Growing by diving in
In 2019, the Centre for Stories selected a number of emerging writers to be part of an inaugural Fellowship called Inclusion Matters. I was fortunate to be selected to be one of the fellows and this represented the start of a new chapter in my life, coinciding with a decision to step away from the “corporate career” pathway and it remains to be seen whether this side-step will be indefinite or short-term. I took this step largely to make sustainable space for my health which had not previously felt feasible in the context of demands and erasures and microaggressions I faced as a person living with the challenges I did and do.
In doing so, I recognised that a large part of that required seeking to understand and accepting what was important to me and what ways I could continue to contribute, perhaps even build upon skills and experiences that I had already developed, harnessing my passions. Writing certainly falls within my ideal zone of “ikigai” and it remains to be seen if I can be a professional writer in a more dedicated sense than having been one by proximity in previous roles. The rough translation is said to be “reason for being” and refers to living in a way that balances both spiritual and practical. It concedes that balance must intersect passion and talent with that which the world is needing and willing to pay for.
As Chris Myers writes, “To discover you Ikigai, you must first find what you’re most passionate about. Then, you find the medium through which you can express that passion.” Writing is more accurately the medium I enjoy and I believe there are signs which point to my having some innate talent (if we were to believe this occurs) and a natural disposition to honing this talent into skill. My passion is for social change and human rights and I believe storytelling and writing will be a powerful vehicle for this. As such, I am looking to find ways to hone my skill and I have been very fortunate to discover that formal reviewing is a fascinating yet challenging way to do just this.
In a Centre for Stories collaboration with Singapore Review of Books, a series of reviews written by a small group of the emerging writers from the Inclusion Matters project were published throughout December 2019. The collaboration was not only an opportunity to practice the craft of writing from a different angle but also enabled us to develop connections between Perth and Singapore, and will hopefully promote new and diverse voices of our subject matter and the reviewers themselves to the international literary community.
I am especially thankful to Lim Lee Ching for his editorial guidance and I am excited to be contributing more reviews in future. Please keep an eye out!
I was delighted to be given the chance to review and learn from “Growing Up Queer in Australia”, edited by Benjamin Law, and to add this thoughtful collection of stories to my library.