What happens when your little writers’ festival gets too big? By too big, I mean so big that the writers organising the festival no longer have any opportunity to write anything but grant applications and emails.
Why, there’s a gnashing of teeth and a wailing, a fearful shrieking and a beating of breasts. Meanwhile, the writers who’ve been brave enough to draw a line in the sand – it stops here – feel a little guilty, and maybe a tad selfish but because they’re having too much fun letting those long restrained plots loose on the world, they don’t really notice all the upset.
Besides, those writers have a pretty good idea WriteFest will go on. Yes, even though it’s small, even though profits are limited, I offer these thoughts in defence of the biggest little writers’ festival in Queensland.
Small pond – giant-sized ripples.
Imagine you roll up to test the waters, and sitting near-by is Haylee Nash, enjoying a gelato while she fishes for the next newest thing, or Graeme Simsion, who’s happy to chat about his new book and doesn’t care that he’s in Bundy, not London. Across the way is Che, a filmographer who worked on the Lord of the Rings (yes, that Lord of the Rings). He’s here to talk book trailers. The quiet mob, watching, are the criminal psychologists and the forensics girls. They know you can never trust a bunch of writers when they get together.
And there’s you, in the middle, chatting with people who could be very important to your writing career.
Only one place in the world that’s likely to happen. 😀
The Best of Times, the Worst of Times
Once upon a time all a writer had to do was write down their story, bundle it up in a shirt box and ship it to the publisher of choice. And wait. And wait. And start on the next story. And wait.
Pretty bad, right.
Unless you’ve been living under a log, you’ll know that almost anyone who wants to see their words published can do it faster than falling off the aforementioned log. Now writers are driven by the digital hope that we can be published tomorrow, and if only we can get our heads around social media, publicity pushes, networking conventions, formatting problems, market analysis, etc we could probably have a chance to sit down long enough to write something to sell.
Is this the good bit, or the bad bit!
With blogging and social media skills riding high in writers’ toolkits, writers festivals have become more important than ever before. Writers’ festivals are full of real people whose real experiences are a thousand times more valuable than most generically generated online advice. At a writers festival you might learn you don’t have to blog if you don’t want to. Beware. There are caveats.
WriteFest not only reminds us where we’ve been, it shows us where we’re headed.
We’re For Writers, First.
We have to accept there are thousands of ways to tell a story, from a commercial jingle to skywriting. WriteFest is for all story-tellers. In fact, WriteFest is one of the few writers’ festivals set up for story-tellers only.
Our raison d’être is not to sell presenters’ books (though we will and do), but to encourage learning, conversation and debate with a view towards helping writers become successful authors.
So WriteFest does invite an editor or publisher each year, and encourage writers to submit completed manuscripts. This represents a chance for a writer to chat , over coffee, with a representative of one of Australia’s most respected, and sometimes largest, publishing houses. Sometimes the chat only constitutes publishing advice but most years one of our WriteFest authors is set along the path to publication.
Presenters like Bundy because they get a chance to relax. Visiting writers like Bundy because they don’t have to leave their families at home. In 2016, WriteFest will become part of the local CRUSH festival, which means even more for family members to get involved in.
Not only are living costs low in regional Queensland but, because this is Bundy, the food is freakin’ fabulous. Bundy’s Indulge Cafe holds the 2016 People’s Choice Good Food award (leaving both Brisbane and Gold Coast eateries thrashing in its wake) with a menu built on local, seasonal produce.
Readers Love Us
Argue all you like about whether the ebook or print version is winning the literacy wars, the delightful fact is readers love reading, and are doing so in greater numbers.
If readers love stories, the very least we at Bundaberg Writers’ Club can do is commit to supporting writers to become the best story-tellers they can be. Readers love writers and writers love WriteFest.
See you in October 2016.