Newcastle Writers Festival 2015

The Newcastle Writers Festival was yet again fantastic! I finished up feeling inspired, motivated and more confident.

First up was Strength in Numbers: What can a writing group do for you? It was really good. I never really considered joining a group, and I think some of the reason is the dreadful groups I got stuck in at uni. But this sounds much different. And importantly, I think I would enjoy critiquing other people just as much as having my work critiqued. It’s something to consider. I am definitely going to look into the Lake Macquarie division of the Fellowship of Australian Writers.

I then wandered over to The Press Book House for Idea Bombing Newcastle. That was pretty good. I had an amazing coffee (never thought of rapadura in coffee….SO good), and listened to some local magazine and zine writers who had some really amazing insights.

Then there was the opening night event The Book that Changed Me. It was really, really good. Michael Robotham moved me to tears twice! First with his Lord of the Rings story, secondly with his literary father story. It was a really moving and inspiring segment all round. I went down straight away and bough one of Michael Robotham’s books. I’d heard of him but never read him but he spoke so beautifully that I now just like him a whole bunch. I don’t read crime very often but I do enjoy it, so I’m hoping to love his work 🙂

On the drive home that night I was thinking about something completely unrelated to writing when something sort of *clunked* in my brain. Suddenly a HUGE problem with my not-yet-beyond-concept novel was solved, which I am thinking may cure my writers block. AND a whole new character was formed which really helps develop my main character. Yay!

Saturday morning I was in town bright and early for a fresh new haircut. Then it was off to Keys to the Kingdom which was great. I’d never even heard of Garth Nix but went immediately down to the book shop to get one of his books. The works sound really interesting and I enjoyed his way of thinking.

Next was Beyond the Crime Scene which was great. Both authors write fiction based on real events. I enjoy both fiction crime, and true crime, and it sounds like they sit somewhere in the middle. I ended up buying a Wendy James book too.

By this time my friend Belynda had caught up with me and we went and got some lunch. We had a long conversation about our story ideas and awesome authors, then we were off to Going it Alone which was a session about self publishing. I already am quite familiar with the options from following Catherine Caffeinated, but it was really good to see it in practice for three different fiction writers. Their stories each brought different complexities and I added Francesca Suter’s book “Returned” to my Goodreads “to read” list (I had exhausted my book budget by this time so will have to get the Kindle book later). They also mentioned NaNoWriMo, which I have been considering, and someone brought up Camp NaNoWriMo, which I had never heard of.

Then came the turning point for me. We went along to The WIP Session. I had registered to read some of my novel to the group (the only two complete paragraphs I’ve written). I was very close to chickening out, and Jacquie who was running it said it was fine for me to just listen and to see how I went. While we were waiting for the session to start, Belynda had a read and told me it was really good and that I should read it. Then my name was called and I just jumped up before I could talk myself out of it. I was SO nervous. I present to people ALL the time for my work and am a very confident public speaker, but for this my voice was shaking and my hands were a bit too. But I did it, got claps, and even a little “oooh” at the end because there is a little bit of a twist. It felt SO good that I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo that very night. Thanks for the support Belynda! I wish I had had time to stay and chat to other writers at the session but I had to get to a birthday party. Next time!

On Sunday I had to forgo the first session because I was at Raid My Wardrobe snapping up bargains. But then I was back on deck. I somehow stuffed up and was planning to attend Through the Eyes of a Child without realising I needed a ticket. But I just jumped across the hall to take in Readings from ABC Open 500 Words Project instead. It was really good! I now think I’ll start submitting.

Then I went in to a session called This Writing Life which looked at the lifestyles and work situations of three authors. Always worth a listen.

Finally I went to The Next Level: How to take your writing from hobby to publication. It was really good. I particularly enjoyed listening to Aiden Walsh’s tips for discipline and just “getting it done”. I also really liked hearing about Maree Gallop’s creative process.

I had such a fantastic time!

These are the things I have taken away to look further into:

  • Join a writers group.
  • Write and submit an entry for Grieve Writing Competition.
  • Write a short story “The Lawyer’s Wallet”.
  • Complete Camp NaNoWriMo for April. Have so far committed to 50,000 words, but may revise to 40,000.
  • Start participating in ABC Open’s 500 Words writing challenge.
  • Look into, and potentially start participating in, Friday Fictioneers.

I think I have moved past my funk 🙂