May – Canberra

Photo by Julie Koh
Thoughts from Noted Festival 2017.

I spend a lot of time in Canberra for work. I’ve become oddly fond of its looping roads and the way it’s disparate suburbs are separately by paddocks. It’s a strangely beautiful place and I can understand why so many people in my life have settled there. Noted was a chance to be in Canberra without being responsible for 14 giant foam letters. It was five days with time to spare for wine and tea and pizza and brunch. It was a chance to see Canberra, my friends and its literary scene in a way I rarely get the chance to.
Noted was also the first festival I’ve done in a while and the first I’ve applied for in even longer. For some reason, I decided at Noted I would be the founder of Alex’s Cute Mail Club, first and foremost. I finally bought a 100 box of stamps and I couldn’t stop thinking about how stamps are legal currency and I was carrying $100 around in my bag because stamps are $1 now. I ran a workshop about writing mail and people came and we wrote letters and I triumphantly dumped them all in a mail box the next day. I explained the ethos behind my mail project to a room of friends and strangers and someone told me that I “seem really lovely”.
I sold my zines about food and the strange happy/sad mini zines that people usually don’t understand. A surprisingly large number people bought “Photos from my 21stof People I Don’t Know Anymore”, a zine that almost no one ever buys. I made people write tiny letters to strangers and post them into a letterbox I made out of papier-mâché while watching OMGJedward’s Dream Factory on YouTube. I tried to get people to buy my Jedward zine by emphatically telling them it’s “very good” because I am more uncomplicatedly proud of that zine than anything else I’ve written in 2017.
In between events, we walked around Canberra taking pictures of nice trees. We ate a lot of vegan food and had a lot of wine. We ran into people; in the way you do at festivals. We posted in a sprawling group chat in an attempt to organise ourselves but mostly ended up in the same places by accident. My favourite thing about Noted was making new friends and spending time with old ones. It was wandering through the mall, kicking leaves in the air and making Instagram stories.
I think a lot about cliques, whenever I’m at a writers’ festival. So often the literary world is a mess of drama and gossip, there are cliques within cliques and scenes within scenes and I can understand how easy it must be to feel like you’re outside of that. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how we can make sure that new people are always welcomed in. But then I go to festivals and I made new friends and I don’t worry about it so much. Because as long as people are still making new friends we must be doing something right.
We build our own communities. It’s important, in construction, to think about what walls you’re putting up. But it’s also important to think about who you are within the confides of those friendships. I liked the writer that I was at Noted – talking about mail and Jedward, wearing orange lipstick and drinking pink wine. That ridiculous papier-mâché letterbox alone speaks so deeply to who I want to be as a person that I feel like I should just show it to people when they ask me what I write. I want to be spending time with people who see me as the person I want to be, orange lipstick, pink wine, Jedward, letters and all.
My goal for 2017 is to go somewhere every month. 
Preferably out of the city. Preferably to spend time with people I love.

Further reading

December – home

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