We’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 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!