Saturday, November 26, 2016

NYWF (Sun)

This post is extremely belated. Gosh, I can't believe we're at the end of November.

Sunday 2 October

The wonderful Nina Carter and I co-host Me, Myself and I: Writing for Yourself in the park (review by the lovely Annie Waters, one of the NYWF co-directors, here).

We dash there from breakfast with the Voiceworks EdComm. I can't believe my time as editor is coming to an end. It's been such a joy and privilege to have been part of something so special.

The future is bright.

I wander to the Zine Fair and pick up a couple of presents. Bump into more friends. It is warm.

Chair my final panel Fringe Dwellers on art in a smaller city, featuring Chiara Grassia (Canberra), Jakob Boyd (Perth) and The Line (Newcastle). There are much smaller cities...

A young woman asks at the end what our advice would be to someone starting out as a writer. 

My advice: 'Don't worry about trying to please everyone because you can't. Your audience is out there and somehow, I don't know how, they will find you.' Give yourself permission to 'fail'. 

This sounds negative but is actually liberating. It has given me the courage to write what I write.
It is a universal truth that we will not inspire everyone, resonate with everyone or empower everyone. There are billions of us, and it's unrealistic to assume that our message is meant for them all.
- Nicole Gulotta -
Napped. Then readings: Women of History and Late Night Readings: Sex, Death, Money.

Wendy Chen (who I am so proud of) read one of the most moving pieces of the festival on the Brontë sisters and love that transcends death. You could have heard a pin drop in the room.

Pun of the festival: "Cod evening, I thought I'd start with a fish pun." (Freya Daly Sadgrove)

Until next year xo

NYWF festival team  YOU ARE ALL AMAZING xo

Monday, November 7, 2016

late nights (and tears)

As some of you may be aware, I was one of 26 writers selected for the ACT Writers Centre HARDCOPY manuscript development program last year. It was an incredible experience.

Unlike many of the other writers, I didn't begin HARDCOPY with a full manuscript. I didn't have a first chapter, let alone a first draft. I knew it was a coming-of-age memoir set in Canberra but not much else... who expects to work out a 'narrative arc' to their life, aged 24?!

All the same, the selection panel saw potential in my proposal and for that, I'm grateful.

I found out that I hadn't been selected for the final round (one-on-one feedback from agents and publishers) while at NYWF 2015. Sure, I was disappointed but unsurprised. Perhaps if I had worked harder, had more direction, I might have been selected... but life got in the way.

'Is the ultimate goal to write a book?' a friend asked.

While I admitted the book was a goal, the 'real' goal is to have my work read. I'd rather have my work read than a manuscript that never sees the light of day. Online articles, reviews and essays have changed my life too. Good writing is good writing; print is NOT the be all and end all.

I wasn't ready then, emotionally and skill-wise, to write the book I want to write. I was still living the memoir, after all. And so, I put the manuscript aside for a year. In the meantime, I:

As I've said before, HARDCOPY was just the beginning. Writing is anything but glamorous (dressing up for readings, yes); it is late nights (and tears) but I wouldn't have it any other way.

I'still not ready for 'the book' but I've come a long way since last year.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

NYWF (Sat)

Another thing I love about NYWF, which I only hinted at in my last post, is bumping into friends.

at events / while walking down the street / at the Zine Fair / the Ocean Baths

A four day party spilling across Newcastle.

Saturday 1 October

Saturday is my 'day off'. I'm not scheduled for any events so I start the day with #LoveOzYA on YA writing, chaired by my friend Wendy Chen. Many readers, including adults, love YA but I skipped it as a teenjumping from Enid Blyton to Jane Austenand am unlikely to return.
If I'm going to be pigeon-holed, I want to use that to drive change... Writers just want to be superheroes. 
Wai Chim (#LoveOzYA) -
I can see why YA appeals but for me, it was the classics (Little WomenAnne of Green GablesPride and PrejudicePersuasion) that spoke to me and this continued into university.

I played by the rules. The heady 'mistakes' of adolescence did not come until my early twenties.

I scribbled furiously at Gendering Loneliness... transcribed below:

Why is loneliness in men seen as strong and 'untouchable'? Why is writing about feelings considered self-absorbed? How can we re-frame the narrative outside the terminology of self-indulgence or victimhood? What if the most feminist thing to say is: 'This happened to me'?

There is no reason why emotions and feelings aren't valid or provide data of their own.

We really like to categorise the 'right way' to talk about things. When we talk about things in academic terms, it's very easy to categorise. People without firsthand experience see things in black and white.

How do we address people who don't want to listen? We need to talk about shaming.
Shame creates silence. 
Jonno Revanche (Gendering Loneliness) -
There is more awareness of depression and anxiety but still little awareness of 'scarier' mental illnesses like personality disorder, psychosis and bipolar.

Where You From? Where You Goin'? is another highlight. I do not write poetry (nor do I 'understand' it) but gosh, spoken poetry can be hypnoticvoice. cadence. rhythm. musicality.

I have no words... if you ever have the chance to see Admas Tewodros, Eiman AlUbudy, Omar Musa, Omar Sakr or Magan Magan perform poetry, please, please grab it with both hands.

Khalid Warsame was an excellent host; his excitement infectious. A short discussion of each artist's poetic practice followed. Omar Musa spoke about the influence of orators and theatre on his work and how he used poetry as an access point in his novel Here Come The Dogs

One artist said, 'Any good poetry is music, it sings.' Another followed on, 'I look for an explosion and implosion ... grenades ... I'm waiting for the pin to drop.' (Sorry my notes are incomplete!)

Mangan and Khalid touched upon the everyday poetics of Somali speech; a casual pronunciation made by an uncle (I think Khalid's) can sound as though he is making a revelation. Wow.

Finally, I had a wonderful time dancing at the Ball and chatting with Jane Howard at the bar. I meant to shower and sleep but was dragged to the Ocean Baths, where I stayed until 3, I think.

It was worth it.

Sunday, October 23, 2016


this song. this video. caught my attention years ago. 

its title escapes me each time. but i have found it. (somehow.) again. again. again.

perhaps. just perhaps. moments. (not people.) stay with us forever.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

NYWF (Thu + Fri)

NYWF was deliriously wonderful.

Despite having more responsibility, I felt more relaxed this year. I was nervous about my events but I knew what to expect of the festival. I knew from last year that it would be INTENSE so I scheduled plenty of 'me time', ate regularly and importantly, gave up on trying to see everything.

(Second year and a veteran...)

Thursday 29 September

Wandered down to the Ocean Baths to clear my mind and draw strength for the days ahead. The horizon flickered with lightning. It is good to be reminded of one's insignificance. 

Finished with Allowed on Timeline: A Slide Night (Elizabeth Flux and Hera Lindsay Bird: hilarious) and Late Night Readings: The Minotaur Under My Bed

Omar Sakr's poetry and voice are out. of. this. world. His essay on sexuality, family and homelessness in Kill Your Darlings is also incredible.

Friday 30 September

Met Chloe and Marlee (fellow panellists) for breakfast. I talk about Mum as she is the audience I most worry about (her reading my blog, her reaction to my writing, potentially hurting her). A few people mention afterwards that they are glad we spoke about our mothers. I am relieved.
It's like we carry a Babushka doll of places with us - where we've been, where we're going.
- Alice Robinson (Writerly Landscapes) -
Photo: Louise Jaques
Photo: Louise Jaques
There are three attendees at my programming workshop but they all want to be there. We finish early so I make it to a panel of writers from the western suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne.
If I do my job as a story-teller, it'll break stereotypes rather than reinforce them.
- Omar Sakr (Go West: Finding Voice) -
As someone who grew up in Werribee, this panel is important to me. I am from 'the west' yet do not lay claim to being a 'west writer', as much as I want to. I am a 'Canberra writer', for now. (Shout-out to the brilliant Footscray Community Arts Centre and ACT Writers Centre xo)

My friends and I struggle to find a place for dinner so end up squeezing into Speech Night to see our favourite writers (Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen, Omar Musa and Hera again!) read.

I have followed Giselle's writing since last year's festival. She is an awesome person who writes honestly about feminism, pop culture, sex, race, relationships and mental health. Trailblazer.

Instant noodles for dinner, then Late Night Readings: Oh! The Places You'll Go

It's the second time I've heard Madeleine Laing read (previously at Noted) and she is just as effortlessly cool. Self-aware yet unpretentious. Love. Madeleine strikes a chord because she, like Jean Hannah Edelstein, reminds me that it is ok (read: not selfish) to write about oneself...

(to be continued)

Thursday, September 29, 2016

exactly where i want to be

I am so. excited. for the next few days.

It feels like only yesterday that I was heading to National Young Writers' Festival for the first time. I was so proud of driving to Newcastle and back. My first long-distance solo road-trip.

My first writers' festival. I had no idea what to expect, nor did I know a single person going.

It didn't matter.

I fell in with a lovely group on my first afternoon. I scribbled notes at the first panel but by the last day, I learnt to let the festival wash over me. Strangers became familiar faces, then friends.

I did eventually bump into a few people I knew from Canberra, a lovely surprise. This year, there are fair few of us, a contingent-of-sorts, heading up. I have road-trip buddies both ways.

I am nervous about my panels and first workshop but really, it isn't the end of the world. The wonderful thing is, the audience want you to succeed. They want to hear what you have to say.

With that in mind, I have packed several dresses (weather won't be as summer-y sadly), Polaroid camera, books and magazines (which I won't have time to read), a handful of pens, stack of CDs, business cards and... a heart full of curious gratitude to write, write, write.
An author ought to write for the youth of his own generation, the critics of the next, and the schoolmasters of ever afterwards.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald -
(no pressure...)

Also, here is my fancy artist page. And an excellent NYWF guide by Alex Neill.