reading · writing tips

4½ Reasons You Should Go To Writer’s Nights

Writers socialising over wineWriters socialising over wine books

Before I continue with my Unlucky 13: One Reader’s Top 13 Hates in Writing, I want to digress. Sorry to leave you in suspense for another week.

This week, I had the chance to listen to Natasha Lester talk about writing to Valerie Khoo of the Australian Writers’ Centre. Now, I love Natasha – the way she writes, and her generosity with her time when answering questions via her blog; and she’s not likely to get to Sydney often, living in Perth as she does. If you don’t already know of Natasha, check out her website here.

But still, I hesitated before signing up.

Why? Well, it wasn’t the cost – at only $10 it was a steal. And it wasn’t the getting there and back, even though I don’t live in Sydney and public transport in the rest of NSW is atrocious.

It was the time away from my life.

It was going to take seven hours out of my day (and that doesn’t include the shopping for a new outfit, or the getting ready on the night – or early afternoon actually, due to the aforementioned not-living-in-Sydney) and I have a list of things to do a mile long. I’m overshooting all my writing deadlines, my personal schedule would fall apart if it wasn’t for my whiteboard (ok, it’s a kitchen splashback but I treat it like a whiteboard), and I have a mountain of books to read.

Not my real bookshelves...

My mountain of books is almost this big

But of all these things, it’s my reading backlog that almost stopped me. I just bought 11 new books online that I have to read to see if I can use them for comparison in my query letter, and then I couldn’t resist buying another 6 at a recent library sell-off for a bargain price (I did well to control myself there, didn’t I).

Oh and then two of the books I requested from the library have finally come through (I had no idea Brent Weeks’ Black Prism would be the size of a small mountain in itself).

Taking the train would have been an ideal compromise – on such a long trip I could have finished at least one of the four I was already reading before I made all these purchases – but the trip would have cost a fortune, taken almost twice as long as driving, and involved travelling after midnight, not the safest option on public transport.

In the end, I decided I had to go, and I had to drive. So here are my 4½ reasons why I think you should go to events like this too:

4. Driving time became thinking time.

I didn’t intend to think too much while I was driving, but it happened anyway. One moment, I’m hurtling down the expressway, concentrating on the idiots determined to make sudden and life-threatening lane-changes, and the next I’ve got my longline. Just like that.

I’ve been working on it for ages, following the formula put down by Graeme Shimmin who has generously corresponded with me, but what I’d come up with depressed me.

So I said my new one to myself over and over until I memorised it perfectly. (This article is not the place to share it, but stay tuned, I’ll share it with you in a more appropriate setting soon.)

Already, my $10 trip is a success beyond anything I could have imagined. I could almost go home right now.

3. The interview was fabulous!

I’m so glad I didn’t turn around and go home! Valerie Khoo is a wonderful interviewer: asking questions that everyone wants asked, and giving her interviewee uninterrupted time to answer.

Natasha is a brilliant speaker who manages to find the right balance between answering the question succinctly, and answering it with heart.

But don’t just believe me, here’s a link to the interview on the Australian Writers’ Centre’s Facebook page.

2. I met other wonderful people.

They, like me, are aspiring to be published. Everyone I spoke to was interesting and I wish I could have spoken to more of them, and for longer. It made me feel a part of the writer’s community in a way shutting myself away with a good book (or writing my own) can’t do.

1. And here’s the best part

I won a prize! You guessed it – more books! I’m now the proud owner of five more! My heartfelt thanks to the AWC, and to Natasha for drawing my ticket.

5 more books

And *cough* I may have also bought Natasha’s latest gem ‘A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald’ which I’ll eventually review on Goodreads.

So, without further ado, I have to pour myself a wine and get reading!

* Where’s that ‘half’ reason I promised, you ask? It was the free wine that was on offer at the Australian Writers’ Centre. It only gets a half because I was driving and couldn’t drink any.

** Did I mention it was flogging down with the first rain in months and my new boots got soaked? Meh. They’ll dry out. Maybe.

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