What do you get when you arrive in a room full of women, ready for a literary event? Conversations about books, writing, reading, social media, life balance, families, jobs, publishing houses, washing, agents, editors … and more books. And lots of laughs!
I went to three literary events in the last week or so. I heard Charlotte Wood, Peggy Frew and Alice Robinson on a panel for The Stella Prize – went by myself and knew no one. I had dinner with my bookclub, women I’ve known for many years through our children’s school, to discuss our latest book and swap books for the next twelve months. And I went to a literary dinner to celebrate Natasha Lester’s latest book, where I met a couple of social media friends for the first time, and caught up again with some of my writing group.
While they were all different events with different people, all three focused on women and writing and books. And all three events left me reflecting about how empowering women can be towards each other and how quietly inspiring they are, in managing their families and jobs and in some cases, writing.
My mind is still full of the many conversations I’ve had. At The Stella Prize event, I sat next to a woman in her early twenties, who had just moved from Hobart to Melbourne and was looking for her first full-time job as a copywriter, content writer, anything she could find. My bookclub group discussed Emily Bitto’s The strays, and then exchanged our books – many of them by Australian women writers. And last night at Bellota wine bar, I met Kirsty Manning-Wilcox, who owns the restaurant with her family and has just signed a two-book publishing deal. Natasha read from her book, ‘A kiss from Mr Fitzgerald’, signed my book and answered my questions. I chatted with Sally Hepworth who is writing her third book, to be finished before her third child is born. I finally met Vanessa Carnevale, whose weekly podcast on writing inspires me, and who has also signed a two-book publishing deal. And I sat with Amy Suitor Clarke and Renee Milhulka from my writing group, who fit in writing among jobs and kids.
Yesterday when I sat down to write, I thought of all these women, holding their families and writing and jobs and books to read and books to write in their hearts and hands. I felt grateful to be part of them.