Thanks to Twitter, attending writing festivals began as an accidental affair.

It all started when I won a pair of tickets from bicycle magazine Treadlie for an event called Paperback Riders,  where books and bicycles, two of my favourite things, came together in an event so close to home. I couldn’t resist the lure of a fun, slow ride along Melbourne’s Maribyrnong River.

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23rd August 2014. Maribyrnong River, Footscray.

A couple of months later, I won a one-year subscription to Writers Victoria

An awareness of local writing events slowly bloomed; an attraction that was palpable, inviting, alluring even.  There were different writing festivals spread throughout the year, and ticket prices were very affordable, were heavily subsidised by generous event sponsors, and even offered concession rates.

In February 2015, Digital Writers Festival   offered session attendees the opportunity to participate from the comfort of their own homes, using their own computers and stable internet connection.
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Because I write romantic, shippy FanFiction, I signed up for their session “Writers’ Night School: Sex Writing” that helped fine-tune one of my het fanfic stories.

Around the same time, I began attending Life Drawing classes at Footscray Arts.  It was my dream to learn how to draw people. However, midway through the school year, I struggled to find a balance between writing FanFiction and drawing.  Why was it so difficult to find time practising my new drawing skills versus writing FanFiction, while parenting two young kiddies? Was this normal among parents with the creative streak?

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The answer to my constant confusion and struggle came in the form a tweet. My favourite artist Lily Mae Martin, whom I follow on Twitter, tweeted she would be in a panel discussion at Williamstown Literary Festival for a newly launched book edited  by Rachel Power, called Motherhood and Creativity: The Divided Heart

Without hesitation, I prepped my cargobike and pedalled my way to the seaside suburb of Williamstown.

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I never imagined I’d find answers to one of life’s questions through a writers festival. Armed with new insights (and a newly-signed book), the discovery that day was interesting, fascinating even.

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By August, Melbourne Writers Festival (MWF) had an amazing list of events that were either free or heavily-subsidised, concession priced tickets.  They even had weekend sessions that fit my schedule perfectly.

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With the recently-completed bicycle lanes in the west side of Melbourne, cargobiking all the way to Melbourne’s CBD was finally stress-free and easy.

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Parking the three-wheeled cargobike without the need for a bicycle rack / hoop.

One of the MWF sessions “The Art of Storytelling” piqued my interest straightaway. Not only was was the session led by memoirist Lee Kofman, the event was at a new library located at Docklands.

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22nd August 2015. Lee Kofman at Melbourne Writers Festival, Library at the Docks, Melbourne
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Cargobike parked outside Library at the Docks, Docklands, Melbourne

Also, I couldn’t miss the clever collaboration of MWF, Writers Victoria, and Romance Writers of Australia (RWA). Coinciding with RWA’s annual conference in Melbourne this year, MWF included sessions about the Romance genre.  I attended an event session “A Romantic Career” at the Wheeler Centre‘s Performance Space.

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22nd August 2015.  Romance novelists Australian Anne Gracie and American Mary Jo Putney in conversation with Kate Cuthbert. Wheeler Centre, Melbourne.

By November 2015, I’ve gone full circle.

Emboldened, I signed up to attend a series of writing workshops at Footscray Arts called “West Writers – Our Stories

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It was where I had my first taste and introduction into the world of literary journals, thanks to their workshop session led by Ellena Savage, editor of The Lifted Brow.

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The beauty of all these writing festivals was that even a carer / stay-at-home-mum, with minimal discretionary budget, could attend such intellectually stimulating events, without hurting the hip pocket; and all a cargobike ride away.

Thank you, Melbourne. You’re not only the most livable city in the world from 2011 to 2015, as a UNESCO City of Literature, you’re also a city for writers.

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I look forward to 2016 with more writing adventures beyond FanFiction.

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