Sunday, February 7, 2016

My (changing) Writing Efforts in January.

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 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.


graywave said...

Sounds like the start of a whole new chapter about to open. If you do the course, drop me a line. I used to run part of the Australian Web development group for a multinational IT company called Logica, then the Asia Pacific Web development group for IBM. Later, I freelanced as a Web designer in Brisbane. It's been eight years since I worked on anything, so my technology knowledge will be rusty, but if I can ever help with more general topics, I'd be glad to.

Good luck!

Graham Clements said...

Thanks Graham, I will.

Graham Clements said...

Unfortunately everything has gone pear-shaped. Got to the end of the application process for Austudy, spent hours trying to upload documents, even downloaded the Centrelink app, which had me taking pictures of each individual page of 20 pages of documents. But I succeeded in uploading the documents. Then clicked onto the final page, and it suggested I read a document called "Information you need to know about your claim." I downloaded it. On page eight it says "A customer who has already completed a Masters or Doctorate degree, whether in or outside Australia, is not eligible for assistance under Austudy. I had mentioned my masters to a customer service officer when I rang Centrelink about Austudy. They said it was no problem as it was on a different level than the degree. I had read a document that mentioned those who had a doctorate degree or equivalent could not get Austudy. Is a masters the equivalent of a doctorate degree? Rang Centrelink and this customer service officer says I was not eligible for a Austudy due to my masters. She then said she would put me through to some section where I could appeal the legislation. I waited in a queue for about 15 minutes and then it just went silent. But what is the point of contacting them, highly unlikely any appeal would work. So I am devastated. I won't be doing the course.

Graham Clements said...

I was just about in tears in Centrelink, my eyes were watering up. But this time from joy. Seems I am now back to being eligible for Austudy. She was conversing online with an Austudy expert and I told her everything. And just as well I took all the documents with me as she said that she could see no indication that the documents I had spent hours trying to upload on the Centrelink site and then app had been received. So I am a happy chappy. But I wont be surprised if I my application is rejected. Even if it is, I will be doing the course part-time.

Graham Clements said...

Received a message from Hank Jongen who runs a Department of Human Services facebook page: Hello Graham, I'm sorry to hear you have received conflicting information about whether you're eligibile for Austudy. I'm unable to access your customer record, but can provide some general information that may help clarify this for you. You will not qualify for Austudy if you have previously completed a Doctorate level course. Masters level courses will not impact your claim in the same way, but are assessed when determining eligibility for other payments e.g. Pensioner Education Supplement.
Your previous study (at both undergraduate and masters level) will impact on your allowable time for Austudy. You can read more about allowable time here:

So things are looking up.

Anthony J. Langford said...

Good luck with Centrelink.. sounds messy.

I did a course last year with Open Universities. Worked out pretty good in the end, not alot of online help though.
Anyway, sorry about Divine, but at least you did get all those articles out there, which is awesome.

Graham Clements said...

Anthony, good to hear you thought well of your open universities course. I tried ringing a welfare officer there to discuss my situation last week and I just ended up with an Indian call centre, who gave me a useless link to a free tuition scholarship offered by them. I need my living expenses paid. Since my last comment above, I have had three more encounters with Centrelink. None has given me a definitive answer yet, and none suggested I wouldn't get Austudy, but who knows.