“Me, Myself and I: Writing for Yourself” was definitely the most pleasant roundtable discussion I attended at the festival. Although, when something went horribly wrong at the Joy Cummings Centre (I’m not sure but alarms were involved) it turned into a roundgrass discussion instead, with a big group of us forming a circle in that park between Pacific and Scott Streets (I don’t know what it’s called). Considering this event was at 11am Sunday, the morning after the ball, the pleasantness was much appreciated by this monstrously hung-over reviewer. It was also the most audience participation I had seen in a roundtable at the festival, so I vote for more park sits next year – it really worked.
Nina Carter and Shu-Ling Chua lead the discussion about writing for internal validation rather than writing for the approval or entertainment of others. What did it provide you as a writer, as well as a human being with an emotion or two to control?
The discussion spanned avenues like blogging, newsletters, zines, and journal writing as methods of facilitating that sort of self-validating practice.
Nina said she finds tiny letter (a newsletter like service) extremely useful. She writes a serial letter about her thoughts on self-care. This practice both keeps those helpful ideas in the forefront of her mind and also keeps her writing regularly.
Shu-Ling said that even before she became a writer she wrote a lot of diaries and blogs. These allowed her to explore things she was confused or angry or annoyed about. When she went on exchange she kept a travel blog. It started out as something only intended for friends and family but then turned into something she made public when she decided to pursue writing more seriously.
Blogs were an interesting topic of discussion for everyone. They posed the comparison of writing for an audience you knew as opposed to an audience you didn’t. Writing for friends and family with your blog meant you were conversing with people you were comfortable with, but who also had existing expectations of you. Writing for strangers, on the other hand, meant you could be empowered by the freedom of expectation, but was also daunting because, well, strangers on the internet.
The general response from the discussion, with regards to self-validating writing, was that it takes the pressure off and allows you some time and space to simply express your thoughts. The benefits of this practice are both professional, in that it facilitates practicing your techniques of expression and clears room for creativity, as well as the personal benefits of attempting to make some sense of your identity.
At the end of the event, the indisputable breakout star of the festival, Freya Daly Sadgrove, wanted a way of following everyone’s writing output and thus the hashtag #nywfriends was born (even though you should have come to the event, you can use it too if you want to find friends from the festival, I will allow it). A beautiful, if hazy, morning after the night before.