books, writing

For readers and writers: the Melbourne Writers Festival

MWF

If you’re a reader, or a writer, who happens to live in the vicinity of Melbourne, then this event needs no introduction.

The 2014 MWF begins tonight with Helen Garner providing the Opening Night Address. Alas, my festival experience doesn’t start until tomorrow. I’m giddy with anticipation, as I know my mind (and my trusty old notebook) will be overwhelmed with story ideas by the end of the day.

This is my fourth visit to the Festival, and every year something magical happens. I sit there quietly in the audience and listen to an authors describe their writing process, their inspiration, and how their characters were born. And by the end of the talk I feel slightly changed.

I’m sure this harks back to the ‘olden’ days of sitting around in a circle, captivated by tales from the mouth of the storyteller in the middle. Oral storytelling is a little bit dead these days, so it’s nice to revive it for a while at a festival like this.

Now to the talks that I’ll be attending tomorrow (let the giddiness begin):

  • a conversation with Hannah Kent of Burial Rights
  • a discussion about the power of reading to change lives, and the downsides of a life without books
  • a look into selfie culture and the new book The Life of I: the new culture of narcissism
  • the hidden secrets of the museums and galleries, archives and private collections that fuel Stephen Fry’s QI
  • a conversation about love, obsession and desire in literature between American novelist Meg Wolitzer and Emily Bitto

And that is just the first day.