Monday, April 4, 2016


Newcastle Writers Festival is possibly my favourite weekend of the year. I always organise to have nothing stop me from seeing everything I wish and then some. As a Librarian, reading and writing are my everything, and really have been my entire life. If you took that away from my I am unsure I would be able to put one foot in front of the other anymore. To escape into another world, learn something new, or just wonder at the brilliance of someone who can string some words together in a way that makes your heart skip a beat...that is the beauty of reading.
My preference is Non-Fiction or The Truth. I love factual writing, or opinionated writing, I may not always agree with what some people write, but I am interested in reading it anyway. I also dabble a little with writing myself, as you see here. It is mostly review or memoir style writing and that is what I am most comfortable with. I do not proclaim to be a writer, but I do love to write...I’ve already got a day job.
This is why I love taking the time for real writers. They have so much to give us, so many ideas, so many thoughts, hearing the inspiration or story behind their own creativity thrills me every time.
After a few days of a festival as full and as varied as this one, you are exhausted, but also uplifted in a way that is very difficult to describe. And it is not just from the sessions you attend but the buzz of being there too.
I try to mix the sessions I attend up with local and small or helpful writing sessions, and the bigger, more glamorous names. Sometimes it is difficult to choose from the program as there are sessions running simultaneously and you just cannot clone yourself!
This year I caught up with locals talking about Grieve, Shakespeare, Local History, Memoirs, and how to write. They all were fabulous to listen to, and gave me numerous ideas to assist with my own writing. This is key to such a festival.
The superstars were of politics: Stan Grant, Kerry O’Brien, David Marr, and Tony a world where I am interested in the truth, how we are governed and what people think of this is as truthful as it gets. Richard Glover and Nigel Milsom showed me much beauty can come out of great pain. I am thankful to have shed a tear at their truth.
But mostly it was the unexpected that I loved at this festival.
The unexpected is when you are taking notes at a session about X and you go off on a tangent and make notes about Y and Z instead, because a little snippet of what someone said took your brain off on a tangent or a drift that you cannot escape. Your mind becomes heightened and you see things far more vividly. I took some great photos over the weekend, my eye for beauty was sharper than usual. This is because you are narrowed or focused on particular things over this short period of time in a way you just normally are not.
The unexpected comes from conversations with people you meet. These can be people you don’t know, or people you run into that you know or have not seen in a long time. You’ll chat about this and that, all festival related, a glow comes over everyone, you are all basking in the pleasure of really using your brain in ways you love, and your heart is beating faster than normal, and you are full of positivity and love and ideas and everything. Connections are closer and tighter because you mostly walk about and attend sessions on your own in a little bubble of thoughts and creativity, so when someone pokes that bubble you explode with all that and more. It is a thing of beauty, never do I see and talk to so many wonderfully happy people.
This is the intangible thing about festivals, the added extras, the feelings that are hard to express, you leave feeling utterly exhausted, yet so full of joy and information and creativity you could burst. You have experienced many little epiphanies, cultured a few great ideas, feel more creative than you have in ages, but mostly need a long nap.

I drove away from Newcastle Writers Festival on Sunday afternoon feeling all of that and more, I felt great but also a little sad it was over and a little sad for those who didn’t get the opportunity to experience such wonder, or who may never get that opportunity. It you haven’t attended Newcastle Writers Festival, you simply must, it will be on next year from 7-9 April and half the sessions are free. There is no excuse not to attend.
Finally I give my thanks to the brilliant Rosemarie Milsom and her lovely little team of helpers and her army of volunteers, what a wonderful service you all assist with! Thank You!!!
You can read more about my experiences here:

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