I’ve spent the last two days attending seminars at the Sydney Writers Festival, which has actually been really fascinating. I’m not usually very good at sitting and listening for long stretches of time but things seemed to work in my favour the last few days.
One talk was about the different types of relationships we have with people and it inspired me to buy two new books although I have no idea when I’m going to read them. Perhaps this week which I’ll probably have free because I’ve finished my final assignment early! Yay. Go me.
Another talk was about The Stolen Generation, a time when the Australian Government forcibly removed Indigenous children from their mothers supposedly for welfare reasons but basically it was just straight up kidnapping. I was close to tears the whole time while the speakers, three Aboriginal women, read poems and told stories. They had their kids involved, including one little toddler that basically stole the show by running around the stage and through the crowd the whole time (even if it was a bit distracting). It was all very moving.
I attended a hilarious talk about how to write about sex and another one where two women sang and told us fairy tales, which was awesome. I felt like a little kid again, even if some of the stories had some rather large plot holes. There was a session where authors read passages from their books and one of the readers was Marlon James, who wrote A Brief History of Seven Killings, which I haven’t finished and am not sure I really like but still hearing someone speaking Jamaican patois made me feel very nostalgic.
I also attended a workshop for writing about the body. Holy shit, it was intense. Everyone had these crazy stories about overcoming cancer and amputation and all kinds of things and, being a relatively healthy person, I felt quite intimidated. We were given little prompts and then asked to write for a few minutes at a time and we then had the option to share what we’d written. Some of the writing was so powerful. People were in tears. Part of me didn’t want to go back after the break but I did and I’m glad. I finally got up the nerve to read one of my scribbles and was shaking by the end of it. Sharing your work via an online discussion board once you’ve had a chance to buff and polish it is one thing, reading it out to a room full of strangers when it’s in its rawest form is quite another. It was a very intense experience for me.
I’m attending another four sessions today, one about asylum seekers, another about life stories and two about female writers. I’m excited but I’m glad today’s the last day. My brain feels a bit overloaded although I definitely don’t regret going. This is so far removed from what I’d normally be doing with my weekend so I definitely feel like I’ve achieved adult status these past few days.
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