• Emerging Writers competition judges Benjamin Law and Melissa Lucashenko. (Supplied )Source: Supplied
“The SBS Emerging Writers’ Competition is so necessary and important. Given the rich diversity of Australia’s multicultural communities, we don’t nearly have enough of that diversity in publishing."
By
Sarah Malik

4 Aug 2020 - 8:44 AM  UPDATED 28 Aug 2020 - 5:30 PM

Are you an emerging writer (who has never had a book published) and do you have story about growing up in diverse Australia? We want to hear from you. Entries close September 15. To enter apply here https://www.sbs.com.au/writers. The winner will get $5000 to kickstart their writing career, and be published on SBS Voices.  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers are encouraged to enter. 

If you would like some advice, why not hear from our judges? 

As a First Nations writer and the child of refugees, I feel a strong compulsion to say to emerging writers: you matter.

Melissa Lucashenko  

 

Melissa Lucashenko is a Goorie author of Bundjalung and European heritage. Her first novel, Steam Pigs, was published in 1997 and since then her work has received acclaim in many literary awards. Too Much Lip is her sixth novel and won the 2019 Miles Franklin Literary Award and the Queensland Premier’s Award for a Work of State Significance. It was also shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Fiction, the Stella Prize, two Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, two Queensland Literary Awards and two NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. Melissa is a Walkley Award winner for her non-fiction work, and a founding member of human rights organisation Sisters Inside. She writes about ordinary Australians and the extraordinary lives they lead.

When you start to talk back and craft a voice for yourself on the page that’s independent of what mainstream Anglo Australia wants you to be, it’s an absolute joy and liberation. 

Melissa's advice

The best advice to budding writers is to free their mind from pre-conceptions and expectations to please. 

“What that does is that it frees you from chains you don’t even know you’re wearing. When you start to talk back and craft a voice for yourself on the page that’s independent of what mainstream Anglo Australia wants you to be, it’s an absolute joy and liberation. 

"Australia is so much more than we have been led to believe. This is a country of Blak, brown and yellow voices, both heard and unheard. It is the country of those who know they don’t feature in the mainstream imagination. The country of those excluded and downtrodden and for too long left out of the picture. As a First Nations writer and the child of refugees, I feel a strong compulsion to say to emerging writers: you matter. Your story matters. I’m listening. Together we can make change happen."

Benjamin Law 

Benjamin Law is the author of The Family Law (2010), Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East (2012), the Quarterly Essay Moral Panic 101 (2017), and editor of Growing Up Queer in Australia (2019). Law created and co-wrote three seasons of the award-winning SBS TV series The Family Law, based on his memoir, and his sold-out debut play Torch the Place (Melbourne Theatre Company) ran February–March 2020. In 2019, he was named one of the Asian-Australian Leadership Summit’s (AALS) 40 Under 40 Most Influential Asian-Australians (winning the Arts, Culture & Sport category) and one of Harper’s Bazaar’s Visionary Men. He has a PhD in creative writing and cultural studies from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

Law is based in Sydney. He is co-chair of the Screen Diversity and Inclusion Network, board member of Story Factory and Sydney Festival, and ambassador for Plan AustraliaBridge for Asylum Seekers and the Pinnacle Foundation

Write the story you wish you could have read when you were younger.

Ben's tips

"I decided to be a judge for this competition because I am a judgemental person (laughs). Also - and not but - I really love reading and work from perspectives and writers I have not yet encountered. If this sounds like you, if you have a story to tell, I want to see those stories! Write the story you wish you could have read when you were younger.

"Right now in Australia, one in five of us speak languages other than English at home. One in four of us were born overseas and half of Australians have at least one parent born overseas and are first- or second-generation migrants. If you are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander you belong to the oldest continuing civilisation on the planet has ever seen and that is a rich diversity of stories.

"When people ask me ‘is diversity is important?’ I say first of all,  we are already diverse. 

"Diversity of stories is so important because if we don’t showcase the richness of who we are, it’s going to prevent us from understanding ourselves, our families, our communities, our neighbourhoods, this country. We need this to have conversations about our history and the future of 21st century contemporary Australia.

"The SBS Emerging Writers’ Competition is so necessary and important. Given the rich diversity of Australia’s multicultural communities, we don’t nearly have enough of that diversity in publishing. And we’re definitely not hearing enough from young people. Thankfully we have a lot more young diverse writers coming up through the ranks, but I want to hear more.

"The SBS Emerging Writers’ Competition is totally something I would have entered when I was younger. Opportunities like this are super important because they put you on peoples' radar. People will read your stories that would not have otherwise encountered your work, so entering and making sure you have skin in the game is super important."

Are you a budding writer? Do you have a story to tell about growing up in diverse Australia? Enter the SBS Emerging Writers’ Competition for your chance to kickstart your career. Entries are open from August 15 and close September 15, 2020. Go to www.sbs.com.au/writers for more information.

Tips for entering the SBS Emerging Writers’ Competition
Your memoir piece may be poignant, humorous or a mix of both. The important thing is that it’s your story, and no one else's.
SBS launches the inaugural SBS Emerging Writers’ Competition
SBS is looking for the next generation of diverse Australian writers.
Meet the judges of the SBS Emerging Writers' Competition
“The SBS Emerging Writers’ Competition is so necessary and important. Given the rich diversity of Australia’s multicultural communities, we don’t nearly have enough of that diversity in publishing."