This weekend has been all about the 2015 Melbourne Writers Festival for me.* I was, I have to admit, a reluctant returner to the MWF fold, after a few years of me and the schedule not really meeting in the middle, overseas travel, and also at least one hissy fit at not being able to operate the website.**
I deployed my usual method of selecting events*** and got tickets to three events over this weekend.
First up was On Reading with Eleanor Catton. The session was part lecture, part q&a (both formal and audience) which as a format worked really well as it made the session feel light and not like an academic lecture that must be endured.^ Catton spoke about how reading is a creative and purposeful act which is different to watching movies or tv because watching is external to the body, whereas reading is internal to the body in the way you experience the characters.
Catton also spoke about how the question ‘Why do you read?’ is often asked with skepticism in relation to the market society as it does not result in a visible or financial gain. There are now of course countless studies that indicate the benefits of reading, but as she pointed out they are couched within this framework of a gain seen worthy in the eyes of a market society. Catton, however, concluded that ‘perhaps in the end the purpose of reading is to love reading, and to want to read on.’
The second session I attended was Convicts with John Marsden and Hannah Kent which was a really interesting discussion which started at historical fiction and historical justice and moved into a broader discussion of compassion, redemption and rehabilitation.
And the final session I attended was Small Screen: How we watch with Mel Campbell and Stephanie van Schilt in conversation with Benjamin Law which as it suggests was more focused on television than reading, though it did have a focus on written critiques. Hard to explain how much I enjoyed this session but it just seemed to hit all the right notes.
All in all, pretty pleased with my sessions, and now if only I could stay home from work for the next few weeks and read and write with all the enthusiasm I come out of these sessions with.
*Slight exaggeration as I went to a total of three hours of MWF events but hey its my blog.
**Probably not my finest hour as a human being.
***This involves reading the guide and being really excited about what is on offer. Going to book and becoming overwhelmed by the choice and scheduling. Panicking and giving up any attempt to buying tickets. Really close to the actual event and armed with a few select free times looking only at the events that fitted into those slots and weren’t booked out. It’s my tried and tested method but I could do without the getting overwhelmed and panicking, neither of which are feelings that I enjoy.
^My academic fatigue might be showing a little.