Willy Lit Fest 2017

 

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It was a good couple of days.

Saturday I saw Leah Kaminsky, Rachael Guy and Andy Jackson talking poetry, the body, chronic illness and disability. It was interesting and moving. All smart people with brilliant things to say, and all gorgeous readers of their own – and other – work.

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Then it was my session, The Age of Experience, chaired by Jane Rawson and also featuring Christy Collins and Paul Dalgarno. We talked about how it’s possible to write while old – no, really. We talked about how being an older debut writer is not so bad, in fact it can be really positive and maybe even better/easier? It was a great session with a good audience who asked questions, especially a certain Mr Kakmi.

I don’t have a pic but here we are afterwards, the best one is with my eyes closed. So be it!

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I look like I’m just so pleased but a bit tired.

Sunday I was in at the festival early to catch Dmetri Kakmi talking to Richard Cornish about his Year Without Meat (book and actual year). I laughed and I cried and this is the truth. It was a confronting chat about where the meat we eat comes from and whether it’s ethical (answer: probably not). Richard Cornish has a blog here and I’m looking forward to exploring it. I eat meat, I love meat, but I don’t want to eat meat in a way that perpetuates the terrible conditions and killing practices of most commercial meat producers.

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After that session I had about half an hour break before starting my two-hour The Editing Hat workshop. It was booked out quite quickly and there were 20 participants, which made it more like a lecture. I had a whiteboard. I had my notes. And I had keen listeners, ranging in age from a Year 9 schoolgirl (so 14, 15 at a pinch) who had already completed 30,000 words of her fantasy novel, to two delightful older sisters. Everyone was interested in writing something – whether for publication or not – and therefore wanting to learn about the editing process, how things work, how it sits within a publishing ‘flow-chart’ and lots of other things. When to stop, when is it too much? When to show to someone else. Who should that someone else be?

The time flew, and everyone seemed happy.

So. Today I had a quiet day with my own manuscript, continuing my structural edit. This Thursday I’ll spend my first day in my new writing studio, which I organised last week. So lucky and feel very happy. It doesn’t have wifi which is a huge attraction.

 

And that’s about it.

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How beautiful have the skies been lately? I remember the skies this time last year, they are stunning.

 

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Willy Literary Festival 2017

I’ve never been to this festival (talk about being a bad Melburnian writer) but it’s on next weekend and I am doing two things and really excited about being there.

First is The Age of Experience on Saturday 17 June, 3.30-4.30pm where Christy Collins, Paul Dalgarno and I talk to Jane Rawson about being debut authors who aint young. Here’s the proper description from the program:

It’s never too late to debut. While many people think ‘young writer’ when they hear ’emerging writer’, Jenny Ackland, Christy Collins and Paul Dalgarno each had their first book published after 35.

Jenny’s first novel, an intriguing mash-up of the great Australian legends of Ned Kelly and Gallipoli called The Secret Son, was published by Allen & Unwin in 2015, when she was 51 years old. Christy Collins won the Viva la Novella prize at 38 years old in 2015 with The End of Seeing, and Paul Dalgarno’s ground-breaking hybrid novel-memoir, And You May Find Yourself, was published by Sleepers when he was 39 years old.

Is the publishing industry too biased toward youth? What are the benefits of publishing once you’ve had some experience under your belt? How do you maintain enthusiasm for writing when life keeps getting in the way? And should you Photoshop the wrinkles out of your author photo?

In this event, Jenny, Christy and Paul talk to Jane Rawson (43 years old when her first novel A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists was finally published) about how to hang in there and not lose heart.

There are still tickets available, here.

Then, on Sunday, I’m facilitating a two-hour workshop on editing, and will bring my mad skills and learning from my time in the Professional Writing & Editing Course at RMIT (I bombed out twice but it wasn’t due to incompetence, I promise!); my work as a sub-editor for a bunch of magazines, my self study and, most importantly, my hands-on learning as a novelist working with a literary agent and the marvellous-wonderful-excellent-kind editors at Allen & Unwin. Can’t wait. It’s sold out though. So maybe next time?

Festival program – have a browse, there are lots of fabulous things on.