8 May 2018

Showcasing 2017 Toolkits: Fiction participant, Anneliz Erese

Toolkits is a rigorous 12-week program for writers aged 30 and under to develop their skills in a unique and exciting online environment. Each program includes one-on-one mentoring and feedback from an established writer, specialised presentations from guest artists and the opportunity to network with other young people working in the same literary form. In 2017,  our Toolkits: Fiction young writers learnt the ins and outs of creative writing, facilitated by Jennifer Down.

We asked 2017 Toolkits: Fiction partipant, Anneliz Marie Erese, what she thought about the program, and this is what she had to say.

When I first learned I got in the Toolkits: Fiction program, I could not believe it. It was a wonderful opportunity and I was excited about it. The topics covered such as creating characters, writing about the setting, and editing were very helpful and engaging. The selection of readings were varied and interesting and the opportunity to hear from guest authors such as Tony Birch and Elena Gomez was the highlight of the program in my opinion. Toolkits was special because it gives new writers like me the chance to be learn from established ones and to do it in the comfort of our own home. Through Toolkits, I was able to develop my short story entitled ‘Departures’ which is about a closer look at the day of a life of an elderly immigrant in Australia. The primary challenge while the short story was still an idea was to portray a character who is authentic and true to her culture and roots (e.g. language, habits, life priorities) but also to put her in a setting that is authentic and true to a suburban Australia. With the help of the facilitator, Jennifer Down, my questions regarding the characterisation of a non-native English speaker were answered. My co-writers also participated in the development of my work through their feedback. Toolkits is an awesome avenue to make mistakes and learn from them because everyone is supported throughout and even beyond the program, and I recommend it to anyone who writes!

Read an excerpt from one of our 2017 Toolkits: Fiction partipants, Anneliz Marie Erese.


Departures

The train station, according to the driver, was a ten-minute walk from the bus stop. Clem was complaining about her shoes. I offered to carry her but she did not want me to. I’m a big girl now, she said. She meant to say she was heavy but she was not. I asked if she was hungry but she shook her head. She also refused to sit on the pavement to rest. There was no helping her. She was walking so quickly ahead of me that I could not keep up. My legs were shaking from all the walking. The bags were heavy on my back and I wished I did not buy so many oranges. I pretended I was back home, harvesting tomatoes at our small farm in the middle of summer. Around my waist would be a basket of the ripe ones, weighing at least fifteen kilos. There would be a table under a big guava tree just a few metres away from the end of the field. The flies would be swarming around the sacks of tomatoes that were waiting to be picked up. It was easy to carry heavy things back home because they were familiar.

‘I need to pee, Lola,’ Clem said, almost in tears.

We walked through the path at the park and I told her I would watch for passers-by. There was no-one around except for a man who was strolling with his dog in a leash. Moments later, a scream pierced through the silence. I immediately went to where Clem was taking a leak behind a bushy part of the park when she ran to my arms, crying.

‘Ano’ng nangyari?’ I bent my knees to look at her face covered with tears and wiped them with my fingers.

She pointed back to the bush. ‘I think the magpie’s dead.’

Dead. Even I could understand the word. I hear it on the news almost every day. I have read it the first time on our local newspaper when there was a report on my husband. LOCAL FARMER DEAD AT THE MILL. The boss said it was an accident. The machine was supposed to be broken so my husband checked on it. The boss was sobbing on the local television as he was giving his account. He said there was so much blood. The grain came out all bloodied that they could not even sell it. They lost five hundred thousand pesos worth of grain. My husband lost his arm. And then his life.

When I looked over to see what Clem was talking about, I saw a black and white bird almost as big as Clem’s bag.

‘Buhay pa,’ I whispered. Its chest was heaving, its beak open, gasping for air. There was an open wound on its leg, and the blood tarnished its wings as well. It was not dead yet but it might as well be.

‘What should we do?’ Clem asked. ‘What happened to it?’

‘Hindi ko alam, Clem.’ I was blankly staring at it. It was making an eerie noise, as if there was someone cutting through a thin sheet of steel beside us. Clem started crying again. She was begging me to make it stop. I did not know what to do. I could smell both her pee and the bird’s blood on the grass. I was pretty sure Clem soiled her underwear.


Anneliz Marie Erese focused on essay and journalistic writing up until she finished high school. While taking up a Science degree, she spent her spare time writing short stories and poems on her journals, and on platforms such as Tumblr and WordPress. She moved to Victoria from the Philippines to pursue a career in the literary industry. She is currently writing her master’s thesis on how prose poetry can be used to abolish literary genres. She has been immersing herself in the arts and literary scene by volunteering at events such as the Independent Publishing Conference, Asia TOPA, and the most recent Emerging Writers’ Festival. Inspired by these experiences, she founded and co-edit, with a small team, an arts and literature digital magazine for Filipino creatives called ALPAS Journal. She writes fiction, non-fiction and poetry. She enjoys literary fiction the most and is hoping to have a book published someday. Her bookshelf consists of authors such as Ann Patchett, Margaret Atwood and Annie Dillard. 


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