I shut my eyes. I can’t stop yawning. My parched mouth needs a rest. I’m in need of sleep.
I only shut them for a few minutes but it’s long enough to feel the party going off within, the fireworks and poppers shooting into my ribs and Pink Lady cocktails being shaken over ice to form an inch of fluffy froth in my gut, the intermittent white noise of the ice … I feel nauseous and imbalanced, and excited too.
And I have a right to feel excited. I’ve just spent two whole days ensconced in a writer’s conference where I received so much more than I ever expected. Maybe that’s because I went with no potentials or possibilities bearing down on me. Having those can be like shouldering twice my weight with a thousand leeches sucking me dry as I work to reach for the package of ideals and prospects clearly labelled with my name on a shelf on Pluto.
I’ve just attended the Writer’s Unleashed Festival in Sydney where writers, editors, librarians, publishers and I’m sure others, mingled, shared, chatted, taught, worked and learned from one another. I met passionate and focussed people intent on creating and supporting good writing with hearts the size of a blue whale’s that helped and gave with the humbleness of a monk; first times, old timers and long timers. They were all there.
I received some inspirational insights from them and from a publisher about my adult novel and an agent about my children’s work. We collaborated to develop a missing thread in the novel and discussed the emotion and fun of my children’s stories. What came as a most unexpected surprise was that they seemed to believe in me and oh what satisfaction that gives me. Yes there’s work to do but to hear that belief satiates me. Such fulfillment.
The belief was two-way as I came to believe in them too, their support for me and their commitment to get good writing out to readers. I believe in what they do and took in all they were saying, and what others were sharing with me.
Dianne Blacklock spoke with passion about her work and women’s fiction with refreshing realism, about action and pace and plot being made up of people. She believes in what she does and her passion came across clearly.
And then there was the unexpected humbling I experienced within the writing comedy master class with comedian, Tim Ferguson. He taught us the principles on writing for comedy and the importance of comedy. But I got something more.
Tim was once part of the Doug Anthony All Stars, an Australian musical comedy group who performed together between 1984 and 1994. His career changed direction to one of teaching comedy writing when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Tim wheeled into the session with grace. He stopped and turned to face the audience, then stood very slowly and carefully with the aid of a walking stick to steady himself. He began the class in sharp wit and gradually moved into a static chair to complete the two-hour class.
At the end, I bought his book and asked him to sign it. Up close, I was struck by his vulnerability. With a mind as sharp as his, I thought it incredibly unjust that his physical body was losing mobility when his mind was sharper than most people I knew. I was humbled once again. His strength of character and fortitude inspired me.
Now I sit here in this airport lounge with jumbled thoughts that often don’t form words and a dull pain across my forehead, which is too tired to hold its usual furrows. I buzz and vibrate from the inside out, tingling toes and lightly pulsating muscles, a twitch of a nostril and sparks of electric zap in my brain as I wait to board my Qantas flight home to my boys. I know when I get there, I’ll bask in their support.