This time last week I was on the train heading back to Albury after an absolutely fantastic weekend of the Emerging Writers’ Festival where I mentored a regional writer and was a guest in an In Conversation with Director of the NSW Writers Centre, David Ryding on the ins and outs of literary events. Adding to the enjoyment was meeting up with Twitter pals, attending panel sessions and The Embassy with Carmel Bird as well as meeting other writers at many different levels. An impromptu breakfast with Benjamin Law was another highlight. (Pardon the namedropping 🙂
But that’s one of the best things about EWF – whether you are published, unpublished, well published and/or well known – there’s a sense of equality and openness to ideas and learning from each other so namedropping really doesn’t exist.
For me I gained an affirmation that I am pursuing the life which is right for me, and the Emerging Writers Festival is now an important part in putting that life together.
It’s easy to think about the things you should be doing as a follow up to the festival and putting the energy you’ve harnessed by plugging in to such a fantastic event. This in the short term can be very overwhelming. So I decided to take stock of what I had achieved in the year since I attended my first Emerging Writers’ Festival.
My main job in May last year was coordinating the fourth Write around the Murray festival. My third, it was proving to be a great way to network with writers and publishers, but in the main, when I was in the role I was wearing my coordinator’s hat. Popping along to the EWF gave me a chance to put aside that hat for a weekend and be Robyne Young, writer.
I remember looking at the EWF 2010 Program and thinking – this is the festival for me. I would know very few people there, but that didn’t matter. I had had some brief dealings with Angela Meyer who we had booked for the 2010 festival and it was great to meet EWF Director, Lisa Dempster (I briefly put my coordinator’s hat back on as I introduced myself and took the coordinator’s hat off for good in December 2010).
I caught up with friends, Nathan Curnow and was really thrilled when Derek Motion received the Judith Wright prize for poetry. I remember as we drove back to Albury along the Hume Highway I was full of ideas which my lovely partner listened to; he never doubts that I will build on my writing life.
So, as I travelled home, after this festival I started putting a list together. Finish those stories to give me enough for the new collection; blog on a more regular basis and update the fiction page (done – click here); follow up with the writers who I had met at the festival; be more diligent about entering competitions and submitting to anthologies and websites where I can show the variety of my work both in length and scope. In other words get out there more and write, write, write.
So to the looking back (with no thought on resting on the single laurel leaf which I might have earnt).
In the 12 months since I went along to EWF 2010 I have had a poem published by Black Dog Books – Don’t Jump ; been given space in The Border Mail on a fortnightly basis for an opinion column on any subject which takes my fancy; started my blog; actively engaged with other writers, publishers and like minded souls through Twitter; had a story shortlisted for The Shepparton Festival Short Story Competition; invested in my writing going along to workshops with Cate Kennedy and Steven Amsterdam; sought feedback from work from Steven Amsterdam who despite his busyness sent some valuable feedback; learned a story I submitted to Best Australian Stories, ‘Frozen by Circumstance’ was close to selection for this anthology; wrote my first Twitter book review; finally applied for a Writers Fellowship (unsuccessful, but glad I had a go and will try again) ; and appeared at the 2011 Emerging Writers’ Festival as a guest and mentor.
The reason to put this list together is a bit about validation: I remember someone at the 2010 Emerging Writers’ Festival saying that if you don’t champion your writing then no-one else will. The other reason for putting this list together is that it may just give someone else the inspiration to move ahead with the writing life they also know is right for them.
Already I’m looking forward to EWF 2012. I’ve set some goals and am going to do my darndest to bring them to fruition.
Report back to you in 2012!