Under pressure at the 2012 Spelling Bee
It’s quite hard to believe that 2012 is wrapping up already. I haven’t even done my Christmas shopping yet, even though I’ve spent a lot of time in bookshops lately ‘browsing’ (read: ‘thinking of all the titles I’d like to buy myself’). Most of all, it’s hard to believe because I still remember my first day in the EWF office, at the Wheeler Centre, coming in with a certain skills set but guessing that they in turn would be further stretched, tested and fortified. And I was right – but in a good way!
Thanks to an events management background, and being a festival veteran – this is my fifth year, although previous times were as a speaker – I know the hours that get put in to these occasions: the sheer legwork and stamina required to put in up to twelve-hour days at peak times, trying to keep things running smoothly, processing tickets, taking sales etc. Of course there is a flip side, a great one: talking to people who have been moved or inspired by a particular panel or artist, having an Oprah-coined ‘light bulb moment’ and even the sheer satisfaction and comfort of being in like-minded company. These ‘warm fuzzies’ are why this festival is so beloved, not only here in Melbourne, but while I was at Sydney for the interstate roadshow, I felt the same way. As this festival matures, expanding its reach across Australia, no doubt many other writers and audiences will be enfolded within this community.
Being a writer as well, I’ve been able to see just how much of a cornerstone this festival is for so many artists – wanting to be involved, seeing it as a beacon for a launching pad for a career because it has done the same for others in the past. I’ve seen (and in turn promoted via our social media channels, including the blog) many opportunities there are for writers – if one keeps an eye out – and I’ve also seen successes through gumption, verve, innovation and sheer sweat. I’ve (re)learned just how hard it is to balance writing with ‘normal’ everyday life when, in my case at least, that includes being a parent. It’s not easy – but then I don’t think any writer chooses this vocation because they thought it would be easy. And if they did, they’re wrong.
In other news, I’ll be sticking around for another festival! So if you see me, do say hello!
Bring on 2013 – I have a feeling it’s going to be great.