It has not escaped my attention that my last post was entitled: ‘Adelaide Writers’ Week 2014′. No, I have not written on this blog for a year. Yes, I am a little ashamed. More so considering that I haven’t done a whole lot of writing either, other than some revisions on the manuscript I finished early last year.
But once again I managed to get to four out of six days of Adelaide Writers’ Week, and once again it has inspired me to get back on the laptop and start again.
My highlights of this year:
- US authors John Darnielle and Smith Henderson spoke about their books in the context of a ‘troubled America’. Despite the topic, this was one of the more entertaining sessions, with both authors cracking jokes among discussions about gun control, low wages and many of the other issues facing contemporary America.
- Cate Kennedy and Richard Fidler. Yeah, I know Richard Fidler is not an author, but damn he’s a good interviewer and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to watch him in action with his old school friend Cate Kennedy. I’d love to say I came to him through the Doug Anthony Allstars, but must admit that I’d never heard of him until I discovered his Conversations segment on AM radio during my first lot of maternity leave, and I’ve loved him ever since. He was also popular with the mostly over 60s crowd, with the applause suggesting many were there to see him as well as his interviewee. As expected, it was an entertaining and insightful session focusing on the beauty of ordinary life rather than sensationalism.
- Jenny Offill is a US author whose novel focuses on the highs and lows of relationships and parenthood. She also spoke at length about her own writing process, which I always enjoy hearing, and how this one slim novel was the culmination of eight years of revisions until she found its voice and was able to complete it.
- Roxane Gay was the highlight of the week for me, and the fact that she was interviewed by the wonderful Monica Dux was an added bonus. Gay is a prominent feminist from the US who calls herself a ‘bad feminist’ because she believes deeply in feminism and yet continues to enjoy things that are often considered its natural enemies. As a fellow enthusiastic yet bad feminist in the traditional role of stay at home mother while simultaneously the worst housewife on the face of the earth, I loved this session. Gay was funny, passionate, inspiring and encouraging to the next generation of feminists. I could have listened to her speak for hours.
- Willy Vlautin, another US author, was lovely to listen to. He writes predominantly about common people who are down on their luck, and he spoke with a good-natured, self-deprecating humour that endeared him to the audience. His lovely readings inspired me to buy several of his books.
- There is rarely a writers’ festival that I don’t come away from with a new Indian writer to read, and Jerry Pinto was this year’s gem. I’ve rarely heard a more hilarious account of a writer’s journey to publication, and his book, which is largely an account of his childhood growing up with a mother with bipolar disorder, is already doing important work in bringing recognition to mental health issues in India.
And so ends Writers’ Week for another year. As always, it was such a lovely experience to spend a few days sitting under the trees in perfect weather, listening to writers speak, and a reminder that, other than my family, there is nothing more important in my life than writing.