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emerging writers’ festival: seven enviable lines

I dodged the Emerging Writers’ Festival last year. Not only did I not feel “emerged” enough, I had a fairly strong suspicion that my attending would reveal me as a fraud.

I thought about how stupid that assumption was at the start of this year’s EWF Writers’ Conference. People floated in casually, caffeinated, and their friendliness was instant insurance against insecurity. Still, it has to be said that the few seconds between arriving anywhere as “a writer” and getting your bearings can be goddamn intimidating.

The ‘Seven Enviable Lines’ panel tried to counteract a lot of new writer angst. Melinda Harvey, Walter Mason, Jennifer Mills, John Safran and Indonesian writer-in-residence Khairani ‘Okka’ Barokka delivered seven tips they wish they’d been given when they started out in the biz.

The event was especially well timed for Safran, who is due to submit his first manuscript on Sunday. He encouraged the audience to produce a large body of work, mentioning the hundreds of ideas he’s put up in order to find the few that stuck.

There was also a common thread of community and humility in writing. Each speaker alluded to the assistance and friendship they’d received from fellow creatives who had put aside their own egos and time to be a sounding board for work. We were reminded that when it comes to writing well, you need to shelve all those romantic notions of isolation and insecurity, and instead just work hard to record the things that interest you. Cutting yourself off from others due to anxiety doesn’t help you make stuff you really like.

Walter Mason closed proceedings with the reminder not to buy into the temptation to stay at home when there’s a chance to go out and meet other writers. Of all the advice EWF could dished out this year, this might be the most valuable bit. Get out there, meet people, and have the stamina to keep writing. The five seconds you spend hovering awkwardly at the door of an event will be a blip on the hours you spend collaborating with those you meet later.

You can read what festival director Sam Twyford-Moore said about the 2013 EWF here.

The Emerging Writers’ Festival runs until June 2 in Melbourne. Check out for program deets.


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