Impressions of EWF 2017
The Emerging Writers’ Festival surpassed my expectations this year. I went with an open mind and left with a brimming one, inspired by what I heard and impressed with how the festival was run.
As a volunteer, I buried my Friday night JOMO introversion and went to the Artists Party and was fortunate to meet Sista Zai Zanda (storyteller, radio producer and educator), Robert Watkins, (knitting enthusiast, Richell prize judge and publisher from Hachette), Izzy Roberts-Orr, (Artistic Director of EWF) and Inga Simpson (award winning writer) among others. I bumped into them for the next few days at the National Conference, and suddenly the scary, strange world of writing and publishing shrunk a little.
Melina Marchetta and Michelle Law were highlights of the National Conference, sharing candid experiences and advice from their writing careers. I was interested in their ability to move between genres and formats, their fingers in all sorts of writing pies. It was sobering to note that some of the challenges Michelle is encountering as her career takes off – securing funding, establishing a writing routine, managing isolation – are still cropping up for Melina 25 years down the track.
The panel On Bodies was another instructive session, which investigated misrepresentation, under-representation, diversity and stereotyping and the responsibilities of writers to make all types of people feel safe within their pages. It was a timely panel given the Mia Freedman/Roxane Gay controversy was playing out in the background.
One of the most worthwhile sessions was the Pitching Masterclass, where publishers and commissioning editors from various book publishers, as well as literary agents, talked about their processes, their expectations of the manuscripts that come their way, and the kinds of manuscripts they’re hunting at the moment. The workshop finished with an opportunity to pitch to an agent or publisher, and I’m thrilled that an agent requested my manuscript for Wye River. Fingers crossed.