You could hear the pens scratching in the air. It’s the Melbourne Writers Festival 2016. There is a mix of writers; professional, emerging and students.
Oliver, Year 12, shares his notes on Adam Curley, writer and musician:
The world of music magazines is filled with people interested in writing and music, but also gives you an opportunity to be published, and get feedback.
Song lyrics sit in a strange place – harder to study with less of a history – less a form of writing, differing styles between different writers. Began as storytelling, branches out.
For Adam, he is a vocalist, and lyricist, collaborating with his band Gold Class to write songs collectively.
Usually starts with a catalyst, a beat or rhythm in what his band members are writing – always has a notebook or his phone ready writing ideas, words, phrases, that could be used.
Melody can craft lyrics, and lyrics and melody. Inspiration – can be found anywhere! For his inspiration, Adam tends to look inside for his inspiration, taking from his feelings on issues, world or personal. However, other writers he knows write third person narratives, long abstract phrases, really it can be anything.
Style – impressionistic language surrounding a key idea or feeling.
Songs don’t have to follow on line by line, don’t have to be linear narratives.
Reagan, Year 11, reflects on Meg Rosoff:
“Creating Great Characters” conducted by Meg Rosoff was perhaps the highlight of the Writers Festival. When entering the presentation, most of us witnessed Meg lounging about comfortably on the couch with her interviewer, giving little hint of the brilliant personality that lurked beneath. Excited chatter gave way to enraptured silence, broken only by the open laughter which greeted every deprecating remark she made of herself.
Meg spent the entire workshop detailing her own troubles with writing and rowdy dogs, her anecdote of the years she spent bluffing a book to her editor reducing the audience to a laughing wreck. Throughout the workshop, there was never a dull moment, the presentation being refreshing in that she genuinely downplayed all of her own achievements and awards. Meeting her afterwards, I could not help but purchase one of her books simply for a chance to meet her. Throughout her question session, she never made a single attempt to promote her works, but her warm and sincere thanks when I brought the book to be signed revealed more than a witty and humorous speaker, it exposed her as a writer with a true connection to her readers.
Ayush, Year 9, shares his thoughts:
At the Melbourne Writers Festival 2016 we had the chance to see and listen to many writers and authors. One in particular stood out. Meg Rosoff, the author of How I Live Now, was a particularly interesting and entertaining person to listen to. She was a very funny person and her thoughts and ideas always caused the audience to chuckle. She was very fun and open as well which always kept the audiences attention. She was also very willing to talk about herself with a group of relative strangers which helped us understand her and her books in greater depth. Out of all the authors we watched and listened to this was, in my opinion, the best as she had intriguing ideas and stories and wasn’t afraid to put herself out there.
Noah, Year 11, writes:
One of the highlights of our day at the Melbourne Writers Festival was hearing author Meg Rossof talk about her writing process and how she worked on characters. Hearing her reminisce about her friend helping her with crucial plot points, how the characters got away from her with minds of their own at times, and how her story about characterising animals went off onto a long tangent about her own dog were all delightful, and her dry sense of humour punctuated every piece of advice or story, making it all the more enjoyable. I am certainly looking forward to reading some of her work, and I’ll be taking her advice on characters to heart. I must say, her admission that she often didn’t know where the book was going to go when she sat down took a weight off, and contrasted with the over-planning toted by many other writers. I would recommend the Writers Festival to anyone, especially with panels like this one!
Frank, Year 11, writes:
At the Writers Festival is where I met Meg Rosoff, an accomplished author winning both the Guardian Prize as well as the Printz Award. She was one of the most inspiring writers, possessing great wit and was always charming. Yet despite winning prestigious awards, she was charming and incredibly down to earth.
She began the workshop of ‘Creating Great Characters’, by professing her love of dogs. She told us that “writers don’t have a sociable lives, that’s why I love dogs.” In her book Jonathan Unleashed (2016), all of the central character’s many problems, are all curiously resolved through two dogs. Although she laughingly admitted that dogs seldom solve the problems we experience in real life, “Dogs make good characters in books because you can make them into whatever you like.”
She then proceeded to give insight into the often-enigmatic writing process of an author. For one, there is no one definite way of writing, and that writing habits tend to differ from person to person. For Meg, she uses her ‘unconscious mind’, where a lot of the writing comes from the place in the brain responsible for dreaming. Where the conscious mind is compared to as a horse rider, the unconscious is mind is the horse itself, and sometimes, it may be better to let the horse lead for a change.
Undoubtedly, one of the highlights of the day, her unique advice in combination with her wonderful sense of humour really inspired us, hopefully, to take step towards a future filled with a little bit of creativity, and a little bit of writing.
Daniel, Year 9, captures John Marsden’s creative writing session:
“In fourteen words we wrote our story. Without one vowel we described our view.”
Our pens will certainly be writing furiously following these inspiring sessions.