Tag Archives: work in progress

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 Terror of Launching a Book

My childhood memoir

Next week I will be launching a book. There’s a new kind of terror that has crept up on me. It’s not my first book, so why is this happening? It’s a memoir. And memoir is fraught with so many layers and emotions and involves other people. The ‘other’ people who have been a part of my life who may, will, have different memories to me and see things from a completely different perspective.

So what. Who cares?

I have been working on this memoir for many years. Now that it’s in print – the box of books sits next to me – I can already see how I could have written it differently. Made it better. It had gotten to the stage that I needed to complete it so that I could move on to other things (I have two other books waiting to be written). And the way I’ve written it is experimental. Will readers get it? Will they connect with it?

What am I worried about? I feel that my writing ability is sound but somehow I feel that ‘imposter syndrome’ sneaking up on me. I’ve done the work, had the book edited but it’s not actually the writing that I’m scared about. I’m scared that people will see me in a different light. This is ridiculous because I am the kind of person who lives life with no pretentions, so I think that people know the real me. There’s nothing in the book that can be construed another way. Or is there?

This is the thing with writing, or any artform. The way it’s received will be different with every single person. We all bring our own life experience to a story and interpret it in a unique way. So while I have been mindful of writing it in an honest, non-judgmental way, will it be taken as something else? Will anyone feel hurt or misunderstood by these stories?

So what. Who cares?

If a creator doesn’t care about the creation, why bother doing it? This is the dichotomy of art. We must care and nurture our creation into being, then cut the cords and let it fly to freedom. The world will make of it what it will. We can only hope that it is well looked after. There is always the danger of caring about it too much but in actual fact once it’s out there it no longer belongs to you. You’re giving it to the world. It may be liked, loathed or disappear into the abyss. As the creator we are sending out little pieces of ourselves and hoping that it is worth opening our heart and laying ourselves bare.

My childhood memoir, told in a series of ethereal vignettes, will launch at Busybird Publishing next Wednesday 8th August at 7pm. The Road to Tralfamadore is Bathed in River Water is my way of honouring a very special time in my life that has shaped me in so many ways. I’ll be quietly terrified in offering it up to my dear ones but also excited to have it alive and pulsing. I do care and will be putting myself out there despite the fear.

Blaise the book chick