This years bloggers were the loveliest bunch of writers, each bringing a unique perspective to the table. While our not-so-secret headquarters are based in Melbourne, Victoria, one of our intrepid reporters, Meghan, flew all the way down from Merimbula just to be part of the festival!
We caught up with Meghan to get her thoughts on living rural, travelling solo, and attending an interstate festival.
Hey Meghan! Did you get hit with post-festival blues or post-festival inspiration?
Oh wow…yes to both! It was certainly post festival something. I felt a huge surge of post-festival freak-out, maybe? I left with so many lists of books to read, and blogs to follow and grants to investigate, and articles to write that I spent days afterwards trying to sort everything out and re-calibrate my plans.
I have to admit I was glad when the festival was over because I was having an inspiration overload in Melbourne and I think one more great blogger to follow on Twitter could have pushed me right over the edge! It can be hard to process so much happening all at once.
What was your favourite event at EWF?
What a horrible question! It was all so powerful and interesting. It’s hard to explain to people who weren’t there – It sounds like I joined a cult! From the very first event I attended, Emerging Editors, I knew the standard for the rest of the festival was going to be amazing. I left every event inspired and challenged in such a way I was not expecting.
Can I say which was the most surprising event? The biggest surprise for me was the “You Are Here’ session. I did not quite understand what was going to happen and was not sure if I should stay. I was tired and hungry and it was the last session of a huge weekend. In the You Are Here session, members of the audience were asked to exchange places with the writers who had been speaking all day and they got to be interviewed. It blew me away. It was so funny and such a great session to be a part of.
I was so glad I made the decision to stay. I always knew that the people on the stage during the festival were going to be talented – but knowing the great achievements of the other audience members made me feel like I was partying with kings. My biggest regret from the festival is not putting my hand up and volunteering to go up. But I was a bit sweaty and tired and had not prepared myself for it. It will be my challenge to myself next year.
What did you feel you got out of being an EWF blogger?
One of the best things I got out of being an Emerging Writers’ Festival blogger was actually sitting down and writing the application. It is not something I usually get to practice and it is a process that is quite intimidating to me. The application forced me to back myself and made me step forward to apply. It was a big barrier I had been struggling with as a writer for a while – Am I enough – Should I even apply? I was full of doubt as I hit send, and was certain I wouldn’t be accepted.
I thought the best thing to ever happen to me was meeting Hannah Kent. Then I realised that meeting everyone else from the festival was even better! Meeting the other bloggers was wonderful.
As a Festival Blogger, I certainly looked at the festival from a different perspective. I knew that the more events I attended, the more other people would be able to share in the festival. I made more of an effort on behalf of those who could not come, and tried to share as much as possible on line.
What did you feel you got out of being an EWF blogger, and traveling from interstate to do so?
Traveling is an incredibly underrated medical practice. It wakes you up. Traveling gets you away from your dirty washing, your half made bed and your filthy car; away from the broccoli heads that have gone to seed in your back yard and the grass that is now half a metre tall.
Traveling from interstate to the festival took me out of my daily life and planted me in an intensive writing environment. Without the travel I would not have had the focus that I felt, or been open to as many crazy things.
I was so exhausted from the festival that I over slept on my last day and missed my flight home! I was stuck in Melbourne not sure what to do next. Lucky no one ever wants to go to Canberra (Ha) and I was able to get a cheap flight.
Was it worthwhile?
Absolutely. I will be there next year for sure…
Tell us where you’re from, what’s the writer-scene there? Lots of sexy dorks?
Oh yes – Sexy dorks – Umm… No comment.
I am from Merimbula on the Far South Coast of NSW and the writing scene here is more active than I first thought. I just moved here 6 months ago with my partner.
There is a big Writers Group (Writers of the Far south Coast) who get together regularly and have lots of guests and speaker come and educate us.
I am in the process of making a bloggers group – much like a writers group, but we all talk in HTML… Oh god! I am the dork. I just ran a Blogging Workshop last weekend and realised there are lots of young motivated women around who are keen to start blogging and writing with me so I am feeling particularly blessed at the moment.
What are some of the differences, career or otherwise, as a writer living in a rural area?
You are on Facebook alllllll the time! And I joined Twitter now – Which I have never touched till a few months ago.
I guess I am not really sure about the differences as I have never ‘been a writer’ in a city before. All I can tell you is that it is a lot slower – the writing community is smaller and tighter. If there is something on, like a writer has come for a book launch, then everyone goes!
We all go to everyone else’s gigs! If we aren’t there to support each other – People notice.
You are a lot more accountable living in a small country town. It is true what they say, everyone does know every one else. I certainly drive differently here than I used to in Sydney. If you ever find yourself in a coastal NSW town and you are wondering why everyone is driving so slowly, it is because they are trying to avoid ending up on the front page of the local paper.
Part of the reason why my partner and I moved to a rural location was because of the lower cost of living, which has allowed me to write almost full time. While I was living in the city I was working 5/6 days a week and so much of what I earned was paying to my rent. I was a waitress who thought a bit about writing every night before I went to bed. Wow – So I guess the country has made my career?
I do feel isolated from what is ‘happening’ in a way, and worry that I am not very cool any more. But I am working and I have to remind myself of that. I now have my own office in our home, with enough space and support to write.
We had a few people say that they love where they live, in smaller communities, but they feel like they have to travel to places like Melbourne or Sydney for the opportunities they want. Do you think that’s true, is the tide changing at all?
When you think about amazing opportunities such as the Emerging Writers festival, it is definitely true. There is no way that something like that would ever come to Merimbula. Though I did invite Sam Tywford-Moore and Hannah Kent and to come and stay at my house… I haven’t heard back from them yet.
But it is far more complicated than just moving to Melbourne or Sydney to get a job. Just because you live in a city doesn’t mean you don’t have to still make a huge effort to make your writing work. I think it all comes down to the opportunities you are seeking and the kind of writing you are hoping to produce. Yes, the tides are changing.
I went to High School in Eden on the Far South Coast, and our isolation from inner city hubs gave us incredible opportunities. When I tell people from Newtown High that we could do Scuba Diving as a sport in year 9 and ten their heads explode.
I think being in the city you can take a lot of things for granted and perhaps get a bit lazy. Being away from the action stimulates an urge to compensate on things I feel I have missed out on. I might make more of an effort than those who have a writing community at their fingertips. You crave what you don’t have – city writers look for country retreats and country writers look for inner city book launches.
What do you think needs to happen, if anything, to create more creative hubs outside of the inner city mentality?
I have a spare room at my house, and I have had an idea for a while which is like Air BnB but for writers… So I would post my house online, but then also write about what I am working on, my favourite writers, who I am and any skills I have to share – as well as writing weaknesses I need help with. And then people from the city who are looking to get away and work for a cheap week who have the same interests as me, could come and stay for a week and we would have a writing holiday together?
It’s a start – If there is anyone interested in making my idea work – let me know. Other than that I am not sure.
Anything else you want to share with us?
Since being at the Writers Festival in Melbourne the one biggest changes I have noticed is that I now tell people I am a writer when we meet for the first time. Before the festival I always told people I was ‘writing something’ or ‘working on something’.
Now I can say – I am a writer without hesitation.
Any projects or thoughts?
My thoughts are – I can’t wait for next year.
And – I am pushing for a blogging component of the Emerging Writers Festival next year. If anyone else wants to help me bully the festival, send me a message.
If you are into Meghan’s Writer AirBnB idea, or just want to read more of her awesome writing, head over to her site Manuscrapped and get in touch!
This year we’ll be taking EWF on the road to rural locations less-touched by the festival crazy, so stay tuned for more info!