I have been carrying a camera around with me for the last ten or so days, but have been unable to post them up until now, so I thought I’d do a pictorial recap of my experience of the EWF 2010 festival. Some of the shots are unsalvageable, so please forgive me if your photos aren’t here.
Okay boyos, girlies, and mumsies. We’re flying back in time like a time lord (the latest Doctor Who is such a hottie*, don’t you think?) to one of Saturday’s EWF panels, Never Surrender, with Paul Callaghan, Elizabeth Campbell, Sean Condon, and Dee White.
Angry writer Sean Condon ranted like a loon, making me laugh and cringe at the same time; poet Elizabeth Campbell recited poetry about the ‘unprofitable servant’; and game developer Paul Callaghan spoke of failing as part of the human condition—’How many words have we thrown away? …as writers we fail all the time, as people we fail all the time’. Literary Minded has already summed up their words nicely, so I won’t repeat them here.
I will, however, write about how YA novelist Dee White told us to stick up for the stories we love. During her Victorian Writers’ Centre mentorship, White was asked to redraft her manuscript: YA stories about artists were out of fashion at the time, could she frame her story in a different context? White did this, turning her protagonist into an astronomy geek. But publishers weren’t fans of the new manuscript; while it showed potential, it lacked passion. It was obvious to them that astronomy wasn’t what White wanted to write about. White’s original concept was resurrected and the novel Letters to Leonardo was the outcome.
That’s all for today. I’ll post up some photos tomorrow mayhaps.
*’hottie’ in a nerdy, SF way. It’s the bow tie and the tweed jacket, I think.
Well, so’s your face and your mum.
My face is looking a little haggard also. It happens after too many ten-hour shifts and intense looks of concentration from listening to various EWF panels/sessions and the stress caused by scraping the side of my car in a claustrophobic inner-city car park which charges $5/hour on weekends…Don’t ask, and I’ll try to reconstruct the better parts of the week, while forgetting the rest.
Sunday, 30 May. I woke up late. I ate at Jungle Juice for the first time. The guy at the counter was making a batch of chocolate, ginger, and beetroot cupcakes. Crazy. (Yeah, my mum’s crazy too, I know.)
After Jungle Juice, I headed down to the Melbourne Town Hall, where the EWF weekend program was in full swing. Hosted by Dan Ducrou, You Want Me To Do What? was the first panel I attended, with speakers like Dr Natasha Campo (from Monash University), Katherine Charles (Hollywood Ending novellist), Declan Fay (Jack of all trades) and Sean M. Whelan (poet and spoken word veteran).
Natasha Campo was first on the floor. She found the transition from solitary and dishevelled postgraduate to polished public speaker extremely difficult. Most academics have issues with self-promotion and yet they are often expected to write their own press releases and discuss their work. Her tips were 1) keep it simple with three key points 2) don’t be afraid of repeating yourself, and 3) memorise some sound bites, fifty-word descriptions on what the work is about.*
Sean M. Whelan thought ‘reading and writing are two very very different skills…[but] being an engaging reader is really not that hard, even for a shy person’. He noted that while good writers can really mutilate their work, mediocre writers can seduce you with their mad oratory skills. He had a list of don’ts, which I have paraphrased.
1) Apologise for your work before you read a single word. Once onstage, you are instantly imbued with authority. If you say your work is shit, then your audience will believe your lack of belief.
2) Shuffle through your pages or flick through your chapbook. Plan your setlist
3) Say, ‘I’m not sure what I’m going to read.’ Don’t fluff about and waste our time. Have an introduction ready.
4) Barrel on through your pieces without pause between each.
5) Believe that microphones are made of magic. It’s not rocket science, speak into it. (Oh, and respect the microphone: don’t throw it about.)
6) Go over the time limit. Always go under; leave them wanting more.
In addition, he spoke about dealing with nerves, ‘Don’t fight it, accept it’, and suggested using a book instead of paper if your hands tend to shake. ‘Generosity of spirit’ was Whelan’s final catchcry. Read to an audience rather than at them. If you’re a closed shell, not looking up, mumbling your words, those listening aren’t going to warm to you.
Katherine Charles worked as a publicist before publishing her novel. For the panel, she focused on handling interviews. But first, how to secure a media interview? ‘Give them an angle,’ she suggested, something ‘compelling and intriguing’, something ‘sexy’. With Hollywood Ending, Charles used her grandfather’s unsolved murder case as hers.
She then spoke about preparing a key messaging document prior to an interview. What three key messages did you want to impress upon the journalist? Charles’ were 1) the name of her book (‘STATE THIS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE…’), 2) a once-sentence description of the publication, and 3) the intended audience or release date of said publication.
Also, ‘know what you don’t want to say.’ Beware of ‘throwaway remarks’.
Later on, during Q & A, she suggested hiring a freelance publicist who has been recommended by another writer. In many cases, a book will only be the publisher’s publicist’s top priority for one week. Freelance publicists are expensive but they’re worth it, especially if their contract stipulates payment after results.
Declan Fay had done a lot of public speaking at schools and he shared several anecdotes. He spoke about finding ways to ‘enter the room’. At one school, a beekeeper went on before him. Singling out the resident tough kid, he told the boy to stick his hand into a hive. By making the tough kid look vulnerable, he captured everyone else’s attention.
While a lot of You Want Me to Do What? discussed the promotion of the finished product and wasn’t directly relevant to my situation, it was still an interesting how-to session on an often challenging aspect of an emerging writer’s career.
I’ll be posting other bits and bobs from EWF over the next couple of days. Stay tuned for more festival gossip news, media, advice, and bad mum jokes.
*And look la! She practises what she preaches.
Does anyone recall last year’s 15 Minutes of Fame? Angela Meyer perched on a stool, interviewing timid-looking writers also perched on stools. Free wine tastings. Small room. Guy slumped in the pod on the other side of the glass wall, oblivious to the EWF happenings.
Well, this year’s first 15 Minutes is like last year’s 15 Minutes on steroids. Think imposing Wheeler Centre stage, bright lights, square armchairs. Think Estelle Tang with seductively husky radio voice, telling post-Catholic neurotic, Joel Magarey, to ‘suck it up’ on stage*. Think Meyer and Tang having a face-off, with Meyer later admiting that Tang’s 15 Minutes was funnier than hers. You missed out. Yeah, you did.
Miscellaneous Voices, an anthology of Australian blog writing, is Miscellaneous Press’ first title. Editor Karen Andrews and contributor Carla Del Vecchio represented the anthology; both discussed their blogs and why they loved blogging. In spite of the imperfections, blog posts are often written in the heat of the moment and thus have a ‘raw power or beauty about them’. Andrews tried to distill this in the anthology, choosing pieces that resonated with a coincidentally personal bent.
Reviews for Miscellaneous Voices were mostly positive. There was one reviewer who didn’t see the point of such a book, since they had already read five of their favourite pieces previously online, but Tang was quick to note that Voices would have been a great introduction to twenty-six other bloggers. Geordie Williamson’s review also came up. In response to ‘some pieces show signs of having been gussied up at the last moment for publication’, Andrews declared that the edits were similar to that of any other book.
Andee Jones, writer of the memoir Kissing Frogs, started her fifteen minutes with a tongue-in-cheek performance, establishing the tone for the rest of the evening. Her memoir details a mature woman’s experience with internet dating. A child of the sixties, she had never been on a date before, believed it to only happen on sitcoms. But she had hoped that one got braver as one got older, so she gave it a try. Jones comes across as sassy and self-reliant and her book seems less cynical than Michaela McGuire or Clementine Ford’s thoughts on internet dating.
Next up was Lucienne Noontil who wrote and illustrated Possum Tales. Storytelling for adults is not quite the same as it is for kids. Noontil deliberately adopted a patronising tone in her reading and was rewarded by silly interjections from Tang. Afterwards, the two spoke about the editing process, how every word has to count in a children’s book and how one has to avoid offending readers. For instance, Rusty the possum leaves home, but Noontil had to word it in such a way so that it didn’t sound like he was getting kicked out of home.
In the last quarter, Joel Magarey spoke about his book Exposure, which details his global odyssey. He had hoped to replicate a state of being he had experienced while living with a tribe in Papua New Guinea; he believed that his Western existence had a surplus of choice, leading to bewilderment and anxiety.
Magarey described the process of writing Exposure as psychotherapy: he had been through the pain during his travels but learning to understand it was like light. What he noted was that comedy equals tragedy plus time and was darkness transposed, something he would talk about further in his other EWF gig, Going to a Dark Place. Yes, 15 minutes is all about the spruiking, people**. Get over it.
*She did apologise profusely afterwards.
Update: Damnit, Jodie Kinnersley beat me to it. She’s already posted on 15 Minutes. THIS IS NOT A COMPETITION.
Ronnie’s partner is bored, and icecream isn’t fixing it. He probably needs coffee. Our neighbouring stallholders chew on the lids of their cups. Hints of roast beans and hazelnut in the air, enticing even for a non-coffee drinker like me. It’s getting fresh. A giant dog towers over someone’s child. Kirk Marshall and Liberty Brown are in the stall opposite, selling Red Leaves, their bilingual literary journal. Jeremy Balius is a no show. Rhys, the pink-haired poet has just picked up a copy of The Sex Mook. There are five Atlas issues left. A woman walks past with three red hula hoops hooked around her arm. They match her top. I want to pick up Kalinda Ashton’s novel but there are too many unread books at home at the moment. Someone’s bought the last copy of Things We Didn’t See Coming, another book that I want to get (but shouldn’t just yet). Someone else wanders through the Atrium, staring up at aluminium pot sculptures, ignoring the stalls around her. ‘Who would win: Batman or Superman?’ says the guy sitting next to me. ‘Batman would win. He would use kryptonite. He’d kick Superman’s arse. Bruce Wayne’s not stupid.’
Feeling nostalgic? Read last year’s post on Page Parlour.
Free tomorrow night? 15 Minutes of Fame starts at 7pm at the Wheeler Centre. Estelle Tang will be interview Miscellaneous Voices, Andee Jones, Lucienne Noontil, and Joel Magarey. I’ll probably write about it tomorrow night.
The Emerging Writers’ Festival starts this Friday (21st of May). I’m working this Friday. I am also rostered this Saturday (22nd), Sunday (23rd), Monday (24th), Tuesday (25th), Wednesday (26th), Thursday (27th), Friday (28th), and Saturday (29th). In other words, with the exception of Sunday (30th), I am working every day of the festival. They’re not nine-to-five shifts, but I usually finish around seven, which means I won’t be able to make most of EWF’s weeknightly events. No Write What You Know or Creative Writing Bootcamp for Thuy!
My position is casual/part-time. Usually, I don’t mind working weekends and the extra odd shift, but when all of the full-timers decide to take time off during the week of a festival (for non-festival-related activities), I start to mind a lot.
I managed to wheedle an early night out of one of my bosses so I’ll be able to go to Monday’s 15 Minutes of Fame with Estelle Tang, and I’ll be Page Parlouring on Sunday the 23rd at Fed Square, selling Brows and buying the journal equivalent of several rain forests—
I was going to give a lowdown on the rest of my EWF schedule (plus bitch some more), but my internet browser just crashed, and I lost most of my post, and it’s twenty-one minutes to midnight, and I have to grab some sleep off the shelf. So, how about we rendezvous on Sunday evening? I’ll tell you how my day of Page Parlouring went, and you can tell me what events I should go to, or something like. It’s like totally a date you guys. Like totally.
In September, post-Melbourne Writers Festival 2009, I wrote a post about Writers’ Festival Withdrawal (WFW):
There’s a lot of WFW going around at the moment. The Melbourne Writers Festival is over for 2009, and everyone has been posting about their feelings of dejection (as opposed to the usual feelings of rejection), which is crazy since Overload and TINA (This Is Not Art) are coming up. (1 September 2009)
I didn’t understand why people weren’t coping. MWF was great, but work, social engagements, and an evil real estate lady ensured that I was just a casual punter; I hadn’t experienced total festival emersion, and didn’t know any better.
TINA, however, was in another state. I was on holidays from work, friends, and family; TINA became my work, my social interactions, my drink of choice. I started getting the shakes when I landed back in Melbourne, spent a lot of time checking other writers’ Facebook profiles, but it wasn’t the same. I needed a literary Valium, so I went to the launch of EMF’s The Reader.
After drinks and some amazing tempura prawns/beans/calamari and a discussion on the sexual preferences of Bret Easton Ellis, I started reading The Reader on the tram home, finishing the anthology the day after. With its mix of informative articles, artwork, themed poetry and fiction, The Reader puts me much in mind of Julian Fleetwood’s Sex Mook*, which is unsurprising since Death Mook editor Dion Kagan is captaining this EWF ship. The Reader is like a Writing Mook, elegantly bound in black and silver, exploring a diverse range of writing issues. There’s a how-to on re-writing screenwriting by John Pace, a frank article from Lisa Dempster on how much writers should get paid, while Jane Hawtin talks about turning academic writing into commercially viable publications. Scattered amongst the advice is a poem about rejection letters, reviews on writing books/software from Angela Meyer and Cameron White, and an adorable comic about making comics from Christopher Downes.
What I loved most about The Reader was its ability to play without sacrificing content, with self-help on self-promotion juxtaposed against fears of selling out. Each piece had something to offer to the emerging writer, and was written in an engaging way. Some pieces were earnest, like Stephanie Honor Convery’s Black Saturday experiences, or parodic like Clem Bastow’s ‘Free(lance)-Falling’. But what seemed ubiquitous in such a diverse range of pieces was a self-awareness, a sense of ‘not having quite made it but hopefully getting there’; The Reader’s a humble but essential guide for any emerging writer.
*I have yet to read Death Mook.
For the last couple of days I’ve been trying to make a recording of my story, ‘The Beast’, for Jeremy Balieus from Black Rider Press. I hate the sound of my voice. At work, I always get comments like, ‘Oh you sound dreadful. Are you sick?’ Or, ‘You should do phone sex.’ My piece is also lengthy for a spoken word reading; I can’t read the piece without stumbling over something.
On the other hand, I’ve had a win with DUSA Bookshops, convincing them to stock a whole bunch of Brows, so the citizens of Burwood, Warrnambool, and Geelong will no longer have to travel to Melbourne’s inner ‘burbs for a copy.
Speaking of Melbourne’s inner ‘burbs, the shit’s going down over the next couple of days. Geoff Lemon’s leaving us for South America, and tonight’s Wordplay will be his last one for a mesozoic era. If you haven’t been to Wordplay, it’s one of Melbourne’s best poetry, hip-hop, and spoken mic gigs. I went to Wordplay’s MWF gig and it showcased the likes of Nathan Curnow, Chris Wallace-Crabbe, Chloe Jackson, and Ben Ezra. The gig lives at the Dan O’Connell Hotel, so head down there around eight for a night of poetry action.
On Friday, Laura Smith’s poetry gig is happening at Caffe Sospeso and will feature Fiona Stuart, Susan Fealy and MC Deborah Vanderwerp. I saw Laura perform a couple of weeks ago at Dreaming Highways and liked her poetry, so I’ll try to swing by on my way home from The Bedroom Philosopher.
Yep, I am going to another Bedroom Philosopher giglet. Like that Spiderbait song, Justin Heazlewood is ‘fucken awesome’. I’ve been listening to his latest album, Brown & Orange; its seventh track has lines like ‘Jesus was an intruder on Big Brother’ and ‘Church attendances doubled, then tripled. People brought in signs like John 3:16 and “Jesus is emo”…’ Heazlewood’s performing nightly for Melbourne Fringe Festival until 10 October 2009. Catch him while you can.
I’m also looking forward to Attract/Repel, which is also a part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival. Written and directed by Ming-Zhu Hii, Attract/Repel examines race, identity, similarity and difference. Thanks Estelle for telling me about it.
One more plug and I swear I am done. EWF’s Reader is launching on Monday 12 October. For those of you who haven’t witnessed Dion Kagan’s spruiking, the Reader is a how-to for emerging writers (or at least that’s what I think it is):
The Reader is Steven Amsterdam on writers’ workshops, Clem Bastow on freelancing, Jen Breach on writing comics, Mel Campbell on pitching to editors, Kathy Charles on shameless self-promotion, Stephanie Convery on writing Black Saturday, Olivia Davis on fear and writing practices, Lisa Dempster on how much writers earn, Koraly Dimitriadis talks to Christos Tsiolkas, Caroline Hamilton compares writers’ festivals and music festivals, Stu Hatton on his mentorship with Dorothy Porter, Jane Hawtin discusses publishing academic research for a general audience, Andrew Hutchinson recalls the Emerging Writers’ Festival, Tiggy Johnson on parenthood and writing, Krissy Kneen on not writing about sex, Benjamin Law on failure, Angela Meyer reviews books for writers, Jennifer Mills on the politics of publishing and engaging with readers, Anthony Noack on good grammar, John Pace on re-drafting your screenplay, Ryan Paine on the role of the critic, Ben Pobjie on writing comedy, Robert Reid on the role of the contemporary playwright, Aden Rolfe on the emergentsia, Jenny Sinclair on the landscape of her book research, Chris Summers talks to Lally Katz about theatre writing, Mia Timpano on how to cultivate the ultimate author profile photo, Estelle Tang on Christopher Currie and blogging fiction, Simmone Michelle-Wells pens a letter to her younger self, Cameron White reviews alternatives to Microsoft Word. (Estelle Tang, 7 October 2009)
At sevenish, I’ll be heading down to get my copy at Bertha Brown. You go get your copy too.
Okay, back to hating the sound of my voice.
Well, it’s official. Stop Drop and Roll is extending its submission deadline for Issue Two:
Submissions will now be accepted until 30 September 2009.
This time period is just a little longer than it would take a wolf to gestate two litters back to back. Don’t be shown up by the animal kingdom; if you have any idea embryos lying around, we suggest you implant them now and get incubating.
Writers head to the website to peruse Writing submission guidelines, while all you tricky cats in the “other disciplines” pen can find your way to the Visual Art/Film/Design/Music guidelines situated very close by. We’re told you guys think laterally anyway.
For those of you who have not seen the journal, Stop Drop and Roll is a new Melbourne-based literary journal that’s small in length but punchy in content and design. (And yes, I am still salivating over the front cover of Issue One.)
Its editors, Sean Wilson and Liz Seymour, are looking for ‘new material that is bold, intriguing, intelligent, colourful, passionate and many other words besides’ (The Pitch), which frighteningly sounds like a menagerie full of exotic critters. However, Wilson and Seymour did appear at the Emerging Writers’ Festival to speak about what they were after. They want their journal to be a forum for discussion between writers (both emerging and established) and readers and are open to all topics so long as the pieces are intriguing and intelligent with ‘palpable energy of thought’.
Interested in reading/submitting? Become a Facebook fan, read about Issue One – Crash Course (see below), or check out Stop Drop and Roll’s submission guidelines. For more general tips on submitting of the writerly (i.e. asexual) kind, check out Chris Flynn’s dos and don’ts from one of my older posts here.
WANT MORE DIRT ON STOP DROP AND ROLL?
- Miss Literary Minded’s thoughts on the Issue One – Crash Course launch
- QWC’s Empty Page Blog interview with the editors
- TwoThousand – subcultural guide to Sydney’s intro article
So you write and you’re published and you’re mingling at book launches and writers’ festivals and libraries and public lectures (can you mingle at those?) and poetry workshops and the cute guy/girl you’ve been chatting up seems genuinely interested in your work. They say that they’ll look it up, but in the meantime, can they grab your email for Facebook or maybe your website address?
‘Yeah, sure.’ You nervously smooth down the front of your top and scribble somethingsomething[at]something.com, adding ‘create blog’ to your mental list of things to do.
Later on, while skimming through a Wikipedia article on Basque people, you muse over your concept of blogging. Blog = a series of first draft entries = imperfections = horror + mortification x infinity. But if you’re serious about your writing career, you should be blogging, right? That’s what the pros are doing: Luke Devenish mantains one and labels it as ‘free advertising’; Rachel Hills uses her website as a online CV; Tom Cho posts zombie-telemarketer photos on his…
Okay, okay. You’ll create a blog. You’ll call it Wunder Pony and Friends (or something equally inane), and after five posts you’ll be an internet sensation; everyone will want to buy your book(s). But before you leap onto Blogger, you might want to check out Angela Meyer’s useful post on cultural (i.e. writing) blogs, ‘Embracing the medium: what makes a successful cultural blog’ (12/609), a ‘slightly amended version of the speech…[given] during the Emerging Writers’ Festival panel The Revolution Will Be Downloaded, May 2009′. Just read it (and read the comments as well). You’ll thank me later. 😉
Meanwhile, it’s Charlie the Unicorn time: