Moya Costello, SCU lecturer, author, and former editor, describes university creative writing courses as an imaginative space where intellectual labour and creativity is valued, which can equip writers with the technical skills and theoretical understandings to explore and express creativity. Moya’s presentation at the Nuts & Bolts professional developmnent seminar at BBWF09 yesterday was a thought-provoking and inspiring start to the day for our nearly sixty participants, ranging from aspiring to published writers.

We then heard from the adorable guru of creative writing in Australia, Peter Bishop of Varuna House. He described the fifteen-year history of Varuna as the development of a national community of conversation of writers; the type of conversation that develops the writing process for anyone fortunate enough to be a participant. These conversations also take place around writers centres, writers groups, and online writers networks – anywhere there is a community of writers working their craft and connecting with each others’ projects.

Peter observed that the reader is an individual person multiplied many, many times – each reader is as individual as the writer. He shared with us his fear of ‘not being noticed by publishers’ as he is writing first book at present: how heartening to hear this from the man who founded Australia’s premier writing program of residencies and fellowships! All writers are vulnerable and heroic in their endeavours, and need to engage in a community of conversation to support and guide them through their journey.

Laurel Cohn, freelance editor and manuscript assessor who has been working with writers for twenty years, then gave a wonderfully engaging presentation about the process of giving your manuscript a health check (or perhaps a reality check). It was so heartening to hear of the enthusiasm and respect that Laurel and other editors bring to each manuscript they work with. I was struck by the passion with which Laurel spoke of her love of story, and her commitment to working with writers to to assist them to achieve the full potential of their work.

There was so much information in the full day seminar, I’ll post Part Two later to cover the role of the agent, and funding opportunitites for writers, and news from the publisher’s desk.

Now I’m off to the Byron Bay Writers Festival site. It’s a beautiful, sunny day, and the site looks great. So many interesting sessions on today – I’ll tweet updates as the day progresses.

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