Sunday, October 4, 2009

Byron Bay Writers Festival 09

It's been 4 months since I last updated the blog. Oh my, I have been a bad blogger. My personal blog is also in a state of neglect. Instead I have been updating and delegating over at the Romance Writers of Australia blog, in my new role of Social Media Manager. And contributing weekly to the We Love YA blog, which is a bunch of down under Teen Writers.

So what's been happening at NVWG?

We did our usual trip to the Byron Bay Writers Festival, and had a fantastic time as usual though we were less enamoured of the new venue.

Sue and I attended the Nuts & Bolts seminar about the publishing industry which included publishers and agents as guest speakers, representatives of the Australian Writers Guild, Copyright Agency, Australian Society of Authors, Varuna, Australian Writers Marketplace online...the list just went on and on. By the end of the day, our heads were exploding with information and we were feeling very inspired. An excellent start to the Festival.

That evening, we went to the opening night party of the Festival. With wall to wall people, my bat wings were not appropriate attire, and the free-flowing of alcohol and little food before Geoffrey Robertson's opening address meant that many of us were nodding off during his speech. I remember he said something about the Cold War and I realised that he was only up to the fifites and my head and stomach were in big trouble.

But the Festival did get better from there.

Sam Cutler, former tour manager with the Rolling Stones and the Grateful Dead was hilarious, and I could have listened to his accent forever. He said "It's really good to have a hectic mad life until you're fifty or sixty...and then write!" and "There's certain things that decency commands that you don't put in your book. Even though I've lived a debauched life, I believe in decorum."

Don Walker said that his publisher suggested he give punctuation a try. (Hehe...maybe he was emulating e e cummings) while Carl Cleves talked about writing songs as being a distillation process. I could have walked away from the 'I'm with the Band' panel and easily bought all three books but I was on a strict budget for the trip.

Actually, I only bought one book for this Festival (which in 7 years of festival-going is unheard of but that was just the situation this time). So knowing I could only purchase one book, I had to select very carefully, and there were so many temptations, so much I wanted to read. I bought 'The True History of Butterfish' by Nick Earls, and had it signed. Haven't read it yet - book-reading has gone along the way of blog updating but it's towards the top of the To Be Read mountain.

Another highlight for me was Mandy Nolan taking over from Bettina Arndt for the Women and Sex talk, and she opened the panel with a reading from a Judith Krantz novel. The audience was roaring with laughter. Linda Jaivin described some of the more unusual gifts she'd been sent including 'knitted sperm' and chastity belts.

Another favourite panel was Humour on the Page - a session in which I managed to write absolutely nothing down because I was too busy laughing myself silly. Tom Gleeson and Densie Scott were the definite stand-outs of the panel, and Denise's observations of the lady knitting in the audience (I wonder if she was knitting sperm?) were hysterical, along with her story of the 'smoking vagina'. If you missed this session, you well and truly missed out.

In between the days at the Festival, we banqueted at the Curry House. (we have dibs on that top room now). We managed to squeeze 16 people into the top room, and instead of a Lazy Susan in the middle, there was a Lazy Diane. I'd spin around and hand the platters to the other side. Members of the Bellingen Writers Group joined us for the feast.

On the Saturday evening, we went to the Beach Hotel and Roby's publisher shouted us drinks. And then Sunday morning came around way too fast and too soon, it was time to go home.

Apparently the latest trip to Byron Bay has rejuvenated writing mojo in many (just not my blogging mojo) -- and as writers, that's what's it all about.

More NVWG news coming soon.

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