17 February 2021

Get to Know You: Left to Write Facilitator, Claire Cao!

Meet Claire Cao, our Fiction Community Facilitator for Left to Write!

Claire Cao is a writer, editor and critic living on Dharug land. She edits fiction for Voiceworks and is a member of Sweatshop: Western Sydney Literacy Movement. You can find her work in publications such as Filmmaker, The Lifted Brow, Kill Your Darlings, SBS Life, Running Dog and The Big Issue. She was the runner-up of the inaugural 2019 Liminal Fiction Prize and recently worked on the feature film Here Out West.

We had a quick chat with Claire about her creative process, community and what she’s up to outside of facilitating Left to Write this year!


How has digital spaces and social media impacted your own creative process and sense of community? 

My creative process is massively shaped by online spaces from when I was a kid lurking on IMDb forums and Deviantart. Spaces like Tumblr, Livejournal, Dreamwidth and various webcomic sites contain some of my favourite memories of community – passion over storytelling was shared and nurtured.

How important is a sense of community and connection to your work as a creative? And what are some ways you have assured this (or not!) throughout your life?

So important! Throughout my life I’ve actively searched for local writers’ groups (like Sweatshop), fan communities online and programs (such as Behind Closed Doors and MIFF Critics Campus), which have given me the support, friendship, confidence and hard-hitting feedback I needed to grow and create. I also make sure to have regular writing sprints/meet-ups with my friends (both online and off).

What have you been working on recently?

Film reviews and a screenplay about estranged dance partners.

What literary piece has inspired you and your work?

I’ve been re-visiting a lot of my fave childhood books recently, and I realise so many have had a huge influence on my interests today. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones is still my ideal book – cosy, intricate and romantic, with a fiery heroine and a foppish, rude love interest.

If you could time-travel, what tips would you give yourself at the very start of your career?

I would tell myself to be less insecure over my prose and just read plenty, experience life and write whatever comes naturally. My voice is my voice and I can’t force it to be something it’s not.


Our new 2021 initiative, Left to Write, is an online 6 week writing group, workshop and community program that aims to connect writers and encourage accountability, running from 20th January, 2021 to 24th February, 2021.