Tomorrow is my first day presenting at MWF 2017. As per my earlier post, I have six excellent sessions to host. Day one kicks off with two sessions in the schools program (Oliver Phommavanh doing writing exercises with students and Leena Van Deventer talking about writing video games). Did you know that the schools program is exclusively for young people? That’s right, no adults allowed. It’s one of the things I admire about the festival as especially in the YA space there can be a sense that adult fans are edging out young people. So no, if you’re over 18 you can’t come along and enjoy those sessions as much as you might want to.
My public session tomorrow is one I am so looking forward to. Sexism as a Mental Health Crisis will be held at QVWC, which is a gorgeous venue and they always make such lovely hosts. In preparing with the writers, it’s clear this session could easily run for double the time allotted and we still wouldn’t be covering everything. It’s a topic rife for deep analysis and I can’t wait to hear what these women have to say.
As August draws to a close I thought it might be worth checking in on my reading goals for this year. As in previous years, I set myself the goal of reading 52 books this year. One per week always sounds entirely reasonable, but I’ve been shocked to see how short I have fallen from the goal in some years. As I check in on my Goodreads stats for 2014, it tells me I’ve read 46 thus far, and am nine books ahead of schedule. Awesome. I’m pretty sure I got a substantial boost from the large collection of books I managed to devour while on holiday in the UK, and more recently on a trip to Cairns, but I’m still really pleased to that I might finally reach my goal. One of the factors that has definitely helped has been my Kobo, which I can now pop into a bag and take anywhere with hundreds of books at the ready. Previously I’ve had to consider whether I should lug various big or bulky books with me, particularly on holiday, but with the Kobo it is all so much easier.
Of these titles, I’d say my favourite is Ambelin Kwaymullina’s The Tribe series, which blew me away for its technical prowess in structure and character story arcs, and in impeccable world building and beautiful use of mythology. I also found a beautiful collection of short stories that finally offered Josephine Rowe’s Tarcutta Wake and my classic favourite Peter Carey’s The Fat Man in History some competition for my favourite collection of Australian short stories. I only just finished Maxine Beneba Clarke’s Foreign Soil, so I’ll see if its stories haunt me over the coming months the way Rowe’s did, but I think it is safe to say they are some of the finest examples of what short story collections can and should do.
Of my 46 books 32 were written by women, 12 were by Australian authors (this is much lower than it would usually be thanks to my ‘reading books about the UK or by UK authors while in the UK’ challenge) of which only two were men (sorry lads (not sorry)). Only 7 were non-fiction and 8 were young adult. I noticed my reading had lacked writers of colour, and thanks to some generous advice was able to put together an enviable selection of books by authors from diverse cultures and backgrounds, some of which I’ve already managed to read. I’m looking forward to adding more in as the year progresses.
All in all, the reading year is going well. Melbourne Writers’ Festival draws to a close today, so I’m looking forward to some of the excellent books I’ve added to my reading pile after seeing authors speak at various events. Any recommendations for me?
I have had such a blast at this year’s MWF. More so than any other year I felt like the program embraced emerging and young writers, had brilliant women on stage and made me think about things in a different way.
For Express Media I hosted the Write Across Victoria event, where we award our young writers from years 7, 8 and 9 for outstanding short fiction pieces they have submitted. It was brilliant and our Voiceworks editor Kat Muscat did a great job getting the audience of students interested in what the authors had to say during the Q&A section of the session. We also held our final 6x6x6 event with amazing young writers such as Xani Colac, Zora Sanders and Lucy Knisley. It was a pleasure to watch this one go off without a hitch and with so much appreciation from the audience.
I managed to make it along to quite a few sessions, including the keynote by Boris Johnson, storytelling by The Moth and a plethora of sessions with speakers who blew me away including Tao Lin, Margo Lanagan, Bob Brown, Junot Diaz, M.J. Hyland and former Express alumni Esther Anatolitis. My highlight, probably unsurprisingly, was Tavi Gevenson who merged all of my favourite things together as a young feminist who achieves amazing things and is also completely pragmatic about her own awesomeness. Plus she talked about Twin Peaks and The Virgin Suicides, so of course I was in heaven.
The Edinburgh World Writers Conference and Scottish Writers stream deserves its own post, so jam packed with ideas and information it was. Unfortunately I’m running low on energy right now, so I’ll just say how much I appreciated the last leg of the epic EWWC being held in our fellow City of Literature, and it made me even more determined to return to Scotland to learn more about their literary world.