Friday, June 12, 2009

The Emerging Writer's Festival, part two.

Hi all,

This is my second post on the Emerging Writer’s Festival that I attended in Melbourne on the 30th and 31st of May. My first post covered the session, Seven Enviable Lines. After that session I followed the crowd upstairs where about 150 of us crammed into the smaller, but slightly better lit, Yarra Room for the panel discussion Just Write Dammit.

The first speaker was crime novel writer PD Martin. She’s written four novels and been published in a number of countries. In between static clicks from the microphone she suggested that writers who finish a chapter should start the first page of the next chapter before stopping for the day, as this will the words flowing the next day. When I actually finish a chapter, I do tend to do this as I am keen to find out how I will set the scene for the following chapter.

She recommended doing the 10k in a day challenge, which she does once a month. To achieve the 10,000 words she does not re-read during it, and turns off the spellchecker and grammar checker.

She said it helped to have a writing partner to compete against in daily word counts.

Andrew Hutchinson, an award winning novelist spoke next. He tended to mumble a bit, so he was hard to understand on occasions. He mentioned that he felt first person was more personal. This is one reason why I have written the novel I am working on in first person.

He usually left a draft for three months so he could returns to it with fresh eyes.

He said Cormac McCarthy wrote his Pulitzer prize winning novel, The Road (see my review in an earlier post) in three weeks. This made all of us who had spent the best part of two years on the one novel feel terribly inadequate. The Road is a short novel, about 50,000k I would guess. I wonder if he had written it in his head before he started.

Short story writer and magazine editor Tiggy Johnson said “How To” books provided her with plenty of inspiration.

Victoria Carless, a playwright, said her PhD was useful for generating work. I found this also to be the case with my masters as the first draft of the novel I am currently editing is the result of a novella I wrote during it. I have also started extending another short-story I wrote during that course to a novel and I intend to turn another short story into a young adult novel.

She said that in her pitch to publishers she mentions her degree was admission by folio. I might mention my masters was admission by folio in pitches. Interestingly, when I was applying for university writing courses, only two, the University of Canberra, where I studied, and the University of Wollongong wanted to see some of my writing as part of the entry requirements. The others just went on high school marks. Too bad if those they admitted had nothing to write about.

It was then time for lunch that I spent finding my sunnies, left on the seat next to mine at the first session, and then watching Sri Lankans protest about the war in their country.

Liz Argall, one of the festival’s guest writers, is also posting on the festival.

My next festival post will include a debate by interstate writers on what they think their state’s unique writing voice is. I very much enjoyed this debate.


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