After two EWF’s under my belt as program manager, today will be my last day here at our Wheeler Centre HQ. I’ve not written a check-in post in quite a while (since May 2012, in fact) and thought I might try to string a few words together for this occasion.

As I’m sitting here, I can hear the last of the cleaning staff pack up their trolleys to wheel away and the scattering of conversations from the floor begin as more and more people start to arrive (I’m an early bird). The groanings and growls from various heavy machinery outside provide soundtrack when I’m not listening to music. It’s a nice, reflective time to be here, not only at this hour of the day but this period of the year, as the dust has more-or-less settled and I’ve caught up on sleep and feel – relatively! – normal again.

This has been my sixth EWF in total, and sixth in speaking in some sort of capacity. I feel a deep, deep affection and loyalty towards this festival, its staff and community, and it has afforded me many memories up until this point. I thought I’d share some of my favourites.

1. When I was staying in the city for the Town Hall Conference weekend in 2009, my hotel caught fire and we all had to be evacuated.

The beginning

The fireman discussing what to do before we were evacuated

But it was okay, because while they were putting out the fire and making things safe to return, I went and met Adele for the first time, chatting about books and writers for ages.

2. Another year, bunking down with Tiggy, again for the Town Hall Weekend, and us giggling and gossiping until the wee hours, raking through those enormous lit-filled showbags that used to be handed out.

3. Finally getting to meet writers who I’d published in Miscellaneous Voices: Australian Blog Writing #1 (some I’d known before), particularly Derek Motion, as we’d been on an ABC radio segment the night of the launch, and he was cut off and I always felt bad that had happened!

4. Getting big bear hugs from Laurie Steed. I burst into tears when he gave me one this year – they’re that good. Anyone who’s had one can testify to that truth.

5. Sitting at Page Parlour for those cold, weird, fun, time-stretchy days alongside many other passionate Indie and Zine publishers. With Tim Train‘s vegan baked goods!

page parlour 2011

6. Personally delivering a Berocca to Lisa Dempster (and having one myself) when we both needed a pick-me-up one day at Town Hall.

7. Simply being in the presence of other writers, talking about craft and issues close to our hearts, leaving inspired and motivated.

8. Being a 2012 Spelling Bee finalist. Pressure. (Losing to the very worthy Tully Hansen.)

Karen Andrews

9. On the back floor at Abbotsford Convent, a row of us getting into bridge position (or trying to get into bridge position!): my daughter, me, Sam Twyford-Moore and Mary Masters. I think we must’ve been quite the sight as a few people turned around in their seats to see what was happening. That was when the lack-of-sleep-makes-us-do-silly-stuff stage of the festival had well and truly kicked in.

10. And as I said before, the people.

Staff Picture - Closing Night Party 2013

Kate and Me

I’ll still be around in my usual way – on social media, blogging etc – and will certainly be returning for festivals in the future! It’s been terrific to see the organisation blossom, even in the years since I became involved, into what it has become and I’m certain there’s still much more to go!

#ewf4lyfe

This counts as a Golden Ticket, right?!

p.s Special mention also goes to former festival director David Ryding, who met with me that day in Flinders Lane for coffee in 2008 and I talked my mouth off for almost a solid hour. Afterwards, I was worried I’d killed my chances of becoming involved, so was very thankful he still invited me. I won’t forget!