I took advantage of the fact that I had no commitments on Sunday by sleeping until quite late, thus avoiding the whole issue of Daylight Savings Time. I decided to order room service for lunch, thinking pizza sounded rather good. Over the weekend, my friends and I had a few encounters with a member of the staff who was, to put it mildly, eccentric and it was her who was on duty when I called. Our conversation went a little like this:
Me: Hi, could I please order some room service?
Staff Member: Nah, the chef isn’t in yet.
Staff Member: Yeh, we don’t do room service until about 3pm, I think.
Me: But doesn’t the menu say 10am to 10pm?
Staff Member: I guess so, but the chef isn’t in.
Me: Oh, okay. No worries.
Staff Member: What did you want, anyway?
Me: Just a margarita pizza, but it’s not a problem, I will get something down the street.
Staff Member: I will see if I can work out how to use it and call you back in ten minutes. *click*
She hangs up before I can say anything.
Fifteen minutes later..
Staff Member: We stood around and pushed all the buttons until it started doing something. So, we are going to give it a go…
Ten minutes later…
Staff Member: Um, there was a slight problem and I don’t think you should eat it.
It was too funny!
The Craft of Short Story Writing
Panellists: Cat Sparks (moderator), Jack Dann, Helen Stubbs, Kim Westwood, and Kaaron Warren.
In terms of development as a writer, I think this would have to be close to the best panel I have ever attended. At the moment, I am focussing on writing shorts, and the amount of experience and knowledge on offer in this group was mind blowing, and there was pearl after pearl of wisdom handed out. I thought Cat did a great of moderating it, ensuring that it stayed on track and that everyone got a chance to contribute. I also thought Helen more than held her own, despite being amongst very illustrious company indeed.
Once again, my iPad was invaluable as I feverishly took down note after note. There are too many to list here, but some of the highlights included:
- When asked whether she was a pantser or a planner, Kaaron telling us that she builds a story from a pile of bones (great image!), and also saying that if she gets bored writing a passage she knows that it will bore the reader later on
- Jack talking about how short stories are a way for a writer to build a reputation, and how for him when he writes a novel, each chapter is treated like a short story that ends in a semi colon
- Cat saying that the biggest problem with short stories she receives is that they are boring, that titles are vital, and that every writer should value add to their culture rather than just adding more noise
- Kim Westwood describing a short story as a world in a tea cup, a phrase that really resonated with me.
Obviously every writer is different, with different methods, and slavishly imitating another writer gets you nowhere. But, I doubt there was a single person who walked away from that panel without feeling like they had just received a master class in becoming a better writer. It was one of those things where you walk away reenergised and fired up, itching to sit down and write.
Instead, I went and socialised at the bar. But, that was fun too.
Gradually, a group coalesced and discovered it needed food, so we wandered out in search of Chinese. It was a lovely dinner where we had a chance to admire Jodi Cleghorn’s latest editorial efforts, some very impressive volumes indeed. I also had a lovely chat with some locals, who said they had no desire to write but were “only” readers, to which I replied there is no “only” about that, it’s about the most important thing there is! Writers are a dime a dozen at cons, but there is no point writing if no one is going to read it. It was great to hear a bit more about the Canberra scene (which really impressed me with its vibrancy, might I add), and to just enjoy good company and good food, even it was a bit depressing seeing the fish and lobsters swimming in tanks while they awaited their fate.
By the time we got back to the convention centre the disco was winding down, and I had managed to escape another situation where I might be expected to dance, which made me very happy. There was more great conversation late into the evening, and I finally managed to complete my list of meeting all the Guests. Like all the other Guests, Natalie was wonderfully open and friendly, and happy to answer our many questions. Because of the way everyone had grouped together, rearranging furniture creating a massive ovoid, I was able to meet a lot of new faces (to me) I had somehow missed until then. My only regret from the Con is that it took me until the last night to meet some wonderful people!
Gradually, people drifted off to bed leaving only a few die hards sitting around chatting, and when the subject moved on to sumo herpes I decided it might be getting close to my bedtime, too. So, another wonderful day at the Con, spoiled only by the realisation that the next day would be the last. Sigh.