Last night was the launch of the program for the Emerging Writers’ Festival. As always in the Wheeler Centre, seating was a little awkward, but the entertainment made up for it. To launch the program, Ben Birchall hosted a panel made up of Paddy O’Reilly, Sean Condon, and Meg Mundell. While there didn’t seem to be a specific point of discussion, the wandering topic of the event was a good way into the festival, which encourages us as writers to think about our practice and process, the wider implications of what we do, not just the act of publishing but the whole idea of “being a writer”. It’s so important to have space and time to do this, to make meaning of what we’re doing.

Paddy O’Reilly provided the quote I got the most out of from the night – “I learn,” she said, “every time I pick up a pen, that I don’t know anything.” In a way, this is possibly the worst thing for me (as someone at uni studying the craft of writing) to take on board. It’s also really constructive though. It’s such a positive way of tackling blank pages, new projects – don’t try for that level of production I reached by the end of my last project, because that was something different. This is new, I’m starting from scratch, and I know nothing, so just do it.

Having spent an hour or two picking out my dream itinerary from the very spunky looking program (all individually screen printed, as last year), I’ve come up with the following events as my picks from the 2011 program. All links back to program descriptions (and tickets) on the EWF website –

26th May – The First Word

28-9th May – Town Hall Writers’ Conference

31st May – Not Your Nana’s Slide Night

4th June – The Writers’ Toolkit

4th June – Tram Tracks

4th June – The Pitch

5th June – Page Parlour

5th June – Spelling Bee

Also, right throughout the festival the #ewf11 hashtag will be active (already a fair bit of action on Twitter), and panels will be hosted online. There’s a whole extra level of discussion that occurs over the Town Hall weekend if you’ve got access to Twitter on your phone. There’s a silent layer of discussion going on on Twitter at the same time as panels are running, it enriches the whole experience. I’m so glad this year I have a wanky phone with internet access so I can get to that – last year I saw tweets post-fact and was a bit disappointed I’d missed them.

Also exciting news connecting LGWABP with the EWF this year – I’m one of the bloggers whose content is being pulled into their Planet. A “planet” is a feed which draws in content from selected blogs, which are tagged in a certain way. So throughout the festival, anything that I tag with “emerging writers festival” will appear in that feed. Lisa (festival director)’s experience as a blogger has made this feed really nuanced in the way it works, as she understands that the planet benefits both the writers and the festival. Had a non-blogger created this, it may have turned out a bit differently.

SO! Go check out the EWF program, tickets are all on sale, program’s up, I’m part of their blogging planet, the #ewf11 hashtag is already active – get involved!