PLACE: seeking creative writing for upcoming book
• Do you love to write?
• Ever been homeless?
• Got a connection to Melbourne?
We Are Here: Stories of Home, Place and Belonging will be a fresh collection of writings by people who have experienced homelessness. Out in 2019, from Affirm Press.
The aim is to showcase the talent, creativity and diversity of people who have gone without a home, shatter some stereotypes, and wow readers with a collection of quality, thought-provoking writing on a theme that connects us all.
Expect a book that will surprise, delight, and challenge; an object of beauty that honours the stories within, and the writers who crafted them.
CALL FOR CONTRIBUTORS
Writers with lived experience of homelessness – plus a connection to Melbourne – are invited to pitch ideas or submit short works. The loose theme of the book is PLACE.
Keen to contribute? Please read the FAQs first…
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
>What are we looking for?
Strong short works – micro-memoir, poetry, creative non-fiction, truthful experiments – from Melbourne-linked writers who have been homeless at some point in their lives.
PLACE is a LOOSE theme, not a strict one. A clearly evoked setting may be enough. Pieces don’t need to be about place – they just need to have a strong sense of place. They transport the reader: we’re right there as the story or poem unfolds. (Or maybe it’s a shopping list…a recipe…a letter…map directions?) There’s no need to write about homelessness, although you’re welcome to do so.
Quality is vital: please send us only your very best work/ideas. All selected pieces will go through an editing process, in consultation with the writer.
Brevity matters too: striking snapshots, not epic movies…a slice of life, not the whole cake. Above all, we’re seeking powerful storytelling. Writing that moves, surprises, or stirs the reader – makes them feel, think, wonder. Takes them somewhere new. Reveals the world afresh.
>How long should my piece be?
Short and sweet! (Or short and sour.) We want concise, powerful writing that packs a punch. No wasted words. Aim for one page (up to 350 words), or two pages (up to 750 words). Poems: 16 lines maximum. We also have scope to commission a few longer pieces.
>What do you mean by “homeless”?
“Homelessness” covers a range of experiences: living in a caravan park, rooming house, refuge, crisis accommodation, or transitional housing; squatting, couch-surfing with friends or relatives, sleeping rough or in a vehicle, or living in other precarious, overcrowded, or temporary forms of shelter for a period of time.
Experiences of homelessness vary widely, but common threads include poverty, inability to access the rental market, and other structural, socioeconomic, and/or personal barriers to being safely housed. Contributors do not need to publicly reveal their past or present living circumstances.
>Who can contribute?
New, emerging, and experienced writers. Contributors will be a mix of seasoned professionals, passionate hobbyists, and secret scribblers. Acclaimed authors will appear alongside talented first-timers.
The editor is particularly keen to hear from Indigenous and migrant writers, people of colour, LGBTIQ+ authors, and writers with disability.
Contributors must be 18+. You can publish under a pen name.
>Is there a deadline?
Pitches are due by 15 January 2019. But if you’re keen to contribute, please get in touch ASAP.
>When will I hear back?
Responses may take up to six weeks, depending on the volume of submissions. Final decisions on what will appear in the book will be made in mid-2019.
>Will my work definitely be published in the book?
Space is limited, so unfortunately not all submitted ideas/works will make it into the book. If your piece is not chosen, please don’t be too disappointed – there may be a chance to publish it on this website as a guest writer.
>Will I get paid?
Yes. All writers featured in the book will be paid, thanks to a City of Melbourne Arts Grant and the generous support of Affirm Press. All contributors will be paid the same rate, which is comparable to rates paid by established Australian literary journals. The exact pay rate will depend on whether further funding can be secured.
>What do you mean by “a connection to Melbourne”?
You might come from Melbourne/Naarm, live in or near the city, or have a past or present connection to the place. The Melbourne connection is open to interpretation, and can be discussed with the editor.
>What do you mean by “PLACE”?
Place = meaningful location. We’re interested in writing that explores and reveals place in all its multifaceted wonder…what places mean to us, why they matter, and how they shape our lives; glimpses of spots where major life events unfold, stories that reveal why we leave places behind. Tales about getting lost, finding your way, claiming your own place.
Places are where our lives happen. Think…mapping, belonging, city streets, workplaces, insiders and outsiders, home, wild places, nature, dreamscapes, secret sites, utopias, dystopias, landmarks, Melbourne, Australia, planet Earth, travel, thresholds, psychogeography, non-places, institutions, childhood haunts, your place in the world…
…fairgrounds, cemeteries, factories, bars, kitchens, ruins, prisons, forests, supermarkets, airports, schools, tree forts, haunted houses, secret hideouts, motels, hospitals, workplaces, street corners… Places where significant things happen, where memories are made; where our lives unravel, shift direction, are saved. The places that make us who we are.
>How do I submit?
Send us a pitch! After reading these FAQs, writers are encouraged to discuss their idea with the editor before starting a new piece. Previously published work may be considered. Submit a pitch or polished piece via the Contact page. A “pitch” is a brief outline of your story idea: a summary of what you plan to write. Be clear and concise, and keep it to around 100 words.
>Who’s funding the project?
The wonderful Affirm Press is generously covering the costs of producing, marketing, and distributing a handsomely designed full-colour book. The City of Melbourne grant will be used to pay all the contributing writers and visual artists, and to fund two public events – a book launch, and a public reading.
The book originates from an ongoing research project and a series of creative writing workshops funded by Deakin University and StreetSmart Australia, in partnership with Launch Housing, Roomers magazine, The Big Issue Australia, Unison Housing, and the Peer Education and Support Program (PESP) at Council to Homeless Persons.
>Who’s running the project?
The project is run by Melbourne-based novelist, journalist, and researcher Meg Mundell. A former deputy editor of The Big Issue Australia, Meg is now a research fellow in writing and literature at Deakin University.
Scrolling image credits (all from Unsplash.com)
- Train window: Usamah Khan
- Wet street with reflected lights: Joshua K. Jackson
- Compass on white background: Honey Yanibel Minaya Cruz
- Tree with love-heart graffiti: Glenn Carstens Peters
- Suitcases: Erwan Hesry
- Hands holding compass & map: Daniil Silantev
- Tattooed arm: Don Ross III
- Map of Australia with pins: John Tyson