Michelle Law is a Brisbane writer whose work has appeared in Women of Letters (Penguin, 2011), Growing up Asian in Australia (Black Inc., 2008), Destroying the Joint: Why Women Have to Change the World (UQP, 2013) and numerous Australian literary journals. She is an AWGIE award-winning screenwriter whose films have screened internationally and on the ABC. In 2014 she co-authored the comedy book Sh*t Asian Mothers Say (Black Inc.). In 2015, Michelle is working on her first stage play with La Boite Theatre. Michelle is part of the lineup for our Freelance Focus festival, Brisbane, August 4 – 6.
Before she joins us at Freelance Focus, we caught up with Michelle to talk feminism and following your gut:
MY FAVOURITE TWEETER IS:
The twitter account Woman Against Feminism (@NoToFeminism). It’s a parody account maintained by Australian writer Rebecca Shaw that came about following the surge in anti-feminism movements online. One example was a Tumblr where women posted photos of themselves holding placards stating the personal reasons why they denounced feminism and supported the “plight of men”. Shaw’s tweets are absurdist and laugh-out-loud funny, but also so on point it’s enraging.
I WORK BEST:
In my home office, late at night, when everyone else in the neighbourhood is asleep. I also really love working at the State Library of Queensland — you get a beautiful view of the river there. But I’m learning to become more adaptive to my environment so I can feel comfortable working in any space, which is important as a freelance writer. I’m also slowly becoming a morning person in an effort to maintain a proper sleeping pattern. Often I’ll get carried away working on something into the early hours of the night, but at the end of the day it’s best to treat writing as a 9-to-5 job.
THE WORK I AM MOST PROUD OF IS:
The TEDx talk I delivered, “A Bald Woman’s Guide to Survival”. I think that’s the most terrified I’ve been about something in my life! I remember jogging each night for a month leading up to the talk, just to rid myself of nervous energy. It was a real turning point for me personally, and professionally it helped me prove to myself that I was capable of more than I realised.
THE FREELANCE CAREER I MOST ADMIRE:
Is that of my brother Ben. Having seen first-hand how tirelessly he works, how skilled he is at what he does, and how generous he is towards his colleagues, you can’t help but admire his career. It’s that tenacity and goodwill towards others that’s seen him through to where he is today. (Don’t tell him I said this, though.)
I WOULD ADVISE MY 15-YEAR-OLD SELF:
To always follow your gut, no matter what else other people are telling you. When it comes to all aspects of your life — career, personal, what have you — always trust your own instincts. And learn to say ‘no’. For a long time I was a real ‘yes’ woman with different creative projects and found myself putting other people’s needs before my own. Follow Laurie Anderson’s advice:
“If I’m trying to decide on a project, it has to have two of the three following things: It has to be fun, it has to be interesting, or it has to make money. The third one sounds crass, but when you’re an artist, you do actually have to make a living. And you only have to have two of those things. It could just be fun and make money, i.e., doing work for “The Rugrats Movie.” It’s a really handy formula. Just to be interesting is, to me, what the avant-garde is about, and that’s not enough for me.”
MY NEXT PROJECT IS:
Single Asian Female, a full length play for Brisbane’s La Boite Theatre that should hit the stage some time next year! It’s my first ever play, so I’m equally nervous and excited about it.