This evening I attended an Author Event at the Bacchus Marsh Collins Booksellers for Australian author Tor Roxburgh, who has just released her new Fantasy book called “The Light Heart of Stone” (book one of the Promise of Stone series). The event was at 7pm at night, but they needed to know how many people were attending so that they knew if they needed to have seating for the event outside of the store or if it would just be a few people inside the store. As I walked to the bookstore I thought, “The list of people coming to the event tonight was really short when I went to RSVP earlier in the week, it is going to be super awkward if it’s just me that rocks up and really disheartening for the author.”
But then I decided it wouldn’t matter, that I would think positively and would use this as an opportunity to ask a real life author lots of questions, one who isn’t one of my teachers and therefore must put up with my constant babbling, and low and behold! A whole horde people showed up for the event, which was great and exciting but also a little anxious as I had already decided on my questions, and when I write down questions, I need answers to them, it’s a problem I have.
Eventually we all moved into the store because the shopping centre where the Collins Booksellers is located in has music playing, and I could not hear a word she was saying over the blaring of John Farnham’s “Pressure Down”. She read two chapters of her novel and talked about the intellectual concepts and themes of her novel. I am paraphrasing here but Tor Roxburgh said that she wanted her novel to discuss the idea of what happens when a society has two different types of racial and/or cultural identities and what happens if there are racial and/or cultural acceptance problems.What if those problems are never discussed or addressed, what happens to that society as a result?
There are lots more other themes in it, like the Rite of Passage myth, that Joseph Campbell talks about in the “Power of Myth” and “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”. I am sure we have all read a Fantasy story or novel which features a child, or someone naïve about their surroundings, leaving their home (the realm of the normalcy) to go on an adventure (the realm of the supernatural). This journey enables the character to shed the skin of childhood and helps them begin the metamorphosis into the adult the story requires them to be.
There was also a Q&A session where I was able to ask my questions. One of them was “Did you find it difficult to get your Fantasy novel published in the Australian market?” and she did have difficulty. She had so much difficulty that, despite the fact that she was commissioned to write her first novel at 26 and has written over 15 novels (ranging from Young Adult Romance to Non-Fiction, an interesting contrast I thought), Tor Roxburgh ended up self-publishing her book. Unfortunately, this gave me the urge to crawl up into a hole somewhere and resume the fetal position.
Another of my questions was “Did you ever feel like giving up?” and she said that she did, she told me that she stopped writing for ten years and in the meantime pursued other artistic projects. I was amazed and little shocked, she must have noticed because she added how she had known both writers and artists who had grown bitter with their profession, she decided that she didn’t want to become like that and when she couldn’t walk into a bookstore feeling happy, she decided she would put writing aside. Tor Roxburgh said it was the best thing she could have done as when she returned to writing she was excited and invigorated to put words to paper, which I thought was fair enough.
So I bought the book and went to get my copy autographed (I felt a small thrill as I told her how to spell my name) and as I had waited for most of the people in the bookstore to leave I was able to talk to for a good while. Jan, the bookstore owner, had told her that I am a writing student and thus my interrogation was explained. She recommended to me the Ballarat Writer’s Centre, Continuum and the Emerging Writer’s Festival.
I also mentioned how I’ve been working on a Fantasy project of my own and that I didn’t think I would ever get it published but she smiled brightly and said I should go for it and that I shouldn’t give up, which made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Truth be told, I do not think I will get it published. I started working on this Fantasy project of mine because like all of my book ideas, they nag at me and pester me until I put words to paper, I also found that when I had this idea I couldn’t write anything else, it was all I could think about. It sounds good in theory, but if you’re trying to focus on another project or trying to get a 2500 word assignment done that has absolutely no relevance to the Fantasy project, it can be very irritating.
The fact that I had resigned this project to the “Never Going to See the Light of Day” pile in my mind took the pressure off. I thought, “I’ll write this one just for me, once we get this one out our system, we can move on to writing the practical novels” (Man that last part sounds like an oxymoron).
Regardless, while I had known of the Emerging Writer’s Festival, I had absolutely no idea there was a writing centre in Ballarat, thus the importance of attending Writing Events. I am sure anyone currently enrolled in the PWE course will veto about how I complain about how nearly all the major writing events are Melbourne CBD based.
They always organise it so that the seminar I want to go to and my classes are on at the same time or at 8pm during the week, and with the V/Line train system, it makes it hard to attend these events. Then there is the cost of getting into these events and then there is the fact that I have to work weekends and my shifts are right in the middle of the afternoon **RAGE FACE**.
I told Tor Roxburgh about my difficulties in finding a writing group and she said what I have been thinking about doing for a while, that I should probably start my own writing group. However, I do not think that’s enough, I’ve been trying to think of what is it exactly that I want to do with my life and I decided that my life’s goal and/or ambition is to start my own writing course and actually teach people how to be writers and maybe promote literature and writing in rural areas.
I am not too sure about the last part though, I cannot help but think there are plenty of people that already do that (like at primary schools and such) and if literacy and writing aren’t being promoted in primary and secondary schools already, we have a much bigger problem on our hands, one beyond my capabilities.
Anyway, I better get reading, I am seriously behind on my Goodreads Challenge and Tor Roxburgh asked if I could please write a review of her book and I gleefully agreed, then my brain finally pipped up and said “Hey! Stop babbling at her; leave now before she thinks you’re crazy!” I agreed, said goodbye and then quickly escaped out of the bookstore as fast as possible without looking like I had stolen something. I’m not completely sure if I was successful in not leaving a crazy-cat-lady-in-the-making impression but fun was had by all.