Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Awaye! Saturday 28 June

Hello and welcome to my blog. This home blog is a chronicle of memoirs, a repository of short stories and where I post updates and pitches for new work. 

It used to be big and where I come from, we still call it the wireless. Take Johnny Cash for example, if you need convincing. Two sounds as a young boy he heard at night - a distant train across the flat, and songs out of a bakelite box. 
That's what you hear in those Johnny Cash songs - the driving, unstoppable, rhythmic steel of a wide gauge freight train, with a well timed warning blast, transformed into song that pierced the darkness. 
Radio, it still excites me. And I'll be on it, this Saturday night. 

Two things I wanted to let you know...I've got a special Twitter event you may be interested in, starting this coming weekend...and also I wanted to let you know about the free anthology recently released via itunes. I'm in it.

ABC Radio studio ...
Beyond Unaipon: Parts 1 & 2 looks at the development of the Australian Indigenous literary sector, with a new generation of writers exploring new genres and forms. 
ABC Radio National Awaye! website here
Awaye! Saturdays 6.05pm and repeated Tuesdays 9pm EST 
Awaye! Beyond Unaipon: Part 1 is here
Awaye! Beyond Unaipon: Part 2 is here

 :: Special event #tweetyarn series ::
Commencing 7pm 28 June 2014  
Concluding Saturday 5 July 2014 

'An Outsider: Yarns from the Fringe.''

Question:  What is a tweetyarn? 
Answer:  It is a story written in a series of tweets.
Apart from being a challenge to those who don’t naturally write all their stories, or write at all in installments of 140 characters at a time – until Twitter, who did that? -  it also has it’s risks. 

Being known as a writer who is only capable of typing tiny stories is a big risk. So at the same time I have also regularly posted short stories of the traditional kind - and a selection is freely available here.

I posted the Maisie May tweetyarn on 26 January 2014 – and it was subsequently collated and included in an ibook released earlier this month and available now free, for download from itunes -  Writing Black: New Indigenous Writing of Australia

Available FREE itunes 

Writing Black: New Indigenous Writing from Australia brings together leading and emerging Indigenous writers, highlighting the strength of tradition and innovation in Australia’s oldest living cultures.

There are many other surprises in store, with Siv Parker’s ground-breaking twitter fiction storytelling...

Epilogue to Maisie May, is included in the anthology in the form of a traditional short story. I think it was an essential accompaniment to the tweet yarn. I intended that this short story stands on it’s own feet, in the event that the tweets, ibooks or other technologies disappeared over night.

Inclusion of the Epilogue in Writing Black draws together threads from the January tweetyarn that continue to be ‘live’.

And more importantly I thought, it would give a reason to seek out a story that by the time the i-book came out, had been online for five months.
Tweetyarns positions me as a writer. 
Many people take up their devices to use Twitter to sell something - but handle self promotion badly, and you risk ending up with a product that you couldn't even give away ,

A more reliable means of publishing live tweets may come along in the future. This would add a whole new dimension to using twitter to publish stories. The ‘Storify' platform is a current option but it is frequently unstable, and it lacks visual delights.
The overwhelming impression I was left with after my first writers' festival (Byron Bay WF) was there are a lot of people just like me - we all want to be published and have to find a way to find a good fit with someone who cares enough to make that happen.

My writing room ...
An unknown writer in the middle of no where aiming for an international readership needs to do the hardlifting themselves. I need to develop my writing, be resilient enough to keep going alone and think about how I want to position myself. If I didn't believe it was possible I would have stopped a long time before now.
Some may say it is risky behaviour to post 'raw' work, but when you have nothing to start with, staying under the radar is a bigger serve of nothing. 

And the best advice I've received is 'back yourself and your writing'.  

The best return on my tweetyarns to date have been - joyfully - paid commissions for short stories and OpEds. 
But I've come to value the conversations my works have started – these are the benefits of producing quick-read, accessible stories, that suit the smaller eyebytes that we're all looking for amongst the traffic that never sleeps.

To get attention, you need to be instantly engaging and entertaining enough so that who ever comes across it, wants to find their way to reading the end of it. I may be alone on this one, but I've always thought that a handy skill to develop with any piece if you want to be a writer, with something to offer a publisher.

This formula certainly applies to a yarn of any kind worth telling around a fire.


As always - comments and feedback are welcome. 

You can contact me via email here

Or via Twitter here.



#tweetyarn Maisie May 26 January 2014

#tweetyarn Dog Act


Awaye! Beyond Unaipon: Part 1 is here
Awaye! Beyond Unaipon: Part 2 is here

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Survey 1 - Results [16June]

Firstly, I’d like to say thankyou to everyone who retweeted and had a look at my first attempt at a weekly survey and especially thankyou with my deep appreciation – really! - for those who took the time to complete the survey.

I have learnt a lot from this exercise and will be making some improvements to future surveys.

I explain more about “why a survey?’ here.


Q 1. Do you like cat pics on Twitter?


Yes: 50%
No: 50%

Early results showed somewhat of an aversion to cats – and announcing interim results, saw a climb in support for felines in social media.
Notes - to accommodate the preferences of at least half of Twitter who prefer zero cats, I will not be including any more ice breaker survey questions about cats.

Q 2. This question sought feedback around familiarity (from 1 to 5) with some common phrases in the Indigenous affairs lexicon :
Constitutional Recognition, Sovereignty, Self-determination, Assimilation.


The results indicated that respondents were most familiar with ‘Assimilation’  and there was broad understanding of all of the terms, with the least recognition to do with understanding, and being able to explain ‘Sovereignty’.

50% understood what Constitutional Recognition and Sovereignty means and 30% could explain it.
'Self determination' had the broadest spread of answers, spanning from unsure of the meaning, to ‘understanding’, ‘able to explain it’, and advocating at public forums (for or against).
And the highest score for familiarity with a term was for ‘Assimilation’ - confidence in being able to explain what it means scored the highest (70%) and another 20% answered they are sufficiently confident in their understanding to advocate (for or against).

Q 3. Let's check your gut responses....

You see an Aboriginal person laying on the footpath, close to the entrance of a block of flats. The person is unconscious and bleeding from the head. There is no one around. Is your first response ...
  • Ring the police.
  • The person is in clear view in a busy location and you do not want to get involved.
  • Ring an ambulance.

Notes: In hindsight, I would not have included Questions 3 & 4, or I would have rephrased the questions, or if I wanted to ensure accuracy, I would have needed to disable the ability to revise a previous answer.

Q 4. You are cleaning the windows of your first floor flat - and standing on a chair lean over the balcony to clean a window - and topple over the edge. You land on the ground and sustain a head injury.

Do you want passerbys to... 
  • Ring the police
  • Call an ambulance.


In 100% of the cases – regardless of who was laying on the ground – respondents indicated they would call for an ambulance.

Notes: For a first time survey  – it was an interesting exercise for me, in how to frame a survey question that a) doesn’t alienate respondents, b) seeks feedback on sensitive issues, and c) decides to be a survey, rather than a moral challenge.

Q 5. In a question on popular culture and two recent ground breaking tv shows that were developed, written, filmed by and with most of the key roles filled by, Indigenous people, the question was ‘what did you watch?’ :


Redfern Now 67%
Gods of Wheat Street 11%
Neither 22%

Q 6. Which of these issues is the most important (needs public, corporate and/or philanthropic support):

Support services (MH, AOD)
Justice reinvestment
Health services


Racism 14.2%
Homelessness 14.2%
Health services 14.2%
Education 57.17%

The results need to be read in conjunction with some of the comments, which also serve to assist in analysing the results:

  • Ending fossil fuel dependency and the rapid destruction of the biosphere.
  • All of the above.
  • That is a really tough question; Ultimately all these things should work together.
  • All above are important.
  • Very hard to choose. Racism or other bigotry is at the heart of many of these issues.
  • Very hard choices lady. But the latter will result in all of the above.

Q 7. This was a hypothetical around a scenario with limited options – what would you do?

Consider, if you were unemployed and homeless with a sick child - what would be your immediate priority, if these were your only choices?


Look for a bed for the night ... 40%
Beg for $7 to go to the doctor ... 60%
Attend a job interview ... 0%

Q 8. More popular culture - Indigenous films, tv and literature – what do you want to see more of..?
comedy, drama, action thrillers, romantic drama/comedies, bio’s & documentaries, lifestyle shows, reality shows and diversity.


Comedy ... 11%
Thriller ... 11%
Romantic drama / comedy ... 22.2%
‘I’d rather see diversity in Australian film, tv and literature’ ... 55.5%

And one respondent indicated an interest in a genre not specified – ‘horror and work based on Australian history’.

I explain more about “why a survey?’ here.

[Updated]   NEW OnDusk 'Survey' page is here



All survey results will now be stored here

Why a survey?

I like surveys. 

I have been reading them for most of my working life. 

Though it's true Aboriginal issues, and in more recent times 'racism', are frequently the subject of surveys, I'll read just about any polls and data about preferences and dislikes, eg politics, popular culture, tv ratings, and pirated download figures. 

In the interests of transparency – and there needs to be some, if you are thinking about running a regular online survey, I’ll explain how my idea to run a weekly online survey developed.  

There are two reasons why I will click on a survey:

  1. INFORMATION. I am interested in the results.
  2. TRUST. I have some confidence that the methodogy is sound, and the results are confidential.

I have a lot of questions on my mind most of the time, and no one else was providing the information I was looking for, so I decided to ask the questions myself.

I thought there might be an interest in the results, from time to time, so I decided to blog the data and some of my thoughts about what I thought they meant.

Social media is changing (constantly) and I was looking for another means of engagement.

Or to put it another way – it’s not you, it’s me.

I’ve long claimed that as a writer I need connectivity because I spend so much time alone. But I am not really alone. I have the internet. And I’m not in here by myself. I write for most of the day but the internet is always waiting for me to check in and stay a while. Even those who are surrounded by people in real life, are on their device for a lot of the time. 

I recently spent a week in a hotel in the Melbourne CBD. It was an obstacle course of people glued to their screens - they are not watching where they are walking, they are slow to navigate any corner, street light, and entrance way, they tend to need to be told more than once their order is ready, they are careless with whatever sharp edged and cumbersome for others’ item they are carrying, and other people are invisible to them. 
I can guess at a few of the reasons for the emerging trend of the need for connectivity, that comes on top of and on it’s way to what will be the next emerging trend.

What happened, Twitter? Remember when…


Survey to be posted Sunday by midnight EST
Survey will close  Monday 6pm EST
Survey results blogged Monday 9pm EST
The survey will be open for 24 hours. 
It will run every Monday (pending interest).

The timing is based around the social media behaviour that I‘ve observed..

I’m in the habit of sharing a yarn and hanging out on Twitter on Sunday afternoons.

I watch the ABC tv show, Q & A on Monday nights. My life doesn’t revolve around one tv show – but when there is talk of a reported 70,000 tweets an hour being generated on a slow night with the hashtage #qanda, I am not alone in saying I watch Q and A on a Monday night.

I am not a professional surveyor -  I am not intending to complete a degree in epidemiology or a ph.d in research methods. 
I am asking questions because I am interested in the results and I’m a blogger so I will post the results.  I am aware that this limits the application of the data.

Results will remain confidential where they identify the respondents in any way. Future surveys may include questions around demographics, but they are no intended to be used for identification purposes.

I was keen to experiment with Survey Monkey and I am happy with the results so far, but always looking for new social media tools.

Future surveys will have less questions, and less of an emphasis on cats. I’m aiming for it to be a small survey – something to do – an icebreaker – a conversation starter, and occasionally a poll of a topical issue.

And finally, I’ve had some people contact me suggesting questions – thanks!

Future questions will be on topics such as :

Indigenous people - what do you want to know?
Advocacy and representations

I am a writer – I am interested in everything.
I am independent – and pursue that ideal vigorously.



Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Monday night surveys

Check out my new survey here

Why a survey? 

For me.... I'm always interested in 'what do people think?' My interest doesn't stop with the survey - I see it as an icebreaker.

For you ... You may also be interested, so I'll post the results to my blog. The results are anonymous and will only be reported on my blog. 

If there is sufficient interest, I plan to post...
Survey questions - topics will vary - at 6pm each Monday. 
Survey closes midnight Monday. 
 Results posted after midday Tuesdays EST 

Updated -11pm for the benefit of respondents 
across the timezones,
survey results will be posted Midday Tuesdays. :) 

Today's survey includes questions include... 

  • Do you know what 'Constitutional Recognition' means? Sovereignty? Assimilation?
  • Redfern Now Vs Gods of Wheat Street...which did you prefer?
  • What do you think is the most important issue requiring support: possible answers include racism? self determination? jobs?

Results will be posted here (without too much ado, I hope).

My philosophy - there is no right or wrong way to experiment with new mediums, providing I am not using or exploiting anyone else.

I'm trialing the use of a new SM tools (new to me, at least) and today's is Survey Monkey.

I am interested in useful - possibly  - and hopefully with minimal expense, if not FREE SM tools.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Creative & black

When it comes to black social media – and I'll say now, Twitter and blogging is where I started but not where my interests end – there is one person who can take the credit for making it all possible.

One person who enabled the whispering in the corners to become a shout out.

Creative people ...
Colour outside the lines

One person who set us all up to be able to speak for ourselves and start a new conversation....where Indigenous  people -  Aboriginal mob, black fullas -  could broadcast I am excellent at what I do, I have dreams, I am here and I am not going away

One person responsible for all the blogs. All the twitter handles.

One person responsible for all the campaigns, the protests and the growth of Indigenous opinion online.

All this was made possible by one person…

...this guy ~~~> the bloke who invented the internet.

Ever since then we are all working it - refining it, learning from it, improving how we use it, and hopefully benefiting from it.

Creative people...
Think with their heart

Social media is a powerful tool, especially for people with a strong sense of community responsibility: a respect for principles and cultural practices, and it is the most efficient means of sharing resources and information. People use social media to fight against racism, and promote better ways to deliver health services and education. They talk about social issues, injustice and inequity.

Hate the rules & make lots of mistakes

There is no regulatory body for black social media. There is no standard set of protocols. 

I’m not saying we need one. A person would be all kinds of crazy to think one was possible, or be the one to try and make it happen.

There is no requirement to reveal identities. No elections. No unifying social media presence. No accountability and no transparency. No one has all the answers, speaks for everyone, and no one has an agenda that is any more or less deserving of attention than another. 
What do you mean ‘we’ ...
... clarity around who ‘we’ and ‘us’ is exactly when fund raising for projects associated with ‘the Indigenous community” would be awesome so people know what they are buying.
BREAKING NEWS I’m not part of any group that is asking, hoping, encouraging or praying for donations, or advertising merchandise for sale.

We can’t claim diversity without acknowledging there are vastly different life experiences, different priorities and different aspirations.

Creative people...
are risk takers

Social media  – depending on who you are – in no particular order, is your job, your leisure, your source of income, your connectivity, your activism, your art, or where you ‘pay it back’.

Change their mind a lot

Talking of way... the issue of 'pay the writers' took a while to play out, in media in general. I think it was universally agreed that if your business plan involves the writing of words - and you do not have the means to pay the person who produces the content, then what sort of 'business' is it, exactly.

Now...listen up - and I'd be confident in knowing this (and the cat pic that I will conclude with) are probably the most compelling parts of this post because many people enter into social media with a business model in mind:   in the early days of an online transaction, everyone's a winner when an unknown writer is providing content for an unknown site. 

But then comes the day - if the person writing is any 'good' and the person operating the site is any 'good' - that there's money in it for someone. And instead of exposure, it becomes *cough* exploitation. 

Indigenous writing - blogging - social commentary - is not immune from this. In fact, if it plays out like most other business opportunities, the black person could expect to come out of this worse than others in similar circumstances. Sad, but true. 

Carpetbaggers: eg, unscrupulous business people who target communities to sell dodgy mobile phone bundles and funeral plans. 

If you are Indigenous you can be made to feel (when this is a choice any individual should get to make for themselves) that it's more incumbent on you to have a social conscience, the pressure is greater to do it for your people, or for your community, on the suggestion of others or a commercial entity that was savvy enough to see an opportunity.  Or other times and probably most of the time because the snippets we see of each other are not enough to really know where they are coming from when it's people making the connections and developing the networks that social media is GREAT in developing, though how would YOU feel if this was your week for example...
...I field 2 requests a week to have my work on someone's blog; in someone's book, lecture; for their students, their column, their radio show, their pozible campaign and their grant application, their festival and their ph'd studies, their social media workshop and their rotation curation account; their community arts group and their organisation's fundraising project...

Social media can be an adventure and where an artist chooses to promote their paid work, that travels through combinations of all the above – eg, you start on twitter because you work alone, live in the middle of nowhere and even though writing is definitely not a team sport and best done alone, there's a creative need to connect with other artists, then - BAM -
Creative people...
Dream big

..... a year later you are coordinating an online International Indigenous Social Media Festival.*

Social media is the means to experiment – to flex your writing and your voice. It can be as much or as little as you put in to it. No one can make or give you a 'social media presence' – and to suggest otherwise is mythmaking. And social media can be a hella wake up call to what you would not have done if you had known better when you started – trust me on this.

Work independently

The nature of social media is that it grows and changes very rapidly. It’s why it appeals to me. If I want to tell new stories, change my world, achieve my goals, and make a living as an artist, then social media is the place for me because I can reinvent myself over and over and over again.

Creative people ...
Easily bored
Have a reputation for eccentricity.

This post was inspired by a tweet I saw today with a list of the characteristics of creative people. The tweet was protected so I am unable to give credit where credit is due.

I’m a writer. There is more than one voice. There is more than one story. There is also more than one way to affect social change. And I can't count the ways there are to influence – some are subtle, and other forms will burn it down to the ground.

And thanks to the internet there is more than one way of telling a story. The chains on a community, around a group, an industry or a society need not apply when it comes to the world wide web. They just don't need to. 

True, them mob broken down on the side of the road might need a lift, and that's no worries, I'm happy to help, but they're not bringing their stuff - there is no room for their baggage in my vehicle.

New technology, him good way to tell em stories. Can use em computer to make em story in picture, in sound and in little boxes.

And we can express ourselves in different languages; different narratives; new industries, and new genres. New formats of publishing, and new ways of bringing stories to life in webseries and hangouts are already here now. 

Top tip: Combine new technologies with a social media strategy and a business plan.

And it’s cheap mate. Put your mind to it, and you could just about do it for nothing. Providing you open your mind to the possibilities.

And if you are a creative person – an artist – that’s what you do.

*2015 – World Indigenous Storytelling Hangout Festival
WISH Festival
Online – interactive – free
Stay tuned!