Friday, March 29, 2013

Thank you Hobart, I’m grateful…

I was in Hobart last weekend courtesy of a Writing Australia tour, and it was my best trip to the Apple Isle ever! I say that having been there at least six times, and most recently in 2012 for the National NAIDOC Ball and to check out the cultural icon MONA! What an extraordinary gift to the country that centre / gallery / keeping place is.

Last week however, I visited Tassie as a writer, delivering a chick lit workshop for the Tasmanian Writers’ Centre on Friday and speaking at the Town Hall on Saturday as part of The Shock of the Now program.  You can read some tweets about the festival here and you can check out photos and frivolity on Facebook at the TWC page.

I’m indebted to all the staff and volunteers who made the experience that much more special, hell I felt like a literary rockstar, a litstar! Thank you!

Here are just some of my gratefuls for the three days: 


Emerging chick lit writers: I am grateful for the passion, energy and enthusiasm of the 20+ students (including one bloke) who committed three hours of their time to gain some practical tips. All of them – including Diane Curran above – had projects in process, and brought into the space a burning desire to see their novels on the shelf. In that way we had a lot in common! I’m also grateful that none of the students buy into the negativity around the genre, which is often sprouted by those who don’t even read our works. [By the way, here’s a great link at the Guardian covering what authors and other industry folk are saying about chick lit]

Patsy Cameron The beautiful Patsy and I met about a decade or more ago and although we might go for a year or two without seeing each other, it’s always feels like it’s only been days. I was thrilled to be able to have a private yarn then hear her speak about Tasmanian identity today.  Patsy opened her address by acknowledging country with ‘Lest We Forget’ and asked the question, but do we remember? (Pic above by Suze van der Beek)

She reminded the audience that ‘We need to understand the Aboriginal history of the past so we can understand Aboriginal Tasmania today.’ She also made the relevant point that Tasmanian stories of massacres, dispossession, and survival remain untold, ‘shrouded in mist’, while the coloniser's story is well known by all. Patsy is staunch and positive and that’s why I love her. And she’s knowledgeable about Tasmanian history. You should read her work Grease and Ochre!  

Martin Flanagan: I’m always honoured to take the stage with a man who has taught me to write with conviction, to write the truth and to write from the heart. Martin is what I like to call the philosophical sportswriter, because his stories are far more than just reporting on sports. Of course he does that, but when writing about individuals, he writes their stories, and what they share with him.

I’m also grateful for his presence with me at the Hobart Town Hall and for all the generous locals who were there as well.  You can read Martin’s speech on-line at Tasmanian Times

Generous spirits: Someone asked me while I was in Hobart if I liked doing the festival circuit. I told them honestly: ‘I don’t eat properly, I don’t sleep properly, I don’t do other bodily functions properly, I spend more money than I make, HOWEVER, I meet wonderful people all the time’. And for that I am grateful. I had a small posse of keen readers, sister/fellow writers and fans around and we laughed and joked and fed each other’s souls.  It was great to finally meet the glittery Kate Gordon and to have budding novelist Kit Murdoch in my class. Too much fabulousness all round. And that’s what I like about being on the road.


Surprise gifts: I was overwhelmed with the generosity of a few people in Hobart when I was also handed some beautiful gifts. Ceramic artist Kim – otherwise known as Princess Snorkel Pants  on twitter tackled me as she guarded the green room door, and handed me a piece of her handiwork [pictured above]. A carefully crafted treasure box with five skulls inside. I’m not sure who they belong to, but I love them. Check out Kim’s handiwork here.

Seafood: Seriously Hobart, I need to give you these kilos back. I had salt’n’pepper squid, blue eye, scallops, seafood pie, salmon, muscles and chips, lots of chips. If I lived in Tasmania I would just eat seafood all day. You are all so blessed and I am grateful for a few days to indulge in some of your best. Quick shout out to BJ and the team at Blue Eye. The evening was a little Fawlty Towers like, but hell, the food was sensational, and I will return. And for my perfect fish and chips-by-the-water-while-recovering-from-my-workshop (that’s a mouthful), I need to acknowledge Fishy Business at Constitution Dock.


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