Friday, 29 May 2015

Kindness makes us good writers, good readers and good people

On Tuesday night I joined the Melbourne Literary May Salon, a monthly event I've been wanting to get to for, well, months. It was lovely to meet new people, including the hostess Anna Burkey, in an atmosphere that happily welcomes newbies and celebrates its writers' achievements.

I tagged along to Deakin Edge for the EWF opening night expecting welcomes, words from someone amazing who has well and truly emerged, an announcement or two and an after party. Between Justina Ashman winning the Monash Arts Undergraduate Prize for Creative Writing and Jane Harper being awarded the Victorian Premier's Unpublished Manuscript Award, we were treated to a beautiful few minutes from the elegant and eloquent Emily St. John Mandel.

Her talk covered place, home, work that has inspired her and how she has emerged from not knowing anyone in the industry, not having any creative writing (or other) formal qualifications, to find that the values that make a good writer are the same as those we admire in a good person. I'd love to listen to a recording of her time on stage - although it was perhaps softer than other parts of the event it was as inspiring, respectful and an absolute celebration of good writers, readers and people.

She shared a quote from A Correspondence with Eleanor Catton as a truism to think about, which mirrors my recent experience of support and generosity from Melbourne's literary community as I launch a new venture.
"Kindness is a core value for any artist, but most especially for a fiction writer: a self-centred person can’t see the world from another person’s point of view.”

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