The Brisbane Writers Festival was held at the State Library, with panel discussions conducted in several auditoriums throughout the complex. As such, there were many concurrent talks at any one time, and it might’ve been hard deciding which one to go to at each time slot, but this particular one was an easy choice for me.
The second of three talks (yes, I’m doing this out of order) that I attended at the BWF was titled “Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives” and, like the title suggests, was about finding extraordinary things within the ordinary and everyday. This was a panel discussion, chaired by Steven Lang, with guests David Cohen, Robert Drewe and Kyo Maclear. I was drawn to this event because it’s something that eternally fascinates me, and it’s part of the reason why I read blogs, and why I enjoy talking to customers at work, and why I usually try to be the one asking questions in a conversation, etc, etc.
At the start, Lang asked each of the authors to give a brief description about one of their novels that was relevant to the topic. Maclear was first to speak, and I was instantly sold on the idea of her book Birds Art Life Death (or Birds Art Life, which is the title it’s published under in North America). As she described the book, I felt as if I was mentally ticking off a list I didn’t realise I even had, and thinking that here was a book about everything I wanted to read – here was a book unlike any I’d previously read.
After the talk, I went straight to the festival book shop, and bought my own copy of Birds Art Life Death, and went to get it signed by Maclear. To understand the significance of this, I must mention that I have never, of my own accord, stood in line to get something signed by a famous person. I do vaguely remember lining up with my sister to get albums signed by bands/artists when we were younger, but I was basically just tagging along (at least, I don’t remember being overly excited – maybe just moderately excited).
Well, anyway, I bought Maclear’s book, and I got it signed, even though, I must admit, I didn’t know anything about her or her books before that talk. Such was the impact of what she’d said (and/or such was the receptive, awakening mind in me that became so intrigued by this tying together of the subject matter in the book’s title).
When I got up to the signing table, and she was signing my copy of her book, I told her about how I’ve liked birds ever since I was a young child. I was afraid I’d end up rambling, but I just really wanted to tell her how completely sold I was on the idea of her book.
It was all ok. She also asked a bit more about myself: I was also holding my copy of Anna Karenina (I’d brought it along so that I could get some reading done between each event), so she asked what I was reading, and then she asked if I was a writer too. I told her that I dabbled in story-writing but that my primary outlet was blogging (of course, I said all that in simpler terms because I was experiencing some degree of being star-struck). Unexpectedly, she asked me to write down my blog site for her, and I just paused for a moment, unsure if I’d heard her correctly. But she’d pushed her BWF program across the table for me, so I pulled out a pen, and quickly noted down my blog address for her.
I don’t know if anything will come of this – whether she’ll actually visit my blog or not – but just the fact that she asked, and showed an interest – that was really heart-warming.
Well, anyway, I’m pretty keen to start reading Birds Art Life Death, but all this writing about the BWF takes precedence because I need to record these things before they slip from my memory. I will get onto it, though, and there will be a post about it.
Umm… I was supposed to have written this post about the actual panel discussion, but kind of went off on a massive tangent, and now this post is getting a bit long, so I’m just going to leave it for another day. Maybe I’ll go back to writing about the events in the order I attended them…