I’m standing in a cold, unfamiliar Melbourne backyard.
I mostly listen while a group of comedians discuss world politics and the very specific politics of this particular share house. This, I am told, is a house warming party. But due to the length of time it has taken to actually have this party, the residents have been evicted. As a result it’s a rather forlorn kind of party. There are small pink cupcakes with lollies on top.
So how did I, an awkward shy nineteen year old, end up here?
The story starts about a year previously. The National Young Writers Festival had opened submissions. I’d never heard of the festival and didn’t really know what the submissions might involve. I wrote an application anyway. It was written in less than two hours, it was badly spelt, poorly punctuated and occasionally incoherent. I couldn’t re-read what I’d written or I’d chicken out and not send it.
I was at school when I got the email. They said yes. Where we used to hang out there was this wooden thing. It was a square piece of raised decking floating in the middle of a courtyard. We called it Enid. When I got that email I jumped up and down on Enid until my legs ached.
About a month later the panic started to set in. I was going to a writers festival. I was going to talk on panels with proper writers who had actually done things. They’d work out that I was a fraud. What the hell was I suppose to wear?
On Friday I graduated from high school. When everyone else wandered across the road to the RSL club, I got in the car with my family and drove to Newcastle. The next morning I attended my first festival panel. Which I also happened to be speaking on. A room full of people listened to what I had to say and laughed at my jokes. I didn’t feel like a fraud. I felt like a writer.
On Sunday I was on a panel called Funny Business. Dominic Knight. Lawrence Leung. Kirsten Law. And Courteney Hocking. Oh, and there was me. This was the moment I had been most terrified of. How could I possibly talk about comedy with these people who actually knew what they were doing? I was still making it up as I went along.
I don’t remember a great deal of that panel except that it was a huge amount of fun. The next day I was standing in the elevator in our hotel. Sharing the elevator with me and my bag was a young couple, the man turned to me.
“You’re that girl aren’t you? From that panel yesterday?”
“That was really good.”
I figured this must be my fifteen seconds of fame. To be recognised in an elevator by a total stranger.
Months later I’m standing in that Melbourne backyard next to Courteney Hocking. We’d had dinner sitting on high stools in a pub with playing cards instead of table numbers. We talked about comedy, television and GNW.
Then we went to a party. The end.
I will once again be having a marvellous time in Newcastle as part of the National Young Writers Festival. If you happen to be in the vicinity, I’d love you to come and say hello. Click on the “See Me at Tina” picture to your right for some of the places I might be found.