My month as Writer in Residence in Mildura is already half over. How did that happen?
The trip started with a 24-hour stopover in Melbourne. I spent much of the day working at the State Library of Victoria. What a treat to be able to waltz in, get a library card, request (and receive within half an hour) in-library use only references, all so easily and smoothly. I liked Hannie Rayson’s piece about the State Library, in The Age last weekend.
Later in the day I met up with two until-then online-only writerly pals who, as it happens, both have books coming out on 1 September. Jane Rawson’s new book, co-written with James Whitmore, and complete with its own website, is The Handbook: surviving and living with climate change (Transit Lounge). Jenny Ackland’s debut novel, The Secret Son(Allen & Unwin), is “a story about the strength of women and what it means to be a good man”. I can’t wait to get my hands on both books.
In Melbourne that evening I was able to be at the book launch of another debut novel: In the Quiet (Fourth Estate), by Eliza Henry-Jones, one of my housemates at Varuna back in March. It was lovely to be there to see Eliza’s novel — the first of a three-book deal — take off into the world.
Then I went for dinner with a dear friend, and one of those big old rambling wide-ranging catch-ups you do with friends you’ve known for (counts in head, gets large number, sighs, rounds down) thirty-odd years but don’t see or talk with very often.
The next day — 1st July — I flew into Mildura, to to take up the inaugural Mildura Writers Festival Residency. And here I am, two weeks later, having done so much, and with so much more ahead of me.
I’m working on my next novel most mornings — so close to the end, I reckon I can smell it — and working on residency and festival stuff (workshops, media, blogs, meeting people) for the rest of the day.
I’m not going to write much at all here on my own site about my time in Mildura so far, because I’m writing the Mildura Writers Residency blog while I’m here. The idea is that this’ll be ongoing: I’ll write here for the duration of my residency, then each new resident, each year, will add to it and take the blog in their own direction, build the resource.
I’m posting a little bit of all sorts of things there, so far circling around my responses to Mildura and the residency. I seem to be spending a lot of time looking up (was I taking an unconscious cue from Amanda Curtin, I wondered after I’d posted the first several lots of looking up photos), noticing and enjoying the big sky (even when it’s been grey and cold and raining). I’m also noticing the way that ideas are mixing and merging here — more on that over on the blog.
Mildura Writers Festival
The 2015 Mildura Writers Festival itself starts tomorrow, Thursday 16 July, and runs through until Sunday 19 July. I’ll be writing about the festival over on the Mildura Writers Residency blog, hopefully over the four days of the festival, but certainly a wrap-up post or two after the fact.
So visit the Residency blog to see if there’s anything that takes your fancy. And there’s an Ask Me Anything page on the blog that’s looking awfully blank so far, so do head over and ask me, er, anything. I’m in Mildura (and on the Residency blog) until the end of July.
I’ll be taking a two-day side trip to Melbourne before the end of the month, where I’m delighted to be part of The Wheeler Centre’s programme. The Next Big Thing — a session featuring Geraldine Wooller, A.S. Patrić, Sam Prendergast and me — is on at The Moat (basement, 176 Little Lonsdale St, under the State Library) on Monday 27 July from 6.15pm. The event is free, but…unfortunately it’s already booked out. If you fancy your chances, you might nab a ticket on the night if you don’t mind hanging about at the door around kick-off time.