Tag Archives: novel

Bendigo Writers Festival 2018: Let’s Get Curious 10–12 August

Bendigo Writers Festival 2018

It was by accident that I attended the Bendigo Writers Festival last weekend, thanks to someone who was part of the program but couldn’t attend. I was asked to help out and I was happy to because it meant that I would finally commit to going. Each year I have considered going but other events or projects have gotten in the way.

On arriving in the city centre, I remembered how pretty Bendigo is with its stately buildings and gardens. I instantly knew that I was going to enjoy myself.

I’ve been to many writers’ festivals around the country and I consider the ones held in regional areas much better than the big cities. I think this is because the cities are so spoiled for choice when it comes to bookish events and the regional areas appreciate the opportunity much more. This festival was no exception.

Now in its seventh year, it felt like the festival is well established as an annual event to the region and I could feel the excitement and anticipation in the air despite the chilly winter weather on a Friday afternoon when I arrived.

My first panel was about DIY publishing and the room was full of enthusiastic writers. Everyone was engaged and I loved the conversations I had with my sister panelists, Mira Schlosberg and Amy Doak.

After the panel, I was free to enjoy the festival until Sunday when I was to be part of the Share Fair at Trades Hall. It was hard to choose what to see with each timeslot having four or five different events from author talks, to discussion panels and live performances. I decided to see things that were not my usual choices:

  1. Nurturing Yiddish with Bente Kahan and Arnold Zable.
    I cannot speak Yiddish but I found this an interesting discussion from the point of view of a language that needs to be preserved.
  2. Opening Gala (Let’s Get Curious) with Benjamin Law, Ann Cleeves, Gareth Evans, Carly Findlay and Jenny Graves.
    An almost full house at Ulumbarra Theatre (the old Bendigo Gaol) with a lively discussion about curiosity. Benjamin Law is a great presenter and handled being heckled for his shoes-with-no-socks fashion very well.
  3. Secrets, Lies and Dark Deeds with Michael Robotham and Cecile Shanahan.
    I’m not a big reader of thrillers but I found Michael very personable and funny and who doesn’t love a good story story about getting the first book deal the way he did? I’m adding his books to my TBR (to be read) pile.
  4. Death, Decay, Disaster with Sarah Kasnostein and Gemma Raynor.
    I can’t remember where I had heard about The Trauma Cleaner but I was curious to know more. And there is so much more to this story. I’m looking forward to reading this book, also now on my TBR pile.
  5. Not Such a Bad Place to Grow Up with Paddy O’Reily, Jay Carmichael, Sofie Laguna and Ellen van Neerven.
    I attended this because of my own love of the bush and because I had noticed that many books are being set in urban landscapes. The Choke was already on my wish list but after this panel, I also got Jay and Ellen’s books. I was particularly impressed with Ellen and have put her book at the top of my pile.
  6. Surviving Words with Bente Kahan. I attended this because again I was curious to see how she was going to present the various artists that she promised. This was a mix of English and Yiddish and I found it very moving and even a little tear inducing, even though I can’t really explain why.

I realise that my descriptions of each event are brief but I could do a full review for each. It’s enough to show that there was great variety and big names attending and that is only a portion of the 100 or so events.

Going to writing festivals is good practice for many reasons. Not only is it fun to immerse yourself in books but it gives you a sense of what is happening in the industry, you learn something from each event in terms of writing practice or the journey of a story. All of this will add to your skills as a writer and as a businessperson because writing is a business. It isn’t enough to just sit and write despite the fact that is what we’d love to do. Yes, you do need to focus and write the book but once that is done you will need to work out how that story gets in front of readers. This is the same whether you are published traditionally or do it yourself. More than anything, attending writing events will give you inspiration because it’s hard not to be buoyed by bookish conversations.

Do yourself a favour and get along to something. We really are rich with events around Australia. The Melbourne Writers Festival starts 24th August and Write Around the Murray (another great regional event) is 7–9 September. If you feel that the expense is beyond you, think about volunteering for a festival. That way you will meet people behind the scenes and get free entry to events.

Have fun!

Blaise the book chick

The Chilli Effect

The Chilli Effect – photo by Blaise van Hecke

Do you like to eat chilli? Would you munch on one raw? Probably not unless you’re one of those people on a food challenge show on YouTube. Why do you think they would do it? Usually there is a reward for it, like winning the challenge, getting media exposure or winning money.

We will get outside our comfort zone if the reward is there. If not, we’ll remain as most humans are: lazy. What is it YOU want for 2018? What are you going to do to make it happen?

If there isn’t enough incentive for you to make something happen, it will be very hard to find the motivation to do it. I’ve lost count of how many people tell me in writing workshops that they feel unmotivated to sit down to their writing. This just tells me that they don’t want it enough. It comes down to the reason WHY you do it. Determine why and you’ll be able to have that to reach out for. It’s not easy writing a book or climbing a mountain, so your why needs to be big enough to keep you going when it gets tough.

I’ve told myself many times that I’m not a disciplined person. But getting something done actually doesn’t require discipline. It requires you to sit down and map a plan to get where you want to go. Sometimes you’ll get off track but don’t be hard on yourself. Get back on track and keep going. Keep giving yourself little pep talks and adjusting your plan to keep you moving forward.

Here are some of the things that I do to keep myself moving forward with my writing:

Set goals that are achievable.

I was writing my first novel for about 10 years and was still only around 20,000 words into it. I had plenty of reasons for the lack of time: running a business, two teenagers etc. Then I asked Les Zig to coach me. He told me to set aside 15 minutes every day. It’s easy to find 15 minutes. I got up half an hour earlier than usual (I’m NOT a morning person) and sat down to write. I managed to write the full novel in nine months by doing this.

It isn’t helpful to set goals that are too hard to achieve. Instead of 1000 words per day, aim for 250. If you go over it, you feel good and it’s better than no words at all.

Remind yourself why you’re doing this.

It takes a lot of hours to write a book. It may take time away from your favourite TV show, or Facebook or even your family. If you don’t know why you’re doing it, I promise you it won’t happen. My incentive was to just have written a novel. It was more of a bucket list item than anything.

Hang out with like-minded people.

When you tell someone that you’re writing a book, they might think that you’re all talk. Or they might wonder what you could possibly write about. It seems like a very indulgent pastime. When you find a tribe of people who do what you do, they’ll get it and will encourage and support you, as well as give you critical feedback on your work.

When the work gets hard, think about that chilli. Is the purpose big enough for you to keep pushing on? Take a nice big bite and reap the rewards.

Blaise, the book chick