“The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.” Gustave Flaubert.
That quote by Flaubert is one of my favourites about writing.
I like how it implies writing is a continual process of learning.
That’s how I feel about writing. As a writer I am always learning about my craft, myself and how I fit in (or not) to the world around me. And this is a philosophy I think the Emerging Writers’ Festival wholeheartedly embraces: writing as a process of learning about who you are, about what you believe—and sharing that.
But exactly what is an emerging writer?
Is an emerging writer a bespectacled goatee-wearing hipcat climbing out from behind a torn-up couch after a drunken night of pseudo-intellectual pontificating, reaching for a pen to write a post-party poem about how some cad stole his iPhone?
Is an emerging writer a housewife who had locked herself in her study for three weeks—so she could blog in privacy—taking a crowbar to the padlock and chains on her door and coming out, finally giving into her need to pee in something other than a bucket?
Or is an emerging writer a fired accountant encouraged by his girlfriend to upload his eBook memoir to Smashwords? (‘Linked Over and Out’ being an extraordinary exposé of an office culture ‘directly responsible for’ his addiction to making increasingly crass Facebook updates and how said addiction had cost him his career when he inadvertently linked FB to LinkedIn)
Perhaps an ‘emerging writer’ is all these and more. But I can tell you one thing for sure:
I am an emerging writer*.
Having first been part of the Emerging Writers’ Festival last year—at ‘Page Parlour’ and the ‘Fifteen Minutes of Fame’ event—and after being invited to present a panel on ‘Structure’ at the Town Hall Conference on Saturday 26th May this year (see below for more on that), it will be my second year as an attending artist.
It will also be my second year as an attending attender. Because even though I’ve been writing for about twenty-six years (I wrote my first song when I was sixteen—yeah, that’s how old I am) I am still emerging, and as such can benefit from getting amongst it with other writers more advanced than, less advanced than, and many about the same as, me.
Yes, I’ve been a writer for a while but as I am still chipping away at The Big Commercial Success, and am still developing my voice, I believe I qualify as an Emerging Writer. Not that No Fame and Small Fortune are the qualifiers of being an EW. Going by the official description of how the Emerging Writers’ Festival organisers describe an emerging writer I qualify there too.
Here’s how the #ewf12 (as you’ll find ‘em on Twitter) see an Emerging Writer.
How many points can you TICK?
“An Emerging Writer is someone who:
1. Identifies as a writer doing work.
TICK. I have written well-reviewed albums, a still-being-discovered novel, and am halfway through a year of blogging about a year of living sober. I identify with doing a lot of work.
2. Is at an investigative, early or experimental stage of their career.
Investigative? TICK. I’m always investigating. Early? Well, I’ve only published one novel so I’m definitely early in that phase of my writing career: TICK. Experimental? My next novel combines my love of music and narrative in a unique way I haven’t heard of being done before so…TICK.
3. Has an ongoing engagement with the creative practice of writing.
TICK. I blog, I tweet, I festival (therefore I am)
4. May be working in established or emerging genres and media.
TICK, TICK, TICK. (Paperback novel, couple of blogs, ebook convert)
5. Has slightly forgotten why they write and are in the midst of finding the writing industry around them restrictive, intimidating and frustrating.
Not me. NO, NO, NO and sometimes maybe…but, NO. I actually think this is the best time since the quill and ink-well to be a writer. Google ’KDP Select’, ‘Amanda Hocking’ or ‘J.A. Konrath’ if you disagree.
6. Is removed from networking and who appreciates the change to emerge from their studies
Well, I’m not studying—except my own library—but living on the outskirts of town I certainly appreciate a chance to network with peers so…TICK
7. Someone who wants to be inspired by those around them
TICK. Of course.
There you go. It’s almost a clean sweep. I AM an ‘Emerging Writer’.
How about you?
Are you an Emerging Writer too?
N.B. If you are in Melbourne and interested in the role ‘structure’ plays in writing do come along to The Town Hall tomorrow (Sat 26th May, 2012) for what promises to be an illuminating and fun session with four experienced pros (Ali Cobby Eckerman, Anita Sethi, Damon Young and Fiona Harris).
N.B.B. If, like most of my readers, you aren’t in Melbourne you can still join in the fun by getting involved on-line with the digital component of the festival (again, check out the website for more.)
* Except for the peeing in a bucket bit. I keep an old baby bath under my desk**.
** No I don’t. I do skip to the loo more frequently than the Sex and the City girls at a nightclub though.