with industry people – publishers, editors, booksellers, distributors, printers and so on.  I ran the program in TAFE until a former TAFE colleague suggested I start developing writing units at Deakin, which I’ve done – about four undergrad and four postgrad, eight subjects and a full Masters coursework program in Creative Enterprise.  

What are your favourite parts about the publishing world?  

Seeing the final product – nothing beats the excitement of the birth of a book. 

What are your least favourite parts about the publishing world?  

Trying to persuade others to buy/believe in that book – distribution is always difficult.  

What do you think are the important to-do lists that an emerging writer should do to start their career in the industry?  

Write every day even if it’s crap – the engine needs to run smoothly and has to be given a regular workout.  

Some writers try to commit to writing 500w a day, others might aim for 5,000w.  

Set up a workspace that has stimulus for your writing and get into a routine.  

Work out some career goals – I use 6 months, 2 years, 5 years. Include stuff you really want to do (travel – remember that?) as well stuff you dream might be possible. 

Network with other writers – I have found other people to work with, to exchange ideas with.  

Do you have any tips to cope with common writing problems such as writer’s block/lack of motivation/etc?   

I usually change my location, particularly to different libraries. Once I make the effort to go there, I feel obliged to do some writing. I also work well in cafes, where I can observe people then that triggers other ideas. I have a list of creative activities that I use as starters if neither of the above work – a journal with creative ideas, or random thoughts from what I’ve read, or simply some creative writing exercises (e.g. start with I believe in …’). 

In the current climate, especially throughout the pandemic, digital realms are thriving more than traditional means to publish our work. How do you think this will affect the writing and literary industry?  

People will always want hard copies of books, but more readers are taking up kindle etc as the technology improves. It’s about mobility and access, and cost for digital publishing. No one will turn down the option of receiving a hard copy of their book from their publisher and getting friends to buy it! Harry Potter still would have been a hard copy sensation – I can’t see it only being digital. 

Where do you look for inspiration when starting a project?  

The people around me who have either suggested the project, or are interested in working with me on it. I like to share projects for both practical and creative reasons.  

Are there any projects that you are currently working on?  

  • The edit and publication of a novel written (but not finished) by my father – I have to provide the ending! And I’ll look around for possible publishers.  
  • A digital representation of poetry about sensory responses to the four elements (collaboration with a sound artist) 
  • Children’s stories – I write stories for my grandchildren, and these will get longer as they grow older. I self-publish them so the children have them as permanent copies. 
  • Research papers across creative nonfiction/memoir/essays and digital storytelling. 

How Do You Write About a Word that Doesn’t Exist?

By Madison Pawle

My dead grandmother was at the Preston market today, near the deli section sitting next to an old man in a wheelchair. On the table in front of them was a paper bag ripped open, hot chips spilling from its insides.  

I watched from a nearby bench as she fed him. Picking up a chip, breaking it in half and placing that half carefully into his waiting mouth. Every now and then she used a tissue to dab at the edges of his lips and chin, folding the tissue over itself each time 

Something about the lines of her body, her gestures, the tenderness of her careMemory happens in unexpected momentspotholes in the quotidian. In this sense, the past is one with the present because memory is happening in real-time, this immediate place. So, aI  

remembering  

or  

experiencing 

or 

both? 

Or can it be more than both? Multiple, multiplying?  

Language holds but it also slips. There are so many experiences/sensations/moments that shrug language off, resists its demand to choose, to know.  
 
Samuel Beckett talks about boring holes in language, one after the other, as a way of making a space for all that lurks behind a wordwhether it be something or nothingto seep through. This, he writes, is the ultimate goal for a writer.  

For every sentence I have written here, I have backspaced three. I am reaching for something ineffable, something that falls beyond my grasp of language.  
 
Is this act of writing and rewriting palimpsestic? Do the words erased still live beneath the words that appear? Can I ever deliver you this messagethis sensation? What can I offer, in lieu of words? 

By Matthew Galic

Average, Good, Love, Masterpiecethese are all words we use to try and convey our horrible tastes in films and books. The problem with these words, is that none of them work. At all. Our conception of ‘quality’ has become so skewed that nobody really knows what they are talking about, or how to explain what they feel. I believe these words are the culprits, villains who are nefariously contorting the truth in order to push their sick meaningless dystopia. 

They deserve to answer for their crimes, so let’s begin the cross-examination, shall we? 

Average –  

We claim to know what average means, but it really doesn’t mean anything. This word is implying that there is some kind of mathematical standard that all art is being held to, but if so, what is it, and who decided on it? If we don’t know, how is this word useful to describe how we feel in the slightest? 

Good – 

Good tries to trick you. Good tells you it’s a safe word to use when describing art, but it’s too indifferent. It’s not strong enough to convey any meaningful emotion on a subject, but it’s not weak enough to do the opposite. In essence, it’s another way of saying ‘average. In the past, ‘good’ was good enough, but now it feels incredibly lacklustre. 

Love – 

It’s not enough to say that a movie or book is ‘good’ or that you ‘liked it’. Those words still convey a somewhat dismissive air. You have to say that you loved something in order for people to understand what you mean. Because of this, anything that you say you don’t love is assumed to be trash, and anything you say you do love is held to impossibly high scrutinyIsn’t that lovely? 

Masterpiece – 

The cultural conception of a ‘masterpiece—an infallible work—doesn’t exist, yet that is the level that every artist is expected to reach. The myth of perfection is a plague on art and artists everywhere. When there is no such thing as a masterpiece, why should artist be striving for an impossibility? Is it fair for us to be placing such a lofty expectation on the things we enjoy? 

I’ve come to feel that we need new words to describe what we really feel about art. Words that don’t exist. Perhaps the absence of these words proves that our cultural conception of ‘quality’ needs to be heading in a different direction. We seem to be obsessed with thinking that certain things need to be better than others. 

‘Quality’ shouldn’t be a sliding scale that goes from bad to good. If we narrow ourselves into only watching or reading things that fit a pedantic criterion of ‘quality’, then we miss so many different perspectives and experiences that don’t conform to those guidelines. Once we open ourselves up to experiencing a vast array of different artmaybe one day we’ll find the right words to describe how we feel. 

By Nerissa Butt

How do you write about a word that does not exist? 

Planning 

Marks on a page that make sound. 

Punctuation marks, symbol, letters and other features. 

A writer would need a good sense of motor control, coordination of hands, eyes and psychological processes. 

A dependency, written or else…read left to right, right to left, or bottom to top. 

Pictographic, hieroglyphic, or alphabetic are a writer’s main choices. 

 

The Outline 

Start with extracting the elementdistinctive or indispensable aspect of something abstract. 

A perceived smell, in contact with, a sensation, listened or judged. 

An elicited graphic expression, behaviour or mannerism perhaps! 

Decide on what letters it would include, and how many.  

It may articulate in traditional or contemporary way. 

Abbreviated. 

A point in space and time at which a voyage, movement, or act starts or ends. 

Maybe applied from another word. 

Maybe a repeated arrangement of letters. Each letter interwoven to guide. 

Related concepts perhaps. 

 

In Practice 

Consider a grid like crossword puzzle to solve this conundrum. 

Try to spell it backwards and forwards to make up another new word all together. 

It might have letters that do not appear more than once. 

Or use all letters in the alphabet, but I would guess it would have to repeat some letters.  

Reflect on the outcome, would you want the word to command or be subdued? 

Maybe prompt or cue. 

Could machine learning help invent and define a word? 

An algorithm, unambiguous, well defined finite sequence. 

Letters in absolute symbiotic formation perfectly moulded into a noun, pronoun, verb, adjective, adverb, or conjunction. 

Then end with the elementsafter all what is the point of writing a word if it does not elicit a perception or response? 

By Sarah Hurst

Koi no Yokan 

When we first met, I thought you disliked me. 

You wouldn’t laugh at my jokes, or look me in the eye, or smile. 

You would leave me standing there talking to myself— 

No response. 

No reply. 

All that time I thought you found me annoying. 

Little did I know you were just happy to listen. 

 

I wouldn’t say it was love at first sight, 

Even though you have the prettiest eyes that remind me of Home. 

I wasn’t ready to fall in love at the time. And yet, 

I was drawn in. 

Interwoven; 

Our paths knotted together—more than once it seemed. 

Same primary school. Same hometown. Same future. 

 

Perhaps you could call it fate, if you believed in it. 

But knowing you, you would say it was merely a coincidence. 

I felt something more. More enticing. 

A calling, 

An urge, 

Like the hot, clammy hand of Destiny ripped me from my reality  

And placed me in front of you—nowhere to run but into your arms. 

 

When we first met, I was intrigued; 

Fascinated by the boy who made me feel like I couldn’t breathe, 

And yet made me believe that I could ignite flames with my words. 

Suffocated, 

Invigorated. 

You started to laugh at my jokes and spoke and replied with a smile. 

I was ready to push my limits for a guy that I barely even knew.  

 

 

Then, you welcomed me into the beautiful world that lay behind your planet Earth eyes. 

Now, with every hardship and every kiss, I think, ‘Yes, this is how it was meant to be’. 

 

Koi no Yokan is a Japanese phrase to describe the feeling of meeting someone for the first time and immediately knowing that you will eventually fall in love. It doesn’t necessarily mean love at first sight—not so much about physical attraction and chemistry. It’s more of a spiritual understanding; intuition. The premonition of love. 

By Vania Octaviani

I grew up hearing at least six languages spoken in my house and speaking two of them.  

My grandmother, grandfather, and father would speak to me in Mandarin, and they would converse with each other in Hokkien 

My mother would speak to me in Bahasa Indonesia as that was the only language that she spoke.  

Sometimes, I would catch the helpers in my house speaking over the phone to their family in Javanese or Sundanese, it depended on which village they came from.  

I heard words spoken in English from the films and shows that my father would buy for me.  

My house was pretty much the epitome of Indonesia—where its people spoke 300 languages. So, I had learned that usually, when you didn’t have a way to express something in your first language, you took it from your second one, and so on, and so on. When I lived in Singapore, I learned that their speech pattern also resembled multiple fabrics of dialects and languages that had been sewn together to form a large blanket—jarring but warm.  

 ‘This one/sibei shiok/like/macam/KFC/like that,’ my Singaporean boyfriend would say every time I cooked our homemade fried chicken.  

Even though I have integrated into Western culture and made English a primary spoken language, there are some Indonesian words that I wish I could just say to express myself.  

Masuk angin (Enter Wind)—a term that describes someone who is experiencing cold-like symptoms. They are believed to occur after someone is exposed to harsh weather. A myth in the medical world, yet it is widely accepted in society.  

So, how do we write about a word that doesn’t exist?  

That word is probably somewhere out there, still hanging on a native tongue, waiting for me to discover it.  

Letters to 2020

By Madison Pawle

And then jasmine, surprising me as I round the corner, running, one afternoon in September. Soft white fists & low hanging scent, heady and so bright it is almost opaque. 
 

Time with you was like this: hours leaking into days that blurred and piled, becoming weeks that thickened into months, and then—suddenly!—it was spring. 

 
If I’m truthful, the jasmine is all I remember of that day. The surrounding details I arrive at retrospectivelyapropos of my afternoon exercise habits and my vague knowledge of the seasons; the blooming jasmine meaning spring. 
 
I stop. 
 
(Breathe in, and out. In, and out) 
 
Notice the newly green trees, their shadows playing on bitumenA lone magpie on the grass, warbling to the sky. The twang of a basketball bouncing off a ring in a nearby backyard. Cars rushing along Murray Street. Curry simmering somewhere, my breath heaving, salt sweat on my top lip. 
 
Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity, writes Simone Weil, attention is prayer (2003, p. 116). That’s it, that’s why I’m telling you about the jasmine: I hadn’t been paying attention. 
 
Yes, true, I was looking elsewhereout into the world sagging and spilling over its own edges, its cruelties sharply in focus, collective focusand yes, true, this was necessary. But I’m thinking of Robin Wall Kimmerer (2013) when she speaks about attention to the living world as responsibility, the beginnings of reciprocity. I’m thinking about my perception of time, how dependent I’ve become on the temporal markers of late capitalism, and I’m wondering, how much have I missed? Miss? 
 
I’m thinking about presence, a way of telling you that I was here and paying attention, pledging my accountability to this moment I am living in. Presence being a form of devotion and devotion being the amorphous heart of any prayer.  

 

Kimmerer RW (2013), Braiding Sweetgrass, Milkweed Editions, Minneapolis. 

Weil S (2003), Gravity and Grace, trans. E Crawford & M von der Ruhr, Routledge, London. 

By Matthew Galic

Dear 2020, 

First of all, how could you? We trusted you, and this is how you repay us? It feels like you went past in a blink, yet somehow you still linger in everything we say and do. It hardly seems fair that we need to live with the consequences of your random desire to upend the world, but if there is one thing you have taught me over this past year, it’s that things are never fair—you’ve shown that to many. 

I suppose I’m somewhat biased against you thoughsomething have to admit. Besides the anger I felt at every other evil scheme you concocted on the world stage; you also ruined every plan I had for the near future. I was supposed to be going on two consecutive exchanges abroad. That obviously didn’t happen, so thanks for that. In the wake of that disappointment, I found myself struggling to fill the gaps of my uni schedule last minute in a desperate attempt to finish my degree in a somewhat timely manner. Again, something that isn’t going to happen. I could go deeper, but I have to say it’s really not looking good for you buddy. 

I know in the grand scheme of things, I’ve been incredibly lucky. You’ve kicked so many people around the world into dirty gutters and off of jagged cliffs, that I have to remind myself how fortunate I am that I managed to safely escape your massacre. That didn’t make watching in shock through the window as you continued your reign of terror over everything and everyone I held dear any less horrifying, but it’s good to think of the positives. 

Despite everything, I do feel a little bad for you. I’m sure you never intended any of this, you just happened to be the one holding the wheel when the engine burst. I hope that one day I’ll be able to forgive you, to look back on what happened in a less biased mannerwhen my anger has dissipated, and my life has stabilised again. I’ll come to realise you were just as much a victim as the rest of us, and that maybe some of the things we experienced were our own faulta consequence of a complacent society failing in the most basic of human rights and health processesBut that’s too difficult to think of for now. It’s much easier to just blame everything on you. 

So, with that being said, I’m going to subdue my irrational anger towards you and ask a selfish request. Please be our scapegoat for just a little bit longer, at least until we sort ourselves out. I’m positive we are on the precipice of a brighter future, so if you could just hold on a little bit longer, I promise it will all be worth it. 

Sincerely, 

Matthew

By Nerissa Butt

For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end. ― Michelle Obama (2018), Becoming 

2020 was serendipitous 

I learnt to be alone 

to think alone,  

to heal alone. 

There were tears, deep sadness and regret. 

Tears for those who died, and for those who lost family and friends. Tears for being trapped inside what seemed like a cage. 

Deep sadness for what was. Sadness for the veracity of this world. Sickness, racism, intuitionalism, compliance, pollution, power—it never ended. 

Regret for not learning more, loving more, giving more, creating more—living more. 

2020 felt like we were deprived of feeling whole. Or has wholesomeness always been our illusion? 

It was tears, deep sadness and regret that propelled my metamorphosisam now healing my body, my mind, my soul 

For the first time truly look inwards, listen to quietness, embrace stillness, learn, invest in my health, my mindset. 

In 2021, every day I meditate, I sing, I danceI learn, I love, I give, I create.  

To keep balance we must keep moving, evolving, rebuilding towards a better life, a better world. 

 

Obama, M. (2018). Becoming. 

By Sarah Hurst

Dear 2020,  

I think it’s fair to say you are no one’s favourite year. You really were quite the shocking introduction to the new decade. I imagine there were a lot of sighs of relief when, on 31 December 2020, the clock finally clicked over to 12 am. Obviously the hardships and troubles that haunted us in the previous year didn’t just evaporate when the 2021 calendars were brought out; the effects of what has happened will continue to bleed through the future months. Because of this, I have decided I won’t focus on all the negative aspects about you (although there are plenty I can say). Even though you bombarded the world with obstacle after obstacle, it created an environment that allowed for new, beautiful growth to shine through. 

I am not the most social person, so at the beginning of quarantine I thought I would be fine, but by the end of the year I found I was craving social interaction like never before. I spent more than half the year home alone; once people were able to start going back to school, I found myself feeling isolated as I was the only one in my family and out of my peers that had a 100% online from-home experience. It honestly feels like I haven’t been to university at all—I’ve just jumped from first year to third year in the blink of an eye. But hey, at least I’ve saved money on petrol. 

What I’ve learnt from you is that not everything will go as plan; you cannot control the world around you, but you can control how you react to the world. I learnt how to adapt, as even though things weren’t going my way, at least they were going in some direction. The world was trying it’s best to keep moving, so I might as well keep up. 

Even though you are absolutely the worst year I have lived through thus far, you will always hold a special place in my heart. Saturday morning around 1 am8 February 2020was the day when I got into a relationship that really was my saving grace. This relationship has been the easiest yet also the hardest thing I have ever experienced. Falling in love over Facetime isn’t the smoothest thing to do, especially when the other person only lives ten minutes away. Having to develop and strengthen a relationship without getting to see each other certainly came with its challenges, but now I can proudly say that we have overcome them and are now getting ready to celebrate our one-year anniversary.  

So now I must look on from you and focus on 2021 and all the amazing opportunities that are coming my way. I am willing to give you bitter thanks, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t one of the people who let out a sigh of relief on New Year’s Day. 

Yours begrudgingly, 

Sarah  

By Vania Octaviani

Dear 2020,  

You were the creature that lurked in the corner of my bedroom whenever I turned off all the lights. 

You were the boys in primary 6 who gave me the nickname Clown. 

You were the cancer that inhabited my father’s lungs and sucked the life out of him. 

You were the silence that followed all my pleas to find something worthwhile in my life. 

For many months, the floor-to-ceiling laminated glass next to my bed was my only window to the world. The only human connection that I could get was ironically from a machine. Anxiety was dancing in my head and thriving off my fear.  

In times of despair, hope is like the laughter that erupted from my mother, my sister, and I as we laid on my bed after the funeral, for I thought that I would be unhappy for the rest of my life. In Just Kids, Patti Smith reflects on her early days as a struggling artist and she suggests that laughter is an essential ingredient for survival (Smith 2012, p. 104). 

I started being grateful for the roof over my head and the option to turn on the light whenever my intrusive thoughts took over. 

Grateful for functioning limbs to exercise and the motivation to nourish my body. 

Grateful for a large pan of pizza that I could still afford from Uber Eats. 

Grateful for the drive to create amidst the chaos that is continuously unravelling in the world. 

Grateful for the silence at dawn for it deafens my inner saboteur and realigns my distorted self back with the universe.  

But I have also learned that silence can be the death of us, for it has encouraged the destruction of our planet. For it has killed countless of innocent lives for as long as human civilisation has existed. For it has divided the world into black and white 

I have been going to the park more than usual. I have learned that humanity should be one with nature in order to connect with their inner being. Now I think twice before buying my cosmetics, regretting the hundreds of dollars that I wasted in the past thinking it would transform me into Kylie JennerTo deconstruct the American dreams that I have wished for all this time. However, it was never designed for me to live.  

Had you not happened, 2020, I would still be living in a simulation. A lot of us would be. You were never the disaster. We are 

So here I am, taking initiative. Presenting myself as a listener to the unheard and sharing fragments of my true identity. Hopefully I can do my best to shout it out to the world.  

 

Smith P (2010) Just KidsBloomsbury Publishing, London.