Written by Edna Truong.
There are so many communities, groups and other individuals out there to support writers, and all you really need to do is reach out and know where to look. Writing can be a lonesome task, but it doesn’t have to be. Not all the time.
Melbourne, dubbed one of the Cities of Literature by UNESCO, is where I call home. Upholding its title, the city stages many national writer events, conventions, and competitions. It’s also home to many organisations, groups and associations, as well as writers from across a range of platforms.
Many states will have their own writer’s centres, and some have workshops you can attend to improve your craft. Most programs available will cater to all stages of development, which is great for a novice like myself. Some may also offer services for a fee: mentorships, manuscript assessment and the like. Forming or joining writers groups either online or in person are possible too. Melbourne’s equivalent is the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas. This office is shared with a few organisations including Writers Victoria, Melbourne Writers Festival, Emerging Writers’ Festival, Express Media, SPN and Australian Poetry. Of those, I only have associations with Writers Victoria, where I occasionally volunteer, and the Emerging Writers’ Festival, which I have attended yearly since 2012.
Having links with these organisations, however small or tenuous, helps me to stay connected with the writing world. Just by being there, you will be caught up in the flow of information, emotion and hype. Through word of mouth, you will find out about hidden gems from around the globe or in your own backyard.
In this fashion, I heard about and attended the Continuum 8 Australian National Science Fiction Convention. This was a speculative fiction, pop culture, sci-fi and fantasy oriented conference, containing panels from Dr. Who to Lego building blocks. This isn’t something that I can afford to attend every year, but I love fantasy and I loved the atmosphere: Surrounded by like-minded and passionate people, all doubts and fears melted away to nothing.
About a month ago, I participated in the 2014 Emerging Writers’ Festival once again. Since I took something different away with me each year, I wondered what this year would bring. Events like this attract all kinds of writers and communities. I attended event after event, met such wonderful people and made fast friends with some of them. My new friends then introduced me to new aspects of the writing domain and my world expanded. Just hearing about others’ achievements and speaking about your own will do wonders for your soul, I’ve found. I guess, what I needed to keep myself motivated and on my toes was to be in the midst of it all.
Over the 11 day festival, I was reconnected with many aspects of writing including the zine culture, which the small volunteer run Sticky Institute advocated, poetry as well as radio dramas and audio arts. I was especially moved by the radio play performance Like a Writing Desk by Aden Rolfe. It was strange, it was different, it was entertaining and it inspired something within me. Having worked on a radio drama script before, I saw… no, I could hear the difference in abilities and I wanted to close the gap. Someday. I attended panels with writers of fantasy and sci-fi and listened to their every word. I started to dream again and my writing journey began anew.
However, by all accounts, this is but my own take on things. Come visit Melbourne and see for yourself!