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Working with Words: Nayuka Gorrie

Read Friday, 4 Nov 2016

Nayuka Gorrie is a Kurnai/Gunai, Gunditjmara, Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta woman. She’s also an activist and writer, whose byline has appeared in Junkee, Vice and others. We caught up with Nayuka to talk Babysitters Club, Black Hermione Granger and the best advice she received from novelist Tony Birch.

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What was the first piece of writing you had published? 

Photograph of Nayuka Gorrie

The Victorian Indigenous Youth Advisory Council’s newletter in 2012. It was about how gammin constitutional recognition is. 

What’s the best part of your job?

I recently left my 9–5 (last Monday) to do a whole bunch of different jobs. So I don’t even know what my job is anymore. I sometimes write and other times facilitate or talk smack for cash. A lot of what I’m doing is my own thing and I kind of like being my own boss.

What’s the worst part of your job?

Dealing with white fragility and guilt. I’m also a bit lazy and easily distracted. 

What’s been the most significant moment in your writing career so far?

When Celeste Liddle shared something I wrote, because I admire her.

What’s the best (or worst) advice you’ve received about writing?

The best advice that I can remember was from Tony Birch. He said to take ‘sketches’ and so now whenever I see something really interesting I quickly write it down. Also he said if you are struggling to write to go get some art in ya.

You can probably learn the principles [of creative writing] but if your ideas stink, your work probably won’t be much fun to read.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve ever heard or read about yourself ?

‘This bitch needs an uppercut.’ Not actually a surprise, though.

If you weren’t writing, what do you think you’d be doing instead?

Helping run a commune for the black matriarchy.  

There’s much debate on whether creative writing can be taught – what’s your view?

I have no idea. You can probably learn the principles but if your ideas stink then your work probably won’t be much fun to read.

What’s your advice for someone wanting to be a writer?

Do it. Especially if you are black. Or a woman. Or queer. Or trans. QTIPOC [Queer Trans Intersex People of Colour] supremacy tbh. It’s our time.

Do you buy your books online, in a physical bookshop, or both?

Physical. I struggle to read online. It hurts my eyeballs.

If you could go out to dinner with any fictional character, who would it be and why? 

Black Hermione Granger. It would be a date. We would get vegie ramen and whisky and then we’d go back to mine and we’d watch Firefly and she would braid my hair and then we’d pash. It’d be so hot.

What’s the book that’s had the most significant impact on your life or work – and why?

The Babysitters Club series. I learned a lot about diabetes.  

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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the traditional owners of the land on which we work. We pay our respects to the people of the Kulin Nation and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, past and present.