A beginners guide to NYWF

National Young Writers Festival 2011

At my first festival in 2009, on a comedy panel.
Its almost that time of year again. The time when, for five glorious day, geography isn’t so much of a barrier because everyone’s in the same place. Well ok, not everyone. But a lot of people.
I am talking, of course, about the unbridled celebration of awesome which is This is Not Art, and more specifically the National Young Writers Festival.
This shall be my third consecutive TiNA year. Which practically makes me a regular. Plus I’ve been a resident of Newcastle since February. Which practically makes me a local. With those slightly dubious credentials I would like to offer some advice to those venturing into the NYWF fray for the first time.
First things first- if you haven’t booked accommodation GO AND DO IT NOW. The rest of this blog post can wait. The backpackers and youth hostels in Newcastle get packed so full of writerly, arty types they’re practically spilling out the windows. Seriously. Get in quick.
When thinking of travel I’d recommend considering the train. Its cheaper than flying and you get a bunch of extra time to stare pensively out of windows. And read impressive looking books. Maybe even write. Plus you can get Devonshire tea which is one of the greatest things ever. Trains are cool. Countrylink plug over.
The weather here is ridiculous. Seriously. Since moving to Newcastle I have taken to carrying an umbrella with me everywhere. No matter how wonderfully sunny it is when you leave the house there is a distinct chance you will return home considerably damper. On a similar note the temperature it was yesterday is unlikely to bare any resemblance to the temperature it is today. As such, the former should have no impact on your clothing choice. Basically plan for all atmospheric eventualities.
When packing it is also vitally important to consider your ball costume. Yes! There is a BALL. Exciting right? This year’s theme is “Big Top.” This is a Very Good Theme which lends itself to novelty props, fake facial hair and garish colour combinations. If you get desperate, Newcastle is equipped with some pretty epic op shops. But you may not have time to ride the bus out to Mayfield (where there are a number of excellent ones) so its best to come prepared. 
This is actually the first year when I’ve been properly excited about the whole thing, as opposed to slightly petrified. If you’re lucky enough to be attending as an artist- rejoice! This means that, in a round about sort of way, the Australian tax payer shall be paying for your ginger beer. You’re probably going to feel drastically under-prepared and slightly under-informed. That’s fine. Just try and relax. It’ll be fun!
Last year one blogger described the festival (slightly bitterly) as “the Melbourne literary scene goes on holiday to Newcastle.” It is true that the festival can seem a bit clicky. Look at it this way- last year I arrived at the festival knowing basically no one. This year I’m deep enough in that click that I probably need to start treading water. Jump in head first. You’ll have met (and then have temporarily forgotten the names of) an irrational number of festival goers before you know it.
Don’t worry if you don’t have any friends who’ll come with you. Friends are definitely a thing you can pick up when you get here. The best way to make some, in my experience, is to find a friendly looking stranger and go and introduce yourself to them. NYWF provides a much higher success rate than average because, simply by being in attendance, all friendly looking strangers are likely to have some of the same interests as you. Like awesome festivals for example.
I, for one, would love to be your friend.
See the full NYWF program here. Have a look at my events here. Or read my posts from last year here. And get excited. You don’t need a hyerlink for that.

Further reading

December – home

I spent the first minutes of 2018 on the beach. I’ve never actually spent New Year