On location from the Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival

Blogging will be the death of me.

Here I am in picturesque little Bellingen at the inaugural Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival. The day is sunny, the view is exquisite and I’m frantically clacking away at my keyboard and mentally cataloguing potential wifi opportunities.

The Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival, it has to be said, has class. The whole town is somehow cinematic (and I don’t just mean it’d be the perfect place to set a zombie movie, which it would.) Memorial Hall, which plays host to the main events, is a pretty little old fashioned theatre, locked in a charming state of disrepair. The stage that’s been set up is decorated like a ye olde sitting room, complete with Persian rug, big squashy arm chairs and a typewriter perched on a high cupboard. It could easily, without any alteration, be used to perform an impromptu rendition of The Real Inspector Hound. Its pretty damn cool.

If it had absolutely nothing else going for it, I would come back to the BRWF just for the decor. It does however, have a pretty impressive raft of other positive attributes.

I was actually invited to attend this festival. I didn’t have to fill out an application or harass anyone via email or anything. The invitation came out of Words for the Future which was such a success that it was decided to have some sort of event within the main festival and would I, by any chance, be interested in hosting it?

The reality of hosting a panel was terrifying. My writers festival strategy is basically to not panic, turn up early and hope someone else knows what’s going on. Suddenly, I was the person in charge of panicking. Last week my kitchen played host to a number of practice panels. I sat at the table asking questions to an imaginary line of panellists, playing off an imaginary audience and leaving pauses for imaginary answers. These panels went quite well.

There is obviously a risk involved in devoting a session at a festival to a group of young people. You don’t often get that much inexperience on stage at once. I think, while we were waiting to start, several people assumed we were some hooligans who’d hijacked the stage. They were terrified, I was terrified, the audience (at the beginning at least) was empty. But you know what? They were great. We talked about the future- of young people, of writing, of the world. The audience asked more questions than they did at lots of the “proper” sessions. My guests sparkled wittily. We survived.

In the afternoon something very exciting happened. On a panel about writing in the digital age, I got to be a blogger. Blogging is such a huge part of my writing identity these days. I might not have a shiny book to clutch on my lap but scattered across Australia are a lovely collection of people who come to read my, occasionally nonsensical, ramblings. So it’s nice to be able to talk about that, to discuss social networking and the internet and all those other things that devour far too much of my time.

An audience member asked a questions during that panel. She said that if ebooks were going to reduce writer royalties to an almost unnoticeable blip on a bank statement, was there any point in writing at all? I let my fellow panellists answer that (they were much more knowledgeable in the area of ebooks, royalties and contracts than me) but I couldn’t help thinking it was a silly questions. I’d kind of love for blogging to be a tiny blip instead of, as is inevitably the reality, no blip at all. I’d love to be one of the fortunate few who somehow earn money out of what the greater community view as a narcissistic and pointless hobby. That’d be great. But it isn’t the reason why I write.

I write for me. Mostly. I write because my brain is so full of words that it would explode if I didn’t put them somewhere. I write because I have stories to tell. I write because I love writing more than anything else in the whole world (including, dare I say it, Doctor Who, second hand bookshops and musical comedy). I don’t care if blogging never earns me a single cent. I write because I love it.

And because its how I am.

Further reading

December – home

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