Posted on March 7, 2019 by ACT Writers Centre

Image credit: Leah Jing McIntosh

Shu-Ling Chua is a Melbourne-based writer. Her work focusses on culture, femininity and growing up, and has appeared in FeminartsyPeril MagazineThe Lifted Brow and Meanjin, among others. She is working on an essay collection exploring the intersections between life and art. Shu-Ling is a board member of Peril Magazine and was previously producer of Noted Writers Festival and Voiceworks nonfiction editor. She was shortlisted in the 2018 Woollahra Digital Literary Award, highly commended in the 2017 Feminartsy Memoir Prize and selected for the 2015 HARDCOPY manuscript development program. 

Applications for the 2019 nonfiction HARDCOPY program close at 4pm on Friday 15 March. Apply Now

When you look back on your HARDCOPY experience, what are your reflections? 

I applied for HARDCOPY 2015 at the very beginning of my writing career. At that point, I had a limited publication history (my blog and three art reviews) and 9,000 words of a memoir manuscript. Being accepted for HARDCOPY was the moment I identified as a writer. I’m grateful to HARDCOPY for giving me the spark / momentum I needed!

What was the most productive part of HARDCOPY for you? 

Before HARDCOPY, I hadn’t realised that writing communities exist and that they could be so generous and encouraging. Sarah Vincent (fellow 2015 HARDCOPIER) encouraged me to submit memoir to Writers Victoria and it was accepted, my first paid and deeply personal piece! Most importantly, I grew in confidence and started to pitch and immerse myself in writing/publishing communities. In 2016, for example, I produced events for Noted Writers Festival and edited nonfiction for Voiceworks.

What’s your advice for those considering applying to HARDCOPY? 

Reflect on your writing goals; it’s okay if they change. While I learnt so much during HARDCOPY, I also realised that I wasn’t ready to write a book and that I didn’t want to continue the manuscript I had started. I decided to focus on becoming a better writer through building my writing portfolio, attending writers festivals and reading widely. I wasn’t selected for Round 2; rather than see this as an ending, I saw HARDCOPY as just the beginning. I’m proud of everything I’ve achieved since.

Where are you up to with your writing?

I set aside my manuscript at the end of the HARDCOPY program and focused on publishing shorter pieces and developing writing friendships/communities. Since 2015, I have written memoir and criticism (mostly about sex, culture, feminism/femininity and growing up) for a range of publications, including FeminartsyPeril Magazine, Lindsay and Meanjin, and have been invited to speak at various writers festivals and events. Having written from guilt, pain and trauma for years, my purpose as a writer is shifting.

What’s next for you? 

I’ve just finished an essay on past selves and self-destruction vs. self-creation for Meanjin’s Autumn edition. It’s my longest (3,700 words!) and most ambitious work. I don’t want to give too much away but it’s partly about saying goodbye to the manuscript I worked on for HARDCOPY. I’m working on an essay collection exploring the intersections between life and art. It feels much closer to the book I do want to write.

Follow Shu-Ling on @hellopollyanna and via her blog

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