This morning I woke feeling a bit glum. Not anything major, and not for any specific reason. I just found myself weighed down by that general “things are just so freaking busybusybusybusybusybusy” malaise that comes with the beginning of a new semester, new classes, new schedules, and cramming twelve thousand new tasks into each week.*
But by one o’clock this afternoon, my spirits were (and are still) completely lifted.
At noon today I spent a delightful hour away from the madness, reading from Bluegrass Symphony and talking about writing. I’d been invited to speak at the ‘Writers and Their Worlds’ session at Flinders here in Adelaide, an excellent initiative that brings professional authors to the university to share their experiences with undergrad students, postgrads, and staff interested in creative writing and creative industries. And I had such a fantastic time! For starters, there was a great crowd (and there were indeed enough people in the audience to warrant the term ‘crowd’, which was awesome), with some familiar faces and some new ones, all of whom were warm and friendly. They laughed at my jokes (always a good sign), and asked plenty of great questions at the end. Insightful, interesting questions – thankfully there was not a single, ‘Where do you get your ideas from?’ to be heard!
After a general discussion about how I got started writing, my philosophies on publishing, and the catalyst for Bluegrass Symphony, I read the beginning of ‘Carousel’. This is the first story in the collection, and one that I’ve never ‘performed’ before, so I was stoked that it went down really well! I always find it hard to gauge people’s reactions while I’m in the process of reading in public: I’m concentrating on enunciating clearly; keeping an eye on the clock to make sure I don’t get carried away and read for too long; trying to look at the page while also looking at the clock and also at the people in the audience without stumbling or losing my place… So when the audience is quiet, I’m not always sure if they’re rapt or falling asleep. (The generous applause and feedback I received suggests, in this case, that it was the former. Phewf!)
Doing public readings like this, though, confirms how important it is for me (and all authors, really) to get out there and share their work face-to-face. The atmosphere in the room was inspiring, and engaging in discussion with other writers (aspiring and established) is really what it’s all about.
And many of us carried the conversation on afterwards over coffee, which was also a treat.
Thanks for providing a writerly oasis at the end of an insane week, Writers and Their Worlds!
*OK, I’ll admit. Twelve thousand might be a slight exaggeration. Let’s call it an even ten thou.