Writer’s Advice – Callie Doyle-Scott

There is still time to apply for one of our coveted 2017 Writing Residencies! To help you finish your application, and give you a glimpse into the program, we’re profiling some of our 2016 writers-in-residence. Today, hear from Callie Doyle-Scott.  

Callie Doyle-Scott was born in Tasmania in 1990, but has since travelled around Australia: she currently resides in Canberra. A graduate of RMIT University’s Creative Writing program in 2013, she never quite lost the study bug: her speciality is culinary history, specifically that of Victorian England and Japan throughout the ages, though she loves to research old folktales in her spare time.

Callie started writing stories when she was ten (her first being about a cave that could turn people into animals,) and was first published in Dickson College’s CLIO History Journal with two articles on Renaissance heroines Caterina Sforza and Lucrezia Borgia. While studying, she went on to found and edit Verity La’s Out of Limbo project (an online archive devoted to the coming-out stories of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex individuals,) and participate in Bryce Courtney’s final writing masterclass in 2012. Since then, she has written articles for the Verity La and Writer’s Bloc webjournals, and hopes to establish a wider portfolio over the coming months. She is currently working to finish the draft of her first novel, a gastronomic fantasy entitled Soup for the Moon, in the hopes of approaching a publisher by the end of the year.


Why did you decide to apply for the 2016 residency program? 

At first, I applied because I knew the Residency would lend some consistency to my writing practice. Having an article to do a month sounded like a wonderful way to make sure that I wrote a little bit every day and build my portfolio into the bargain, and with Zoya as my editor I knew that they would be articles I could be proud of.

However, as I worked on my application, I realised that I also wanted to be a part of the conversation that Feminartsy represents. As a journal that gathers feminist voices from all over Australia, Feminartsy is a platform that constantly asks what it means to be a feminist, promoting, discussing and supporting the experiences and stories of women all over the country while providing a safe, supportive space for those stories to be heard. As a transgender, lesbian writer, I wanted to add my own experiences to mix: as I understand it, candid writing about what it’s like to be transgender in the modern world, by a transgender woman, is rare at best. I wanted to use this opportunity to provide what information I could to my readers, and hopefully clear up a few misconceptions along the way.

Did you always know you wanted to write? When did you start taking it seriously as a possible future career? 

I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember, ever since I started writing Pokemon fanfiction in the 4th grade. If I had to pinpoint a single moment, though, it would be after a received a copy of Martin the Warrior (by Brian Jacques,) from my uncle Paul. I remember lingering over the famously luscious descriptions of food that seemed to fill every second page, licking my lips and wondering what was going to happen next, when I thought, ‘I could do that. Why couldn’t I do that?’ Fast forward to 2017, and I spend most of my time writing about food, travel and irritable animals. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do with my life.

What’s the thing about writing that gets you the most excited to open a new word doc? 

Three words: ‘What happens next?’ For all that it’s a structured, somewhat formulaic medium, writing can be unpredictable in the most amazing ways. Characters can rebel in mid-paragraph and react to situations in ways I never would have thought of, or I might stumble across a new insight or viewpoint halfway through an article that changes the whole course of the piece. Those moments of uncertainty are why I write: for those moments when I stop just jotting down words on a page and suddenly find myself transformed into a visitor in a new and exciting world where I have no idea what’s going to happen next, but if I just keep writing, maybe I can find out.

What’s the piece from the residency program you’re most proud of and why?

It’s a difficult choice… I think I’m going to have to settle on a tie between Edible Intimacy and How my Sexuality helped me realise I was Trans. On the one hand, I was able to write about one of my greatest passions, food, and the emotional and societal connections that a perfectly cooked meal can foster regardless of culture, language and time. On the other, I explored the complex relationship between sex, gender, and the sometimes absurd expectations forced on transgender women when it comes to sexuality, both online and offline. While Edible Intimacy was a celebration of some of the happiest moments of my life, Sexuality dove deep into the horrors that come with being Gender Dysphoric in 2017, from 4chan trolls to murder statistics to the more subtle, unwitting discriminations that came from people who otherwise loved and respected me, but also looked into how I managed to move past those trials to become happy with who I was and the path I’d taken. It was difficult to write, but I felt like it had to be written.

What are your 2017 writing goals? 

Ideally, I’d like to successfully apply for another residency (the Endeavour House Writing Residency is the next on my list,) and finish a complete draft of my manuscript, but I’d be overjoyed if I could keep to a consistent writing routine. My current goal is 400 words a day, four days a week. If I can keep that up from now until the end of the year, that’ll be at least another 14,400 words under my belt, and a sizable chunk of my novel done.

I’d also like to learn how to use a slow cooker. It’s difficult to think of a more effective motivational tool than the thought of a meltingly-soft hunk of pork belly slowly sizzling away in the kitchen, ready to eat at the end of the next paragraph.

Any advice you would offer someone considering applying for a residency?

Don’t consider: apply! Read the application form carefully, and answer the questions as honestly as possible. When it comes to writing samples, provide work that fits the tone and ethos of the residency, but make sure you include writing that gets you excited about your craft. What can you write about that no-one else can? Are you the only female chef in a team of burly, boofy co-workers? Does Germaine Greer’s casual transphobia make you seethe? Are you sick of reading smug Youtube comments about Stockholm Syndrome in Beauty and the Beast? Belle had more agency than any other character in the movie, damn it, and now’s your chance to talk about it.

And if you don’t make it in? Ask for feedback, polish up your writing samples, and move on to the next residency. Every rejection brings you closer to a successful application, and the more you do, the better you’ll get at them.

So get writing. I’m looking forward to reading what you come up with.

You can find out all about applying for a 2017 Feminartsy Writing Residency here. Application are open until March 31!

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