Tasmanian Readers and Writers Festival – Hobart Sep 2015

So this weekend the Tasmanian Readers and Writers Festival was held in my home state. It has been so rare to have such an event here (though I’m pleased to see that more such events in recent times), and even rarer for me to be able to get to them (in fact, the only other festival I’ve been to was the Festival of Golden Words, held in Beaconsfield in March 2014).

While I was unable to attend the whole festival, I did have a fantastic day-and-a-bit – starting with opening night, which was a conversation between authors Cate Kennedy and Kathryn Lomer. I have to admit I had not heard of either author before but the conversation between the two was fantastic and so inspiring. My favourite quote from the night was “Nothing is wasted on a writer”, Kathryn Lomer explained where she first heard this (from another author friend?) but I’m afraid I can’t remember who.

There was also the comment that writers become a magnet for happy accidents. That is, as a writer you decide on something to write about, and all of a sudden things that are relevant to the story appear from out of the blue.  I completely agree with that, and have a blog post-in-progress discussing this very idea – perhaps it’s time I got on to finishing that one!

I came away with signed copies of both Cate and Kathryn’s latest books, and I’m looking forward to getting started on those.

The following day I attended Cate’s Masterclass: “The Essence of Great Stories”. Cate was so energetic and enthusiastic – and I loved what she had to say about the art of writing, about giving the reader the barest minimum necessary and trusting them to make the connections. There was so much she shared over the five hours, but here are just a few of my notes:

  • Approach writing with a sense of quiet, curious joy
  • Storytelling was/is oral and collective
  • Always question yourself!
  • Be specific!
  • Redraft with the reader’s emotional experience in mind
  • Read like a thief
  • The best story is the one we are uncomfortable writing.
  • Every honest word you write makes you a better writer.

I’ve come away with so much to think about, and today, finally, after at least a fortnight (or more) of procrastinating, I’ve got back to my novel, and I’ve looked at it with fresh eyes, and I’ve re-written the first scene. It feels better… hopefully it will still feel better when I look at it again tomorrow…

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