This week I am late with my blog, courtesy of a nasty recurring back injury. It’s reminded to be grateful for all the days I’ve had where I can spring out of bed, ride my bike, go to gym, walk and hike…just be me! Anyway, I’m not going to bang on about the importance of gratitude – we all know this, don’t we?!
Instead, I want to talk about the people we encounter by chance along our life journey. The ones we didn’t grow up with, or live near, or even meet through social events. In the last few years, I have met and gelled with some remarkable people. Writers.
It is said that writers are generally a supportive and generous community. Why? My theory is, that the business of writing is such a lonely pursuit, that finding someone who ‘gets it’ is pure gold. Plus, the accolades and monetary return from writing are so few and far between, that the real currency of writing is the people you meet along the way (and what you learn from them).
This weekend is Bendigo Writers Festival. Last year, in the month of May, I went to Sydney Writers Festival. In between I have attended quite a few events at different Writers Festivals or Literary nights. Mostly, I go to something that interests me, and often it means making up my mind on the day. So, I’m often on my own. This has proven to be a blessing – meeting new and interesting members of the writing community. Although not everyone who attends these events is necessarily a writer – of course, many people are there to listen to an author speak and elaborate about the content of their books.
Last night I went to the magnificent Ulumbarra Theatre in Bendigo to listen to a panel of writers at the Gala event for the festival. This theatre was once the Sandhurst Gaol, and I am not overstating how stunning this redevelopment is. The original stone, now sits alongside contemporary architectural design.
The panel of authors and academics fitted with the gleaming aesthetic – their work and writings an inspiration and ca for a called for a brighter Australian future where humanity is at the core of everything. I did meet some friends last night for this panel discussion. One being a writerly friend I met twelve months ago at last year’s writers’ festival. We stayed in touch since first meeting and champion each other’s writing contributions. I think she is an exceptional writer, and I can’t wait to see her name in lights.
In February this year, I attended a book launch event in Western Sydney for an anthology of short stories, of which one was mine. My writers-group friends from Sydney came along and celebrated my (small) success and I had a delightful night. What I didn’t realise, was that in meeting another short story writer that night, I would be enjoying the exchange of stories in my future. A bit like a chance encounter with another local memoir writer, living in the Central Victoria area. We met at a lunch I attended with local writers and illustrators. Both women have given me strength in my conviction, to write my truth, and to use writing to heal. I realized that passing on a deeply personal account of events, that I now see as childhood trauma, to someone that has known me all my life, is fraught. These well-meaning friends want to address my hurt, and not my writing. But, my new writerly friends do both. They ask first, are you OK, and then encourage me to engage with the writing process – the cathartic, yet possibly retraumatizing act of getting it all out. If I am supported, and not going into a dark, lonely place (in my head) then this writing will lead to healing.
So, as I head into town for another morning of writing talks and book purchases, I want to say I value and admire the community of people that are writers, editors and illustrators. To anyone reading this, who might be wondering if they should attend a book or literary event – do it! You’ll meet some wonderful human beings.