I’m in Melbourne this weekend (well, I’ve made it a long weekend) with my housemate (my Wifey) for the Emerging Writers’ Festival. We got up early yesterday morning and flew down, both on very little sleep (excitement had kept us both up the night before maybe?), and spent the afternoon doing some writing work in a cafe recommended to us by the lovely Ms LiteraryMinded (Ange).
In the evening we ventured into the city (along with Ange) in search of a cheap and cheerful dinner, which we had along with perhaps a wee bit too much wine. As a result, we turned up at the EWF launch rather giggly. Rather then go into great and lengthy detail about the night, I thought I might just post a selection of my notes from the evening. There are plenty of gaps in these notes, and they were made in the fog of red wine and the excitement that comes with being at a festival. Here they are.
Arrived giggly and a little tipsy.
Familiar faces (including a little swoon at nearly literally bumping into songwriter Paul Kelly)
Tessa Waters, MC: “…wipe the creative placenta from your eyes, & just, you know, emerge.”
Tessa dancing. Us laughing. Bottom shaking. Laughing. Tears of laughter. Not that funny but can’t stop laughing. Aware that other people aren’t laughing as much as Wifey, Ange and I. Still laughing. Tassels shaking. Laughing. “Too much champagne already,” says Tessa once she’s finished her dance. Yep. I hear you.
Ruby J Murray
“Everyone of you will know what it feels like when you learn a new word, and you experience the world through this new thing.”
“We only have one word for their thousand beginnings, which is ‘acorn’, and only one word for their thousand ends, which is ‘oak’.”
Talk of loss of Indigenous languages. We miss out on a way to describe this place. “I will do what all writers should do, which is listen.”
“But in the end it’s all up to us to listen.”
Think about the ground beneath our feet, and what it means to the Indigenous leaders for us to be here.
Lisa Dempster introduces the festival.
Wishing suddenly that I could go to the launch of the Emerging Writer at the National Gallery (there’s an essay of mine in this beautiful book).
Aware suddenly that lots of garlic and onion at dinner was probably not a good idea if I want to actually talk to anyone after the official stuff is over.
Monash University Undergraduate Prize for Writing announced.
Monash winner—Michelle Li
Overall winner—Tully Hansen
International guest—Anita Sethi
“Each story itself is a journey” from the mind of the writer, through the pen or computer, to the reader.
The world is teeming with stories.
“History and fiction blur, and the imagination fills in the gap.”
Fiona McGregor, a call to arms:
Suspend the adjectives—get rid of the emerging, or at least think about what it means.
Maybe get rid of the adjective and return to the noun—writer, writing.
“We still have this urge for this gathering in the flesh.”
“Festivals are about the performance aspect.”
“Writing still necessitates retreat.”
Thinking space needed.
George Orwell—Why I Write
The four things: the best writers manage to keep all four in the air.
Ego, aesthetic, history, political purpose.
“As solitary as this work is, it has to be plugged in to the here & now.”
Writing is a job. If you want to survive, you have to set alarm and get up. You have to deal with days where you do nothing—worse, where you do harm.
“What are you doing it for? Because you’re mad.”
But then some days it works—”and when you share it, it chimes.”
Cherish the lonely space, the space of discomfort.
A reminder that solitude is scary, but wonderful. Cherish it.
Tessa Waters, introducing Omar Musa, talks about hip hop and dancing. On krumping: imagine yourself a very short person in a very big boat and you’re just rowing.