Fun at Ubud Writers’ Festival

Balmy October in Bali. Rice paddies, lotus ponds, brilliant flowers, smiling people. Add to this mix the company of Writers from near and far, talks by such luminaries as Robert Dessaix, and workshops including one from Josephine Wilson, the winner of this year’s Miles Franklin Award,  and you have the perfect recipe for body and mind bliss.

I’ve wanted to go to this Festival for years, in fact each time I’ve been in Darwin which is just across the water from Bali. But the timing was never quite right. This year, with the collusion of my two daughters, I bit the bullet, so to speak, and booked our flights six months ahead. Which was just as well; in spite of the imminent eruption of  volcano, we book nerds descended on Bali in sweaty droves. Luckily Mt Warung didn’t belch it’s lava while we were in Ubud, and as far as I know, it still hasn’t. Here’s a picture of the volcano behaving itself at sunset:

850AD3EE-AD81-4B77-B7A0-B1CF61D5814E

Robert Dessaix’s session on his new book ‘The Pleasures of Leisure’, was a highlight. His dry wit, a la Oscar Wilde, had the audience rapt. Some gems which have stayed with me: Idling is an art in itself, not to be confused with time-wasting. Far from feeling guilty for doing nothing, to be idle is a perfectly legitimate pastime. And never say you’re Busy as an excuse when asked to a boring event (busy-ness is a mark of failure, an inability to be free). Far better to simply say you simply don’t want to attend ( Politely, of course).

For me, the greatest pleasure of the Festival was the company of my daughters. Feisty, funny, fabulous, and unashamedly hedonistic, they were the perfect antidote to their mother’s somewhat dour outlook on life. My daughters and I managed to work towards perfection in our Idling practice. Robert Dessaix would be proud! We three had sundowners on the terrace of our beautiful cottage, surrounded by lush green rice fields and exotic statues, and each night planned our next adventure. There were shopping sprees, yoga Bali style, massages, and delicious food.

 

Catching up with Marieke Hardy at her ‘Women of Letters’ session was  another highlight. We’d last met at the Darwin Writers’ Festival five years ago, when I was a volunteer, helping to set up  an earlier version of Women of Letters. ‘Let’s do this again in another five years!’ Marieke said.

i*

 

 

 

Advertisements

Brushes with (Writerly) Fame

IMG_0328

While waiting for my novel to be published, and for the hoped-for fame its undoubted brilliance will bring (if only!) I must content myself by rubbing shoulders with the already famous. Even though these chance meetings are mere brushes with fame, perhaps they may magically transfer a whisper of their glory to my humble self.

Last year I was honoured to meet the Honourable Julia Gillard, Australia’s first female Prime Minister, after the launch of her book ‘My Story’.  I have long been an admirer of her strength and courage in the face of such mysogyny. Here she is signing her memoir. I was impressed by her grace.

photo

fullsizerender

 

One of my favourite writers is Gail Jones, author of many wonderful novels, including my favourite,  ‘Sixty Lights’.  It was a thrill to meet her at the Darwin Writers Festival, and recently at the launch for her acclaimed novel, “A Guide to Berlin”. img_2499img_0340

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Darwin I met the playwright Mary Anne Butler, whose play, ‘Broken’, has won the prestigious Victorian Prize for Literature. was a hit at the Festival. Here she’s sharing a few words while signing my program for her previous play, “Highway of Lost Hearts”.

FullSizeRender

img_1369

 

 

 

 

 

 

After seeing Alana Valentine’s drama, “Letters to Lindy”, I was moved to congratulate her for writing about one of the grossest miscarriages of justice in Australia: the incarceration for over six years of an innocent, grieving mother. Lindy Chamberlain has been fully exonerated, yet nothing could make up for the cruelty of that sentence. Alana told me she hopes her play will help people who are still affected to let go of anger and imagegrief. img_5204

On a happier note, I spent some time with Marieke Hardy of ‘The First Tuesday Book Club  fame, when helping out  at the Darwin Festival. Her session,’Women of Letters’, in which women in the audience read letters they have written on a set theme, was a sellout. As you see, she was great fun.

photo-5

photo-3