Summation of Academy – from notes in my phone

My original plan with this was to write up some thought-provoking, rambling discussion that somehow approximated what went on at the Academy of Words. That plan was a little ambitious.

Instead, I’m going to put up some of my notes from the day (still in note form). Unfortunately it looks like I only took notes for three of the sessions. And didn’t take anything down at all for the one that I took part in as a panelist. For anyone watching me thumbing away on my phone on the day, I promise I was taking notes, not distractedly sending text messages. Because, would you believe, I actually didn’t think to pack a notebook to take with me to a festival about words. The bits in italics are thoughts I’ve added after the fact.

I write therefore I am… A writer.

  • Realised that writing is how I deal with the world. It’s how I find out how I feel about things.
  • Fiction writing is how I explore certain ideas; non-fiction is an exploration of other kinds of ideas — I seem to have an innate knowledge of whether I can deal with an idea better in fiction or a non-fiction
  • Realised one day that I’m actually good at putting sentences together (am I?), and that it’s not something that everyone is good at.
  • Connection between writing to get to know yourself and yoga practices. (There have been times in my life when I’ve felt it necessary to write pages and pages of personal journals — hopefully something that will never, ever be read by another individual. What comes out in those journals often surprises me. Sometimes it’s like I don’t know how I feel about something or what I think unless I write it down. My yoga practice is the same. Getting on a yoga mat, for me, is a way of getting myself to look at what’s actually there, rather than whatever it is I imagine might be there.)

Honk if you’re the publishing industry

  • “A book itself is a really good piece of technology.”

Literary activism

  • Advocating for a better industry, using literature as a form of activism.
  • People who are lobbying for more accessible cultural artefacts
  • Developing communities — feeling passionate about developing a writing community
  • “Activism is about knowledge, about finding out” director of SA Writers’ Centre
  • “Doing something is activism. You can’t ever be apolitical.” (This reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend of mine recently about how we’d grown prematurely disillusioned with ‘activism’ and felt useless, but then realised that only a small amount of effort was needed to feel active. She now schedules a little time each week in her diary that’s devoted to acting on social and political things she feels are important.)
  • Need to change the social attitude so that cultural artefacts are valued as highly as, say, season tickets to the local footy team’s games.
  • Chloe Langford (Format Festival): recontexturalusing art so it’s just a part of life.

Tiny snippets of things. Tiny snippets that have started to spring off in all sorts of weird and wonderful directions in my brain. More on that shortly…


If you’re in a generous mood (or even if you’re not), you might like to donate some spare change to Format, so they can pay their rent and continue contributing to Adelaide’s cultural community. You can donate here.


I love airports. They always give me a little rush of excitement.

When I lived in Melbourne, being inside an airport usually meant I was on my way to spend time with my family, or had just done so. If not that, then being at an airport meant I was heading off on an overseas adventure, or picking up someone I had missed.

That’s part of it. The other part is the other worldly nature of airports. They’re like their own little universe. People are in transit in airports — on their way to somewhere or from somewhere, stuck in between two places. Planes are similar. But I guess airports still allow people to move around, and therefore be more interesting. I love it.

I get nervous when I travel — have I packed everything, will I get to the airport in time, will I be able to find my way? — but once I’m at the airport the nervousness is replaced by excitement. I’m always excited to be going somewhere. And, once the nervousness dies down, I’m thrilled to have (re)discovered that I’m capable of doing this on my own.

Overseas travel excepted, pretty much all my time in airports has been spent alone. And I like it that way. It’s a different kind of adventure when someone else is along for the ride.

Being on my own leaves me free to people watch, and to strike up conversations with strangers. I love talking to and observing strangers. People are so weird and entertaining. Especially when they’re between places, in the midst of a journey. An airport, after all, is not really a destination.

I’m writing all this because this weekend I’m spending time in various airports (being weird — and maybe entertaining — in the corner, furtively doing a few quick yoga poses to realign my spine after sitting in the slump-inducing plane chairs), as I make my way to and from Adelaide for the Academy of Words. I’ll be on a panel today, and hanging around at various other things all day. If you happen to be in Adelaide, come say hi.