04 October, 2009

National Young Writers Festival

I've done my stint for the NYWF and I'm back home.

What I did:
  • Performed Creative Health Checks for 2 hours on Friday afternoon. This involved grilling 5–6 people about their creative practice and offering advice on what they could do to make things better for themselves. It was surprisingly fun—the most surprising thing was that people just turned up, were shown in by my diligent nurse Chris and sat down in the other comfy chair and talked, to a complete stranger, about their lives and hopes. None of them probably needed me to do more than nudge them in directions they were already on the point of already taking, but the nudging felt useful.

  • Sat on a panel with Christine Hinwood, James Phelan and Phillip Gwynne, chaired by Bethany Jones, about books we read when we were young, and how they affected our writing, and about literary influences, and YA literature and people's expectations of it, and all sorts of stuff. It struck me how much more got said when the sessions were an hour and a half long, instead of the usual festival 45 minutes to an hour. Although, I know, if a session was falling flat, an hour and a half could feel pretty long. But this one worked!

  • Took part in the event I've been terrified about since I agreed to do it several months ago, the All-Star Literary Smackdown! Tom Doig, an excellent pratfaller and profanity-sprayer of an MC, MC'd us. Technical difficulties meant that the teams couldn't heckle each other as effectively as we would have liked (so we were occasionally limited to rude gestures), but there was some excellent heckling from the crowd, and, of course, after the terror, the best team won, which was Phillip, Marieke Hardy and me, up against Anna Krien, Michaela McGuire and Guy Blackman. Picture of trophy to come; it is very colourful.

Everything I saw of this festival seemed very well attended with really attentive audiences/participants. I'd recommend exploring all its possibilities, anyone who's in the area in future years. It's got quite a different energy from your average litfest. Just take an umbrella and waterproof shoes.

Unrelated to the festival, I also:
  • Ate and drank very well at, among other places, The Last Drop cafe, and Zinc in Darby Street.

  • Got quite cold and wet, which was a bit of a shock to the system after we'd cooked on Thursday.

  • Saw the Margaret Olley exhibition at the Newcastle Regional Art Gallery.

  • Walked around the headland opposite Nobby's, admiring hang gliders, pelicans, very brave surfers and swimmers and even one crazy jetskier managing to stay upright in the chop. Some good dogs around, too.


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