Very soon I’ll be heading into the city for the first of many Melbourne Writers Festival events.

The festival launches today, with keynotes from Boris Johnson and The Moth tonight. On Friday shit gets real, with the start of actual programming at Federation Square, and the first professional development session at The Wheeler Centre. The Professional Development stream is my home for the next two weeks, ushering incredibly talented people around, providing biscuits, making chats, making happy. I’m excited, but nervous too – I suspect this is normal. The air around festival people zaps with this feeling – “Did I check everything? Thrice? What’d I forget? Is there pen on my face? Have I got stress hair? Breathe.”

As director Lisa Dempster has said of both MWF and Emerging Writers’ Festival (which she directed before MWF), there’s a point where all you can do is sit back and see your good work pay off. …I’m not sure we’re at that point just yet though. Today is for MAJOR BRAIN FREAK-OUT AND PANIC STATIONS. I’m sure that tomorrow, when that first event is under my belt, I will feel better.

New Life by MemaNH on Flickr

It occurred to me this morning that so much about my situation right now is new. I’m new to the production end of Melbourne Writers Festival. I’m new to meeting such big-name guests and being responsible for their events going smoothly. Emotionally, this is making me need to use all sorts of new skills – I need to separate myself from things enough to get the job done, and not get upset if things don’t go absolutely as planned. I need to be a normal person, and realise that all the other people I’m dealing with here are normal people too, and it’s possible to meet everyone on a personable level.

There’s currently a slew of miscellaneous other disasters in my life (friends and family in hospital), and this is new – coping. Getting my back under my commitments and juggling it all – the time to collapse is after the festival, after I’ve met deadlines, after my loved ones are safe and well back at home. 

It’s new for me to have such a sensible outlook at this point. Maybe I’m growing up a bit.

All the actual grown-ups I’ve been working with at MWF have done an AMAZING job, and I’m really looking forward to seeing this fantastic festival come to life after all their hard work. And happy first festival, Lisa!