Newsletter #12
Hello again our favourite friends, and welcome to our twelfth newsletter. Read on to enjoy insightful, inspirational and encouraging content. Don't forget to stay tuned and see what goodies you could win!
The art on this page has been brought to you by the one and only Ellie Kaddatz, and the opinion piece has been brought to you by the talented Nicholas Farrell. 
To start, here are the author introductions from your new Newsletter team:

Hello, my name is Sophie. I’m a writer due to graduate at the end of this year (and I am absolutely terrified). I knew I wanted to study a creative arts degree when I first fell in love with writing. I believe I was about 13-years-old and I had just discovered Wattpad for the first time. My first story I ever wrote was about a lady who hit her daughter’s boyfriend with a train – yes! A train. (My stories have grown increasingly more morbid from there.)
I am delighted to be in this team of fantastic writers, presenting you with a newsletter each fortnight.  I look forward to learning and sharing throughout my last semester here. Get keen for lots of exciting surprises ahead!
Hey ScratchThat fans, I'm Jackson. You may know me from the QUT Literary Salon which i'm a co-chairperson of, and if your submission has been rejected by us this year (sorry!) then it was probably me that gave you your feedback :). You'll find out about my writing focusses down below (stay tuned!), but outside of writing i love to make clothes, tend to my houseplants, and read. Deltora Quest was my first favourite book series - especially Shadowlands era (Emily Rodda went hard), and my biggest book rec: More Than This, by Patrick Ness. 

I'm Isabel and this is my second semester working on the ScratchThat newsletter. You could say I'm a veteran. Or you could tell me a little bit of experience doesn't equal expertise (a much more likely truth). There are some people who believe that what you like is more important than what you're like when getting to know a person. If you're partial to this belief, you can get to know me (and the rest of the team) gradually through the what we've been consuming section of the newsletter. Here are some quick facts for now: I like to read (shocking!), I like the sun and swimming beneath it, and my handwriting is messy and occasionally illegible.  
Just a reminder to all our favourite creatives -- ScratchThat Magazine is still taking submissions for issue six! We accept written pieces of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry of any style or genre up to 2500 words or a maximum of five poems. As well as visual artworks (up to 15 photos from a single series) and digital works such as short films, musical pieces, performances, and more (up to 10 minutes per work). 

Submissions for issue six are open until Friday August 20th. We would love to hear from you! 

QUT Literary Salon
Hey ScratchThat fans! Jackson here, just letting you know about another QUT based writerly group that you should know about. The QUT Literary Salon is a monthly event where QUT students read the written work they've submitted to us. We've had submissions from many faculties, showcasing all writers of QUT.

This year we've had themes such as Heirlooms, Assumptions, Brisbania, and Pink! We've also had incredible guest readers like Rohan Wilson, Emily O'Grady, Trent Dalton, and Sara El Sayed! This September we have our Pride salon coinciding with Brisbane pride month. Submissions
 for that are open right now! At the end of the year, we release a collection that includes the best submissions from the year. The collection is an excellent opportunity for students to obtain publication before leaving university, and we'd love to see your contributions. It can be scary to read your work aloud, but after your first time - you'll be burning to do it again! And we're all really like a family at the Lit Salon, so even if you'd just like to come as a guest, you're so welcome.

Please follow us at @qutlitsalon on Instagram and The QUT Literary Salon on Facebook to stay up to date.

Make A Selection 

What we've been consuming
I must admit I’m a bit late in discovering Gillian Flynn’s written works (I know what you’re thinking: I must know SpongeBob and Patrick Star quite well because I literally live under a rock in the sea). But if you love reading a fictional novel that gets you flipping pages so quickly your fingertips are rubbed raw, and you enjoy a mystery/crime story, my recommendation is to read both Sharp Objects and Dark Places. Both novels are written by Gillian Flynn and both had me drawn in like a moth to light. If you don't want to sleep for a couple of days and like being a detective in shocking and morbid pieces, these are the ones for you. 
For music i’ve been living my hyperpop/rap fantasy with David Shawty’s album Caterpillar (literally on repeat!). i encourage you guys to listen to the song Lucifer. Happy Blue / Sanpellegrino is also a major fave – i’ve been writing a lot of poetry lately and this song has given me a lot of inspiration. It’s got a lot of lines that are almost half finished, and i love a mix of melancholy into any romantic writing. i consumed a Buzzfeed article called 28 “Favourite” Books That Are Huge Red Flags and i was on the list…twice. And as we're getting to know each other this issue - i think i owe you all some honesty. i adore The Catcher in the Rye. i see validity in all the criticism, and this book truly is a red flag – but it’s my red flag, and Holden and this novel serve a purpose. *spoiler alert*, but i’ve always felt like Holden was an anomalously modern example of male rage, and how a lack of attention for poor mental health in men (in anyone!) failed him. There are those that love this book because they feel pride for seeing themselves in Holden – that’s red flag behaviour. But there are those that love this book because it’s a cautionary tale. Being that angry and that hateful doesn’t make you cool, with love: it makes you mentally ill. So here’s to not skipping therapy <3. If Holden was gen Z he would totally be an ally tho, am i wrong? Oh, and the second book (novella actually) from the list was The Metamorphosis, which i read recently. The language here is certainly dated and less accessible than The Catcher in the Rye, but it’s only 80 pages, and i see why this is an important text. i saw a lot of room in it to do a queer-coded reading, and i’d love to revisit it in the future with a closer eye. It’s probably a little morbid to be your favourite book tho…


Possibly my favourite thing about HBOs The White Lotus is unabashedly despising almost every single central character and feeling not a splash of guilt -- not that I'm supposed to feel at all guilty for hating these characters, the show is after all a social satire on racism, privilege, and imperialism. The guests holidaying at The White Lotus -- a lavish resort built on the stolen land of native Hawaiians -- are agonisingly rich, rude, and out of touch. There's something strangely cathartic about seeing an absolute asshole of a character and hating them with the full force of every cell in your body. Despising a character so deeply you have to pause the show to sit in silence with your head in your hands and let an internal rage monologue play out in your mind. If this kind of hate-watching doesn't exactly sound like a dream to you, at least watch the show for Jennifer Coolidge. 

Allen & Unwin
We touched on the current Allen & Unwin Undergraduate writer's prize in our last newsletter, but for those of you that missed it - this is a fabulous opportunity to get noticed by one of Australia's most esteemed publishing houses. Applications are open to all QUT students enrolled in a creative writing undergraduate degree. The winner receives:
  • a study stipend of $200
  • publication in ScratchThat magazine
  • invaluable editing assistance and an opportunity to explore your future writing aspirations in an exclusive meeting with a senior editor from Allen and Unwin
Here's some excerpts from last years runners-up.
Ciaran Greig

Close Enough to Lick

They were past the honeymoon stage now, for sure. Something was rotting between them, sour in the air. It had a complex genealogy, whatever it was, but Liss was sure its provenance lay with the arrival of Aaron’s paranoia. At first, the risk of getting caught was sweet. Energising, even. They would skirt around after dark, dodging his wife, her friends, his friends. Not Liss’ friends, because she didn’t have any. Not anymore. But this I-think-someone-is-watching-us business was getting, frankly, exhausting. And now he was at it again.

Liss propped herself up on an elbow. ‘Close the window. Please. There’s nothing there.’

He ignored her again, eyes still searching the empty dark. Liss swung her legs over the bed, shuffling the covers from her bare body. She pulled him away from the window, wrenching its handle and slamming it shut.

It needed a strong arm, that window. Otherwise, she would hear it creaking all night long. On hot summer nights, the sound of the window’s whining had even seeped into her dreams. In the jumble of her sleeping mind, the creaking sometimes turned to hollow screams.

One good, strong slam did the job, though. Aaron winced at the sound, moving closer to the glass again. His breath made hot, damp clouds on the window.

‘There she is again,’ he said. ‘Underneath that tree.’

Read the rest here
Tom Linkins

The Flaneur

With my back to the street, I stood on the stoop of a Monoprix and cupped one hand around a cigarette, manically clicking my lighter with the other. In real life—life in sober, little Brisbane—I wouldn’t smoke, but even the staunchest fall prey to the glamour of puffing nicotine into the cool, Parisian night air. Someone coughed behind me. Once, twice, then a third time—more pointedly—trying to catch my attention.

An outstretched hand held a lighter to me. “Merci,” I said, leaning in. He was maybe a few years my senior, with heavy, thick eyelashes like a cow and pretty brown eyes which watched me while I waited for the tip of my cigarette to catch. When I leant back I caught him winking at me in the flicker of the flame.

Was I being seduced? Was it a French thing? Maybe winking meant ‘thank you’ here. Maybe I was just a stupid, drunk, lonely foreigner abusing the romantic reputation of this city at every chance I had. Needless to say, after spending 30 days straight sleeping butt-to-butt with my girlfriends, my body was desperate for the company and attention of men.

He squeezed my arm and turned into the street, but before rounding the corner he threw a glance back over his shoulder to me, a devilish smirk tugging at the corner of his mouth. Hooked and beguiled, my knees quivered like jelly on a plate in motion. I threw caution, stranger danger, and street-smarts to the wind and followed this perfect stranger into the cobblestoned alley, where I would probably be mugged, slain, left for dead. CURIOSITY KILLED THE TOURIST or DUMB AUSSIE THOT: BEHEADED AND PENNILESS the headlines would read above a snap of me caught punch-drunk and stumbling on CCTV.

But the man was nowhere to be seen. I did a double-take, trying to remember how much wine I’d splurged on in my excess, and then I heard a heavy, iron door clang shut. I moved toward the sound.

Read the rest here

For the chance to win, submit a short piece of fiction, non-fiction, or poetry, alongside an application form before the 17th of September 2021. 
More information here!  

Spilled Ink

A platter of ponderings
Nicholas Farrell

Thinking in Extremes
Our society suffers from a severe case of binary thinking, going from one extreme to another, so easily. What was at first a discussion becomes an argument. What seems like efficiency of language and logic, swift to conclude, is really laziness, a lamenting of reality, denying an experience due diligence. It’s easier to think in broad strokes, to simplify, but so much seeps through the cracks, as we sacrifice accuracy and truth, for ease.
In many ways this is built into our language, if we consider semiotics, the study of language as third-party symbols. The labels of words are useful for getting across lots of information quickly, but allow little room for variables, humans being the biggest of them all. A member of a sub-culture, for example, might tick many or few boxes under their banner. A Hippy might be loving, colorful, progressive, and pro-nature to some, or most, but an individual’s singular and negative experience of them, might mentally add drop-out, weirdo, drug addict. It’s impossible for every single member of the group to maintain every possible trait it encompasses, we’re all individuals, and the consensus in society is vague, abstract, and rarely consistent.  It’s important to remember the more efficient a thought, the more it encompasses, the more it assumes when describing. Do not let speculation sway action, take a step back and analyze all assumptions. Don’t ignore patterns, consider the details.
The same reason why it’s wrong to assume all people in a group are equal to its radicals, that every possibility with any, will lead to the same result. It’s just not the case, and dooms us into instigating that false reality, and making it true, through wrongful internalization, we instigate it.
You went through a bad breakup? Well, all men are the worst! Someone’s being kind? Well, they must be attracted to me. You don’t want to date? Well, we can’t be friends.  Look closer, there are so many parameters that contribute to your conclusions, it’s only your current knowledge. What traits of that exe are relevant? Then find a partner that’s different. Maybe that cashier was only doing her job? Does that person, that human, have more worth than you’ve decerned by only looking? We only have part of the picture, yet we make such conclusive statements in our own minds, consciously and subconsciously, that we influence objective analysis, and miss the real truth.
We selectively search for stimulus that agrees with our existing views, because it’s hard to hold multiple perspectives at once, and give each their fair and due process. It’s difficult to accept contrary data, to consider our bias, and much simpler to just deny it, and discredit the source. If anyone ever runs out of valid points, and resorts to aggression or name calling, seeking to discredit, it shows the discussion has deteriorated, they’re out of better reasons, but they still wanna win win win. As if truth and growth and redemption meant nothing.
The pickier we are in life, the less open to its possibilities, and most importantly, to being proven wrong. Let’s be more forgiving, make allowances for better. Going into life with an open-mind and a degree of optimism changes your every day, changes everyone’s outlook, changes the state of society, and tips many interactions, which could go either way, into a positive.
Extremes can be useful in contrasting two sides, revealing pros and cons.  Should schools enforce strict uniforms? Great for revealing a means, and brainstorming, but the answer almost always lies in between the two. And reality isn’t some black and white textbook, we hypothesize and broadcast, making true, what someone else, going in open-minded, finds false.
Life is grey, it has shades, and if you consider more than two sides, there's an abundance of color to be found as well. Remember it’s only the logic and arithmetic of the mind, and our language, that implies such binary, one-sided thinking.
So be open. Be better. As there’s a greater bliss than willful ignorance.

Mixed Bag

Writing and art prompts just for you

How To: Author Bios
Author bios are one of those things that we have to do as writers, but we’re never really taught how - until now! For this issue of the ScratchThat newsletter, we’ve decided to compile some tips and tricks to help you out. We normally don’t get a lot of room to play with for author bios – how are you going to sell yourself in about 100 words to a reader? Common things to touch on in an author bio include:

  • facts about you (age/location)
  • what you typically write as an author (genre/format)
  • where you’ve been published previously
  • your social media handles

For lesser known publications, a lot of people love to hook the reader with a quirky fact about themselves, or an interesting piece of information that might be relatable. Something a bit more personal in your author bio helps the reader get to know you, and can also help define your demographic. For literary journals that are a bit more formal in presentation however, it’s best to focus on coming across a bit more professionally so the editors and readers see you taking your craft seriously. It can be a great idea to briefly explain your goals as a writer, or what you set out to achieve in writing – this can give the reader incentive to keep up with your work. Follow that up with a way for them to read your work elsewhere and see if you can’t snag yourself a fan! Also note that author bios should be written in third person (i’ve not yet come across a publication that’s asked for anything else).

Jackson’s Author Bios
Firstly, a more professional example of an author bio tailored to how i want to present myself to editors and readers.
Jackson is a Meanjin based non-binary poet that’s made it their mission to see queer representation become commonplace in the sci-fi and horror genres. Outside of poetry, Jackson also dabbles in fiction (found in InkBlot Magazine’s Hot & Sweaty 2021 edition) and memoir (found in QUT Glass Issue #11). They’re currently studying a BFA at QUT, and is a co-chairperson of the QUT Literary Salon. Find them on Instagram @deku.eku
Secondly, an author bio i got to publish in InkBlot Magazine, a zine that asks for really eclectic and more immersive author bios. This was published alongside my first story to explore what it’s like to be gay ‘Safety First’, and i wanted to include this as a more abstract take on what author bios can be, and how they can sometimes function more as a prelude to the story they accompany.
In his family’s eyes it wasn’t a choice to be attracted to men – but it was a choice to be gay. They wanted him to be intelligent instead, and funny. A funny, intelligent carpenter – one that drives a manual. Be fit, be healthy, be a liar, be in denial. Just be acceptable. Don’t make anyone turn their head. You have to be safe – safety first. But safety like that’s made him bored. So now, Jackson intends to build an entire career around being gay, and writing stories and characters so incredibly gay and lacking in substance that you couldn’t possibly describe them as anything else.

Competition Alert
For this issue of the newsletter, we’re offering a writing prompt in the form of a little competition. We want to see your author bios! Maybe you’ve written an author bio in the past that you’re really proud of that you’d love to show off, or maybe you’ve just been needing to get around to writing one.
We want to know:
  • who you are
  • what you do as a writer
  • where to find you/your work
in less than 100 words! Feel free to get as creative as you want, and touch on these things at your own discretion. Also, please tell us the kind of publication you had in mind when writing your bio. The winner will receive free advertisement in our next newsletter, and an armful of fantastic Australian books! Submissions for this competition close on Wednesday the 25th of August, and the winner will be announced in our newsletter that Friday on the 27th! Submit an author bio for the competition, or any other short creative works (1000 words maximum) you’d like to see in our newsletter here.

Happy scratching!