More on why the Emerging Writers’ Festival is awesome

Posted on 12 July 2011

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I’ve written about it before, but the ripples of #ewf11 just keep on lapping at the edges of my mind. And coming out in stupid metaphors that don’t make sense.

Here are the things that I’m finding myself still thinking about two months later.

People

The EWF team was definitely a highlight. It was a close-knit team almost from the very beginning and everyone was so supportive and amazingly cool in their own special, freakish ways. I’m really looking forward to having them around.

I had so many great conversations and moments with people whose names I don’t even remember and others who I totally remember like Ryan and Mary and Annette and Alan and Kirstin and Ana and Owen and Jordi.

Some very nice people invited me to stay with them in Edinburgh when I’m up that way next month. Coincidentally, it’s festival month in Edinburgh, including the Book Fest and Fringe Festival where I get to see Slow Clap play.

Events

Not Your Nana’s Slide Night was one of my favourites: a night of presentations in pecha kucha format, which is a presentation made up of 20 slides for 20 seconds each that change automatically so the presenter has to keep up. They were stunning. I particularly remember the presentations about a specific microculture of hipster travellers in Spain, growing up Scottish, a town full of museums and some of the wonderfully absurdist ideas pitched for the redevelopment of what is now Federation Square in the heart of Melbourne.

Another favourite was Dirty Words — a string of performances, MCed by the fearless and fabulous Sexytime, about the erotic side of literature. There was love and riding crops in the fresh produce aisle, feathered stoners, Mills and Boon, what Meatloaf was really singing about, burlesque, and excruciating tram rides.

Places

Rue Bebelons on Little Lonsdale Street was the official festival hub and was packed every single night. I knew that if I stopped there anytime, there would be someone familiar to chat to. It’s cozy, cheap, friendly and non-pretentious, especially by Melbourne standards. Plus, mulled wine. Their espresso martinis were the signature drink of festival patrons and artists. The team continues to gravitate there whenever we hang out. Which is pretty often. Also, I want to live in their upstairs space.

Ideas

Being a part of the Business of Being a Writer masterclass. It was a great learning experience as a presenter, listening to the other presenters, and meeting the participants. All the presentations seemed to have a common them that the best way to make business decisions about your writing career is to get as much information as you can, keep a hold of your personal and creative integrity, and do what feels right.

It was an experiment this year, but I now know that I can go to festivals without running my body and mind into the ground.

Highlight

But the highlight would have to be, as is often the case, something completely unplanned and probably not something anyone else took much notice of. A throwaway line from Penny Modra, one of the presenters on what I think was the last panel of the Town Hall workshop weekend. She talked about how she had recently made a significant career step, quitting what had been her regular gig for a few years, and she was in the middle of freaking out about it. And then:

“By the way, you will never stop freaking out.”

I laughed hysterically for about ten minutes when I heard that, after Penny had finished her talk and the next speaker was being introduced. I was so relieved. I’d thought it was just me and my habit of freaking out about everything. But no; apparently freelancers are always freaking out. It’s oddly comforting, partly because maybe it means I’m doing something right, plus there’s that great sense that I’m not alone.

But mainly because it’s helped me stop freaking out about the fact that I’m constantly freaking out.

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Posted in: Festivals, Melbourne