10 Australian Book Bloggers to Follow

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There seems to be a great many writers blogging online.  But how can we find them.  They seem to be hidden away in secret places online and are very hard to unearth.

A big list of people with a little review of why you might want to read them.  Writers who are reviewing work, blogging about literature and contributing to the online writing dialogue.

James Bradley, CITY OF TONGUES

Sam Van Sweeden, LITTLE GIRL WITH A BIG PEN

Angela Meyer, LITERARY MINDED

7 Blogging Tips

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1. There is no single ‘way’ to make your blog work.  Distrust anyone who tries to sell you precise blogging dogma.  While there are proven habits to help make your blog successful, many bloggers have made their blogs work using a number of different methods.

And there are always exceptions to every rule. Some people might recommend you make money from advertising while the successful blog ZEN HABITS swear by an advertisement free space.

2. The people who blog about the same topic as you are your friends not your competition.  Like minded blogs can help each other in many ways. Enter the blogging community with caution and care – Don’t trash the joint when you come in.

Similar blogs have similar audiences that can be shared without being stolen. When you begin a blog on travel for instance, make friends with other travel writers and reach out when they write about something you are interested in.

Share more content than you write, and support those in your community.

3. Not every idea is a good one – But you won’t know until you try it out.  Even good ideas can turn out to be wrong for you in a few months time.

4. It should hurt to hit publish.  Otherwise, push yourself until you are not even sure you should be posting it – Then do it!  Lazy bloggers make lazy blogs.  I have a few posts that still make me think, ‘Should I take those down?’  These posts are my most controversial or honest, and my most popular.

5. Blogging is hard.  Blogging takes more time than you realise, requires dedication, persistence and tends to happen late at night.  Progress on your blog will normally happen right at the moment you are considering giving up.

6. Don’t push to gain the wrong readers.  When it comes to building a blogging audience, aim for the right readers, even if it means your audience grows slowly.  Numbers don’t matter if they are the wrong readers for you.

7. Don’t talk about yourself all the time.  Talk about what you can offer others.  Don’t be crazy and rant unless you have the answer underneath.

 

 

How to Prepare for and Nail an Interview

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Being able to interview people is a skill.  Luckily it is a skill that, with practice, becomes almost second nature.  There is so much information to be found in people if you only knew how to ask.

It is important for writers to be able to interview people well.  Interviews are a wonderful way to get your foot in the publishing / magazine / journal door.  They are also a good way to extract information from experts and research certain topics for your fiction writing.  There is so much information to be found in people if you only knew how to ask.

Below is a list from the INTERVIEWING PANEL at the National Writers Conference, 2015, combined with advice from a number of websites and blogs and a few tips and tricks from Susannah Fraser, our Manuscrapped in-house interviewer.

Before the Interview

  • Give your subjects options and be respectful of their time let them choose what works best for them.
  • Expect the booking and pursuing of an interview subject to be time-consuming.
  • It helps having a publication behind you when you approach subjects for interviews.
  • Once you have found a subject that you wish to interview, approach their publicist.  ‘Publicists are generally good to deal with.’
  • Refer a friend. It’s not out of the question to ask your interview subject to refer a friend for an interview.  Subjects will often know someone interesting you can interview next.
  • Choosing person to interview – ask your editor first.  90% of the work will be tracking these people down.
  • Think of what an interviewee might have to offer on a larger topic.  Don’t be afraid to include news and currents events, to get their reaction to the world.  It is a wonderful way of getting an insight into how your subject views the world.  What could they teach readers, about a larger story?

Continue reading

EWF15 – A Discussion About Interviewing

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I had never really thought much about what makes a good interview; never mind what makes a good interviewer.  I thought interview skills were for journalists and police officers.  I was wrong.  Being able to interview a stranger is a wonderful skill that most writers and bloggers don’t know they need.

As a writer, interviews are a wonderful way to flesh out characters, delve into unknown areas and accurately portray various professions.  Interviewing skills help when writing profiles and long-form articles for publications.  Many novelists even recommend conducting interviews with your own characters as a means of getting deeper into their minds.

As a blogger, interviewing skills are also wonderful.  Interviews are a refreshing way to cover the content you might not be proficient in writing about yourself.  Interviews with other bloggers, who are also experts in your niche make wonderful articles and give your readers a break from your ‘voice’. Continue reading

Publishers and Literary Gatekeepers

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What are Literary Gatekeepers?

In the writing world, I am sure you have heard the comment that publishers are the literary world’s gatekeepers.  Gatekeepers control passage through a certain gate.  This gate may be literal or metaphorical.  In literature, gatekeepers are the people who decide who and what gets published when.

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FIGURE A

Let’s take this metaphor further.  To be a gatekeeper, one must have a gate.  And for this gate to be successful in it’s function, it must be firmly attached to a wall or fence.  The gatekeeper remains at their post until a person wishes to pass through this gate.  The gatekeeper is in charge of deciding wether said applicant meets the necessary criteria to access the other side of the wall/fence.  See Figure A * Continue reading

Aren’t Bloggers and Writers the Same Thing

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The Writing Festival Season is about to start and I’m absolutely thrilled to be participating in the EMERGING WRITERS FESTIVAL for 2015.

This year I’ll be joining SAM VAN ZWEEDEN and  MICHELLE McLAREN to talk all things blogging.  I’m nervous, excited and starting to wonder if I am completely out of my depth.  As the days tick by and the panel discussion looms ahead, I realise I have no idea what the hell blogging even is?

Firstly, I want to make one thing clear.  I hate the words Blog, Blogs, Blogging, Blogger and Blogged.  They sound like they’ve come straight from the toilet.  I try at all costs to never say these words out loud.

When people ask me what I do for a living I tell them ‘I write…online…for a few websites…that I own.’ Continue reading

Blogging with Karen Andrews

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I cannot recommend the Emerging Writers Festival enough.  I know I keep going on about it but that is only because it is so excellent.  It has been more than two months since I attended the festival and it is still impacting on my work and life.  Journals that I subscribed to at the Festival are still arriving in the mail.

Karen Andrews, ManuscrappedOne of the best panels I saw at the Festival was part of the DIY Hards series on Self Publishing and I just found out that one of the panelists, Karen Andrews, is going to be running a blogging workshop next weekend at The Wheelers Centre.  Karen Andrews actually used to be the Program Manager for the Festival…so everything is starting to make sense.

The 2 day course, Blogging 2.0 Maximising Your Potential is aimed at bloggers who are interested in pushing their blog to the next level.  It is for people who have been blogging for six months or more…so don’t ask the following questions, ‘What is a blog?‘ or ‘Don’t you think blogging is a little self involved?‘  You people need not apply.

The course will be held at the Wheelers Centre on the 8th and  9th of August 2014.  Wow – That is next weekend!!

Karen Andrews has been blogging for over 8 years and has a pretty loyal and engaged following on Social Media (myself included in that group)  It was through her Instagram feed that I realised she lives right near my dad in Eltham!  Ha – Small world!  This course will cover navigating Social Media, monetizing your blog, creating an easier work flow and how to pitch to publications.  Actually, it will cover heaps of stuff – Read here.

how to write a blog, blogger, how to start a blogTo make a booking directly through Writers Victoria click on the orange button. To read more about the Blogging Course  click here.  If the panel I saw at the Emerging Writers Festival is anything to go by, then this Course is going to be incredibly helpful to anyone interested in Blogging as a career.

More on The Wheelers Centre

For those of you who don’t know about the Wheelers Centre, you can read more about it here.  It is a huge building in the middle of Melbourne that is devoted to Books, Writing and Ideas.  The centre hosts literary events, the Emerging Writers Festival, short courses, long workshops and education programs. The Wheeler Centre is a government initiative that positions Melbourne as one of seven international UNESCO cities of Literature.

Dedicated to the discussion and practice of writing and ideas through a year-round programme of talks and lectures, readings and debates, the Wheeler Centre also brings together literary organisations including Writers Victoria,Melbourne Writers FestivalEmerging Writers FestivalExpress MediaSpunc and Australian Poetry.

If you are an Australian Writer, particularly if you are based in Victoria then I strongly suggest you subscribe to the Wheelers Centre  today.  You are probably a lot smarter than me, and have already joined.  Love your work.

follow manuscrapped on Facebook, You can also follow Karen Andrew’s blog Miscellaneous Mum on Facebook

Follow The Wheelers Centre on Facebook.

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Self Publishing 101

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emerging writers, emerging writers festival, meghan brewster, Ebooks, ebooks online, book, gift ideas, buy books online, download ebook, how to publish a book, self publishing, how to publish an ebook, self publishing ebooks, australian authors, young authors, female writer, female writer australian,ATTITUDES TOWARDS DOING IT YOUR SELF HAVE CHANGED

When writers talk about self publishing, they are no longer discussing the biggest mistake of their career.  Self publishing is no longer a dirty word.  Attitudes towards self publishing have changed and so have the available technologies that make it happen.  Success stories in self publishing have helped to de-marginalise the self publishing industry and give creative control back to the writers.

emerging writers, emerging writers festival, meghan brewster, Ebooks, ebooks online, book, gift ideas, buy books online, download ebook, how to publish a book, self publishing, how to publish an ebook, self publishing ebooks, australian authors, young authors, female writer, female writer australian,  Writers now have a plethora of information, resources, technologies, software programs and e commerce plugins to make the process easy and professional.  Just Googling ‘Self Publishing’ will bring up over 40 million results.  That’s enough information to bury you for the rest of your life.

The following article is a collection of what I have learnt, information from various festival panels, tips from other writers, information from fellow bloggers, a lot of research and a secret chat with an SEO expert. 

So if you are interested in Self Publishing –  Go fourth & publish!

WHY SELF PUBLISH?

What you need to ask yourself before you begin, is why you want to self publish.  No really, why?

Knowing why you want to self publish will get you through the difficult times.  Self publishing is a long and difficult process, and while it can be incredibly rewarding, establishing your intentions early one will help you nagivate this huge industry.

When Guy Kawaski, from Author Publisher Entrepreneur was interviewed about why people self publish, he had this to say.  ‘If you’re writing a book simply as a means to an end – to get rich, or to get the word out about your expertise, or to attract more consulting or coaching business – forget it.  Stop what you’re doing right now.  If you’re thinking just about what you can get out of it, you’re probably writing a “crappy” book (Guy’s word), and your “crap” will be forever immortalized in black and white.  Something you definitely don’t want. (2)

how to publish a book, self publishing, how to publish an ebook, self publishing ebooks, Karen Andrews from Misc Mum was in the process of sending her children’s fiction to publishers when she decided to self publish instead.  ‘Bugger it, I’ll do it!’  She had a feeling it would work and took the risk.  She admits it was a big risk, deciding to use her personal savings to fund the project.  ‘The whole process took about a month,’ she says,   ‘Employing an illustrator, getting a professional logo and learning about the business. She ‘took a risk and it paid off.’ (1)

IT TAKES A COMMUNITY TO RAISE A WRITER

Andrews told the audience at The Emerging Writers Festival, Melbourne, that deciding to self publish was scary.  ‘It is a daunting spot to be in when you are deciding what to do, but you have to back yourself.’

When Andrews added that, ‘the best advice I can give you is to not do it all your self,’ the other panelists nodded in agreement.  Getting professional help is the difference between people connecting with your work and it looking like a big piece of crap.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PROFESSIONALISM AND COMMERCIALISM

Putting your best work forward does not mean you need to sell out.

When you are self publishing, seek the advice and services of professionals through every step of the way.

Self Publishing does not mean ‘Free Publishing.’

When Torre DeRoche decided to self publish, she set about educating herself.  What she learnt very early on was that she really needed to build an audience first.   She was told that publishers weren’t publishing memoirs ‘at the moment’ decided to do it herself.

DeRoche learnt all she could about self publishing, seeking professionals to edit and review her work.  As a professional designer she was able to do a lot of the graphic work herself.  DeRoche told the crowd at the Emerging Writers Festival that she spent a lot of time making her book into a product that she was proud of.  She focused on the art work, book design, packaging and overall image of the book.  

She als0 learnt how to build a community online.  DeRoche started her own blog The Fearful Adventurer and got very involve in social media.  She spoke about her book on Facebook and Twittteas @fearfulgirl – ‘I was obsessed.’ (3)

For more information on Building an Audience online Check out Self Publishing 202 – Marketing.

Screen shot 2014-06-12 at 12.06.13 PM

WRITE THE DAM BOOK!

The most important process in the whole process is to actually write the dam book.  This is very crucial.  Write it!  Make sure you have something that you believe in and that you are proud of; it will make marketing and advertising your self published work a lot easier.

NAME THE DAM BOOK

Think about what you want to call your book, then Google it.  Check if there are other books with the same name.  You might be surprised.  Type your potential book name into Amazon and talk to your friends about the draft title.

If there are already a number of books (or 21 books on the first page of Amazon) called ‘Hope’ then consider calling your book something else.  It is hard enough to sell an original novel with an original title.  You will be making your life very difficult if you are going to use a title that is taken.  You will be at the bottom of the search results on Amazon and you will rank on page 5 of Google search results.  The website Domain name for that book title will probably be taken.  The back link profile online for that title will be directed to other peoples books.

You may confuse any potential readers send them off to by someone else’s work by mistake.

Also – Dont make your title difficult to spell, remember or pronounce.  Word of mouth marketing for novels is very important.  My mother always tells me about the books she reads and my friends and I discuss what we are reading when we chat.  If I dont feel comfortable with the pronunciation then I tend to mumble it.  If you want to call your book ‘We are one.‘  Don’t spell it …. ‘Oui R won‘.  Things that are hard to find – Are hard to find.

Quick tip – Don’t use the word Lavender, Love or Time – they are taken.

EDITING

No matter how good you are at proofreading and editing, never edit your own work.  Editing your own work defeats the whole purpose.  Find someone that you trust, who is good at their job and get them to edit your book.  Once they have finished, pay them.

If you are struggling to justisfy paying an editor, think of it this way, an editor is not an outgoing cost but a business investment.  You need an editor for your self publishing business to survive.  An editor will not only make your work better than it was, it will help you to shift  into the mindset of a professional writer.

With my latest book, I went all out. I hired two copy editors to go through the basics on spelling and grammar. Then I hired Command Z Editing, run by Nils Parker, to help me structurally edit, i.e. do the job that editors used to do (example: Maxwell Perkins in the 1930s) but have been sorely lacking in the past 20 years from traditional publishers. Nils has previously edited bestsellers from Tucker Max, Kamal Ravikant, Ryan Holiday, and a dozen writers, as well as written screenplays, books, etc.

I am not saying “hire Nils” by the way. I’m just saying this is who I used (and paid). Nils and I went back and forth on more than 15 different rewrites for my book. The difference between the original version and the final version is like the difference between chicken shit and chicken salad.'(4)  James Altucher 

Where do you find an editor?

Editors are everywhere, you just need to ask the right people.  Editors are online, editors are using Linked In, editors are members of Facebook groups and editors go to Writers Centres.  There are a lot of editors working as freelancers on websites such as Freelancer and Odesk.  Editors also sometimes hang out at the Institute of Professional Editors.  They can be found on websites such as the Society of Editors. Editors are on Facebook and Twitter, they go to writing festivals and present at the Emerging Editors panel. Editors are not cheeky, they are not hiding from you, you just haven’t started looking yet.  Some editors can charge up to $10 000 to edit your work, though most of them will charge a lot less.  It is a matter of whether you believe in your work enough to find the money to spend on it.

Google Editor and see what comes up.

PRICING YOUR BOOK

How do you price your work?  This is a very difficult question.  How do you price creativity?

Darrell Pitt always wanted to be a writer.  He sold his first self published book an hour after is was posted – for 99 cents.  Pitt is an advocate for selling a lot of stories for less, and is his own success story.

The issue with having a low cost novel is that people may perceive it as a low cost publication.  It all depends on who your audience is.  It would make sense to have a lower priced book if you want to catch the attention of Young Adult readers.

When you are publishing your own work, you are receiving all of the profits.  When you are in charge of your product you can set the price.  If you are still not sure what to charge, Publishers Weekly have an online article that may help guide you through the pricing delema How to Price a Self Published Ebook?

 

ADMINISTRATION

Once you have written your book, edited it and think you have it ready to publish, you are still only halfway there.  What comes next is a whole lot of boring administration.  If something happens to your books, it is your responsibility, even if it’s not your fault.  As a self published writer you are a self employed small business owner.  Who is going to print it?  Are you just going to have an Ebook?  Where are you going to keep your stock?  Andrews spoke of receiving her first print run of books and then realising she needed somewhere to store them all.  Do you have space in your garage for all your printed books?

How are you going to monitor online sales?

How are you going to keep track of your stock?

Where are you going to keep your stock?

Are you going to get insurance for your work?

Who is going to distribute the work?

How are people going to know the book exists? 

TOP BORING ADMIN TIPS

  • Remember that once you begin to self publish you are officially a small business owner.
  • Learn about small business and get control of you taxes.
  • Know you responsibilities as a self publisher and be informed.
MISTAKES

Darrell Pitt’s advice, ‘You can’t break the internet.  If the cover is not working, change it.  If you find a typo or spelling mistake in your finished book, upload a better version.  You can keep updating and improving your work for as long as you like.  It is yours.  So don’t be scared to get it wrong the first time.  You can have a few go’s at it.’

…And don’t worry about connecting with everyone

Think about how many people are on the internet right now.  Don’t get carried away trying to connect with everyone online, you don’t need them all.  Just focus your attention on getting your book into the 1% of people online who are really going to get something out of your work.  Aim to get your book into 1% of the internet readership, you will have just found yourself about 50 000 000 readers.

RESOURCES 

Jenny Blake is an amazing lady with a strong mind for organisation.  She has kindly shared her 15 tab Book Marketing Master Spread Sheet online.  It is a great resource for getting your head around marketing your book.

Euan Mitchell has writen a number of non fiction books about self publishing including ‘Self Publishing Made Simple and Your Book Publishing Options.

Ja Konrath has sold more than 3 million books in over twenty countries.  He is a prolific self publisher and online writer.  He has a great blog about writing, A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing.

The science fiction writer Dean Wesley Smith blogs at ‘The Writings and Opinions of Dean Wesley Smith.

 

 

If you enjoyed this article there is more!  

Click here for Self Publishing 201 

And here for Self Publishing 202 – Marketing.

 

 

(1) Karen Andrews appeared on a DIY self publishing panel at the Emerging Writers Festival 2014.

(2) Considering Self publishing – Don’t bother unless… By Kathy Caprino, Forbes –

(3) Torre DeRoche appeared on a DIY self publishing panel at the Emerging Writers Festival 2014.

(4) James Altucher from The Altucher Confidential has published many articles on Self Publishing

 

Dear Emerging Writer; A love letter.

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Dear Emerging Writer,

I have seen the future and it looks beautiful.

In the future we, the Emerging Writers will invade and overrun one of the oldest buildings in Melbourne; we will lay on the floor, among the stiff dark faces of history with our devices plugged in, drawing power from old establishments to fuel new creative endevours online – The Yarra Room

In the future we will no longer desire to be ‘out‘ or ‘finished‘; to be ‘Emerged’.  In the future we will have come to accept and understand that every writer is emerging, no matter where they are in their career.  ‘To emerge’ is to embrace the forward momentum.  We will associate Emerging as a means of describing our growth and even the most publicly recognizable writers of our time will consider themselves still emerging – The 5×5 Rules

RT by Hannah Kent @MyfanwyMcDonald: When has an emerging writer emerged? Maybe all writers are always emerging. Perhaps the goal is 2 keep emerging, rather than 2 emerge #ewf14

In the future, we will have stepped past our dark attitudes towards the publishing gatekeepers.  We are no longer worried about whether our names are on the list.  We are not concerned about issues of access to the main party, for we are throwing our own bash at the end of the lane-way and every one is welcome – Ice Breaker Drinks.

We understand that we need to act in a creative and decisive manner if we are to ensure the next generation of writers do not laugh at our inability change – DIY HARDS; Self Publishing.  ‘This is the best time ever to be a writer – with so much information accessible on the internet.  Self publishing is no longer a dirty word.’  Darrell Pitt.

We no longer need to worry if our glass is half empty or half full, because the drinks are cheap and there is another Emerging Writer at the bar buying us all another round – Interstate Mates.

In the future we are brave enough to lay down the challenge to the government to defund us, for we know that we will survive.  In the future we understand our place within the least dependent and most unstoppable art form – Emerging Q and A.

We willingly divulge our fears and vulnerabilities in an effort to dispel myths of publishing, fame, success and the struggle to get there – The Control Room.

In the future we are our own best boss.  We understand that we are going to work with ourselves for a very long time and we have started to treat ourselves as we would our favourite employee.  When nothing is working we are willing to acknowledge that sometimes, it’s just a bad day at work and we take ourselves out for lunch.

In the future we file our tax returns as writers, under the appropriate tax exemptions available to those in the arts.  We stock our offices with the things we need and remember to ask for a tax invoice – Benjamin Law.  We understand that it is our responsibility to be aware of what we are eligible for.  We research scholarships, grants, funding and prizes.  We fill out grant applications to the criteria – Felix Nobis.

In the future, distance is no boundary and communities of writers are formed and maintained through the technologies available to us – Real Live Writers Group – Live Skype.  Traveling the world no longer effects the work dynamics of a writers group.  The future of Emerging Writers involves sharing contacts, names, experience and support; it includes editing each others work and making sure our writing colleges are always putting their best face forward.

We have realised the limitations upon the internet and the governing seach bodies we use to navigate it.  We have learnt to use these limitations to our advantage and we we no longer post images to our websites without alternative keyword texts – General SEO. We have stopped being cryptic or poetic with our article headings and our blogs have started to rank within the subjects that we specialise.

We use Twitter for good.  We use twitter to cultivate a community of respect; to share information that may have been lost to others, to equalise access to information and maintain new friendships.  In the future we are a community of writers who close ranks on trolling, bullying, unkindness and judgment.

In the future we practice empathy and echo that message across social media  – #ewf14.

In the future, we as writers set the standard among our friends and families to be the first to purchase our friends books.  Friends buy each others work from the place where they hope to one day see themselves Krissy Kneen.  We turn up and fill the room when a fellow Emerging Writer is launching a new work – Hologram & Seizure launch.  We connect with other Emerging Writers on a local level – 5 x 5. 

We have returned to the idea of a book as a piece of art – weather it is printed or digital – and we take the time to ensure our work has the best cover design and artwork.  We consider not just the image but the single frame narrative that our cover represents – KYD.  We appreciate the book as an object and consider its weight, form, size and paper stock when producing it  Look of the Book. 

We as writers no long attempt to do everything ourselves – Emerging Editors.  We understanding that our expertise lies with writing and we implore to help of others when we need it, especially when it comes to editing our work.  We respect the role of editors in the development of our work and no longer ask them to give us their best work for free – Book Editing and Building a Career.

We have learnt that we need to keep showing up, no matter what happened yesterday.

In the future that I saw, Emerging Writers sat on the stage and the panelists and ambassadors where the ones tweeting our funny quotes – You are Here.  It was the interns that were asking the questions and the Un-Emerging Writers who were answering them.

Where did I see this future?

At the Emerging Writers Festival, Melbourne 2014.  It is our turn now.  It is your turn to take over, stand up and be counted.  The question that remained for all of us to answer was this….

‘What are you going to do now?’ Sam Twyford Moore, Festival Director.

Kindest Regards

Meghan Brewster

I had the very good fortune of being a part of the Emerging Writers Festival for 2014, including the National Writers Conference in Melbourne.  It was a great honour to be a part of it and I would like to thank everyone involved in putting on such a great festival.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going to the Party Alone

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Attending a Writing Festival on your own. 

I was thinking too much.  My phone was dead and my book was in my checked luggage.  The blind was up on the porthole window to my left and all I could see was the steady blip from the red light on the wing.  The boarder between New South Wales and Victoria disappeared unmarked below me as I crossed seamlessly into the darkness of Victorian airspace.

I had held a small seed of doubt at the airport, before I boarded the plane.  In pressure of the high altitude; the darkness, the quiet, the humid warmth of my hands pressed together, and the seed had germinated.  It had sprouted a little root that was now tickling my stomach.

I was nervous about going to a Writing Festival on my own.  I  was sure that everyone else would already be friends.  I told myself that I had chosen the wrong sessions to go to, and that all the real writers would be attending different ones.  I felt certain that I had no clue what I was doing.  I knew if I attracted too much attention to myself, I will be uncovered as a fraud and get kicked out.

The pilot of our tiny Saab 340 prepared us for landing at Tullamarine Airport and my stomach flew up into my throat.  The plane shuddered at the drumming of turbulence.  The red light on the wing shook about.  I calmed myself with the thought that at least if I died in a plane crash, I would have an excuse not to go to the Festival.

I knew this kind of thinking was not productive.  I gave myself a stern talking to and set a solid task of introducing myself to three new  people at the Writer Festival and to volunteer two questions during discussion.

I like quantifiable goals.

Two days later, as I walk home from the National Writers Conference, I am astounded at how many people I met.   Today I chatted with people on the stairs heading up to the Yarra Room and I spoke with the strangers I was sitting next to, I tweeted with others online, connected with new friends on Facebook and started following new people on Instagram.  I don’t recognise myself.  I never do this kind of thing!

How had I suddenly become so brave?

As I talk to other people who are attending the festival on their own, I get a similar impression; everyone is so impressed with how many people they have met.  How has this happened?

A lot of the credit must go to the Emerging Writers Festival Organisers’ and their gentle insistence that we all talk to each other.  Sam Twyford Moores’ constant stressing of the importance of meeting each other shows just how many times we need to hear an instruction before we act.

A woman walking towards me on Smith Street holds my gaze and smiles as we pass on the street.  She looked at me as though we were on the same team.  How much of my anonymity and single-status is contributing to my bravery/approachability?  Does being alone make you appear more approachable?

Being at the Emerging Writers Festival on my own, I have placed myself in a position where the only way to move forward is to step out of my comfort zone and speak, with my own voice, to strangers.  I have noticed that people who have come on their own are more likely to come and say hello to me too.

liz Mcshane, emerging writers festival, Liz McShane @Liz_McShane and I walk to The Thousand Pound Bend discussing going to a writing festival unattached.  Those of her friends that would be interested in a Writing Festival like this, she says, work full time.  ‘That’s the good thing about being retrenched, you have a lot of time.’

Liz spoke of her friends taking too long to book tickets for events and workshops that she really wanted to go to.  She was not interested in waiting for their commitment before booking a ticket.  If this is really what she is going to do, she tells me, then I can’t wait any longer.

I know exactly what she means.  Sometimes there are events that I feel compelled to lock in and friends don’t always share my urgency.  ‘If I waited till everyone was ready to book, I might have missed out.’

Liz tells me she is glad she went on her own and would do it again.

lou heinrich, emerging writers festival, ewf14,Another of the many people I now recognise is Lou Heinrich @shahouley, from Lip Mag.  Lou flew solo from Adelaide and while she has friends in Melbourne, she has come to the Writers Festival stag.

I ask her if she has been to other Writers Festivals on her own and she says yes, Adelaide Writers Week.  I ask her if she intentionally went there on her own and she says it was ‘Not for any other reason than I hadn’t yet established a writing group there’.  Coming to the festival alone has been ‘terrifying’ she says, but has certainly offered ‘…more opportunities for creating friendships.’

‘Being unsafe is really challenging,’ she says and we explore the idea of learning to live with that discomfort instead of waiting for it to pass.  It feels like the same message is being said again and again; don’t wait for the fear to pass, don’t wait for permission, don’t wait for your friends, don’t wait till you’re ready, don’t wait till you feel like you belong – Just get in there on your own, even if it is scary.

‘Have you met many people at the festival?’ – Meg

‘Yes!  I met Benjamin Law, who is my idol.  I exploded fangirl all over him!’ – Lou

As I finally arrive where I am staying for three more nights, I ask myself if I am glad I came to the Festival on my own?  Yes!  I would not have been this brave if I were protected by my friends.

As I prepare to leave the The Emerging Writers Festival 2014, I worry that I have may have met too many people.  The Festival continues for a few more days and I reluctantly relinquish my  cloak of anonymity; spelling my name to new friends and telling strangers about my blog.  I realise that I may have found another potential reader and think fondly of a time when I could post obscure nonsense.  

I am already nostalgic for that time before I flew to Melbourne, when no one knew my name and I could write drunkenly on my blog because I knew no one was reading it.  

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the control room.