The Problems with Writers Festivals

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The sceptic in me thinks Writers Festivals are about trying to make money.  It seems to be the big push during festival event time, buying tickets to events and then buying books afterwards.

But I can’t believe it is all about publicity and selling books.

They can also be about wankery, elitism, fame and sometimes literature.

The problems with Writers Festivals are that the panels are rarely about what you think they are about.  There is a lot of loose interpretation when it comes to panel headlines, and then what is actually discussed.

No one is actually handing out advice about writing, or speaking to the audience like they are writers too.  Mostly, Writers Festival audiences are made up of writers, looking for help, tips inspiration and guidance.

Also, writers always seem to want to do readings from their book – which breaks up the flow of conversation.

Writers festivals are about talking and socialising and being amoung people – not reading out loud to people who have either read your book and therefore don’t need to hear it again, or haven’t read your book and therefore don’t want the whole thing ruined. .

So why do I keep going?  Because THE BENEFITS OF WRITERS FESTIVALS always outweigh the negative

I found myself in Melbourne looking around at the audience and realised that I was in a room full of colleagues.  Colleagues is not really a word that writers use very often as it is a solitary career path.  But here we all were, having worked remotely for the last year, we had all come home to the festival to work together for a few weeks.

And work we did.


Benefits of a Writers Festival; Why you should go

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It’s almost Writers Festival season.  The Sydney Writers Festival Program just came out in the newspaper and it’s time to start planning interstate trips to see your much-loved authors of romantic comedy.  But

But you made such an effort last year… It seems like you only just paid off the debt of buying all those brand new books!

Writers festivals can sometimes be intense, expensive, overcrowded exclusive events.  Locations are hard to get to no matter how many shuttle buses are organised.  The crowds are exhausting to manage and standing in line can leave you bored.  The coffee is expensive and you always end up with nowhere to sit, wishing you were at home reading the Saturday Paper.

So why should you go?  Why should Emerging Writers keep going to Writers Festivals, year after year?  What is the point and what are the benefits?

Here are our top reasons to keep heading to Writers Festivals, even if you don’t feel 100% up for it this year. Continue reading

What are Writing Festivals For

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Today is the final day of the Emerging Writers’ Festival 2015.

After two major Australian writers festivals and a few thousand dollars later, all I’m left with a pile of books I might never get time to read and a whole heap of already fading memories.

As I sit at my desk in the last of my clean clothes and look down at my half-unpacked bag spewing with notes, dirty washing, receipts and signed books, I can’t help wondering what writing festivals are actually for.

Was it all worth it?

Would I be the person (writer) I am today if I didn’t go?  Can writers actually afford to go to festivals? Or are they for fans and readers?  The crowd at the Sydney Writers Festival was mostly middle aged women and very old men. Continue reading

EWF15 – Inside the Publishing House

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On the 29th of May 2015, I went inside a publishing house, metaphorically speaking.  As part of the EMERGING WRITERS’ FESTIVAL, I was able to attend a Publishing Masterclass with one of Australia’s largest and most successful publishing houses, HACHETTE AUSTRALIA.  Here’s what I learnt, straight from the Hachette’s mouth.

Submitting Your work

When submitting your manuscript to a publisher, be clear, direct and slightly business like.  You need to convey an awareness of what you’re selling.  ‘This is the book, this is the type of book it is and this is the hook.  That’s all we need to know.’

Getting Rejected

There are a number of reasons why a publisher will say no to a manuscript.  Firstly the manuscript might actually be very bad or nowhere near publication.  Alternatively, it might have potential, but the publisher is already working on a similar manuscript.  The manuscript might be in direct competition with a writer the publisher has already signed.  It might also have a lot of potential, but the publisher simply does not have time to get the work ready for publication. Continue reading

EWF15 – Ambassador’s 5 x 5 at the National Writers Conference

The National Writers Conference traditionally kicks of every year with the 5 by 5.  This morning the festival ambassadors offered the National Writers Conference.  Here it is.

Emerging writer, emerging writers festival, what is an emerging writer, young writer, your writers, australian writers blog, blogger or writerOslo Davis

Oslo Davis is an illustrator who has worked with the New York Times, The Age, The National Gallery of Victoria and The Melbourne Writers Festival amongst others.  He is also an acclaimed animator. @oslodavis

1.  There is no ‘Natural Genius’.  They don’t exist.  In an article by Malcolm Gladwell he wrote, ‘There are no naturals’.  Malcolm Gladwell is the writer who coined the phrase 10 000 hours rule, in which it takes 10 00 hours or approximately ten years to master your craft.  My job is a desk job.  It involves a lot of admin.  Instead of natural talent, you need a natural enthusiasm.

2. Think of the perfect outcome.  When writing, try to envisage what the perfect result from the work would be.  Ask yourself, ‘What would make me interested?’ Then make that.

3. Don’t fret over awards.  I’ve never won anything and seen many undeserving people win.  The results from awards and grant offers are based on fashion, marketing trends and the goals of the organisation awarding them.  So much of the award process is luck.

4. Don’t read the reviews.

5. Choose your audience.  Be measured in who you receive reviews from.  Create for people who’s opinion and sense of humour you like and respect.  If there are strangers out there who love your work, that’s great, however it’s those few people who really matter.

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William McInnes

William McInnes is an actor, columnist and author, writing pieces that celebrate life whilst encompassing the wide emotions and situations being human can bring.  WILLIAM McINNES

1.  Back up.

2. Don’t trust spell check. 

3. Show your work.

4.  Be careful what advice you take.

5.  If you think you have an original idea.  You don’t.

6. ‘I’ll give you one more for free’.  The arts are public.  Jobs in the arts are the people’s jobs.  Never take yourself too seriously but take what you do seriously.  There is luck in fortune.  If you have to write, you’re more to be pitied than scholared.

Emerging writer, what is an emerging writer, young writer, australian writers blog, blogger or writer, australian blogger, female writer australian, Sulari Gentill

Sulari Gentill is the author of the award-winning Rowland Sinclair Mysteries. Under the name S.D. Gentill, she also writes a fantasy adventure series called The Hero Trilogy.  She has ABC bookclub and appears in heaps of youtube videos – @SulariGentill

1.  Disregard the rules.  There are no rules.  People think there are rules but there are just tips and suggestions.  If you write well, readers will not notice that you are not following ‘the rules’.  They will be caught up in the story you are telling.  Take advice but protect what you love; it’s makes you different.

2. You don’t need an epiphany to start.  There are many ways and reasons to start.  You absorb stories when you’re young and the people around you will influence your work.  There are people in our heads.  I chose an area of writing my husband would be interested in.  I chose it for practical reasons, to connect with the person I live with.    It doesn’t matter why you start, just do.

3. Allow the reader in.  Trust your reader.  They are allowing you into their head.  It is an intimate privilege.  Trust them and acknowledge what the reader brings.  A reader bring richness and experience and knowledge to your work.  Trust the reader to imagine what they want or need.  Let go of the control to dictate every detail of the picture to your readers.  Give them room to move.  This engages your reader.

4. Make friends with other writers.  Build yourself a community.  Other writers understand what you go through and how you can be wounded from a review.  Writers tend to be the most non-judgemental people in the world.  We choose a life where our soul is being judged.  Being around other writers teaches you humility.

5. Love the art of writing.  Writing is the privilege of making things up.  Often we talk ourselves into the idea that writing is agony.  Sometimes it is really hard but you must remember that what you’re doing is a privilege.  Story telling is glorious.  Let yourself love the process.

Emerging writer, what is an emerging writer, young writer, australian writers blog, blogger or writer, australian blogger, female writer australian, Kylie Ladd

Kylie Ladd is a novelist and psychologist. Her works include After The Fall, Last Summer and Into My Arms. Kylie’s latest novel is Mothers and Daughters.  I personally have a soft spot for Kylie Ladd since she is one of very few writers to have toured through the Far South Coast on NSW.  I met Ladd at CANDELO BOOKS in Bega during the Wordy Women tour.  Kudos for the trip Kylie! – @kylie_ladd

1.  Read forensically.  Ask yourself, ‘Why does it work?  Why doesn’t it work?’  This is the best method to learning to write well.

2. Read ‘That Crafty Feel’.  Read Zadie Smith’s essay.  It perfectly captures what it is to be a writer; the highs and lows.

3. Don’t Panic.  It is normal to cringe when reading your own work.  It’s normal to despair.  Don’t let it stop you writing.

4 Write for art.  Edit for cash.  Writing is a business.  I have had to rewrite the last 50 000 words of my book.  I did so with tears in my eyes.  I wish that I had known this when I started.

5. Getting published won’t change your life.  Six months after book comes out, your life will be the same.  There is a thrill when you see someone on a bus reading your book, but ultimately your life will remain the same.  The act of writing turns out to be its’s own reward.

Emerging writer, what is an emerging writer, young writer, australian writers blog, blogger or writer, australian blogger, female writer australian, Anna Poletti

Anna Poletti is a Lecturer in Literary Studies and Director of the Centre for the Book at Monash University. She is the Chair of the Sticky Institute management committee. @poletti_anna

The truism of writing comes down to finishing your work.

1. Stay at the desk.  This is how I write the thousands of words I write for publication.  I get out of bed and I get to the desk.  Between the bed and desk I allow no room.  From there, I earn the right to leave the desk, have breakfast, shower or go for a work.  I earn this by working.  Find a way into your material.  Keep going.  Write out the ups and downs.

2. Go for a work.  Or any kind of physical exercise.  Move our body and allow your brain to shift.

3. Write for someone.  I need to have an audience to get my writing going, an actual reader.  A person.  Write for one or two people you have in mind.  If I don’t know who I’m writing for or who would give a shit about my writing, I can’t finish.

4.  Believe that you are the person who needs to write this.  ‘Who am I to think I can pull this off?’  I need to believe that I am the best person to write this.  When you know this, staying at the desk becomes easier.  If you don’t write this work, no one will.

5. Change medium.  For a time, facing down the blank page made me sick.  A typewriter saved me.   The physicality of punching out the words helped me finished my Phd.  Get a nice notebook, good paper and quality pens.  Changing tools can be an important alternative to the keyboard.



EWF15 – The Good Copy: On Grammar

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Every now and again I come across a truly wondrous thing that seems too good to be true, too perfect for this world.  At first it was just the cheesecake brownie I ate one cold night in Korea. Then it was the development of free open-source content management systems such as WordPress.  Then it was Sharkbanz, a waterproof electromagnetic shark force field.  And now, there is The Good Copy*.

THE GOOD COPY, is a writing studio, a shop and a school.  The Good Copy seems like an open writers studio where sometimes there is writing and other times there are parties.  They also sell writing materials, books, style guides, journals and print mags.  Writers can also sit around in the sunny front room at The Good Copy and work at their leisure, ‘like a cafe that won’t kick you out and you don’t have to buy anything.’

Last night I washed my hair and headed to The Good Copy for an EMERGING WRITERS’ FESTIVAL event called, The Good Copy; Nuts and Bolts.

If you have ever read anything on my blog before you’ll know that GRAMMAR is not my superpower.  For a long time I was actually immobilised by my mistakes.  I was so scared of writing incorrectly that I wrote nothing.  After misspelling the word steroids on my blog  few years ago I received some friendly constructive criticism from a man in America.  It went like this, ‘STUPID FUCKING CUNT’.  Grammar trolls are real.  I was frozen with fear. Continue reading

The Waterfowl Are Drunk! Kate Liston-Mills

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Feature image of Panboola Wetlands from MANUSCRAPPED


How I came to be reading The Waterfowl Are Drunk! is a long story.  In short, I received an advance unedited proof for reviewing purposes.  The long answer starts eighteen years ago when KATE LISTON-MILLS and I walked into the same English class.

From the first page it’s clear why Liston-Mills was awarded WRITER OF THE MONTH from the South Coast Writers Centre for her poetry.  The Waterfowl Are Drunk! is a poetic treasure consisting of seven short interwoven stories.Kate Liston-Mills, kate liston, waterfowl are drunk, kate liston mills writer, Emerging writer, emerging writers festival, what is an emerging writer, young writer, your writers, australian writers blog, blogger or writer

The opening story Bound sets a quiet, chilling tone as a fox stalks a nest of hatching swans.  Immediately the reader is initiated into what will become recurring motifs in the work; loss, the bonds of family and the lasting effect absence can have on a community.

Hey Porter, Hey Porter deals with the difficult issue of a child’s diagnosis with Down syndrome.  Parents, Edward and Hazel, sit with their three year old Lottie and listen as the doctor explains the term.

After a few moments of stares and throat clearing, Hazel shakes her head and stands, “Rubbish! Lottie’s normal… just a slow learner, that’s all.” Her eyes are glazed. Ed tries to squeeze his wife’s hand, but shaking, she lugs Lottie out of the room, leaving him with the mongrel doctor.

How does a diagnosis change the child?  While Edward is driven to find answers, for Hazel it changes nothing.  Disability or issues of difference is another recurring theme in The Waterfowl are Drunk!

Time is marked by historical events; war, cricket, technology and changing attitudes of disability.
Continue reading

11 Tips for First Timers at The National Writers Conference

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The National Writers Conference is on again and I’ll be returning for my sophomore year as a Festival Blogging Partner.  Last year I received a crash course in how to attend a writers conference.  Much of what took place over those two days in Melbourne happened fast and took me by surprise.

This year I’m going to be prepared.

2014 I went online to buy tickets to the weekend events only to realise I had brought tickets to something called The National Writers Conference instead.  I quickly checked the program again.  I was fairly certain I’d brought the right tickets, but part of me had no idea what was going on.  I was excited and a little over whelmed.  Had I chosen the right events?  What was I going to miss out on?

I started to FOLLOW The Emerging Writers Fest on Facebook and Twitter.  The social media feed moved quickly and I felt like I was already behind.  Everyone was chatting among themselves and laughing at each others jokes, #ewf14 #amwriting #hashtag #paythewriters #amazingbabes.

In the weeks before the festival opened, I had articles, reviews, event details, and program outlines all opened in multiple tabs in Google Chrome.  Each night I carefully saved them all by closing my laptop without shutting my browser down.  I was convinced I had to read them all before I flew to Melbourne.

I became panicked. ‘I haven’t written a book, I’m not even an emerging writer yet.  I need to head to the Unemerging Writers Festival.’  Needless to say there was a little bit of insecurity creeping in.

Below are a few tips for first timers to the Conference so nobody makes the same mistakes I did.  Hopefully you’ll ease into your first National Writers Conference far better than I did.

11 tips for first timers at this years festival

Continue reading

Blogging with Karen Andrews

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.

Follow Writers Victoria on Facebook

The 5 x 5 Rules of Writing

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For those of you who could not get to the National Writers Conference this weekend, or were not there at 10am, here are five of the five by five rules.

The 5 x 5 Rules of Writing –

‘Our five Festival Ambassadors share the writing advice they wish they had known when they were starting out – in the form of five rules for writing – an inspiring guide for the next time you sit down to write. It’s 5 x 5  with Maxine Beneba Clarke, Hannah Kent, Krissy Kneen, Benjamin Law and Felix Nobis. Hosted by Sam Twyford-Moore.’ Emerging Writers Festival 2014.

My Top Five

Maxine Beneba Clarke

Throw your hat in the ring.‘ Maxine spoke of what can happen when you throw yourself into an award application, grant application or writing project.  ‘You never know what might happen?‘  She encouraged us all to take chances as she spoke of applying for the Victorian Premiers Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript on the very day that entries closed.  ‘See what happens and take chances.‘  She won!

Felix Nobis

Be your own manager – you have a responsibility to be a good manager to yourself.’  Felix reminded us all that no one is going to just give you the information you need.  He pressed the importance of our responsibility to know about the grants, funding and awards that are available to us. ‘Find out who has got the money and how you can get it.’  He spoke of the importance of being informed on a national, state and local level.  In being your own good manager, make sure that the writing part of you ‘Responds directly to the application criteria.  So many applications don’t even meet the application criteria.’

Krissy Kneen

‘Every novel will hit a rough patch… At 20 000 words your novel will start to smell like it’s crawled up your own arse and then come back out again…You’ll want to vomit when you think of it.‘  Krissy humorously spoke of the doubt writers have and how you might start to search for a better / different idea.  ‘I can tell you, those ideas will hit a rough patch also.’  She reminded us that every writer will find themselves struggling with a manuscript at some point, but to push through this.  Krissy spoke of a book being written in the rewriting; saying that is was much easier to work with a (really really really) terrible first draft, than an empty page.

Benjamin Law

‘Get an accountant.’ Benjamin’s very practical advice for Emerging Writers touched on a subject that is not often discussed during writing festivals – Tax.  Benjamin raised our awareness of a Specialist Art Accountant, reminding us to ‘…understand your rights.’  Also discussed during this rule was superannuation and the importance of setting aside a portion of your income for tax and superannuation accounts.  Investigate what you can claim on tax and then actually do it!

Hannah Kent

Don’t wait until you feel ready.’   Start now!  During her five writing ‘rules’ Hannah shared with us some advice on how best to relate to your own doubts.  Hannah told us all to begin as soon as possible, don’t wait for the confidence to start, as it may never happen.   ‘…doubts about writing aren’t going to go away.’   It was wonderful to hear such an informed and honest account about becoming accustomed to feeling the difficulty of writing and about coming to expect it.  ‘Be brave and do it anyway.’

Such a great part of the National Writers Conference.  It is already the afternoon on Saturday and I can still hear people talking about what the 5 x 5 from the Festival Ambassadors.  If you did make it to the National Writers Conference this morning, which were your favourites?