Emerging Writers’ Festival launch

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.

Omar Musa
My Generation

Moving House

This last fortnight I’ve been moving house. And it’s been harder than any other move I’ve made. Harder even than moving out of home, or moving from Melbourne to Sydney. It’s strange, because I’ve only moved from one end of Newtown to the other. Both the aforementioned moves involved a great deal more distance, and probably more obvious emotional upheaval. So I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why this move has been as difficult as it has — and wondering whether I’ve just turned into a big wimp.

It’s been different to any other move I’ve made though. For starters, it was a reluctant move. My housemates and I got a phone call halfway through December telling us the owner of our house was returning from the UK and would like her house back. Two of my housemates were already planning on leaving (they’re travelling around Australia this year in a pop-top van — you can read about their adventures here), but Housemate Three and I were planning on staying in the house. When we realised we’d all be leaving the house at the same time, the phrase “end of an era” found its way into conversation more than a few times.

This house had become home, these housemates like family.

So I guess we began the process of sorting, packing and moving with… well, heavy hearts. Sometime towards the middle of January, I found myself thinking about how I’d only walk this route to a yoga class (or get off the train at this station, or stare out my bedroom windows, or go for a walk in this park, or see this or that neighbour on the street) a finite number of times. And every now and then the four of us would be standing together in the kitchen talking and/or cooking, and one of us would sigh. Sentimentality became a big part of our last weeks in the house.

Then I suppose there was the move itself, which was a bit of a shit fight, if I’m honest. We were really settled in that place. Which is really just a nice way of saying we had a lot of crap, spread out all over the place. Packing, sorting and cleaning was not fun.

For the fortnight it took us all to pack up and move out, I felt like I didn’t really have a home. My new housemates and I had picked up the keys to our new house, so a lot of my stuff was in the new place, but so much of me remained in the old place. For the last week I was sleeping at the new house, and getting up each morning to go to the old house to work more on moving out. That week felt more like ten weeks.

That last week the five of us (four housemates plus Housemate Three’s girlfriend) went out for dinner and drinks — a kind of farewell. I had such a great time with my little sharehouse family.

And I drank a little too much wine. Getting up the next day was difficult.

When we finally handed the keys back last Friday, and went out together for a final housemate breakfast, I think we were all ready to leave. We were glad the move was over (we were also very hungry — we’d all been up since 6 or 7am and we were eating at midday). So in a way, I guess the sadness that had made the process so difficult in the first place was kind of worked through by the horror of the move itself. Or at least pushed to the background for now. I’ll miss that house, and I’ll miss my housemates, but for now I’m ready to focus on what’s going on in my life right now.

I’m excited to be working again. I’ve got writing projects slowly starting to make their way from my head onto paper; next week I’m going to Adelaide for Format Festival’s Academy of Words; and I’m preparing for some new yoga classes I’ll start teaching in the next month.

This move though, and the process of moving in general, is still flitting about inside my head. I’m writing about moving for this month’s Monday Project theme, and I’m thinking again about some of the other writing I’ve done on travel, moving and connection to place.

As difficult as it’s been, moving house has certainly got the cogs turning again. Change, as they say, is as good as a holiday. Except that I feel like I need a holiday to recover from this particular change.