Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

Oh boo hoo

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

Lyn Gardner, theatre critic at the Guardian, has published a piece about being a first-time author, describing how releasing her book into the world was something of an anticlimax.

It feels a bit like having been pregnant for a monstrously long time only to discover that nobody takes a blind bit of notice when the baby finally arrives. It’s when you announce the pregnancy or, rather, sell your book that the congratulations and the champagne flow. Eighteen months on, all interest has evaporated.

Fair enough, I’m understanding that feeling myself. But her statement that “I know that I am not young enough, pretty enough or well enough connected to attract media attention” is a bit disingenuous, coming from a regular writer at a major newspaper, who has been given space in said paper to write about her first-time-authoring experience. Like most writers, I’d kill for a media connection like that (not to deingrate my own media connection, ie my friends and former colleagues at Leader Newspapers – big ups to my Leader peeps!).

Festival time 2: Dog Days

Friday, September 1st, 2006

I had heard that the Melbourne Writers Festival was supposed to be all trendy and new! new! new! and trying to attract the yoof this year, but yesterday the crowd looked exactly the same as it always has – elderly and well off. Slightly fewer hats and scarves than usual, but only because it was such a beautiful warm day.

We didn’t actually go to any sessions except Jane Clifton’s late-night panel in the tent (a bunch of authors drinking and yakking – all I can say is I’m glad it was free), but we hung around during the day because Chris was helping Tony Moore hire and set up a projector to show a film about his Barry McKenzie book. So my main job was to look after our new puppy, Loofy (see here for name explanation). Loofy got kissed and cuddled by many, many besotted elderly women (and Adam Ford) who were drinking wine in the sunshine between sessions. The up-side was that I ended up talking about Women of the Gobi with quite a few dog-lovers, all of whom promised to buy it. So I got to spruik at the festival without even being a guest.

Update: Chris insists I have to make it clear that the dog’s name is spelled Luffy (with an umlaut, I suppose, for the long u…). Everyone take note if you’re sending the dog a birthday card. Sigh.

Festival time

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

‘Why don’t they knock ’em down and put in some amenities like garages, drive-in opera houses and bottle-shops?’
Barry McKenzie, on being shown the architectural gems of Paris, in Barry McKenzie Holds His Own

Even though he could do with the money, [Gerald] Murnane recently decided not to enter the $60,000 Melbourne Prize for Literature, the most lucrative award of its kind in Australia, because the winner must spend half the prize money on international travel. “Part of the money had to be spent on travelling to Europe!” he says with genuine indignation. “I was insulted to think that anyone would think I couldn’t write unless I was staring at mouldy old buildings in Italy or France.”
The Australian, August 19

It’s time for the Melbourne Writers Festival. Maybe only an editor would notice, but it’s kind of poor that the official website can’t decide if there should be an apostrophe after Writers (Chicago uncharacteristically lets you have it either way); consistency of punctuation would be nice for an event that celebrates writing.

Anyway, I haven’t been near the festival for the last few years, as I’m wary of the hordes of Camberwell ladies wearing scarves (I shouldn’t knock them, they’re probably the target market for my book). But I’ll be heading out this year in support of two writers: Tony Moore, author of The Barry McKenzie Movies, and most importantly, the man who commissioned Women of the Gobi from me (and encouraged me to put more bad jokes in it); and Gerald Murnane, the great modernist writer and my former writing teacher, whose home brew I am proud to have drunk.

Gerald is a man who can’t deal with new technologies. He prides himself on, and even defines himself by, all the things he has never done. He won’t use a computer. He won’t eat mango. He won’t wear sunglasses. (He says he won’t watch television, but that’s not true; his son, Martin, reports that Gerald was a big fan of F Troop in the seventies.) Chris sees this attitude as a challenge; later this week, Gerald and his wife Catherine are coming around for dinner, and Chris plans to set up a photograph of Gerald playing House of the Dead 2. I can’t imagine it myself, but if anyone can harass Gerald Murnane into shooting a zombie’s head open, it’s Chris.