Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of attending the inaugural Writers in the Park festival in Sydney. Not only did I attend the event, I was included on the program, just like a real writer! See, here’s my official name badge:
Writers in the Park was held at The Residences, Centennial Park, a wonderful setting which placed the event in an easily accessible location for the community where it was easy for passersby to wander in to find out what the excitement was all about.
Almost a week after the event, I’m still not quite able to put my thoughts together into a post. I met so many amazing people and had so many great conversations. I was inspired, challenged, encouraged, and taken aback by how enthusiastically I was welcomed into this amazing community of men and women who share stories, and in doing so share so much of themselves.
I’ve decided to share my account of the day in a series of thank yous:
Thank you Hazel Edwards for your wonderful encouragement and advice. It was so lovely to meet you in person after our many emails and conversations online. Thank you also for all that your shared during the memoir discussion panel. I’m looking forward to reading your memoir/questory Not Just a Piece of Cake: Being an Author very soon.
Thank you Joanne Fedler for your warm greeting and wonderful hug. It was so lovely to meet you. Thank you also for all that you shared in the panel on Love. As always, I found your perspective thoughtful and insightful and was inspired by your honesty and authenticity. (Joanne also read the ‘bonus’ chapter from her book Love in the Time of Contempt: Consolations for the Parents of Teenagers. The chapter is available from the Love in the Time of Contempt website).
Thank you to Zanni Louise, Anna Pignataro, Edwina Wyatt, James Foley, Benjamin Johnston and Nicole Melanson for wonderful bookish conversations. It was so lovely to meet you all (and I’m still pondering that gift pack idea, James. I’m sure we can make it work!).
Thank you Pamela Allen for coming along to read to us all. As I watched babies, children, parents and grandparents enthralled by your reading of Alexander’s Outing, it was a very meaningful reminder of just how important picture books are. They connect generations, connect us with our childhood, and stir our imaginations.
Thank you Jessica Rowe for sharing your very personal story in order to encourage others. I appreciate your willingness to be vulnerable so that others can know they aren’t alone. I bought a copy of your book Is This My Beautiful Life the day after the event and I’m looking forward to reading it. Thank you, too, for allowing me to spend time with your beautiful daughter. Our time reading stories together was one of the highlights of my day.
Thank you Lisa Heidke and Wai Chim for greeting me like a long lost friend. Our brief connections at various literary gatherings are always a highlight for me. Lisa, your new book The Callahan Split is at the top of my bedside TBR pile.
Thank you to the various friends who allowed me to take selfies. I always come away from these events with no photos and books unsigned and I was determined to do better this time. I still missed getting most of my book purchases signed and missed photos with several friends, but I did manage to take a few selfies to commemorate the day. Thank you Lisa, Joanne, Debra, Georgie and Gwynne for your patience with my selfie awkwardness.
Thank you so much to all of the lovely people who mentioned to me that you have enjoyed reading Don’t Think About Purple Elephants. It’s always exciting to hear that someone has connected with the story.
Thank you Susanne Gervay and your amazing SCBWI team (Deborah Abela, Marjorie Crosby-Fairall, Sarah Davis, Margaret Roc and numerous wonderful volunteers on the day). Your hard work, enthusiasm and determination to create a wonderful community event paid off. Writers in the Park was amazing with such a wonderful, positive vibe. I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to take part in the day. Your willingness to put so much time and effort into building a dynamic and supportive community of writers is inspiring.
And, finally, thank you to Gwynneth Jones, the amazing illustrator of Don’t Think About Purple Elephants. Gwynne knows how challenging it can be for me to get to events out of town and she made it so easy for me to get to Sydney and enjoy the day. She was very patient with my endless chatter in the car on the way home and my various quirks (ie annoying habits) overall. Thank you Gwynne. I never stop marvelling at how incredibly blessed I have been to connect with you through my first picture book.
The plan is for Writers in the Park to become an annual event and I would wholeheartedly recommend you attend in 2016 if you are able to. Keep an eye on the Writers in the Park Facebook page, Twitter account and website for updates.