01 02 03 Amorina Rose Writes: You can do anything if you try! 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

You can do anything if you try!

Hi all,

Thought I would bring you some inspiration this blog. At least I hope it inspires you as it did me.   Not so long ago I met a couple of ladies from the Burdekin (the area a just outside Townsville) at a writer’s workshop.  These workshops are a must for the budding author just for the wonderful people you meet if nothing else.  These lovely ladies of whom Chris Stewart is one decided to organise a writer’s festival in Ayr, the town they live in. 

Below is just a small portion of the interview I did with Chris who along with the other ladies did an incredible job organising the first Burdekin Readers’ & Writers’ Festival that was held on Friday & Saturday, July 17th & 18th, 2015 in the Burdekin Library and Burdekin Theatre complex.  I have been up here for about 18 months missing Sydney and what Sydney offers culturally and whinging.  Well, Chris and Co proved to me that what I thought I was missing is a state of mind and if I look hard enough that same state of mind is all around me alive and kicking.  I look forward to bringing you more from Ayr in the near future.

The background to this interview is simply that a small group of amateur writers known as Pen Pushers began meeting in Ayr in 2013.  Having experienced Writers’ Festivals and Writers’ Workshops in other cities and towns, they felt it would be wonderful to offer both their and neighbouring communities the opportunity to experience something similar. And so “Ignite Your Mind” Burdekin Readers’ & Writers’ Festival was born.  Check out the link at the end of the interview.

Barb:  Chris, if you had to sum up the festival in just a few words, what would you say?

Chris: It exceeded our expectations.

Barb:  What was it that made the difference?  I can tell by your attitude that it really did just that.

Chris:  Saturday was the biggest day as was expected. People now know that it is fun and enjoyable and stimulating to attend a festival & listen to authors. They didn’t know it before but they know it now. Their eyes were opened and I believe they are hooked. This augurs well for future festivals.

Barb:  What was a highlight? 

Chris:  Everyone was raving about the dinner on the Friday night. There were about 100 guests plus all our authors. The authors enjoyed it because it was different – a local flavour.  We had them as guest speakers and the audience enjoyed their talks. We had a great mix of authors. They were all so friendly and approachable and keen for our first Festival to succeed.

Barb:  How was the festival structured?

Chris: Three of our authors gave writing workshops of two and a half or three hours plus ABC Open, and they were so well attended I couldn’t believe how many Ayr people were interested in writing. All of the authors had at least two sessions whereby they talked about their books, their craft, their lives or anything else that took their fancy. The audience had the opportunity to ask questions of the authors. Some sessions were panels and also QWC ran one on publishing.

Barb: Who did you use to chair/moderate the sessions?

Chris:  We were fortunate to have a number of local teachers and former teachers and a journalist who took on this vital role. None of them had fulfilled this role before – it was a new experience for them. It involved lots of preparation & commitment and they all did an admirable job and I would say are keen to front up again. Some of the authors also had a stint at asking the questions.

Barb:  Were the workshop participants from outside Ayr?

Chris: There were some from Townsville and Charters Towers. On the whole we didn’t get many visitors from the regional centres which was disappointing as we tried so hard to spread the word. However, the ones who did come will entice their friends to come next time I’m sure.

Barb:  Who was a crowd pleaser?

Chris:  People loved Nick Earls – he is so funny. David Hunt (Girt) was popular and he’s a funny man too. Matthew Condon was our serious writer (police & political corruption) and mesmerised his large audience with tales of what went on in Queensland in the 50’s to 80’s. Robert Hoge was inspirational – he’s such a lovely man. All of the others were popular and interesting and gave great talks and it was lovely to see two of our local authors in the limelight as well.

Barb:  It couldn’t have been easy to organise.  I know there’s not many of you.

Chris:  It was a huge organisational task for a small committee but so worth it. I can’t believe we pulled it off. We’re so lucky we got good sponsorship from local businesses as well as our library and JCU.

Barb:  So, will we see you again next year?

Chris:  No, I personally won’t be involved but I believe the Festival will be on again next year.


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