Category Archives: Life

Write Around the Murray Festival – a review

site-logoWe’re very spoilt for choice in Melbourne when it comes to writing festivals. So much so that they tend to become white noise. From the Melbourne Writers Festival, Emerging Writers Festival, many council/library run festivals to The Clunes Book weekend and Bendigo Writers Festival, just to name a few. But here’s one I suggest that you put on the calendar of events for next year and make a weekend of it.

The Write Around the Murray Festival (Albury NSW) celebrated ten years last week and I only heard of it last year, when I went with my writing group for the weekend. This is a five-day festival that has lots of great content with a great location. Most of the bigger events are held at the LibraryMuseum, right in the centre of town. This venue is fantastic, with the library, bookshop and even a pop-up café.

Unfortunately, I had events to attend in Melbourne, so it was Saturday night by the time I arrived, just in time to meet my fellow panellists for our Publish Me! segment the next day. We discussed the submitted stories over wine (tough job, I know), then headed over to the LibraryMuseum for pre-dinner drinks before the Stereo Stories event.

Stereo Stories @ Write Around the Murray festival
Stereo Stories @ Write Around the Murray festival

Stereo Stories is a great night of song memoirs featuring guest authors with what I would call musical interludes to fit the story. The songs resonated with me because they were from artists such as Paul Kelly. The featured authors were Debra Oswald, Jane Harrison, Anson Cameron and Phillip Murray, all accompanied by the Stereo Stories band. Apparently this group performs at lots of festivals and events, so if you see them out there, try to get tickets. Great food went with this event, so I was well fed with nourishing food and creative talent by the time I fell into bed.

The Publish Me! panel was well attended for a Sunday morning session. I’m guessing quite a few in the audience were writers who had submitted a page for discussion. The panel consisted of Fleur Ferris, Sue Gillett, Jen McDonald and myself, with the task of assessing whether a page of writing had the goods to hook and reel in a publisher. From the nine submissions that we chose, there was great discussion about pace, point of view, showing not telling and intrigue – all elements that we think hook a reader in.

After the session, we were swamped with some of the submission authors wanting to talk more about their pieces. I hope that many of them have gone away with valuable insights to their work that is useful going forward.

I feel as though I really only had a taste of the festival this year, compared to last year, but it was enough to get some creative juices flowing and to get a real buzz from the festival goers. And, I learned a bit of trivia at Stereo Stories: Enid Blyton’s nephew, Carey Blyton, wrote the theme song to Bananas in Pyjamas in 1967!

Blaise the book chick

A Balancing Act

IMG_7764Once upon a time, I fancied myself becoming a Naturopath and began a journey in that direction. Life happened and I didn’t keep going in that direction but I did learn a lot in that time. The biggest thing I took from my study was the term Homeostasis. In our body, this is a tendency towards a stable environment, something that our body is striving to do all the time. In life, we are always trying to strive for some kind of equilibrium too.

Humans are living on the edge of a knife. In this fast paced world, it’s hard to decipher what is good for us. We no longer know how to read our bodies or trust our intuition. People are getting fatter and less healthy despite the fact that science has made leaps and bounds in knowledge. If we now know so much why do we feel as if we know so little?

Every day, someone is being diagnosed with cancer. Every day someone is dying from cancer. How do we find a way to deal with this? Suddenly, a cancer patient is faced with death and the cure for the cancer is highly toxic. Who can afford to be sick? We are so caught up in the everyday need for earning a living that we forget what is important in this life. Even if you believe that there is life after death, don’t you want to make this life as worthwhile, healthy and happy as possible?

Life on earth seems to be about extremes. Work hard, live hard. Live the fast life and if you get sick, kill it with Chemo or Radiation. It’s all about the quick fix. Get a headache, take a tablet. Get the flu, take a tablet. Get fat, have it sucked out. Work long hours, eat badly. It’s all go, go, go, and sorry but I don’t have time for that. Work is a hassle and the kids are sick and I don’t have time for this. If we slowed down and looked after ourselves a little better we wouldn’t get sick and we would actually have the time to enjoy what we are working towards.

My point?

The secret to balance is slowing down. How can you slow down? Read a book, create something special, walk the dog. It’s not always easy to create balance in life but art is a very important tool to create a richer, more balanced life. Never underestimate its power.

So, go forth and create!

Blaise, the book chick