EWF: Town Hall Conference Weekend

After going to about 10 hours of writer’s talks and panels this weekend the strongest bit of advice in the writing industry I have learnt is this: Don’t be a dick. Don’t be a dick online, don’t be a dick when meeting people. Just don’t be a dickhead, full-stop OK? I think that’s a pretty rad fridge magnet right there.

Of course, I learnt more than that. There’s pages and pages of messy notebook stuff I have learnt over the weekend which has been really inspiring. It will properly take me a good year to process. Being inspired is awesome but it is also utterly EXHAUSTING. I have not slept properly due to my brain chit-chattering about new ideas.

Brain: Oh yes, a blog post! Yes I want to write about that. Plastic lids are utterly fascinating.

Me: Arkk.. Shhhh! I need to sleep.

Brain: and a short story. Yes, yes. I am a genius. I am A GENIUS.

Me: Seriously SHUT UP.

Brain: So, the character Wallace has this irrational fear of supermarkets right? Well I was thinking after Pegs goes away to become a train engineer Wallace can fall in love with the check-out chick…

Me: Gahhhhh! I hate you!

As a result of this I look a bit like Frankenstein’s monster today. I have way too many notes to condense the whole weekend so I will just write a few events that really stood out for me:

SATURDAY

Structure in The Yarra Room 12.30: Damien Young compares the structure of an article or essay to “seduction, foreplay, sex and a goodbye kiss.” When writing for a  general audience is good to hook them in with shock, humour, beauty. Also use no jargon or academic words. Anita Sethi reminded us that the we want our readers to go on a journey with us through the writing.

Novels/Regent Room 1.45pm: Emily Maguire made some interesting suggestions about creating character in novels: it is important to know everything you can about your character. Walk in your character’s shoes. Also know that people do not have one concern/focus so neither should your characters or they will come off cartoonish.

Post Publication/Yarra Room 3pm: Alan Baxter is a bit of twitter whore but he does not use it purely for self-promotion. “Don’t be a dick” was mentioned again. Stella Young spoke about negativity and trolls after publishing online. She often responds with thanking them or asking, “that’s a really interesting idea, please tell me more about that.”

SUNDAY

Relationships/Yarra Room 10am: Writing is a collaborative business and it’s important to nurture the relationships as best as one can. Literary Agent Donica Bettanin said that flattery can be a good way to start a relationship/start a conversation with an editor or someone in the writing industry. Playwright Dan Giovanni said your director (or editor) needs to share your vision.

Digital Writing/Yarra Room 12.30: This was my favourite talk! The panel was so engaging and inspiring about being an online writer. I know I’m not a very good blogger but Carla Sammat (blogger at easy as vegan pie) gave some wonderful tips about just doing it, somewhat fearlessly. She is not big on editing, talks about consistency, being yourself in your writing. The golden rule:  Keep at it.

I could go on and talk and talk. But if you want to read some more (and frankly more informative pieces!) on EWF check out Literary Life and Little Girl With A Big Pen. I think it was just great to be around such passionate people on the weekend.

It makes me feel like there’s a hell of a lotta good in the world y’know?

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