sydney writers’ festival

swfI’ve lived in Sydney for nearly four years now, and somehow the Sydney Writers’ Festival escaped my notice until a month ago. This event is a must for anyone who loves writing or reading. The week long schedule is packed with thought provoking discussion from authors writing in all different genres.

Not knowing what to expect, I only bought tickets to one event. This was a mistake. The hour long discussion I attended, A Life of True Crime, left me eager to read the books discussed by the three authors profiled (The Tainted Trial of Farah Jama by Julie Szego, Have You Seen Simone? by Virginia Peters, and One of Us by Åsne Seierstad). I can only imagine how much longer my to-read list would be if I’d attended more sessions. I also regret not immediately booking a ticket to see author and mortician Caitlin Doughty discuss her memoir, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematorium. I went back and forth about whether I wanted to go into the city two days in a row, and when I finally decided to just do it, the event was sold out. (Yes, I’m well aware my tastes are on the morbid side.)

Next year I plan to make a day of it. Or maybe two. I might even take a day off work. (There were several events I wanted to attend, but didn’t because they fell on a weekday.) Though my interests this year were purely in non-fiction discussions, I’m interested in hearing more from fiction writers as I work on my own story. I also never know where I’ll get my next creative idea, and the diversity of topics presented lends itself to learning something new or unexpected.

I’m glad I finally found the Sydney Writers’ Festival, even if I only dipped my toes in the water at this year’s event. Now that it’s on my radar, I’ll commit to a fuller schedule next time.

on writing

I’ve decided to try my hand at writing a novel. (Or maybe a short story or two. We’ll see how it shakes out in the end.)

This is an idea I’ve attempted over the years, starting a few pages here or there, but eventually abandoning my efforts. I was never pleased with what I wrote, often questioning how good my ideas or writing were. Sometimes I simply became too busy, or misplaced my budding manuscript.

But 2015 just feels like the year to give writing another go. I’ve been incredibly inspired by the movie review blog my husband and I have been writing since December 2013. Forcing myself to write and edit nearly everyday is not only good practice, it’s helped spark my imagination. After watching 400+ films (and counting), you inevitably start to think about how you’d write some stories differently.

I’m also working on not being so hard on myself. So what if my first draft is crap? That’s what first drafts are for. Hell, that’s what second, third, and tenth drafts are for. This is probably the biggest hurdle to writing, one I plan to finally overcome this time. Worst case scenario is that I discover I’m not good at writing fiction. No worries, I have other hobbies I can focus on.

As for being busy… well, that’s life. When is it ever not busy. Taking time off to just write is the dream, but it isn’t realistic right now. I’ll definitely be setting some deadlines for myself, but ones that I can actually meet. Again, I won’t beat myself up if I miss a date by a day or even a week. I’ll only start to worry if I reach June and haven’t even started. (Actually, let’s move that up to April.)

(The only foil I can confidently say I won’t be succumbing to this time is losing my notes or story. I’m much more organized these days. It also helps that I don’t plan on moving in the foreseeable future. That’s a surefire way for things to go missing.)

So I’m now armed with a notebook of story ideas, Stephen King’s On Writing, my library card, and The Elements of Style. I’m seeking inspiration wherever I can: reading, watching the news, visiting art galleries, meeting new people. And most importantly, I’ll continue writing whenever possible.

Let’s just see how this goes…