A weekend of wonderfully fun, thoughtful and critical panels with incredible speakers writing in a full coloured spectrum of genres.
This recap is a guest post by the fabulous Claire Parnell. Claire is a literature x digital media academic currently teaching at the University of Melbourne. Her research focuses on pop culture, genre fiction (Romance, mainly) and digital publishing. It’s definitely not an excuse to just read romance, watch Netflix and tweet all the time. @cparnell_c
Photo credits: Claire Parnell
Writers festivals are a marathon. Where coffee is your water and your brain slogs over ideas rather than your legs over concrete.
I was not ready for this marathon. Work and an unusual cluster of friend’s birthdays in the lead up to Emerging Writers’ Festival drained much of my attention and energy but I was determined to make the most of it.
The National Writers’ Conference was held on Saturday 17 – Sunday 18 June as part of EWF. It was two out of three days I was able to attend of the week and a half long program and IT. WAS. AMAZING.
The weekend was full of wonderfully fun, thoughtful and critical panels with incredible speakers writing in a full coloured spectrum of genres.
A quick FYI before the recapping begins
I tweeted a lot and wrote copious notes throughout the 2-day conference but my thumbs and pen were never fast enough. Four years of uni should have prepared me better for all of this but apparently I’m still a young note-taking padawan.
I’ve tried to offer highlights from a few of the panels in posts to be published here on Book Thingo. I’ve also tried to be fairly succinct while still accurately capturing all the striking points made by panellists.
I based my choices regarding which panels to attend on personal interest and/or the appearance of favourite authors. There were many others that I missed out on due to the cruel and inherent clashes in festival programming. Others I just didn’t write enough notes to properly recap them and do the wonderful speakers justice.
All quotes attributed to authors in these recaps are as accurate as I heard them. They may not be 100% accurate (as I said, my notetaking is pretty fast but not perfect) but are at the very least a true paraphrasing of what was said. For more highlights of the whole festival, you can check out the #EWF17 hashtag on Twitter. Happy scrolling!
Now, to recap…
Bright and early – well, it was Melbourne, so cold and grey as well – on Saturday morning, 5 festival ambassadors started the conference off by sharing their 5 Rules of Writing. In case you hadn’t guessed from the title of this post.
Authors Anna Krien, Inga Simpson, Rebecca-Anne Do Rozario, Michelle Law and Melina Marchetta were chosen as ambassadors because of their roles as “women who have broken bounds in writing”.
In other words, they’re iconic in their awesomeness.
— Claire Parnell (@cparnell_c) June 17, 2017
These were their words of wisdom:
Michelle Law is a writer working across fiction, non-fiction, screen and stage. She also wore the greatest pair of silver boots that day which only added to her credibility in my opinion.
- Always remember creative writing class where they tell you, ‘The first draft is shit and it’s just sculpting it from there.’
- ‘When it comes to reading and writing, like what you want to like whether it’s Mills & Boon or…’ (I stopped listening after M&B and was silently cheering from there, but fill in the blank for yourself.)
- ‘Alcohol is not tax-deductible even if you’re a writer.’ Sad, but true.
Inga Simpson is one of those super accomplished academics who holds a PhD in creative writing as well as a second PhD in English literature. (#goals). Her first novel, Mr Wigg, was published in 2013 and her most recent one, Under Story, came out in May this year.
- ‘Writing is a profession so be professional. (Don’t be a dick).’
- ‘Write to happiness!’ It’s okay to write a happy ending and have comfort reads.
Rebecca-Anne Do Rozario is an academic and senior lecturer in creative writing at Monash University. A lot of her academic work involves fairy tales.
- ‘When you’re a Disney academic, all your colleagues hate you a little bit.’ Do and write what you love anyway.
Anna Krien is the author of Night Games: Sex, Powe and Sport and Into the Woods: The Battle for Tasmania’s Forests. She’s also written for the Age, the Monthly, the Big Issue, and been published in The Best Australian Essays, The Best Australian Stories, Griffith Review and Dazed & Confused.
- ‘When you push clichés you’re not allowing people to own their own experiences.’ That is, let characters speak for themselves; clichés are a disservice to them as well as the reader.
Last but in obviously no order of awesomeness, Melina Marchetta is author of Looking for Alibrandi, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, Saving Francesca, Finnikin of the Rock, On the Jellicoe Road, The Piper’s Son and, most recently, the short story When Rosie Met Jim.
- The story will ‘never be as good on the page as it is in our heads. We need to get over that fear’ and write anyway
- ‘Write. Write. Write. Rewrite. Rewrite. Rewrite. Also RESEARCH. The difficult part is not letting readers see this research.’
Interestingly, but perhaps not wholly unsurprising, one rule was repeated by a few of the authors. That is: write.