January was a very moody month for me. I had a great break in Melbourne for a few days. I stayed in St Kilda and played tourist. I went to the cricket too, a one day match. I thought Australia was going to lose, but Glen Maxwell hit 94 runs and Australia beat the Indians. I had my birthday, and got a couple of books I wanted. But on that same day, a letter was being signed, informing me that the writer’s program at Divine was being scrapped. I rang the editor, she confirmed that the website is changing to more of an information site, so few, if any, articles will be published on it. I was nearly in tears.
After 52 articles over five and a half years I am no longer paid to write for Divine. Although I had a few ups and downs while writing for the site, overall it was a great site to write for. I got to write on many different subjects and in many different styles. I interviewed writers and actors with disabilities, and a professor who had programmed robots to aide people with disabilities. I reviewed films about people with disabilities. I wrote about personal experiences like what it is like looking for work with a disability. Through my research for articles, I discovered Australia has one of the worst attitudes in the world to people with disabilities. We refuse to employ them or show them on our television screens, and seem to be satisfied with condemning many of them to live in poverty.
I was so involved in writing for Divine. I was always reading about disabilities in the media. But now it is gone. I can only hope I get another opportunity to write such wide-ranging articles for an organisation that cares about more than click bait.
So I was on a real downer after I read that letter. But even on that day I started planning for my next stage of life. I had been thinking about doing a website design course for a few years and using my writing skills to create awesome websites. I did some research and found there is a high demand for website designers in Australia – I had thought the opposite. I then found an online course full of website design subject, through a government approved provider, Open Universities. I found out I could get not only fee-help but a commonwealth supported spot in that course (if I had enrolled in time). I rang Open Universities to ask some questions, and ended up enrolling. If it turns out to be a captain’s pick, I can still withdraw before the census date at no cost. Now I am going through the process of claiming Austudy.
With all that going on, I have done little writing. I am still in chapter ten of the redrafting of my novel Branded. I added about 2500 words to it in January. I did not critique anything in January either. Twice I printed out stories from critters.org and read them once, but I did not get around to reading them a second time and scribbling all over them. And I read very little fiction in January too, maybe 50 pages on the train to Melbourne. I am still too tired at night to read.
If my Austudy claim is successful and I start the course, I will need to devote about 30 hours a week to study (the study guide says 20-24hrs). So it is going to take some determination to ensure I make substantial progress in my redrafting of Branded. Hopefully I can.
Oh, and I did get one last article up on Divine in January. It’s a review of AccessibleMelbourne, a free Lonely Planet travel guide for people with disabilities.