Darebin Mayor’s Writing Awards

It was a pleasure to be asked to return as a judge again this year for the Darebin Mayor’s Writing Prize.

The theme this year was ‘lucky’ and I was struck by how many of the entries had themes of climate change, near misses, appreciating our natural environment and mental health. It’s interesting that many of us are preoccupied with our relationship to the environment, and are instinctively aware that the health of our planet and our own are inextricably linked.

The winner was a unanimous decision with my co-judges, Sian Prior and Susan Johnston. We all felt that Andy Murdoch’s short story thrummed with tension and had that rare ability to tell a much bigger story than the thousand words on the page.

I learn so much from judging writing competitions, not least of which is how deceptively simple a well-written short story can appear. Short story writing is a difficult form to do well because there just isn’t the space to get it wrong. Each sentence must serve its purpose, driving the story but excelling in quality of prose.

I also find myself sparking with ideas after having seen so many interpretations of a one-word theme. It excites me to see how many different ways the same or similar ideas can be explored and reminds me nobody sees the world quite the same way as we do ourselves.

The winners were awarded last week at the Northcote Town Hall and it’s always lovely to see the smiles on the winners faces as their hard work and excellence are acknowledged.

You can read the winning entry and the highly commended pieces in n-Scribe 14.

Hoarders: the TV show to cure your Marie Kondo-inspired guilt

I published this article on SBS this week about trying to understand a disorder at the opposite end of the minimalist spectrum.

Both Marie Kondo and Hoarders ask: how much of the stuff surrounding us do we really need? In an age of consumer culture, fast fashion and single-use plastics, this is a valuable question. We have an attachment to physical items that our planet cannot sustain, whether we obsessively collect them in every inch of our homes for fear of throwing out something potentially useful, or rid ourselves of every item that does not bring us pure joy.

I sometimes find myself squirming as I realise how often I say things the subjects of Hoarders say, such as “I just don’t want this to go to waste, it would be useful to someone” and I was keen to explore how we are often pushed and pulled between minimalism and acquisition of material goods. It was fun to explore some of this as it relates to our fascination with these two shows. Head on over to read the full article.