Newsletter #9
Welcome, dear readers, to your fortnightly dose of ScratchThat. This week brings you magic, aesthetic clutter, and a special guest appearance. Read on for a letter from Jakeb Smith, a member of the ScratchThat editorial board.

Submissions for ScratchThat Issue Five are open! Get your pieces in before Friday 14 May via the link on our website. We were completely enamoured with your submissions for Issue Four, and can't wait to see what you've got for us this issue!

This week, we are delighted to feature work from emerging visual artist Rhiannon Lobley. Look out for her five incredible pieces throughout this newsletter. You can find Rhiannon on Instagram at @nandles.
For lovers of Boy Swallows Universe: Trent Dalton will be the guest reader at the QUT Literary Salon for May! For an opportunity to read your work in front of a best-selling author, submit your written pieces on the Lit Salon website.
If you are a Dalton fan (like we are), we will see you there!
What we've been consuming

Everybody’s talking about Shadow and Bone. Leigh Bardugo’s many readers are loving Netflix’s new TV show, which is interesting, considering its deviation from the books. The protagonist Alina is now half Shu (a country inspired by East Asian cultures), when Bardugo wrote her as white. Portrayals of racism are rare in fantasy, and often involve too much elf-related metaphor. Shadow and Bone draws on the experiences of one of its writers, Christina Strain, to depict Alina’s strikingly sincere questions of belonging and responses to microaggressions. 

The plot of Six of Crows (a separate duology, and arguably Bardugo’s best and most beloved work) was abandoned in the show. However, ideal casting and clever writing drew the characters in captivating light. I suspect that the Crows’ famed heist, and their glaringly absent sixth member, will appear in later seasons. 

            Instead of setting readers off, these changes became part of what made the show so wonderfully complex. The character work and casting choices has brought the Grishaverse to spectacular life.


Listening: I have a confession to make. Actually, I have two. The first is that I am a McElroy family fan, to a slightly shameful extent. The second is that I have to listen to podcasts in order, whether each episode is its own creation or not. This means that when I started listening to My Brother, My Brother and Me by Justin, Travis, and Griffin McElroy, I went all the way back to the beginning -- 2010 to be exact. I am pleased to announce that this week I made it to episode 100. Only 455 episodes (and counting) to go!

Reading: Speaking of Trent Dalton, I’ve just started All Our Shimmering Skies and I am full of the warm rush that only starting a book I’m extremely excited for brings (you know, the feeling that let your Grade 4 self read a whole novel in one sitting multiple times a week). I didn’t read his first novel Boy Swallows Universe for the longest time – it was a Christmas present that I let sit on the shelf for months, a decision I regretted as soon as I began. If All Our Shimmering Skies is going to be even half as good as Boy Swallows Universe, I know I’m in for a ride.


The past two weeks I have been consuming Yoshitomo Nara artwork like it's candy. Actually, I've been consuming it like it's the sole source of sustenance keeping me alive. I'm obsessed. Nara is a Japanese artist whose works take the form of printmaking, painting, sculpture, ceramics and installations. By now you're bound to have seen one of his widespread works of art, and if you haven't then that's something I would be worried about, if I'm being frank. 
Many of his pieces feature cute renditions of cartoon girls, but my personal favourites of these are the ones wherein there is a notable spark of rebellion and mischievousness, like in his pieces Real One (2019) and Fire (2009).   
You can find some of his work with a simple Google search! He has even published books for your viewing pleasure. 
A platter of ponderings

“You have so much stuff!” “Ellie, you’re such a hoarder.” “How do you own so much crap?”

When my friends (loving as they are) want to make fun of me, this is often where they begin. And yes, I own most of the furniture in my shared unit. I have a lot of hobbies, so I have drawers full of material, knitting needles, glitter, origami paper, air-dry clay, and five different brands of superglue. I enjoy cooking, so my kitchen is packed with herbs and spices and different types of flour. There are definitely too many mugs in the cupboard and I have a terrible habit of buying books without ever reading them. My plants are my babies and I keep every card I’ve been written. I comb op shops Brisbane-wide for crocheted table toppers and wall hangings embroidered by someone’s long-forgotten grandma. The bric-a-brac section in the West End Lifeline is my happy place. For three years my Instagram bio simply read ‘clutterbitch’. 

It’s not about wanting to buy things, though. Plenty of the trinkets on my shelves I made myself, and most of the art on my walls was created by friends. I try to buy from local artists at the markets and I would rather spend a few hours toddling through Salvos than Bed Bath N’ Table. It’s not about hoarding, either; everything is carefully curated and placed. Sections of rooms have their own themes (I’m particularly fond of the little forest section in a corner of my bedroom). I like feeling at home in my own house. I want each room to feel cosy and comfortable and warm. I love that my friends (when they aren’t poking fun) walk inside and say ‘Wow, this feels like you.’

Minimalism and I have never gotten along. Cold, white walls and empty tables remind me of my dentist’s waiting area, the vet surgery back room, and the offices in Suits. It all rolls into one anxiety-riddled aesthetic that screams “I’m rich enough to not need stuff.” I visit shiny new apartments in Newstead and the Valley and am immediately four years old again, being hissed at by my mum to ‘look not touch’. I see the dozens of apartment blocks shooting up in West End and New Farm, and I know that inside they’re just open-plan architecture with sterile lighting. This fills me with a disappointment difficult to describe.

You can read articles from Vox and Jezebel about the rise of maximalism (or rather, the extreme swing away from minimalism), and anyone who’s come close to cottagecore on TikTok won’t be a stranger to cluttered aesthetics. At the end of the day, how we fill our living spaces is entirely a personal preference. But I will be abandoning the pressure to keep benches bare and walls vacant. A home without personality just isn’t for me.

A Letter from the Editor

Hello, I'm Jakeb Smith, and I was one of the co-editors for ScratchThat Issue Four. Being a part of the editorial board was such a blessing. I knew QUT was full of talented writers, but actually getting to read the submissions blew my mind. I found myself looking to the submissions as inspiration for my own work. The voice in some of the fiction was so powerful, I could not stop reading. The poetry was beautiful, and at times hilarious, which gave the issue a good balance. Our non-fiction was efficacious; it all had a point to make, a mind to open, a spotlight to shine on topics we may not know about.
My suggestions for getting yourself published by ScratchThat is to have a distinct, unique voice. Don't be afraid to do something bizarre and absurd. Gastronomica was my favourite story because it was just so peculiar. The editorial board take notice of pieces with well-defined and thought-out voices, especially with poetry. We were inundated with poems, so make sure yours stands out! We did not receive many non-fiction submissions, so dust off any non-fic you may have. They often highlight an unheard or under-represented voice. Steph Markwell's The Ongoing Damages of The Silence of the Lambs' Buffalo Bill Thirty Years On made us all rethink the 1991 film. I encourage readers to submit non-fiction pieces and create awareness for oft-overlooked issues.

I believe ScratchThat is an essential part of the QUT writing scene. It gives all students a chance to publish their work before leaving university. I was thrilled to see cross-faculty submissions. We had entries from business, communications, journalism and even the medical faculties. The diversity of our writers shows we are here for everyone. We can publish your work and help you get your voice out there. Overall, my experience as an editor was fantastic. To those doing Situated Creative Practice next semester, I recommend applying to ScratchThat. You won't regret it!

You can find Jakeb @jakebsmithlovesbooks on Instagram.

Writing and art prompts just for you

Create something based on a song. That one song with a keen sense of story, the one you’ve always felt should be a movie. 

Maybe you think of Major Tom floating through space, or a boxer standing in the clearing, or a woman testing her husband. Maybe Holy Holy saw that sinking ship too vividly. Maybe The Lumineers knew Cleopatra too well. 

Whatever song it is, take the narrative and turn it into a short story, a painting, a monologue. Turn the music into art.

Sometimes, signs can seem pointed. A dead end street sign appearing right after a painful conversation. A car insurance ad that reads remember your keys when you were about to leave yours on the train. A billboard printed with look behind you just when you feel eyes on the back of your neck.

Are some people more attuned to the whisperings of the world? Is there a force trying to intervene, or is it all coincidence? What happens when someone ignores the signs?
Draw the sign, write the story.

Create something set in an environment with dreary weather. Dreary could mean anything you want it to -- whatever weather bums you out the absolute most.
Maybe its steel grey skies and heavy walls of rain, or a bone dry summer in the arid desert.
Perhaps a thick blanket of snow smothers the soft grass so that you can no longer lay in the sweet sun or sprint around a soccer field, maybe a lake has frozen over making swimming and sailing impossible. 
Heck, maybe it's bonkers weather happening on a far off alien planet.
The options are endless!
Happy scratching!
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