Doubting Writing / Writing Doubt


Shu-Ling Chua


Shu-Ling Chua

i. terrified of spending that last night alone (2014)

sat at the bar and calculated
the time difference between New York and

it hurt when he said
‘now that’s real sex     it’s more intimate’

decide not to call

ii. there is no shame in asking for help (2015)

rain cloud
heart decay
all you want to do is curl up and

you hide the pain as best as you can
but it leaks

iii. fear of (2019)

fear of becoming a mother.
fear of never being happy.
fear of writing the same thing.
fear of never feeling at home. fear of throwing away what’s mine.
fear at being alone?? fear of being with people.
fear of never falling in love?? fear of letting down the people I love.
fear of always wanting more.
fear of being wrong?? fear of dying in Werribee.
fear of growing old. fear of spending too much time on social media.
fear of men.
fear of not doing enough. fear of never feeling enough.
fear of writing poetry.
fear of strange men on Twitter.
fear of getting it (?) wrong.
of wasting time taking selfies. of not being present. of monotony. of repetition. of complacency. of

losing control.

iv. soft-boiled eggs (2019)

Me (28): “What if I overcook them? Or undercook them? What if I fail?”
Her (7): “It’s okay if you fail. I’ll eat anything!”

v. how long to wait, part II (2019)

when i google “how long to wait?”, the first result is:


vi. in a nondescript Sydney laneway (2011)

hurry as man
tears down posters   breathes down
our backs

when in fact   these fears are


decade later:
invite audience to share fears and
project   (anonymously)   onto screen

invite audience to take poster and recipe for

if you put more sugar in   it will
last longer

vii. things i'm scared about (2015)

ink on Floriade postcard
12cm × 17cm

scared i’ll always be a public servant and in Canberra.
scared i’ll never fall in love.
scared of moving back to Melbourne. of moving back home.
scared of growing old. scared i’ll spend all my twenties in CBR.
scared i’ll be stuck in my current job.
scared i’ll never get over my ex.
scared i’ll never be happy.

scared of depression.
of losing that part of me that marvels at life, is grateful to be alive.
of dying without dying. of losing    myself.

scared i’ll forget how to be happy.
scared i’ll let the people I love down.
scared i’ll hurt people.
scared things won’t work out.
scared of committing. of overcommitting. scared i’ll never learn
to commit.

viii. heart-shaped (2019)

the doctor removes a polyp from my cervix and pronounces me a “new woman”
(i wish i could believe her)

she refers me for an ultrasound

the doctor says i have a heart-shaped uterus
if an embryo attaches to the point that curves in
it may not receive enough blood

the doctor assures me many women with bicornuate uterus carry
their child to full term

i do not intend to have children

she says i am the wiser of the two of us
(i do not believe her)

ix. fear of never being happy

I take a photo—black on white on burgundy—and post on Insta:
it me.

Cherine Fahd, Fear of series 2011/2019, detail view


Cherine Fahd, Fear of series 2011/2019, detail view,
Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne 2019.
Photograph by Shu-Ling Chua

in a way, refusing ⤻