A User's Guide to a Pandemic

“A User’s Guide to a Pandemic is everything it should be: enlightening, frightening, and containing death-defyingly good writing from Story Factory students. And I should also add, definitely hilarious. In times of need, turning to the writing of children is so often the answer…”

Markus Zusak

A User’s Guide to a Pandemic was an idea that started during the national lockdown in 2020. The idea was simple – that young people needed to write about this.

Four writing centres for young people across the country joined together – Story Factory (NSW – that’s us!), 100 Story Building (Melbourne), The Story Island Project (Tasmania) and StoryBoard (Byron Bay) – and created A User’s Guide to a Pandemic, a writing project that amplified the voices of young people during the uncertainty and disconnection of the pandemic.

Students wrote in their own time or participated in online workshops, and created pieces of writing that investigated the challenges, the unexpected joys, the boredom, worries and hopes of the pandemic.

What they’ve created is truly extraordinary. A book written entirely by Australian young people during the weirdest year of their lives. It’s full of joy, wisdom, imagination and truth – just like them.

You can buy a beautiful printed copy of this treasure-trove of writing in the Story Factory bookshop.

PS Did we say written entirely? Well, almost. We made an exception for the Introduction. Markus Zusak (author of The Book Thief, an international bestseller for over a decade) did the honours. What a legend. Check it out through the link above!

PPS While every student who submitted work was published in the book, not every single thing that they wrote made it in. BUT, it’s all way too good for us not to share, so we’ve compiled every single thing that was submitted at the link below.

“The air around Astrid was infused with an aromatic mist of industrial candy cane, accompanying the grapefruit-tinged tangerine sky. “

Saniah, aged 15

“Nobody enjoys Zoom meetings, including me. All we do is stare at teachers, who talk for hours and hours, later realising that nobody was even listening to their lecture. “

Leo, aged 15

“Freedom is the ringing of bells at any school. A signal that better times are soon to come. Fear is the green slip of an arvo. A sign that you might be better off if you run.”

Ibrahim, aged 17

A User’s Guide to a Pandemic, proudly supported by:

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Stories from this Program

Sensations Through Nature

By Eva

A flower blooms, opens up to the sun, breathes in the warm rays of daylight. Nurtured by the moist soil, admired by crawling garden creatures. Brought to life by the...

(Untitled)

By Clarissa

I WAS ALWAYS rushing. Rushing between bed and breakfast, rushing between one bit of cereal to another, rushing for the train in the next two minutes, rushing to live. Life...

(Untitled)

By Herman

Independence is the mice against the unnerving winds. Gratitude is the clouds above us, unreachable and uninterpretable Euphoria is being immersed in the treacherous and daring depths of life. Resilience...

Untitled

By Ruya

THE SUN FLOATED through the window and stirred the dust as it lit up the pages of her book. It lit up the folds in the pages, the sagging spine,...

I Survived Online School!

By Leo, Year 9

‘More online school…I really hate it.’ I opened my eyes and stared at the usual old white ceiling. It is always the same ceiling, no colour change, no added texture, just the same old boring one. I groaned.

A Zap of Illuminating Cyan

By Saniah, Year 9

With a zap of illuminating cyan Astrid’s cognitive implants summoned a platinum-glazed automobile; levitating, luminous and in all its glory.

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Thank you Annabel Crabb, Leigh Sales and the amazing Chatter community!  Proceeds from your ticket purchases from the Friday and Saturday of the Chat 10, Looks 3 Sydney live shows will support amazing young people in Western Sydney to write brighter futures in our fun and engaging creative writing workshops, building confidence and literacy at a critical time. Thank you!  📷 Jacquie Manning
We are thrilled to welcome our new deputy chair, Ali Green, and our new chair, Gemma Salteri!  Our founding chair, Michael Gonski, is stepping down at the end of this month and from the bottom our hearts we want to acknowledge his amazing contribution to Story Factory over the last 10 years. We wouldn’t be where we are without him – thank you.  Ali is co-founder and CEO of Pantera Press, a leading independent publisher, who was named one of Australia’s 100 most influential women by the The Australian Financial Review and was a 2019 and 2020 Sydney Young Entrepreneur of the Year.  Gemma was Philanthropy Australia’s Emerging Philanthropist of the Year in 2016. She is Executive Director of the CAGES Foundation, which won Philanthropy Australia’s inaugural Indigenous Philanthropy Award last year.  We know Story Factory is in very safe hands, and thank Ali and Gemma sincerely for taking on these roles.
Last year, we worked with more than 7,000 young people in Western Sydney, helping them to find and share their voices and keeping them engaged in writing and learning.  This year we want to reach even more! Donate now to our Writing Brighter Futures Appeal to help us reach an additional 1,000 more young people in Western Sydney through our life-changing creative writing programs.  Donate now via the link in our bio.
Did you know that you can now buy some Story Factory publications in select bookstores? Head down to @betterreadbookshop this weekend and grab a copy of our wonderful publication Marvellous Birds! It's the perfect gift for a young (or grown up) person in your life!