This is a wrap-up of Day 1 of the Emerging Writers’ Festival Town Hall Writers’ Conference

#1:     It was said in the first event of the day, Seven Enviable Lines, though I can’t remember who by – that famous Samuel Beckett quote: “Ever try. Ever fail. No matter – try again. Fail again. Fail better.” It’s one of my favourite quotes, one that I try to keep foremost in my mind as I wade through desk-days and while cursors flash at me accusingly.

It came up again in the second panel I attended, Critical Conditions, this time from Nick Tapper. The echo made it stick.

#2:    Melinda Harvey, in Critical Conditions, urges us to think of criticism as a creative act. She mentions Post Secret, and says something vague and aspirational enough to be exciting, about the possibility of new forms of criticism. Fellow panelist, Ella O’Keefe: ditto. 

#3:     John Safran says that “pride and sloth” are the sins of the creative. We have one stupid idea, and we cling to it and are too lazy to go out and be crazy about having ideas. “Here’s what’s wrong with you,” he says. “You’re lazy, and too in love with your one stupid idea.”

In Writing the Personal, Walter Mason tells us that he recently sent his editor 125,000 words. His editor has slashed and burnt it down to 75,000 words. This is just the process. Between Safran and Mason, the message is to be creative in a ravenous way – your brilliance isn’t limited, numbers are what they are and if you create more, the numbers are on your side. 

#4:      Walter Mason again, in Writing the Personal. He talks about Twitter and Instagram, and how he’s over people’s objection that they don’t want to see what everyone’s eating. It’s relevant, he says. It’s the most personal, and the most interesting. I agree.

Two years ago at this conference, at an ‘in conversation’ in the Melbourne room, Philip Thiel talked about the way that people do want to know what you had for breakfast, and that it’s what gives a blog flavour. That night I went home and wrote about what I had for breakfast


I forget points that are made, quotes that I love, possibilities that exist, until events like these. The EWF provides a space full of echoed reminders, and I am buoyed; enthusiasm renewed. I come home to write, with abandon and without restrictions.