Saturday, April 9, 2011

What I’m grateful for in the nation’s Capital!

I made a quick sprint to Canberra on Thursday / Friday for the official Paris Dreaming ‘book opening’ and to thank Canberrans for their support of my work... Here’s what I am grateful for during that flying visit.

1. HOSPITALITY: When I was twenty-two and worked for AIDAB (now AUSAID), I used to joke that the best thing about Canberra was the highway back to Sydney. I was a cheeky young person then, and didn’t appreciate the wonderful spirit that is easily found in a place that can often be lost in the suits of government. I was reminded during my trip that there is an incredible sense of hospitality in our nation’s capital. I’m grateful for the warm smiles, the helpful directions, the pleasant service in cafes and the staff at the Diamant Hotel where I stayed in Acton, for reminding me that in some ways, Canberra is still like a big country-town.

2. PAPERCHAIN: Bearing in mind that my character Libby Cutmore has her epiphany about going to Paris while trawling the shelves at Paperchain in Manuka, it made absolute sense to launch Paris Dreaming there. I’m grateful for this gem of a bookstore that has hosted events also for Avoiding Mr Right, I’m Not Racist But... and Manhattan Dreaming. Another example of local hospitality was the generous spread Lynda put on for us all to enjoy, right down to the sounds of Edith Piaf being piped through the store for authenticity. Pic above of Lynda @ Paperchain. And pic below of me with booklovers Renee and Marianne!

3. FRIENDS AND FAMILY: I really went to Canberra to thank all those who were part of my - and my characters – journey from Manuka to Paris in my latest novel. Without the support of my ‘research assistants’ I would not have known where to go, who to speak to and what to include in the storyline. Authenticity in setting is very important to the way I write. The evening at Paperchain was particularly special as a number of family (special mention of cousins Colin, Carol and Donna) and old friends came along. There were also a number of Paperchain-patriots as well and I was generally excited an grateful to meet them. All in all, a wonderfully heart-warming experience as bookish events go. I am grateful for all the kind booklovers who came along to share the moment with me.

4. TJABAL: One of the best of my jobs is running writing workshops, generally in schools, but sometimes for adults and specific groups of emerging writers. I am grateful for the opportunity afforded me by the Tjabal Centre for Indigenous Higher Education at the Australian National University, for the invitation to run a quick workshop with staff and students on Friday morning. Trying to cram a day’s worth into sixty minutes wasn’t easy, but we managed to delve into memory, create characters and a setting, and have a damned good laugh as well. And keeping up with my experiences, the room was full of positive, energetic, inspiring and friendly souls. What a way to end the week! Pic above of me with Tjabal workshop participants.

5. WEATHER: I know you’re shaking your head at that entry, but it’s absolutely true! The weather was stunning on Thursday and Friday, and although I’d packed tights and scarves they weren’t necessary. On days with clear blue skies and sun kissing my cheeks it almost makes me want to return to the city of roundabouts and politicians.


Unknown said...

I was part of this workshop and it was inspirational ... I loved it. Thanks for giving of you're valuable time, energy and fabulous knowledge and experience ...... "like a cabbage moth ending its life trapped in a cobweb"!! Did that really come from my pen? You did that!! :)luv Sharynne

Dr Anita Heiss said...

Hi Sharynne - that poetic prose did in fact flow from your pen! Keep it up!
It was great meeting you.
Peace, Anita