Tag Archives: novella

Find Your Tribe – The Writing Secret

Open mic night 60 at Busybird Publishing

My love of story goes back to the mid seventies when I was a barefooted girl living in the bush. Back then, I had no point of reference when it came to my tribe because I had one and was well and truly loved and accepted. I was free to be myself.

When I went to boarding school I was suddenly without my tribe and had to learn how to fend for myself and to navigate the confusing relationships that go with teenage territory. I suddenly had no voice and stopped being myself. I also stopped loving stories – writing or reading them.

This is not a unique story. Just about everyone I know has experienced the slow suppression of his or her true self. We fight against society norms or what we thinkwe should be doing. Unless we find the right tribe early on, it can take a long time to live how we truly want to live. We are always searching for somewhere to belong but at what cost?

About 13 years ago, I was at a crossroads in my life. In hindsight, this was a special situation for me because I was at a point where I could decide where I was going. Luckily I chose what was really in my heart. I wanted to pursue what I wanted, not what I had been doing. I wanted to write.

I saw a flyer about an open mic night for writers. I went on my own. You could say that night changed my life. Not in a big bang sort of way but a dawning of consciousness. I didn’t participate or talk to anyone. I sat up the back and observed, which is my natural way. I went again the next month. I loved hearing people reading their work and I started to write again. At the end of the second night, one of the organisers came up to say hi and chatted to me. He was a teacher at the local TAFE. Within months I was enrolled in a writing course and you could say I was now part of a cult. A good one. I found a tribe and realised that maybe I wasn’t as weird as I thought. Or maybe the things that I wanted were not out of my reach.

When I started my own publishing business I realised that so many writers deal with isolation, depression and anxiety. I searched for ways to create a safe haven. I wanted a place where people could go to feel nurtured and less lonely. Those open mic nights had stayed with me.

Fast-forward 13 years to our own open mic night at Busybird Publishing. As I sat listening to each reader last night at our 60thopen mic night, it struck me how much the writers had grown and improved in their writing. How much fun they were having! Isn’t this what it’s all about? To create, share and have fun?

We have many regulars who have been coming for years, and many who have now been published. And so often the comments after the readings harp back to it’s so good to hang out with like-minded people. To be part of a tribe.

Of course, I’m not saying that coming to our open mic nights is responsible for good writers, but I know it helps on so many levels. People feel safe to share their work and by doing so can get feedback. This can only help them improve their craft as well as confidence. My hope for all writers is that they search out the like-minded people who can help them in their writing journey. It’s too lonely to do it on your own. Stories need to be shared and are pretty irrelevant if they aren’t.

I’d like to thank Barry Carozzi (that TAFE teacher) for those open mic nights. I don’t think he realises that they meant so much to me and I’d like to think that I’m carrying the baton along with my Busybird family.

Busybird Publishing runs open mic night on the third Wednesday of the month, February to November.

Blaise the book chick

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